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Copyright Infringement Advice
Posted: Tue May 02, 2017 2:45 pm
I received an email today stating an image on my blog was in breach of copyright and asking me to pay Â£556 for use of the image.
I have removed the image immediately and wasn't aware it was copyrighted.
Any advice on what I should do next would be greatly appreciated. I make zero money out of my music site, and cannot afford this kind of outlay on what's basically a hobby.
Posted: Tue May 02, 2017 4:23 pm
You don't mention who sent this email. If it was an individual copyright owner It might be worth trying to negotiate a better deal since it sounds like they would be wasting their time and money trying to sue you. If it is a photo agency acting on behalf of one of their clients, you may not get a sympathetic hearing.
Â£550 is quite a large fee for use of an image on a minor website, so you should ask them to explain how they arrived at that figure. Also you are entitled to ask for proof that they are the legitimate owner of the copyright in the image or are authorised to act on his/her behalf in this matter.
Given your financial situation it would probably be sensible to speak to Citizens Advice
or go to a free legal advice centre
Posted: Tue May 02, 2017 5:40 pm
Thanks very much Andy.
The email was from a company called PIXSY, who are acting on behalf of the photographer.
I've contacted the Citizen Advice Bureau, who put me onto another agency who deal with this sort of thing for them (annoyingly they close at 5pm, so will have to ring them tomorrow)
Posted: Tue May 02, 2017 8:46 pm
Hi again sam
I'm glad you've told us this letter is from Pixsy. They are recovery agents who tend to work directly with photographers to identify alleged infringing use of copyright photographs. They are based in the USA and have an office in Germany.
However unlike most picture agencies they are neither assignees nor exclusive licensees as far as copyright is concerned and that means they cannot actually initiate litigation for copyright infringement in the UK. Some people refer to such agencies as copyright trolls
because they largely operate by demanding inflated fees from alleged infringers. They then keep roughly 50% of everything they recover. The UK courts have been fairly unsympathetic to such companies and methods in the past (see the Media CAT cases
I strongly suggest you do not have any dealings with this company until you have obtained legal advice. And certainly do not make any admissions of liability.
Posted: Wed May 03, 2017 8:46 am
Thanks again, and very good to know.
Would I be best contacting them to say I've received the email and are looking into it? Or just to ignore it completely for now?
Posted: Wed May 03, 2017 1:44 pm
You could certainly say that you will not be responding before getting legal advice.
Posted: Fri May 05, 2017 2:30 pm
In the UK the court and IPEC (Intellectual Property Enterprise Court) would frown on such a company contacting you on behalf of the license holder.
I suggest you do nothing.
If they contact you again say 'You are aware of the infringement and have taken the image down' Also you will in future only deal with the license holder of the image.
Only they can give you a clear breakdown of rights and the fees they have charged. As far as I am aware this company cannot take legal proceedings against you simply as they do not hold the rights to the image !
Posted: Fri May 05, 2017 2:51 pm
If you would like to email the image (low res) I can check who the license holder is.
That way you can be prepared if you are contacted by them.
I can also check how many photo libraries represent this image. If it is more than one there can be little case against you as it would be very hard to prove where the image originally came from.
email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Fri May 05, 2017 5:09 pm
At the risk of confusing you with lots of different advice, please do NOT acknowledge any infringement! That is tantamount to admitting liability which would be very unwise at this stage. At worst. you could use the phrase 'alleged infringement' but frankly you do not need to deal with Pixsy at all if you are able to contact the actual copyright owner.