Copyright infringement via Permission Machine, acting on behalf of Alamy

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
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AndyJ
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Re: Copyright infringement via Permission Machine, acting on behalf of Alamy

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Lee,

I can't find the specific plugin you mention on the Wordpress site, but from your description of it, it sounds a bit irresponsible if it creates the impression that it allows you to legally select any image from the internet and just use it. Such action will obviously lead to infringement unless the necessary licence or permission is obtained first.

Turning to Permission Machine's claim, yes, you are right to question the amount being demanded. It is fair to say that PM have provided one explanation for how they arrive at the figure, but equally they could have said 'we just pluck an arbitrary figure out of the air and say that's what we charge'. You do not have to accept their demand if you think it is unreasonable, and they then have to consider whether it's worth their while to take you to court or not. I have explained on page 2 of this thread what the court would consider was a reasonable claim for damages, and that is a long way below even PM's amended demand. However if the copyright owner takes you to court and you lose then you would have to pay the court fees (say around £70) and possibly the claimant's travel and loss of earnings on the day of the hearing (say another £100*), plus the actual damages which will be around £35.99, so all up around £200-250 plus your own expenses for attending the hearing etc.

On that basis, £272 begins to look more attractive, as it means you won't have the stress and hassle of defending the claim in court.




*The loss of earnings refund is capped at £90 per day or part day for the claimant alone (ie the actual owner of the copyright, not Alamy or PM or any lawyers etc).
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lee
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Re: Copyright infringement via Permission Machine, acting on behalf of Alamy

Post by lee »

Thank you for the reply. My main issue with this is the predatory nature of how they scour the internet looking for people to fine.

I'll send a counter offer today to see if they're willing to meet in the middle.
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Re: Copyright infringement via Permission Machine, acting on behalf of Alamy

Post by shaunyness »

Hi all,

I have not heard from PM since February 24th, when they offered me a slightly reduced fee. If that changes, I'll write again.

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Re: Copyright infringement via Permission Machine, acting on behalf of Alamy

Post by AndyJ »

Thanks Shaun
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JimmyL
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Re: Copyright infringement via Permission Machine, acting on behalf of Alamy

Post by JimmyL »

Hi All,

New to the forum and thanks to everyone for posting your experience of dealing with this company so far. We too have recently received an email and a demand for almost £400 for an image which is displayed on a blog post from a number of years ago.

Have immediately removed the image in question so as to demonstrate that any potential infringement is not flagrant and that we are taking reasonable steps. I regard the demand for £400 to be excessive as similar images are available on Alamy for just £36.00. I do though understand that if the proper license was not bought then we should pay for the license and in addition and admin charge to boot and simply deleting the image should not be the end of the matter for either party.

Questions for Andy J if i may... Looking at previous posts and replies am i to assume that the following would be a good start to communications..

1. Acknowledge email and confirm that the image has been removed. Alongside this also request a breakdown of how the figure has been created.
2. Depending on their response return with a counter offer. I see from others in the forum this looks to be the image license fee plus around £30.
3. I fully expect there will be a templated response from them and if i am lucky an offer of a reduction of about 10% - which would still make the amount circa £350.
4. At this point i guess it's a case of weighing up whether they would take us to court or not.

On 4 i would be interested to hear your thoughts on just how financially burdening a number of back and forth email and potentially a court claim could be for such an infringement? I have read through your replies previously and you mentioned that they can claim costs including things like travel, court fees etc.

Was wondering if we could find the business in a scenario where they include costs such as paying a solicitor on their behalf to attend court, time spent writing letters, emails etc. My concern is that potentially the more back and forth I have with them I am actually increasing the value of their claim as they may want to argue to the court it has cost them to engage in correspondence with me.

Hope that this makes sense... I guess what i am trying to ascertain is would a court say well you don't have a license for the image, you have rejected their offer of £400 and now you have made them engage a solicitor to write a load of letters at £X per letter and engage a £Y an hour barrister to attend court so therefore you are liable for all of their costs in pursuing you and we end up with a huge legal bill.

Thanks in advance for the input Andy and look forward to your reply.

J
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Re: Copyright infringement via Permission Machine, acting on behalf of Alamy

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Jimmy,

As you have read the previous responses on this and, hopefully, some of the other threads which deal with much the same scenario, I'll jump straight to your specific questions.

Yes, by all means acknowledge their email and let them know that the image has been removed. You can ask for a breakdown if you wish but since you will probably get the same boilerplate nonsense you have already read about, I would be inclined to leave that bit out. Thus you can jump straight into making a counter-offfer which, as you say, should be based on the actual licence value of £36 plus some sort of admin fee. The important thing is to make it very clear to them that you understand what the consequences might be if they decided to commence court action and you defended the claim, namely that the damages which the court would award would be based on the market value of the licence, and since there are no grounds for any additional damages for flagrancy, that sum would not actually amount to a viable claim on their part, since the court does not award any legal costs or reimbursement of administrative costs to the winning party, assuming they do win the case.

And to answer your last question, the rules of the small claims track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) mean that their legal costs will not be awarded against you. All you might have to pay in addition to the damages are the court fees for filing the claim and the hearing fee, and the claimant's (ie the photographer's) expenses for attending the hearing: these cannot exceed £90 for loss of earnings, plus his travel expenses. All of this could amount to between £200-300 in addition to the damages. Obviously this figure begins to approach the amount currently being demanded, but it's important to note that the claimant will already have had to pay out to cover the court fees plus his travel etc, so the only real gain from their win would be the £36 damages. Since this would not begin to cover the actual costs of Permission Machine in bringing the case, this is why the economics of your counter-offer work in your favour. PM are simply not interested in pursuing claims to court where they cannot recover their costs.
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Re: Copyright infringement via Permission Machine, acting on behalf of Alamy

Post by JimmyL »

Hi Andy,

Thank you for taking the time to get back with that information. I have now made contact with Permission Machine, who are now trading under the guise of Visual Rights Group.

In first instance i have acknowledged their email and informed them that the image was removed very swiftly once their email arrived. Due to not being able to find the image on the Alamy website i have started off by asking for proof that Alamy do hold the rights to the image.

Fully expect them to be able to evidence that in some way and at that point i intend to make an offer of a much reduced, but justifiable, amount and will post back to the forum updates. I may also possibly post some follow up questions for you Andy depending on their replies!

Looking at this and many other forums these seem to be just one of a number of companies engaging in this practice and something really needs to be done to curtail this. Quite obvious that they are simply playing a numbers game in which they are hoping to scare and intimidate vulnerable individuals into parting with huge amounts of cash to line their own pockets by saying that they can claim up to £50,000 if you choose not to pay them. Its tantamount to extortion and cyber bullying, simple as that.

Not sure if anybody else on the forum is seeing these messages still who have had similar contact from PM/VRG but might i suggest that it may be a good move for everybody to send an email to BBC Watchdog and share their experience?

J
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