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  • Copyright Infringement Notice Help
  • 4
    hunterst
    Free Member

    Hi All

    I’m hoping the hive might be able to give me a bit of advice.

    I have a small website that I decided to add a blog to and write a few articles on branding and logos.

    My blog is really small with only 6 posts on there, one of them was about the history and evolution of the logo of a long established brand.

    Unwittingly, I used an image on this post that I got from pinterest and today received an email from fairlicensing/alamy saying I had to pay £500 as the image is theirs.

    I went into a complete panic and immediately removed the image – in fact I removed the blog post and then turned off my blog altogether on my site.

    I can’t work out if this is a scam or not but I am so worried. Money has been rather tight of late and this demand seems out of all proportion.

    I haven’t received any prior cease and desist notices and I’m in a complete panic.

    Has anybody had an dealings with fairlicensing? This appears to be some sort of portal with a link to alamy and a few other image sites.

    It feels a little bit “scammy” as the image in the email showing the image of my blog is such low res that you can’t read any text on it, can’t make out the domain name or any menu items etc

    Any help or advice would be really appreciated

    4
    CountZero
    Full Member

    Not sure, but there are entities who make a living from sending takedown notices and demanding payment, quite often for things they have no connection to.

    The fact that the image was obtained from Pinterest makes it suspicious, because why haven’t they gone after Pinterest and whoever posted it on there first?

    Pinterest are a pain in the ass when looking for specific information or items, because the location goes straight to them, with very little information about the location or the actual item available.
    I’d be inclined to send a reply, just saying “What image?”. As you’ve removed it, it’s now entirely up to them to prove there’s been any infringement of copyright, as there’s nothing there.

    Alamy are a stock photo library, who charge clients for the use of images in their library, so chasing after copyright infringement is perfectly acceptable. However, the initial infringement is via Pinterest, who you’ve linked to, so as far as I can see, as the image has been removed from your blog, they no longer have a link to you, any further notices should, I would have thought, gone to Pinterest and/or whoever posted the image there in the first place.

    In the, unlikely scenario of them contacting you again, I would reply saying the image isn’t being used by you, any further enquiries should be directed to Pinterest, and that their contacting you was due to a false positive within their system searches.
    Or words to that effect. Using an image in the way you are, as reference material, generally comes under fair use, as it’s not for commercial purposes, ie selling an item for commercial gain.

    1
    dyna-ti
    Full Member

    I agree with the above. and unless the image has ‘copyright’ plastered all over it it is just another non descript image from the interweb, of which there are trilions

    You got it from pinterest, so for any claim, the buck stops there.

    Watty
    Full Member

    .

    1
    tthew
    Full Member

    When you say ‘got’ it from Pinterest do you mean purchased it or just downloaded it off a page of theirs? Was it embedded on  your blog site or linked to from Pinterest a bit like free members photos on here? These details may make a difference.

    I’m not in any way a lawyer but if you basically nicked it you should probably be paying someone, although your demand does sound scammy.  :unsure:

    2
    Superficial
    Free Member

    There’s no way in a million years this is real or enforceable. Ignore it.

    thecaptain
    Free Member

    “I got it off the internet” has to be one of the more creative defences to copyright violation.

    Technically they’ve got the OP bang to rights, but just refusing to engage may be the best option. They might sue, but probably not.

    mattyfez
    Free Member

    It might be exempt..

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/exceptions-to-copyright

    Even if not, what would be the damage to the copyright holder?  Especially as you removed it straight away on being notified.

    2
    seriousrikk
    Full Member

    I’m not a lawyer, but I have deal with image copyright a bit.

    This will be a speculative invoice issued by the copyright owner via alamy. You could ignore it – there is a good chance they won’t persue it as they issued a whole bunch of them to see who would pay up. You could also find the image on alamy to confirm the licensing value (if they have not already provided a link) apologise for your oversight and offer to pay it – the standard usage fee is £35.

    More info here https://fairlicensing.alamy.com/FAQ

    You got it from pinterest, so for any claim, the buck stops there.

    Not at all true. If the image is still hosted on pintrest, they could go after them too. The company can go after everyone who is using their intellectual property without permission regardless of how they obtained it. The effort and cost of some scenarios would outweigh the benefit though.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    You’ve done the correct thing removing it from your site. If you are writing about the logo then use of the logo is fair game… but without seeing the image in question it’s impossible to say if you were just using the logo or some creative that featured the logo. Hand draw the logo yourself and use that… and get the blog live again.

    5
    poly
    Free Member

    I agree with the above. and unless the image has ‘copyright’ plastered all over it it is just another non descript image from the interweb, of which there are trilions

    copyright exists in any artistic work regardless of whether it has been labelled as such or not.

    You got it from pinterest, so for any claim, the buck stops there.

    legally it doesnt

    Your choice now is to ignore it, to respond pointing out it’s legitimate use for critique or to pay them some money.  I’d probably be inclined to say “I believe that was within the terms of legitimate use (s xxx of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act xxxx) but without prejudice and for efficiency we have removed the entire article and trust this draws the matter to a close.”

    lesson here is don’t use other people’s work without checking ownership, crediting it etc.

    2
    devash
    Free Member

     If you are writing about the logo then use of the logo is fair game

    This. Clearly falls under fair use as its being used for non-commercial purposes. Sounds like a scam to me.

    convert
    Full Member

    Is your blog monetised in any way? I.e. could your use of the logo be seen as trying to take commercial advantage?

    This feels like one for a journalist to answer. There are press articles all the time about commerce or the big tech companies that feature the logos of the corporations being discussed within the article. I can’t imagine those journalists either ask permission to use the logo or pay for the privilege.

    Feels like a bot/automated trawl to me – for fair means or foul.

    1
    jameso
    Full Member

    Has anybody had an dealings with fairlicensing? This appears to be some sort of portal with a link to alamy and a few other image sites.

    Some time ago I had some experience with the same process. If someone owns the copyright to the image (copyright is assumed to be owned by the creator) and you used it w/o permission it can be enforceable. Image sites have web scouring software and there are no win no fee IP lawyers who can back this stuff up. If someone created it and it’s not online clearly under creative commons use rights, then you can’t just help yourself to it. It sucks if your use is non commercial but the creator has a right to protect an image. How this works with a brand logo and fair use may be the crux here. I suspect you’ve been caught by an automated process but the right reply may quash it.

    I’d probably be inclined to say “I believe that was within the terms of legitimate use (s xxx of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act xxxx) but without prejudice and for efficiency we have removed the entire article and trust this draws the matter to a close.”

    For a brand logo used in the OPs context perhaps, I’m not sure. Need to check if rules on permission and reasonable use apply.

    its being used for non-commercial purposes

    Non-commercial use isn’t a factor, it’s all on whether it’s being used without permission in a way that can cause loss or damage (minor, but still..) to the copyright owner.

    This might be of use OP – page 5 mentions ‘fair dealing’ and you could be covered by that, or at least it should help find a suitable defence.

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a80f292ed915d74e6231597/Exceptions_to_copyright_-_Guidance_for_consumers.pdf

    convert
    Full Member

    Non-commercial use isn’t a factor, it’s all on whether it’s being used without permission in a way that can cause loss or damage (minor, but still..) to the copyright owner.

    But what would happen if a big news paper did a huge expose of corrupt practice at a large commercial organisation? That would clearly cause loss or damage. And they are not going to be able to get permission. Maybe they just don’t use the logo in that circumstance….or just a photo (you took yourself) of a product or building with the logo on it – if that is different.

    Or a blog/news article or publicly available academic article about the physical construct of logos – (colour, font, line weight etc and visual impact) and used 20 or 30 examples…..

    4
    chakaping
    Full Member

    This feels like one for a journalist to answer.

    Taking a photo or piece of art from the internet and using it on a blog is 100% a potential copyright infringement.

    But in 20+ years of journalism I never came across any dispute (or even concerns in house) about using company logos.

    So there is certainly a long-standing convention that using logos for editorial (even if carrying adverts) is “fair use”.

    Here’s something from Gov.UK which appears to cover it: Exceptions to copyright – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    However, the fact that Alamy are on to you makes me wonder whether you have used a stock photo of a logo, e.g. a photo of a sign, a vehicle or a can of beans featuring the logo?

    This photo will have been taken by a photographer, and they (or their agency) is entitled to pursue copyright claims.

    In that case, you are bang to rights – but you might still want to ignore the letter and hope it goes away.

    1
    politecameraaction
    Free Member

    It’s probably automated and certainly they’re taking a swing at collecting money speculatively. Depending on whether your name and location is on the webpage, they probably don’t know who you are or where you are, so they couldn’t sue you yet. (They could get third party disclosure from ISPs etc but that takes time and money).

    If you have already deleted it, I would ignore it in the first instance. If they email again and it looks legit,  I agree with Poly – “I don’t agree with your assertions but I have removed the image and consider this correspondence closed”. I wouldn’t panic by any means.

    1
    supernova
    Full Member

    I know photographers who make a living collecting fees from unauthorised use of their images. Usually ones who can’t make a living actually selling their images, but that’s neither here nor there.

    You cannot just grab (steal) a piece of copyrighted media from the internet, put it on your website and claim ignorance or naivety. I assume you know not to do it with music or film, so why is photography different?

    Your best bet to make it go away asap is to contact Alamy and offer the basic amount for a licence for this use, probably only a few pounds as someone has pointed out.

    Photographers like me make their living selling licenced images so don’t steal them. It’s like going into the local shop and helping yourself to the pick and mix. That means not posting them on forums like this too, in case anyone is wondering. You’re opening yourself up to claims when you do.

    zilog6128
    Full Member

    But in 20+ years of journalism I never came across any dispute (or even concerns in house) about using company logos.

    everyone seems to be fixated on the OP having used a logo, but that is not what the OP actually says. They have used an image, on a blog about logos. (if it were a problem regarding infringing a logo then the company/their lawyers themselves would be in touch, not a stock-photo library!)

    Yes you can probably justify the use of a logo with editorial comment, etc, but not a photo you’ve (even if just out of naivety as seems to be the case here) used without permission (i.e. stolen).

    chakaping
    Full Member

    everyone seems to be fixated on the OP having used a logo, but that is not what the OP actually says.

    You didn’t read the rest of my post, did you?

    zilog6128
    Full Member

    nope :)

    joeyr
    Free Member

    Just be aware that you will be one of 1000’s that this company are chasing. If you make it difficult then they’ll eventually give up and move onto the next one.  Do they know your full name, address, phone etc? If not then don’t worry.

    Google the company chasing you and the heading of the e-mail and you’ll see there are loads of people in the same boat. They rely on trying to scare you into paying. Up to you if you end up paying or not.  From what I gather these cases have never reached court in the UK, so people either pay up or they drop the matter.

    With me (20 years ago, aged 18ish, similar situation) they dropped the matter eventually. I told them I knew I was just 1 of thousands on their list so they could either waste their time and resources on me or just move onto the next victim. Then kept on hanging up on them til they gave up.

    Be aware they will try every tactic in the book to scare you into paying. Shouting down the phone, threatening how it will escalate costs and affect your credit rating score*.

    *on their own meaningless internal credit rating system!

    I haven’t heard of this scam for a few years but think maybe AI has improved their image scanning ability and made it lucrative again? An old client of mine (who later built his own website) is currently being chased by them for an image he uploaded and they’re currently being pretty threatening to him.

    seriousrikk
    Full Member

    An old client of mine (who later built his own website) is currently being chased by them for an image he uploaded and they’re currently being pretty threatening to him.

    Assuming we are talking about Alamy here, has he, at any point, simply offered to pay the original licensing fee?

    1
    joeyr
    Free Member

    Sorry, slight mistake by me but it was PicRights who are chasing him for an image he used which apparently is owned by Associated Press.  I’m not sure what he’s offered.

    Back in the day I offered to pay £5, they rejected and then I just ignored them to they left me alone.  I was 18 and had no assets then.

    From what I read there’s a few of these companies, who are often acting off their own back and the actual copyright holder is unaware of the claim.

    In some cases they are making claims for images that aren’t breaking copyright (I read about a case where a red carpet photographer had his celebrity photo mistaken for someone elses from a similar angle).

    Do some research on Google and I bet you’ll find a subreddit/forum where people are in the same boat as you – share info and see what everyone else is doing and whether they follow through on their threats.  And don’t give them any additional info (contact / work details in your e-mail footer, auto responders etc).  If all they have is an e-mail address they can’t do much.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    I’d probably be inclined to say “I believe that was within the terms of legitimate use (s xxx of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act xxxx) but without prejudice and for efficiency we have removed the entire article and trust this draws the matter to a close.”

    The risk here is that you’re admitting guilt.  I wouldn’t be giving them any info they don’t already have.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    Do some research on Google and I bet you’ll find a subreddit/forum where people are in the same boat as you – share info and see what everyone else is doing and whether they follow through on their threats.

    There is.  There’s a lengthy thread (and others) here:

    https://copyrightaid.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3072

    1
    poly
    Free Member

    The risk here is that you’re admitting guilt.  I wouldn’t be giving them any info they don’t already have.

    in what way does that admit “guilt”, it actually explicitly denies any wrong doing.

    politecameraaction
    Free Member

    It’s not, in any sense, “admitting guilt”.

    joeyr
    Free Member

    Also, if you do post in a forum obvs don’t use a username similar to your e-mail address, or any identifiable info  – if you say you’re worried and might pay up then I guarantee Alamy keep an eye on posts and will put extra pressure on.

    In my experience that sort are just a bunch of bullies who shout and threaten as it gets results – don’t give them anything to feed off.

    3
    seriousrikk
    Full Member

    Also, if you do post in a forum obvs don’t use a username similar to your e-mail address, or any identifiable info – if you say you’re worried and might pay up then I guarantee Alamy keep an eye on posts and will put extra pressure on.

    In my experience that sort are just a bunch of bullies who shout and threaten as it gets results – don’t give them anything to feed off.

    Alamy are huge, one of the largest stock agencies in the world. They are not keeping an eye on forum posts and changing tactics based on what someone said. Especially not when the actual invoice amount is effectively small change for them. Your experience from 20 years ago has absolutely no bearing on what happens in these situations today.

    Alternative viewpoint here. Photographers are absolutely entitled to take the necessary steps to protect their content, and that will always include a higher invoice value when billing for unauthorised use of their content. A settlement figure lower than the original invoice value will almost always be accepted – and in many cases just paying the standard license fee will close the matter.

    Learn about image copyright and pay the fair price for use of content someone else created. Or learn how to create it yourself and make your own content.

    @OP – where was your blog hosted? Do you have your own domain or is it a generic wordpress type site? Before deciding whether to take some of the ‘ignore it’ advice you need to determine if you are in any way traceable from the details you had on your page(s). Alamy is owned by PA Media group who are UK based. While I’m not suggesting they will take action, it is not difficult for them to make a claim through the IPEC small claims route and it would cost them under 60 quid to do so. It would be incredibly inconvenient for something that could be settled quickly.

    joeyr
    Free Member

    Sorry, my mistake, I meant fairlicensing, the company doing the chasing.

    Your experience from 20 years ago has absolutely no bearing on what happens in these situations today.

    To be fair it seems fairly similar, unless the law has changed?  A 3rd party legal firm chasing using threatening tactics and not necessarily on behalf of the image agency or copyright holder, and often demanding excessive sums of money? They were doing this 20 years ago, with families getting chased for thousands as their 7 year old uploaded a photo to their first Geocities website.

    joeyr
    Free Member

    Some reviews of fair licensing: https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.fairlicensing.com

    Edit: Alamy aren’t doing much better: https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/alamy.com

    2
    seriousrikk
    Full Member

    Those reviews are all crap from people who don’t understand what fair licensing is.

    They are not a third party legal firm.

    They are a supplier of a software service – and to quote their marketing material here

    Please note that Fair Licensing does not make any copyright claims or licensing offers but is soleley a provider of software for photographers and agencies to allow them to resolve copyright infringements directly with possible copyright infringers.

    https://www.fairlicensing.com/en/

    So in the OPs case the email is from Alamy and no-one else. And for all those people who put their reviews on trustpilot, well their emails are from the companies who own the copyright of the content they used without permission.

    Subsequent edit. I agree Alamy are shit – way better services out there – but from the perspective of this conversation they have the law on their side.

    dyna-ti
    Full Member

    I joined facebok(since closed the account) and left the pics section blank.

    Then a few months later logged in to find a pic of myself on my title page. I certainly did not upload that, and yet here it was. There is actually only one pic of me online, on retrobike from a RB meet/ride.

    So clearly facebook has searched for, and added a personal pic. How or why i dont know, only i didnt do it, and never would. I believe in anonymity.

    I resized the pic and cropped it just to show a section of the background, then a day or two later just shut the account because i do not like that type of thing. Taking bloody liberties.

    jameso
    Full Member

    The risk here is that you’re admitting guilt.  I wouldn’t be giving them any info they don’t already have.

    Bit late for that I’d have thought. They will have saved the webpage before issuing the notice. Delete the page or image, they’ll have all they need anyway (assuming OP can be linked to the page).

    johndoh
    Free Member

    I am struggling to understand how a logo could have image rights attached, more so, how an organisation like Alamay could own the copyright. Was it just a logo, or a photograph featuring the logo?

    mattyfez
    Free Member

    Well indeed, If I wrote a blog about logos, something along the lines of – bright bold designs are successful because…blah blah, example:

    Have I just commited copywrite infringement?

    Poopscoop
    Full Member

    GPLlama on YT has had threatening letters/email from copyright lawyers a few times from memory. He’s Australian based, so no idea if the laws down there are specially different but he’s basically told them to jog on over the years.

    1
    poly
    Free Member

    mattyfez – you probably have because presumably you didn’t make the graphic with the 9 logos in it – so that is someone else’s (c).   Each of the logos are probably another 9 people’s (c) but generally you probably aren’t going to have an issue raising someone’s brand profile – however as well as (c) for logos you should be concerned about trademarks both (R) and TM.  They are all usually quite easy to manage without pissing people off if you use them properly acknowledge the intellectual property rights and remember someone else did work to create the image you want to use.

    pat12
    Free Member

    We churn out a large amount of content using freelance writers. Even though we have strict policies around licensing,  good royalty free images are often hard to find so people in a bind occasionally google/copy. Thus we’ve had a fair few of these over the years.

    as far as I’m aware there is some legal president but we generally remove the image and ignore. Not had one follow up as of yet.

    However, IANAL and all that

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