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another copytrack letter

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Hey David,
Thanks for clearing up the misunderstandings statute of limitations has never been something I've brought up in any emails but something I wanted to keep an eye on.  I've always assumed they are simply trying to gather information to help themselves so I've tried to minimize what I say to them. 

I think its more complicated because when they contacted me no such image was on my site in fact what they showed me looked nothing like my site at the time.  So they are going to have to claim that they knew about it probably at least years before they contacted me or they saw it on some copy of the page from their crawler app (therefore knowing about a possible issue for a long time and not informing me).  On a side note: It's a little weird that they can make an app that crawls/copies pages and stores them online without permission or knowledge that isn't a potential copyright issue.  Their pages that copy content from the crawler are public you just need the url.

The letter they wrote me however claims they don't use crawling tools which is obviously not true.

While I'm not willing to show the image I could describe a similar scenario you could imagine searching pinterest for "Dogs playing in water" and then someone making a board that is called "Top 10 funniest photos of dogs playing in water" then writing a personal blog about why I love dogs playing in water and why you should take your dog to a water park and then showing the images and describing what I liked about each image and sharing some informative tips about taking certain breeds of dogs to water and linking my pinterest board that shows where I found each image.  Then doing a similar blog weekly about dogs.  Also the blog never got any traffic other than crawlers which is part of the reason I deleted it.  That would be very similar to the use I am getting harassed about.

Even the copytrack employee agreed it was fair use.  Their argument was that fair use doesn't apply in Germany.

Additionally, this particular image was being circulated as someone else's work (not the copytrack client) when I found it.  At least the person copytrack claims took the photo isn't the same person who is credited for the photo on pinterest.  I also have screenshots of the content that shows another person claiming to be the original photographer and encouraging the image be shared.  When I asked if copytrack could show me something to verify that their client is the person took the photo they refused to do so.

I've mostly just asked questions when getting emailed by copytrack "Why do you not think this falls under fair use?" "How is the amount you're asking for not arbitrary?"(no real answer, they implied it was based on how long the image was used but they didn't show how they calculate it) "Can you show me proof of copyright?"(no) "Can you show damage?"(no) "How is this comparable image not a fair estimate of the value of this image?"(I got a mean insulting answer from that question).  I've always been respectful to them on email but they've been pretty nasty toward me.

I have told them that if they can show me that I've actually damaged someone or violated a copyright in a way that wouldn't reasonably be considered fair use that I'd be happy to pay a fair market value for the image based on the going rate of similar images plus any damages that they can show.

I showed some proof that the photographer who made the image appears to have intentionally distributed it on social media and chose to not disable sharing tools then ignored it for years while the image was being distributed.  There are some items on Pinterest's terms of service at the time that would probably hurt copytrack one being that content creators can file an image as copyrighted and it will be blocked from Pinterest and to this day the creator hasn't done so.  They can also file DMCA claims and they haven't done that either.  They can also disable sharing.  The image is fairly boring and widely distributed which is usually a sign that it's been paid to be boosted or the creator underwent extreme efforts to have the image shared and distributed.  If they are indeed the photographer it's a problem that another photographer is credited with the work and no copyright issue has been claimed on pinterest.

Sman, are you resident in Germany? If so, this will fundamentally change the discussion regarding applicable law and scope of liabilities etc. I'm happy to provide you with non-lawyer insights and opinions, but I'd need to know what set of laws we're dealing with first :)

No I'm from the US

I did have the thought that requesting validation or disputing the debt and threatening to report them to the FTC will only get them to send me the same bogus bill copytrack sent me along with the legal minimum information they have to send (address, client name,etc) I could essentially get nowhere at the cost of acknowledging them and getting higher on their radar.  The blog is run by an LLC but they are mixing me personally into the paperwork and they have also been trying to contact my spouse who is not part of the LLC.

I really could care less about my credit score even if they could get a disputed claim to affect my personal credit I'll never take a loan in my life because of my personal financial principles.  I don't get a paycheck and I don't mind blocking their number.

I'm wondering at which point I ought to get a lawyer involved.

Okay, I'll keep this brief since there seems to be a jurisdictional question in play that will require a few answers before i can dig in a bit more.

You've stated that you're resident in the US (and I'm assuming also a US citizen with permanent residence), so how did Copytrack get around to mentioning Germany and German law in their claim letter/email to you?!?


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