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another copytrack letter

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I am a citizen born here in the US.

They claimed the use was a violation and I asked them to please explain how they don't see the use of the image as fair use and their first response was that it was "they don't think fair use applies because they see my website as commercial".

I said there are lots of examples of fair use applying to commercial sites and I added that I disagree that the use is commercial pointing out a lack of products I'm selling, no ads, or calls to action, and no reasonable connection between the image or the blog and any commercial activity.   They couldn't come up with anything and pivoted to say that the photographer is German and fair use doesn't apply in Germany.

I should also point out after looking at my emails again that they claim that the image was first detected on my site over 3 years ago.  To me that sounds like it hurts their case because it means they detected it and did nothing for an extended time.

at that point they seemed like the case was getting weaker every email and they said they were going to pass it to their us attorneys.  Months later I get collections attempting to collect (this is days ago).  Nothing is on my credit report though.

Ethan Seven:
Copytrack calling it a debt is flat out wrong.  I think Robert is correct, it probably does implicate the FDCPA and whatever state law equivalent exists in your state. 

They cannot touch your credit. 

They are based in Germany and I have not seen any posts about them actually working with a US based law firm, so you probably do not have to worry about being sued, especially since it sounds like they blew the statute of limitations.

Tman, I concur with Ethan Seven's assessment: if Copytrack is a German firm, and the photographer is German, and you have no business interests or any form of residency in Germany... well, there's really no case for them to make. Citing German law to a US citizen is about as valid and useful as a three-dollar bill.

There's an example of how attempts at extraterritorial justice can fail very, very badly. Not that long ago, LucasFilm took designer and propmaker Andrew Ainsworth to court, suing him for breaching their rights.

Back in 1976, Ainsworth was the London, England based creator of the Stormtrooper armour for the first Star Wars films; he sculpted the moulds that would be used to vacuum-form the individual pieces that would form the suit as a whole. Fast-forward to the early 2000's and Ainsworth discovers his orginal moulds, dusts them off, and starts selling sets of Stormtrooper armour to order via his website.

Lucasfilm took exception to this and sued Ainsworth in US federal court, and won a $20M summary judgement since Ainsworth did not defend the case... but Ainsworth's business was solely based in the UK, and he had no residency or other presence in the US, Lucasfilm was quite unable to collect their money. After all, the US civil courts have no real power over non-resident aliens.

The sole remaining option open to Lucasfilm was to sue Ainsworth in his home country - which they did - but, because of the differences between US and UK intellectual property laws, Lucasfilm lost their case, which was ruled on by the Supreme Court in the UK.

Ainsworth still trades to this day, with the sole consequence of his US judgement being that he can't ship his creations to anyone with a US zip code.

If you're interested in a longer read about this specific case, head to https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12910683

Matthew Chan:
You should absolutely notify the collection agency that this is NOT a debt and the circumstances surrounding this supposed debt.  Further, you should inform them if they do not correct this situation, you will report them under the rules for FDCPA and possibly pursue litigation as allowed in the FDCPA for mischaracterizing a copyright claim as a debt. They are not the same.

It matters whether you intend to get a loan or not. Collection accounts can become a problem because accounts are sold like a commodity. It will make the rounds to different agencies and one day, one will misreport it to your credit report.

There have been been bad actors who got themselves a LOT OF BAD PUBLICITY because they tried to transform non debt claims into debts. It doesn't work that way. If someone tried it with me, it would blow up in their face because FDCPA is very clear in these matters.

A copyright claim is NEVER a debt no matter how many ways they say it is.

You need to stop having conversations and start writing and documenting. Your mistake is you keep speaking to them on the phone when you should be writing your responses. You have clearly inflamed them and they are foolishly lashing out at you in hopes of taking advantage of your lack of knowledge in legal matters.

Copytrack may not give a shit about it because they operate outside the US but the collection agency should care very much because they are in the U.S. and can face unintended consequences.

--- Quote from: Tman on August 15, 2018, 11:59:57 AM ---They sent this to  Recoverable Management Services  out of Columbus OH.  They left me a voicemail and I ignored that and they sent a letter now saying I have 30 days to dispute the debt.  I wonder if I should continue to ignore this as I don't see how they might have a case.

I don't ever plan on getting a loan but I'm not crazy about the idea of the invalid debt on my score either.

Some issues that kind of make it more nuanced:
I also understand that copyright may have a 3 year time limit for them to begin a lawsuit which should have passed as the image was originally published on a blog over 3 year ago.
There is also the fair use issue which I think is strong and Copytrack got pretty disrespectful and vulgar with me over email and I asked them to cease communications which they ignored and I also asked that they don't hire third parties to communicate on their behalf since this is clearly not an example of copyright infringement or I would consider that harassment I also added in that I don't see their case as an attempt to collect a valid debt.  Obviously they ignored that as well.  They are asserting I owe $1500 for a single image and it's an image that is used over 100 times online that the original photographer spent money to distribute publicly on pinterest so that he could attempt to sue people and on pinterest I've seen the image attributed to another photographer who is from the US and not the person they claim took the image.

--- End quote ---

Matthew Chan:
If it were me, I would tell the to pound sand. German laws don't apply to U.S. citizens who don't live or visit Germany. And if they feel so strongly, they can go waste their money and file a lawsuit in any court against a US citizen living and working in the US to enforce German law. Stop wasting your time arguing with these fools.

--- Quote from: Tman on August 16, 2018, 01:02:48 AM ---Even the copytrack employee agreed it was fair use.  Their argument was that fair use doesn't apply in Germany.

--- End quote ---


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