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Author Topic: another copytrack letter  (Read 10736 times)

dave101

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another copytrack letter
« on: February 19, 2018, 09:18:37 AM »
Been reading through the forum, have a similar experience that is still ongoing.

Like a handful of others here, I got a letter from CopyTrack. I'm UK based - I got a few emails and letters from them a few months ago. Seems their automated software picked up an image on my website. In my case, while the image was copyrighted, my use of it would almost certainly fall under 'fair use' according to the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 - I wasn't using the image to "pretty up" a post, rather my blog post was *discussing that particular image* (the image was being spread on the Internet with a fake caption and my post was pointing out that fact.) As such my article and explanation would fall under "in the public interest".

Explained that to Copytrack - they didn't care. Kept sending letters, and now had my first letter from their third party "debt collector" (even though I don't have a debt with Copytrack) in my country, some small outfit called "credit limits international". After reading through the forum, it seems others have had similar experiences and if you just ignore them they go away...

Again, as others have pointed out, CopyTrack and their ilk treat this as a "bad debt" and constantly send invoices from "debt collectors". Misleading and should be against trading laws really! For those interested, apparently Copytrack think my use of 1 image means they can extort around 800 euros from me (since gone up to over 1000 now they've passed it on!)

Any comments, suggestions or advice welcome.

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2018, 06:57:08 AM »
Sounds like you have been reading and educating yourself. If it works the same in the UK as it does here in the States you can tell the debt collector that this is a claim, not a debt and to stop contacting you.  Just to be safe I would remove the image from my blog post and server if you have not done so already.
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

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dave101

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2018, 10:10:24 AM »
Oh I removed the image after the first Copytrack letter. My article wasn't any longer getting many hits and thought I may as well remove it. Of course Copytrack responded by saying something along the lines of "there has still been an infringement, pay us the big bucks". Doubt I'll respond to the third party "debt collector". I'll let them continue sending their threatening letters (I'm working on the assumption that they'll charge Copytrack for every letter they send.)

I've since learned that Copytrack are going into the crypto-currency business too, which is somewhat hysterical! When it's all over I'll be writing a blog post of my experience, to help try and stop this type of exploitation. If a copyright holder wants to go after someone who's breached their copyright, then fair enough - but these companies that use scare tactics and shout-off excessive "fines" and threaten with "debt collectors" should be make illegal, imho

Matthew Chan

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2018, 02:52:55 PM »
I also found the Copytrack and the crypto-currency thing to be suspect. As far as I can see, Copytrack seems to go after non-U.S. targets and largely relies on people's legal ignorance. Not much more that I have seen thus far.

I've since learned that Copytrack are going into the crypto-currency business too, which is somewhat hysterical! When it's all over I'll be writing a blog post of my experience, to help try and stop this type of exploitation. If a copyright holder wants to go after someone who's breached their copyright, then fair enough - but these companies that use scare tactics and shout-off excessive "fines" and threaten with "debt collectors" should be make illegal, imho
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

Funlife

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2018, 08:50:19 PM »
some weeks ago copytrack send me a letter about an image i use without having licences agreement on my website. but i did not reply as i ignore it. the second letter they send and showed me the higher price to pay the agreement because of my negligence. i directly decide to erase the image from my website to stop them force me paying the debt. i am wondering why copytrack make manifold price in existence?

dave101

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 09:42:57 AM »
Just to update on the latest - it looks like they've given up. After two letters from the third party "debt collector" in my country, I have not received anything since February (it's July now) - proof that just ignoring them is the best way to go. It certainly was for me.

Ethan Seven

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2018, 06:56:06 PM »
Copytrack, like Pixsy, are a non-law firm based in Germany.   They cannot sue you.  While they might be able to have a US based law firm commence litigation.  My thought is that if the claim was litigation worthy, it would have started at a law firm.  If you used the image without a license, I would either offer a small amount, sub-$200, in hopes they accept it or to mitigate liability if they refer it to a law firm, which is very unlikely.   Otherwise, I would just ignore them. 
Even if I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer.  Copyright matters can have serious consequences.  If you have assets worth protecting, consult a lawyer who is familiar with copyright law and who can review the facts of your case. If you cannot afford one, call your state or county bar association.

Tman

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2018, 11:59:57 AM »
I had a similar experience with Copytrack.  I had a fair use of an image from over 3 years ago where I critiqued an image on a blog that gets essentially zero traffic which was removed when I switched my website's format long before Copytrack contacted me. 

The Copytrack employee contacted me and didn't realize the image wasn't even on my site because they were using their own content delivery service as their source for information which used cached copies of websites.  So a cached version of the site but not the actual website and apparently it took them about a year to email me about the issue.  I kept asking them for a link to the image I'm using without permission and they kept linking their own website's cached copy.  I just told them that they are linking their own site and to please provide a link on my website.

After they figured out the image wasn't actually on my site tried to say I removed it in response to their email.  I told them that isn't true either and I can prove it's not true because I have logs of updates to my site and my site hasn't had a blog for almost a year.  Later they corrected this and tried to say I owe them anyway because I used the image years ago. 

At which point I asked them to please show me why this isn't an example of fair use.  They incorrectly told me fair use doesn't apply for commercial websites they also harassed me and tried to shame me.  Then I really dug my heels in that this was fair use.  I asked them to please show me something to verify fair use never covers commercial websites then they changed their tactic and tried to claim fair use doesn't apply because the supposed original photographer is German.  (As I can tell, Germany does have something like fair use that protects critiques about images for public benefit or education).  However, I don't think it's a given that I'm subject to German laws anyway as a US citizen.  I would think it's at best an international copyright issue.  I told them if they could justify that I actually owe them something or that I caused damages I would be happy to discuss payment, I even showed them that very similar images are vaued at estimated 2.79 each on stock sites.  At which point they told me they would no longer respond to me.  Not really seeing a path where they had grounds to justify that I owe them anything I expected them to take the next step of sending a letter and then to collections.  Which is what happened and where we are now.

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.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2018, 12:05:46 PM by Sman »

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2018, 12:53:06 PM »
tell the collection agency to shag off...this is a "claim" not a debt..there has been no judgment or anything else saying this is a debt.. Alert the collection agency that if they continue to contact you in this matter you will report them to the FTC, remind them of The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text#808
Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

Any advice is strictly that, and anything I may state is based on my opinions, and observations.
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DavidVGoliath

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2018, 01:53:01 PM »
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.

This is a common misconception: the statute of limitations is that a claimant has three years from the discovery of an infringement in which they must file suit. The clock effectively starts ticking on the date that the infringement claim was made to you in writing, whether email or physical letter.

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

Another common misconception. If you believe that your use of a work is exempted under 17 USC 107, then that's an argument you make in your defence pleadings if/when you are sued and, ultimately, it would be down to a judge and/or jury to determine if your use was fair or not.

In simpler terms: one cannot say "Fair Use!" and expect it to be a get-out-of-jail-free card.

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.

That's a very bold claim to make - I'm curious as to the merits of what you say and, with this in mind, are you willing to point to the image in question?

Tman

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2018, 01:02:48 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2018, 01:21:03 AM by Sman »

DavidVGoliath

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2018, 09:19:30 AM »
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 :)

Tman

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2018, 09:48:03 AM »
No I'm from the US

Tman

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2018, 10:11:45 AM »
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.

DavidVGoliath

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Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2018, 11:13:33 AM »
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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