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Author Topic: Masterfile launches "ArtistDefense Inc." and issuing fresh new demand letters!  (Read 6560 times)

Matthew Chan

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After years of operating under their own name, Masterfile has emulated Getty Images and launched their equivalent and supposedly "separate" LCS type of operation by forming ArtistDefense Inc.

http://www.artistdefense.com/

It appears that ArtistDefense's mission is to carryout Masterfile's copyright extortion operation. This is how ArtistDefense (AD) describe themselves in a recent ArtistDefense extortion letter that I have seen.

Who is ArtistDefense?

ArtistDefense acts on behalf of copyright owners such as Masterfile to help them enforce and protect the copyrights in their images. On behalf of Masterfile, ArtistDefense monitors the Internet for potential unauthorized uses of Masterfile's images. When Masterfile notifies us that a reported use is unauthorized, ArtistDefense will pursue the claim on behalf of Masterfile. ArtistDefense is authorized by Masterfile to negotiate settlements of copyright infringement claims and refer claims that it cannot resolve to legal counsel.


In fact, a familiar name is on the letters. His name is Geoffrey Beal! Long time readers will know this winning name. His title on the letter is "Copyright Compliance Officer".

Of course, we know their idea of "compliance" is not simply taking down the image but collecting BIG ASS MONEY. As much as they can get from the letter recipients.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2017, 05:09:23 AM by Matthew Chan »
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.

Matthew Chan

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I was looking for corporate information on ArtistDefense Inc. However, I can find no corporate registration for them in Canada in the Government of Canada Federal Corporation search.

https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/scr/cc/CorporationsCanada/fdrlCrpSrch.html?locale=en_CA

I can find a listing for Masterfile Corporation and Masterfile International Holdings Corporation but no "ArtistDefense Inc." in the Canadian corporations database.

My question: Is ArtistDefense Inc. truly a new Canadian corporation or is that a lie Masterfile is peddling? 

Based on the lack of corporation registration, ArtistDefense Inc. is NOT a corporation. In the U.S., you generally cannot use "Inc" or "Corp" as part of your business name if it has not been registered and incorporated.  I suspect the rules governing corporate names in Canada is similar to those in the U.S.

Until I get some new information to the contrary, ArtistDefense Inc. might just be a fake corporation Masterfile is peddling to make themselves look better.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2017, 05:09:37 AM by Matthew Chan »
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.

Scamwarrior

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Oh OK! I just inaugurate Artist Defense, I thinks is a better instrument to live from scams

the thing is
I realized that on the internet has thousands of websites where they talk about the scam business that has armed under the "legality"
He operates with the fears' people When he threatens you if you do not pay U$S 2,000 you will lose U$S 150,000
Let's agree that he's a SoB trying to squeeze the brain of people by pursuing fear

We could never have suspected that a bit of a picture cropped was a work of an artist, bullshit, it's all orchestrated, that bit of photo had no data or name, nothing, we'll see what happens, my lawyer is already alerted,
A detail that fails, when requesting figures that can not be borne by the public, in these cases, are incurred in the extorted mode.
We send you an email not to the names of your lawyer and this week we are going to court with these threats

But it can not go that far either we already sent an inquire to communicate with
U.S. Copyright Office (101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000 (202) 707–3000 or 1 (877) 476–0778 (toll free)

salsaguy

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Hello,

I just received an email to my business from ArtistDefense that I've included below. I, naively, called the number and spoke to Michael who said that he needed to pay his artist retroactively for use and that I owed $500.

I've read through a couple ELI threads but I'm sure I still have much to learn. My questions is, do I just try to bargain Michael down to $200 and pay? I rechecked the link Matthew Chan posted earlier, ArtistDefense inc still isn't registered in Canada from the looks of it. On top of that their website looks so basic. The whole affair stinks of a scam to me. Is it an actual scam to be ignored or is it legitimate? I've already taken down the image.

Any help or links to appropriate threads are greatly appreciated.
Thanks


"Dear Mr. ******:
 
Please see the attached correspondence regarding the unauthorized use of 500px’s image on your company’s website. You need to contact me as soon as possible to discuss this serious copyright infringement matter before we proceed with further action.
 
Sincerely,

Artist Defense
Michael Hilsheimer
ArtistDefense Inc.
3 Concorde Gate, 4th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M3C 3N7
416-929-5552
Michael@artistdefense.com
http://www.artistdefense.com

« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 04:37:31 PM by Matthew Chan »

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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I'm not sold that Masterfile owns this entity, or shell company..only because they also send letters on behalf of 500px and others...could it be that well known MF troll Geoffrey Beal has left Masterfile and started his own gig??
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.
Robert Krausankas

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Matthew Chan

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The street address ArtistDefense uses matches the street address of Masterfile. See the Bloomberg info below on Masterfile.

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=6876935

I believe Masterfile "owns" ArtistDefense in much the same way Getty Images "owns" the LCS operation.

I'm not sold that Masterfile owns this entity, or shell company..only because they also send letters on behalf of 500px and others...could it be that well known MF troll Geoffrey Beal has left Masterfile and started his own gig??
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.

Matthew Chan

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Salsaguy,

ArtistDefense is fairly new and we have not many complaints or submissions about them yet. I still believe that Masterfile "owns" ArtistDefense to pursue both Masterfile and non-Masterfile infringements. It feels similar to Getty using LCS to pursue non-Getty infringements.

By virtue of my belief that ArtistDefense is representing non-Masterfile infringement claims, I generally view them as less "threatening" than a typical Masterfile demand letter. However, it is possible that ArtistDefense works on behalf of its parent company, Masterfile, in their claims.

If ArtistDefense is demanding payment on behalf of any other party besides Masterfile, I think it is less threatening.

Again, this is all based on the sparse information I have so far.

I've read through a couple ELI threads but I'm sure I still have much to learn. My questions is, do I just try to bargain Michael down to $200 and pay? I rechecked the link Matthew Chan posted earlier, ArtistDefense inc still isn't registered in Canada from the looks of it. On top of that their website looks so basic. The whole affair stinks of a scam to me. Is it an actual scam to be ignored or is it legitimate? I've already taken down the image.
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.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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The street address ArtistDefense uses matches the street address of Masterfile. See the Bloomberg info below on Masterfile.

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=6876935

I believe Masterfile "owns" ArtistDefense in much the same way Getty Images "owns" the LCS operation.

I'm not sold that Masterfile owns this entity, or shell company..only because they also send letters on behalf of 500px and others...could it be that well known MF troll Geoffrey Beal has left Masterfile and started his own gig??

I'm sold..shame on me, I must be getting old, as I didn't check this myself..the very basic of research.
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.
Robert Krausankas

I have a few friends around here..

Matthew Chan

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Is it like me sometimes thinking an obscure demand letter is "new" when it is actually "old" and already written about on the ELI Forums?  LOL.

I'm sold..shame on me, I must be getting old, as I didn't check this myself..the very basic of research.
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.

lawneedsanupdate

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I received one of the ArtistDefense demand packages on behalf of Masterfile in the amount of $5,000+ for 1 image that was used on a popular user generated content website that I own. This was now back about 7 or 8 months ago. It came urgent via Fedex.

I did not make a payment to them, and I did not negotiate with them. I did however get back to them via e-mail to inform them that this was a user generated content website as I felt that they did not have a case against me. From my point of view, if Masterfile were successful with these claims, this would effectively be the end of the Internet as we know it.

This is clearly an abuse of the law. If there is anything that I can provide to Matthew or Robert from my experience, please let me know.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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I received one of the ArtistDefense demand packages on behalf of Masterfile in the amount of $5,000+ for 1 image that was used on a popular user generated content website that I own. This was now back about 7 or 8 months ago. It came urgent via Fedex.

I did not make a payment to them, and I did not negotiate with them. I did however get back to them via e-mail to inform them that this was a user generated content website as I felt that they did not have a case against me. From my point of view, if Masterfile were successful with these claims, this would effectively be the end of the Internet as we know it.

This is clearly an abuse of the law. If there is anything that I can provide to Matthew or Robert from my experience, please let me know.

If you "own" a site that depends on user generated content, it would be in your best interest to to spend the money and file for a "registered agent". This would afford you safe harbor provisions under the DMCA, providing you do it correctly and adhere to the rules contained within.. Unfortunately it would not help you much with the current MF situation.
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.
Robert Krausankas

I have a few friends around here..

Matthew Chan

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I can't remember the name of a recent case (I think it was a BWP Media case) where a ruling was issued that a website owner does NOT automatically lose protections simply because a website does not have a DMCA agent. It was stated that the DMCA is a supplement in addition to existing copyright law, it does NOT override or supplant existing copyright laws.

Essentially, a website owner should NOT be liable for what a 3rd-party user posts. But of course, most of us know that it won't stop Masterfile and their ilk from trying to collect money regardless.

Having said that, it is undeniable there is a greater safety/buffer by filing and appointing a DMCA agent.

If you "own" a site that depends on user generated content, it would be in your best interest to to spend the money and file for a "registered agent". This would afford you safe harbor provisions under the DMCA, providing you do it correctly and adhere to the rules contained within.. Unfortunately it would not help you much with the current MF situation.
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.

salsaguy

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UPDATE:
I have received a follow up communication from ArtistDefense (see below). Obviously, it's past the 'deadline' they gave me but I'm wondering if I should just pay this new amount ($175) and be done with it. My fear is that they give the full $500 to collections or something and I'll have people hounding me forever about it. It's much less than many people are being pursued for so should I just pay?

-Thanks

"WITHOUT PREJUDICE (For Settlement Purposes Only)
 
August 22, 2017
 
Dear Mr. [Salsaguy],
 
500px’s images are subject to copyright protection under the Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code.  The Copyright Act does not require any kind of intent or knowledge on the part of the infringer that his or her use infringed upon another party’s copyright.  Therefore, even if you did not know that 500px’s images were copyrighted or that you lacked authorization to use them, you are still liable. The image does not have to be removed as it is a Premium Royalty Free Image, but ArtistDefense does need to be paid for the use of 500px’s intellectual property.
 
The fee for using a Premium Royalty-Free image without a license or authorization from our client is US$500.00. After speaking to our President, ArtistDefense is willing to resolve this matter for the sum of One Hundred Seventy Five United States dollars (US$175.00).  This proposal is based on our client’s standard license fees for a low resolution image without recovering any of our third party fees. This offer involves a compromise and if we resolve this matter you can use the image moving forward.
 
 
Kindly contact me on or before the close of business on August 28, 2017 with your intentions regarding our offer to settle this matter amicably.
 
Upon accepting our offer I will create a Settlement Agreement for your perusal and if acceptable your signature. Our President will counter sign the Agreement and a fully executed Agreement will be sent to you, via e-mail, for your records.
 
 
This email is an attempt to settle this matter amicably and without prejudice.  All rights and remedies are reserved whether legal or equitable."

Matthew Chan

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My answer is a little late but $175 settlement fee seems sufficiently low enough to pay for those who want to put an end to the matter and have closure.
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.

nobsyoga

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I just got one of these extortion letter myself from "Artists Defense".  I just found out today how big of a racket this is.  Anyway, I signed up for the 30 minute call with Matt to see if my case might fall under fair use.  i run a blog that teaches people about spirituality and the Yoga Sutras to help addicts.  The picture in question has been removed from my blog.  My blog itself is a subsection of my site, which may not help to much in my case.

 

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