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Author Topic: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)  (Read 1884 times)

ohyeahtakethat

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Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« on: August 07, 2018, 11:37:19 AM »
A few weeks ago my fiance and I received a pixsy letter. They're demanding $500+ on the behalf of a photographer. The image is a protein powder scoop, unremarkable to say the least. We found the image using Google's free use tool, but didn't know there were stipulations involved, so we gave no attribution.

The photographer lives in Europe but HAS sued two companies in the US over copyright infringement this year and last year. We are in the US.

The thing is, our blog site hardly makes any money, we are not an LLC or anything like that. Similar protein powder images are all over the internet and are available for free with no license or attribution.

I have offered to settle for $10.00 as a "fair market value" for the picture but Pixsy isn't budging at all on their ridiculous $500+ license fee (FOR A PICTURE OF A SCOOP OF PROTEIN POWDER). They also can't provide me any history of that photo being purchased for that price.

What do you guys think? Should I just start ignoring these letters at this point and risk actually being sued by someone with a history of suing for copyright?

UnfairlyTargeted

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2018, 01:11:05 PM »
In the off chance he actually sues and in the off chance he actually wins a judgment....  who cares?  Just don't pay it.  It's very hard to get money from someone who doesn't want to pay anything, even with a judgment.

I wouldn't pay a talentless POS Pixsy "photographer" a single fucking cent.  The people that use Pisxy are unsuccessful pieces of human trash that have no other way to sell their crappy photos of protein powder, and they know it.  Read up in photography channels how they talk about how to extort the maximum money from people and how they can't sell their photos for more than pennies otherwise.  There's one really notorious POS, Tom Schwabel, who has a whole handbook and manifesto online with full instructions on how to carry out this scam.

What I do is expose the POS for who he is, make sure his "customers" (if he has any) are made known that he's a POS.

DavidVGoliath

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2018, 04:55:56 AM »
In the off chance he actually sues and in the off chance he actually wins a judgment....  who cares?  Just don't pay it.  It's very hard to get money from someone who doesn't want to pay anything, even with a judgment.

Stellar legal advice there, fella: just ignore a judgement if sued. Way to run the risk of a contempt of court charge - doubly so since copyright claims are tried at Federal level.

I wouldn't pay a talentless POS Pixsy "photographer" a single fucking cent.  The people that use Pisxy are unsuccessful pieces of human trash that have no other way to sell their crappy photos of protein powder, and they know it.

You do know Pixsy is a reverse-search service used by photographers of all kinds, right? You can't "sell" pictures using Pixsy... it's just a tool that you can use to track down unlicensed uses of your work.

Read up in photography channels how they talk about how to extort the maximum money from people and how they can't sell their photos for more than pennies otherwise.

This is the second time in a month that you've made this bold, unsubstantiated claim: I asked you before to give me even one example of a photo website/forum where specific (or even implied) discussions of using copyright claims to 'extort' people are prevalent, and you've failed to do so... so, again, I'm calling BS on this hyperbole.

There's one really notorious POS, Tom Schwabel, who has a whole handbook and manifesto online with full instructions on how to carry out this scam.

You first posted about Schwabel almost four years ago. That's a long time to hold such a bitter, vitriolic grudge against someone who contacted you directly without lawyering up, asked you to stop using their work and pay a very reasonable, low figure settlement for your past use of their work.

That level of anger is a hot stone: the longer and tighter you hold on to it, the more you burn only yourself.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2018, 02:12:13 PM »
Can you point me to a copyright infringement case where there was a judgment on a copyright infringement case where there was a "contempt of court charge"? It is my understanding that, at best, various collection efforts are made or perhaps seeking meaningful assets (if any) to collect unpaid judgments.

I don't see how there is any "contempt of court" issue by virtue of a simple unpaid federal judgment. As far as I have ever seen or heard in the context of small-time cases we discuss, unpaid judgments generally just sit unless the plaintiff feels VERY MOTIVATED and wants to incur the expense and aggravation to take collection types of actions. But even then, that is not "contempt of court".

My understand of "contempt of court" appears to be vastly different from what you are inferring. That is the first I have heard anyone mention of this in the context of the small-time cases we discuss here.

In the 10 years I have discussed with Oscar Michelen possible negative consequences of unpaid copyright infringement judgments, he has never breathed a word about "contempt of court".  Other phrases and possible actions were discussed but zippo about "contempt of court".

As a practical matter, I am very skeptical about "contempt of court" as a likely consequence. However, if you know of some actual cases, I am happy to follow-up on my end.

Stellar legal advice there, fella: just ignore a judgement if sued. Way to run the risk of a contempt of court charge - doubly so since copyright claims are tried at Federal level.
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, epithets, & profanity. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2018, 02:36:19 PM »
DvG,

As a reminder, ELI and the ELI Forums were born out of anger. It continues to exist as an undertone. The anger of what many of us believe as unreasonable, disproportionate demands over low-value images and how there is this belief that everyone has to pay money for some of these de minimus infringements.

As has been said many times, most major media companies don't even engage in those types of tactics and trying to extract money from the little guy but they are certainly very firm in their take-down demands.

And there is a certain truth that many small-time photographers are using these demand letters as a way to monetize their inherently low-value work. This is not meant to be insulting. It is a simple fact that since the advent of digital photography there is a glut of imagery. Even with higher-value paparazzi photos, I have read many articles in the age of cell phones, paparazzi photos don't have the value as they once did 30 years ago. There are endless examples of why MOST imagery have declining value nowadays. Of course, I speak in general terms.  But so much of what we see, I consider "low-value" images.

And if I "asked" you nicely to pay me $1,000 because you have posted opposing opinions from what many of us believe, would you pay?  Or if you broke some ELI policy or rule and I "asked" for money, would you pay?  Of course not. You would either laugh, get pissed, or do both but not pay.  "Asking" for money "nicely" has little to do with it. "Asking" for money without a lawyer has little to do with it. In many cases, many people believe that a takedown demand is more appropriate as a first-response.

While we don't wear our anger on our sleeves, there is a reason why Oscar, I, and many long-timers do what we do on ELI. There is a reason why there are many loyal ELI readers and followers. There is a great deal of "anger" of how the demand letter racket works and we do a small part to counter that through informal education.

There will probably never be consensus on the issue.  DvG, you are the minority opinion here and I think you know that. You are paddling upstream here. Certainly, you are free to post as you have been because your posts are generally thought-provoking and informed. But you slant pro-artist just as our posts are pro-layman.

Bottom line, anger will continue to exist as long as people are demanding money from others in situations where people feel they should not have to. This is true here as well as anywhere else where money is involved.

You first posted about Schwabel almost four years ago. That's a long time to hold such a bitter, vitriolic grudge against someone who contacted you directly without lawyering up, asked you to stop using their work and pay a very reasonable, low figure settlement for your past use of their work.

That level of anger is a hot stone: the longer and tighter you hold on to it, the more you burn only yourself.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2018, 02:50:51 PM 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, epithets, & profanity. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

DavidVGoliath

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2018, 06:01:14 PM »
Can you point me to a copyright infringement case where there was a judgment on a copyright infringement case where there was a "contempt of court charge"? It is my understanding that, at best, various collection efforts are made or perhaps seeking meaningful assets (if any) to collect unpaid judgments.

I don't know of any copyright cases where a civil contempt of court action has been lodged as a response to non-payment of a court order; with that said, there are two caveats to my statement: firstly, I am not a lawyer and, secondly, petitioning for a charge of civil contempt would certainly be an option in these types of cases... an extreme one to be sure, but one that exists nonetheless (see https://litigation.findlaw.com/going-to-court/civil-contempt-of-court.html for some information)

Ethan Seven

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2018, 08:09:02 PM »
Unfairly Targeted may have enough evidence to survive a motion to dismiss if he filed a claim based on infliction of emotional distress against Tom Schwabel.   Schwabel may have damaged him for life.  He is clearly now not able to think rationally or coherently about copyright.

Having anger is one thing.  Having lingering anger that drives one to make irrational and unfounded assertions, especially is the context of giving someone legal advice is quite another.   

In my reading of this board’s older posts, particularly some of the older posts by Mr. Michelin, the mindset was the demands being made are outrageous, but if you used the image, make an appropriate offer to compensate for the use and, maybe, part of the costs incurred.   That is a very rational and just mindset that balances regards for the copyright holder with awareness that some infringers are less sophisticated, or less able to pay or less culpable than others, and therefore, should not be subject to outrageous demands or pay inflated amounts.  There was, and for the most part remains a nice balance of  respect for people’s intellectual property rights and desire not to see people get exploited in a rigged game. 

That is a massive contrast from the mindset reflected in posts by Unfairly Targeted.  His posts insult any copyright holder who wants to enforce their rights.  He assumes every photo has no value (despite the obvious fact that it does because someone used it).   He always advocates ignoring requests for any compensation.   He almost always advocates harassing or making anyone’s life miserable if they try to protect their copyright.    I won’t even mention the constant gross misstatements of law.

If Tom Schwabel reads these boards and is the bastard that UT says he is, then Shwabel is probably laughing his ass off at the rants by Unfairly Targeted, knowing that he knocked him off his nut for several years.

I think DvG’s advice about letting the anger go is sage in this instance. 

As far as a contempt order arising from a judgment, DvG is also correct.   That is just one of many bad things that can result from a judgment.   Once there is a judgment, there can be a debtors exam.  Guess what you get if you don’t show up for one of those.   The correct answer starts with “C” and it also comes with a special coupon for free ride in the back of a police car, called a warrant. 

I am sure user “A Lawyer” can point to more examples that further illustrate the ignorance and irresponsibleness that comes with the statement “who cares?.  It’s very hard to get money from someone who doesn’t want to pay anything, even with a judgment.”   I pity anyone who relies on such a statement.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2018, 02:06:48 AM by Ethan Seven »
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.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2018, 11:45:03 AM »
What i find interesting is that Unfairly Targeteds first post regarding Schwabel, was 4 yrs ago ( as mentioned by DvG, i did not verify this on my own)...the SOL is 3 yrs...so in essence it's over and done with...

I for one have always respected the copyrights of others, and have no issue with photographers enforcing those rights, my issue is the amounts demanded, and the way in which attempt to enforce their rights.. andf this does not apply to all of the letters we have seen. We have seen some letters that request a reasonable amount and even Getty themselves have drastically lowered the settlement amounts.
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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Matthew Chan

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2018, 02:18:11 PM »
Thanks for elaborating.  Your link fits perfectly my layman understanding of "contempt of court" which is generally used for being disrespectful to the judge, staff, etc. plus some additional nuances. It gives examples of failure to pay child support which is something against deadbeat parents or not turning over records in a proceeding.

However, my general layman's opinion, is that simply not paying a judgment falls outside of that. I think initiating action to take over assets such as levying someone's bank account is actually more direct and relevant than trying to hold someone in contempt of court for not paying.

You may be correct that it could hypothetically happen but so is someone getting into a fender-bender every time someone drives their car. I see the civil contempt of court as a very, very low likelihood.

I don't know of any copyright cases where a civil contempt of court action has been lodged as a response to non-payment of a court order; with that said, there are two caveats to my statement: firstly, I am not a lawyer and, secondly, petitioning for a charge of civil contempt would certainly be an option in these types of cases... an extreme one to be sure, but one that exists nonetheless (see https://litigation.findlaw.com/going-to-court/civil-contempt-of-court.html for some information)
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, epithets, & profanity. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2018, 02:49:40 PM »
As always, you provide a well-written thoughtful response. My comments inline about UT (Unfairly Targeted).

Having anger is one thing.  Having lingering anger that drives one to make irrational and unfounded assertions, especially is the context of giving someone legal advice is quite another.

I don't think there is a widespread danger that people believe UT is a lawyer, paralegal, or other recognized authority on the subject. He is an angry victim stating his personal opinion. I hardly consider it "legal advice" in the traditional sense. However disagreeable it might be, he is entitled to his opinion.


That is a massive contrast from the mindset reflected in posts by Unfairly Targeted.  His posts insult any copyright holder who wants to enforce their rights.  He assumes every photo has no value (despite the obvious fact that it does because someone used it).   He always advocates ignoring requests for any compensation.   He almost always advocates harassing or making anyone’s life miserable if they try to protect their copyright.    I won’t even mention the constant gross misstatements of law.

UT espouses a more extreme point of view. However, I do sympathize with some broader points he tries to bluntly make. That is NOT an endorsement of a literal interpretation of what he writes but I think I "get" him. I take a lot of UT's responses as hyperbolic rhetoric than a literal interpretation. I also feel some of his "factual" statements are likely incorrect (such as those related to how many Schwabel Google entries there truly are. I interpret his rhetoric to means there are a LOT of them in Google.

As far as a contempt order arising from a judgment, DvG is also correct.   That is just one of many bad things that can result from a judgment.   Once there is a judgment, there can be a debtors exam.  Guess what you get if you don’t show up for one of those.   The correct answer starts with “C” and it also comes with a special coupon for free ride in the back of a police car, called a warrant. 

I give benefit of the doubt that this possibility exists. And maybe one day, we will see a copyright infringement case in which that happens where someone elects to plead/file "contempt of court" because of an unpaid judgment. However, I still think it is likely analogous to finding albinos in wildlife. They exist but very rarely.  We have just never heard of seen such a thing in the 10 years we been dealing with small-time cases (as compared to major media copyright infringement cases). 
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, epithets, & profanity. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

Xiaozz

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2018, 12:35:11 AM »
SAME CASE HERE! I’m in the US. I got email from Pixsy, they asked me 400 for a pic I put on my website longtime ago, a very not clear pic I searched from google( absolutely I searched free image....). My website is shut down long time ago btw. In the email, He didn’t even introduce his full name all he wants is money or else he will let his attorney to keep up with me. My first reaction was “this is a scam”. Then I replied him that he can’t charge me for a pic that I never even used plus my website is shutdown I never used the pics. He literally just copied the info on their website about copyright infringement. Then I realize this is a blackmail. :) I asked him for the copyright info(Meanwhile I did reaserch of the copyright, no data shows in the US.  I get really pissed that there are some people make money by fooling innocents, it’s not ethical at all. Never mention he replied my email at 4:30am. What type of office open at 4:30? Then I told him I’m not gonna make any payment for a pic I never used and I won’t use at, also followed email to a friend who’s a lawyer, the guy prom Pixsy said to my friend that “Could you please explain to your client that copyright is a strict liability offense. That use of any imagery found online almost always and with very few exceptions must be licensed prior to use.
And that, since our client, the copyright owner of the image, did not receive a request for permission to use the image in question, your client has infringed the owner’s copyright and a license fee is therefore due.”

Here’s something more interesting. I contact the photographer asked him about if the person from Pixsy is real, he replied me said that “Pixsy is the law firm represent me,bla bla bla,  they charge less than I thought, normally I charge 1000-2000 a photo.....”
Lollllllll

Anyway, I wonder how you guys handled them, I honestly don’t think they can do anything expect bluffing and blackmailing.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2018, 12:38:16 AM by Xiaozz »

UnfairlyTargeted

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2018, 01:41:33 PM »
So, why do I say photos are worth very little?  Check this out:
http://www.microstockposts.com/istock-contributors-furious-over-new-royalty-of-2-cents/

So if a piece of shit like Schwabel sells photos on Getty (he does), then he's accepted that he'll be paid TWO CENTS per license.  If you get a letter from this royal piece of trash or any other Pixsy trash and you feel you must reply, offer two cents, but tell him that your hourly rate to verify his claim is at least minimum wage.  Since you will spend more than a minute or two reading his crappy email, then he now owes you for your time, which exceeded two cents.

Write ripoffreports and bad reviews of these fucktards and move on with your life.  They don't deserve the time of day.

As to the anger, maybe if your reputation is dragged through the toilet for a few years, your criminal record is dragged up and sent to all of your clients, sponsors, friends, employers, and customers, you're audited constantly because someone keeps tipping the IRS off that you're taking your extortion money under the table, then maybe you will think twice about writing an email over a stupid fucking image on the internet.  One that's no different than a million other images on the internet that are free.

DavidVGoliath

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2018, 09:25:39 AM »
So, why do I say photos are worth very little?  Check this out:
http://www.microstockposts.com/istock-contributors-furious-over-new-royalty-of-2-cents/

You're quoting someone saying they're quitting iStock because of low royalty rates. Not exactly helping your case.

So if a piece of shit like Schwabel sells photos on Getty (he does), then he's accepted that he'll be paid TWO CENTS per license.

Nope. The percentage of revenue paid to iStock contributors is between 10 - 20%. Now I'm not going to argue that $0.02 is anything other than an abysmally low cut for anyone to get for their work, especially since that means it would have been an image licensed for $0.20 or $0.40. Those sort of revenue splits happen when iStock gets a monthly payment from one of their subscription clients; the ones who pay several hundred or thousand dollars per month to iStock and get to use a fixed number of images during that period. In other situations, an iStock contributor might make significantly more money depending on the license e.g. if it's a one-time purchase for a wide swathe of rights.

Conversely, there are other photographers who self-manage, employ agents, or work with boutique agencies who charge very high fees for licenses. This is particularly true in the cutthroat world of celebrity and entertainment images, where a good exclusive shot (or series) can command five, six or even seven-figure fees.

If you get a letter from this royal piece of trash or any other Pixsy trash and you feel you must reply, offer two cents, but tell him that your hourly rate to verify his claim is at least minimum wage.  Since you will spend more than a minute or two reading his crappy email, then he now owes you for your time, which exceeded two cents.

I said in a previous post: Pixsy is just a tool that can be used to verify if an image is being used under license or not. I personally use Pixsy on occasion to see what's out there but have never used their claims handling process.

My own photographs are routinely licensed for three and four-figure sums, and I can (and have) proven this during legal proceedings - so I guarantee you that myself, and many of my peers, absolutely have our ducks in a row when we initiate infringement claims, and if someone tried to counter with an $0.02 offer, I'd likely move to file at court fairly rapidly.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2018, 11:53:53 AM »
not to mention the vast difference in pricing between "royalty free" and "rights managed" images..
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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UnfairlyTargeted

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Re: Pixsy Letter (photographer has history of suing)
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2018, 02:29:53 PM »
Uh, Schwabel still has images with Getty.  So that sack of shit has agreed to two cents per image.

As to images selling for hundreds, thousands, millions of dollars...  please show me some examples.  I'm curious how these are so different and better than what's free.

As to someone using a Pixsy troll's image and saying it must have value because someone used it...  maybe someone thought the image was the correct one for the price... free... not knowing that it had been seeded by Schwabel to trap them into an extortion scheme.  I certainly wouldn't pay for that shit.  It's like beer.  I'll drink a Bud Light if it's free.  But if I have to pay I'll find something better than piss water.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 02:32:57 PM by UnfairlyTargeted »

 

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