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Author Topic: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs  (Read 28528 times)

ChicagoNicePerson

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I have never experienced this and there hasn't been a lot online about CartoonStock suing. Long story short, I used a cartoon image I picked up off Google Images on my website only. It was not used for profit, was not printed, and more importantly is not copyright noted nor is it an exact match to the image they are claiming I took from their catalog, rather a variation of it. I also did not change the image. I have replied as such with a side by side image showing this but they are being aggressive. Here is our correspondence today and the image. I realize it's under $100 they are asking but it was a total accident and isn't obvious to me on the image I used. Money is tight and I am just wondering if this is for real??

I can't figure out how to attach image but mine has NO side text with copyright and usage info: https://lcs.cartoonstock.com/4T68H5R6

License Compliance Services, CartoonStock Ltd.

605 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104
United States

12-Dec-2014

Dear Stacy McArdle,

It has come to the attention of CartoonStock Ltd that an image or image(s) represented by CartoonStock Ltd are being used or have been used online by your company. According to our records there is no valid license issued to your company for the use of the image(s).

To view the image(s) in question together with the usage(s) found on your company’s website (http://www.stacymcardle.org/), go to: https://lcs.cartoonstock.com/4T68H5R6

Using a CartoonStock Ltd image without a valid license is considered copyright infringement and in violation of the Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code, entitling CartoonStock Ltd to seek compensation for infringing uses. CartoonStock Ltd is committed to protect the interests, intellectual property and livelihoods of the contributors with whom we work.

To resolve this matter (Case Ref: 4T68-H5R6):
_____________________________________________________________

    If a valid license has been issued for the image(s) in question:

    Please email the license purchase information to LCS@cartoonstock.com within 10 business days of the date of this letter.

    If a valid license proof cannot be found:

        Please cease using the image(s) in question immediately.

        In addition, a $98.70 settlement payment should be received within 10 business days of the date of this letter. The payment options are detailed below. Ceasing use of the image(s) does not release your company of its responsibility to pay for the image(s) already used.

Remittance Payment Options (settlement fee: $98.70)
_____________________________________________________________
 
    You can remit your payment online at:
    https://lcs.cartoonstock.com/4T68H5R6

    Remit Check Payment To:

    License Compliance Services
    Picscout Inc.
    605 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 400
    Seattle, WA 98104
    United States

    Please include Reference Number 4T68-H5R6 with check payment.

    Alternatively, you may contact us at +1 855 387 8725.

  We believe that prompt cooperation will benefit all concerned parties.

If you would like to continue to use the image(s) in question, or if you believe you have mistakenly received this letter, please contact us by email at LCS@cartoonstock.com, or call +1 855 387 8725 and we will assist you.

This letter is without prejudice to CartoonStock Ltd’s rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.

Sincerely,

License Compliance Services, CartoonStock Ltd.
LCS@cartoonstock.com

 
Frequently Asked Questions

What is CartoonStock Ltd?
Based in the city of Bath in the west of England, CartoonStock was founded in early 1997 as a stock-house through which quality cartoonists could sell unpublished work, or work in which they had retained the copyright. We sell to large and small publishers, advertising, design and PR agencies and countless corporate purchasers and private individuals worldwide. As well as selling stock, we can also arrange the commissioning of artwork from almost all of our artists.

CartoonStock was founded and is still run by Ed Beardwell a new media consultant/developer, Engineer and Chartered Accountant and Joel Mishon, a professional cartoonist. Our close knit team has a wealth of knowledge of the cartooning industry and we can provide assistance with almost all cartoon sourcing issues.
CartoonStock was the first searchable cartoon archive on the web and the first to offer instant online licensing and downloading of printable images. We now provide more images online and a wider range of subject matter, artists and purchasing options than any other service. Our in-house staff of thirteen handles all elements of the business from cartoonist liaison and image acquisition, through image scanning, processing and cataloguing, to web development, client account handling, marketing and all back-office activities. By keeping all these skills and facilities in-house, we can offer unrivalled flexibility and speed of response to our clients and can ensure the business develops to keep pace with (or be one step ahead of) our market.

We now represent over 600 of the World's best cartoonists and our collection and cartoonists roster continues to grow rapidly.

Why is CartoonStock Ltd contacting me?

Your website was recognized by an internet service CartoonStock Ltd uses to identify all online uses of images we represent. After notification by this service and upon review of our billing systems there is no record of a valid license for use of the image(s) identified online.

What if I didn’t know?

You may have employed a third party, former worker or intern to design and develop your company’s site. However, the liability of any infringement ultimately falls on the company (the end user) who hired that party, employee or intern. You may have been unaware this material was subject to license. The Copyright Act treats infringements as “no fault,” meaning anyone who copies, displays or publicly distributes a photograph infringes the copyright whether they were aware that the use was infringing or not.

What if I simply remove the image?

While we appreciate the effort of removing the material in question from your site, we still require compensation. Your company has benefited by using our imagery without permission from CartoonStock Ltd or its represented contributors. As the unauthorized use has already occurred, payment for that benefit is necessary.

What if I need to speak further with somebody to discuss this matter?

Please either email us at LCS@cartoonstock.com or call +1 855 387 8725.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Re: Unauthorized Use of CartoonStock Ltd Image(s) - Ref: 4T68-H5R6
People

        me
        Today at 9:59 AM

To        lcs@cartoonstock.com

This message contains blocked images.
Hi,

First off, I have kindly removed the image I was using. Please see my attached image to understand my following reasonable argument against your threat. The problem here is you have no grounds to sue me for this amount as the image I was using, that you have record of, does NOT have copyright info on it. I found this image on Google Images and did not change it in any way. So, someone else is hosting a clean version of the cartoon without the copyright info you are showing in your catalog. I have removed it
and will never use anything marked Cartoon Stock again.

Best, Stacy
 
Stacy McArdle, Artist
http://www.meditationartist.com/

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stacy,

Copyright protection exists in an image upon the moment of creation. The ability to view content via social media, Google, Yahoo or other internet searches does not mean that permission to use any content has been granted to anyone.  These entities do not own those images and have no authority to offer them for use, free or otherwise.   An internet search merely provides you with responses to the query you entered.   For example, say your query is “pictures of black dogs.”  The search engine then goes to the internet and copies 500 pictures of black dogs, which would be responses to your query.  The engine is copying or reflecting just what it finds on the internet, which includes copies of the image of our customers who are legitimately displaying the image because they properly purchased a license to use the image before displaying it.    Google does have a warning on the images which reads:  “Image may be subject to copyright.”    If you obtained other image content via any of these methods, you may want to remove that content from the website as well.

Google’s terms of use also states:

Using our Services does not give you ownership of any intellectual property rights in our Services or the content you access. You may not use content from our Services unless you obtain permission from its owner or are otherwise permitted by law.

The damages we seek are based on what CartoonStock Ltd and its represented photographer have been injured as a result of the unauthorized use and now seek to be made whole. These damages are calculated by the lost licensing fees, including our costs of enforcement.  Had the infringement not occurred of our represented photographers’ copyrights, we would not be attempting to recover these fees and the added efforts to pursue this unauthorized use matter.

Please contact our License Compliance Team at 1-855-387-8725 between 8:00AM to 5:00PM (PST) Monday thru Friday. We are willing to work with you to settle this matter amicably.

Regards,

Matthew J. Adams
License Compliance Services, CartoonStock Ltd.
P: 1.855.387.8725 E: lcs@cartoonstock.com
605 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104

cid:image005.png@01CFF456.63C47D20

 -------------------------------------------------------------------

        me
        Today at 10:21 AM

To        LCServices Inc

Your image in catalog has different information on it and is a variation of the image I used. I suggest you meditate. Thanks!
 
Stacy McArdle, Artist
http://www.meditationartist.com/

-----------------------------------------------------------------

        LCServices Inc
        Today at 10:24 AM

To        me

This message contains blocked images.

Stacy,
 
We will forward your case to our legal department for further review as requested.

Regards,

Matthew J. Adams
License Compliance Services, CartoonStock Ltd.
P: 1.855.387.8725 E: lcs@cartoonstock.com
605 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104
 
cid:image005.png@01CFF456.63C47D20
« Last Edit: December 14, 2014, 12:48:56 AM by Matthew Chan »

lucia

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2014, 12:19:55 PM »
The link https://lcs.cartoonstock.com/4T68H5R6
 is showing me

Reference number not found. Please confirm reference number or Contact us if error persists.

stinger

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2014, 01:00:42 PM »
They clearly gave you the wrong reference number.  I can't find it either.

You should know that the Digital Media Copyright Act does not require a copyright notification on images for the copyright to be enforceable.  As a software guy, this is something I don't understand.  So, they may be justified in their request.

That said, a lot of other things need to be right for them ever to collect anything.  However, if they do choose to pursue this, it might cost you a lot more than $100 to be proven right - and you might not be.

My suggestion is either pay them or ignore them.  There is no middle ground.  You can't hire an attorney in any capacity for less than $100.  Knowing that the image has been removed, they may choose not to pursue it.  On the other hand, if they choose to pursue it, you might be left wondering why you didn't take the cheap $100 way out.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2014, 09:02:24 PM »
They have you on the hook and they now know it..you freely admitted using the image, you freely admitted you grabbed it from google, you freely admitted that you do not really know much about copyright law.easist to just pay the hundred bucks and move on..

100.00 is actually a reasonable number compared to what we've seen in the past..this is really a no brainer..pay it and be done, at the end of the day you infringed.
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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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2014, 12:58:37 AM »
I understand Robert's pragmatic position of paying the $100 and just calling it a day because everyone's time is valuable.

But I would be remiss in stating that paying even the relatively small amount of $100 (compared to what we normally see) feeds into the extortion system.

It is too easy for these extortionists to move their model to a $100-$200 per image scam operation and allow them to make unsupportable claims on anyone due to their sloppiness.

From what I see, if the image in question is simply not the image you used and they decide to pursue this aggressively through a lawsuit, they could be on the hook for YOUR inconvenience and legal fees.

When it comes to paying anyone, I scrutinize every bill I pay.  Too many scammer operations trying to steal money from people under the pretext that it is too small to worry about. They get you once and they will come after you again if they know you are an easy mark.

As far as I am concerned, you didn't "admit" to the image in question.  You are, in fact, performing due diligence which is a wise move.
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.

Roberta

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2015, 05:49:57 PM »
I just had the exact same thing happen to me.  I'm the Christian Education director in a small rural church, and the cartoon was on a For Parents web page as a chuckle for our volunteer parents.  We're a mission driven church, so money is a luxury.  After removing the cartoon immediately, with an apology note, they sent another email saying we owed them $109.  After a phone call, and me sending our Tax Exempt, non- profit documentation, they were "kind" enough to drop the fine to $87.20.

All the documentation is identical to yours, right down to the image I posted had none of the copyright protected information that their catalogue image shows.  That amount of money takes money from funding that we could use for providing for a fuel fund for a family...I am ill over the whole thing.

It seems they have random pricing for fines, and do not provide any sort of invoice.  The grumpy man I spoke to on the phone said something to the effect that I can either pay it, or not, and wait to see if they'll go after me.

Really - is that any way to talk to a church lady?

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2015, 10:16:47 PM »
It's only about the money for them.  The odds of them suing for 87 bucks is almost nill.
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.

--Greg Troy

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2015, 10:51:35 AM »
Yeah I highly doubt they will spend 395.00 to file siut over 87.00 bucks.. You could publicly shame them on the interwebs, it would be a nice "ding" to their reputation..."grumpy man tries to shake down church over cartoon image"..I/m sure being a "church lady" you'd be above that tho.. ; )
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..

Roberta

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2015, 12:50:30 PM »
Well...there's a thought.
Thanks for making me feel a bit better...I'm loading my quiver, there's always that story about a little boy, a mean giant...and a sling.

Roberta

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2015, 03:12:14 PM »
By the way - they, the Cartoonstock legal compliance team,  are now sending threatening letters to our little church, and have increased the "fine".  Please note - their letters are send on low grade xerox type paper, with no signature, proper letter head other that a poor quality image copy.
Now what?

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Re: Sued by Cartoon Stock for One Image On Website - but variation of theirs
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2015, 03:54:59 PM »
I would ignore them.
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.

--Greg Troy

Sandra Rose

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Good advice in this thread. Just ignore them, Roberta. In the future, when you get letters, don't respond. And don't click on any links in the emails. This is a version of the Nigerian scams. They are hoping you will pay to avoid a lawsuit that they don't intend to file because the expense isn't worth it for them. :)

WorkingArtist

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I do copyright advocacy protection for artists.  I also work for syndicated cartoonist who has won many awards, in hundreds of newspapers and has books, greeting cards and calendars.  You might think that he makes a lot of money from the above but most of the money that he makes is from selling the rights to use his work for other people's projects, newsletters, church flyers, presentations, facebook pages,  etc. 

Selling the reprint usage rights is how he earns income to support his family.  When you use his image or any image found on the web, you are in many cases stealing the usage rights from the creator. 

In 1976 copyright law was changed so that registration wasn't required but if registered, if used, the copyright owner can sue the person who used the cartoon without permission and recoup all legal fees and the infringer can be fined up to $150,000 per incident. 

Unless you know for a fact that the image was created in the 1800's you may be using an image that is under copyright protection. (There is more to the various laws but I don't want to bog down this post.)

 If the creator has attributed a Creative Commons license to the cartoon, you may more freely use the images as long as you provide the attribution that the creator requested but buyer beware - Often people will strip away identifying information and "pretend it was their creation". 

Additionally, after 1978, creative works were no longer required to have the copyright notice on the image to be copyrighted.  You really need to assume all images are under copyright.  Google images has no claim to any of the images found during searches and in fact are indemnified from copyright infringement by the Digital Millennium Digital Act but this does not protect the actual user.

Using other people's creations is not a victimless crime.  Every time someone uses an image without paying the artist's usage fees, it diminished the value of the image.   

CartoonStock is a business and it represents artists who are trying to earn a living and support themselves.  [

b]If you don't want to pay to use an image then don't use the image.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse.  [/b]  You wouldn't expect a grocery store to give you free food so why do people think using other people's creations is ok?

As an artist, I was surprised that you were unaware of copyright law but there's a difference between selling original artwork vs the image of the artwork. 

For the cartoonist I represent, I try to take a more gentle approach to copyright infringers that are of personal use vs corporate or non-profit organizations but I do send out notices. For corporate and non-profit organizations, I send out bills too. 

And there is a great misunderstand of what is considered "fair use" of an image. Just because you are not a commercial entity doesn't mean you automatically fall under fair use. There are four factors and the majority of uses don't meet the criteria.  If anyone is interested, I'll post a separate comment about fair use. 

Respectfully a person who earns her living selling an artist's usage rights.

scraggy

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Well, this is an odd story!

The letter claims that a company located in Bath, England owns the license to the image.

However, the payment is to be sent to "License Compliance Services" located at the exact same address as Getty Images corporate offices in the USA!
 
    605 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 400
    Seattle, WA 98104
    United States

If the UK based company ( CartoonStock ) really does own the exclusive license or the copyright to an image, then they will have to drag themselves across the Atlantic to sue. Getty Images cannot sue on their behalf.

I would say the chances of this happening are about as close to zero as you can get! I think that people in the USA can safely ignore the threats from this UK company!

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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The company is using Pic-Scout (a.k.a. Getty Images) to search for copyright violations.  Pic-Scout / Getty images license compliance team handles everything and if they collect forward Cartoon Stocks cut.  I have see this exact same thing from Otto, Trunk Archive and others.  All with the Getty address.
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.

--Greg Troy

 

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