Click Official ELI Links
Get Help With Your Extortion Letter | ELI Phone Support | ELI Legal Representation Program
Show your support of the ELI website & ELI Forums through a PayPal Contribution. Thank you for supporting the ongoing fight and reporting of Extortion Settlement Demand Letters.

Author Topic: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com  (Read 26216 times)

Matthew Chan

  • ELI Founder, "Admin-on-Hiatus"
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2764
  • 1st Amendment & Section 230 CDA Advocate
    • View Profile
    • Defiantly
I bring a warning and information about a Nicholas (Nick) Youngson (UK photographer) of NYPhotographic.com. He is represented by Higbee & Associates here in the U.S. In a short amount of time, I have run into the Nick Youngson / NYPhotographic free image/"Creative Commons" honey-trap.

As regular readers know, most lawyers working on such cases work on a commission basis (30%-35% range). They are incentivized to extract as much monies they can from any particular infringer. They also have discretion in these negotiations. They depend on people's legal ignorance and hope people will never find the ELI Forums or speak to me on an ELI Support Call.  But fortunately, people do find us and find me. 

In the case of Nick Youngson, it is plainly clear he delegates most of the process to his lawyer:

http://www.nyphotographic.com/about.html

Quote
I am spending my days locating my images that are being used without a valid license, emailing people asking them to pay the license fee and most are ignoring me.

I am now thoroughly fed up with this situation so as from now any site using my images without a valid license and being used to promote a service, I am going to pass straight to my attorney to deal with. I can't be expected to spend my days emailing people infringing my copyright only to get ignored or abused so now they can deal with my attorney.

Sites run by individuals not promoting a service will continue to receive an email asking them for my standard license fee of a few dollars.

Here's the problem I have.  On JPhotoStyle.com promoting all kinds of "free" images, it actively promotes NYPhotographic images and there is text that specifically states:

Quote
This picture related to XXXX may be used for free including for commercial purposes.

The picture below related to the word human resources is licensed by it's creator under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license which permits the free use of the image for any purpose including commercial use and also permits the image to be modified.

However, some of those same images also appear on the paid site, NYPhotographic.com for $9.95!

The photographer himself allows his photos to be used under Creative Commons use and prices his own photos at $9.95 but somehow when there is an "oopsie" mistake by the user, Higbee then tries to collect $5,000-$7,000.

Of course, it is a big "bargain" if Higbee drops the settlement amount by 50% right?  Meaning settling for $2,500 to $3,500 at 30% commission nets Higbee $750-$1,050. The photographer gets the other 70% at $1,750 to $4,900.  Not a bad profit for sending a few emails to infringers right?

Remember, Youngson is charging less than $10 per photo.  So the "infringement" penalty is 250 to 350 times the sales price of the image!

We rail on Getty Images, Masterfile, LCS, etc. all the time about their settlement amounts. But the scheme being use by Youngson to lure people into "free" sites under Creative Commons use and then popping the users of those "infringers" go way beyond the tactics of our standard extortionists.  Also, the standard extortionists do not charge $10 for their images (which have settlement amounts that are lower, if one pays at all) than what Higbee and Youngson is trying to pull off.

Higbee and their ilk are likely to say that just because someone infringes, they "deserve" that exorbitant amount. I call bullshit on that.  They are the same people who, if caught speeding 5 mph over the speed limit, and were handed a $2,000 speeding ticket, would squawk how unfair and disproportionate it was.

Higbee represents a variety of photographers from what I can tell. However, this Nick Youngson and NYPhotographic.com (with the help of Higbee & Associates) is particularly egregious and people need to be on the look out for this little setup racket.
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.

DavidVGoliath

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 221
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2016, 08:23:05 AM »
I'll agree that, at first blush, this appears to be some blatant scumfuckery; the website jphotostyle.com only has images by Nick Youngson. What sets my alarm bells ringing is that the WHOIS for jphotostyle.com is cloaked by a privacy service and was purchased via GoDaddy in Montenegro.

As working photographer, I'm absolutely f'n appalled by what appears to indeed be a blatant attempt at entrapment; I'm going to focus on just one particular image which implies this. Take a look at the picture at the following URL

http://stock-photos.nyphotographic.com/food-drink/instant-coffee02/

A javascript query of the server file above cites that the image file was last modified on March 11 of 2015.

The very first published use of this photograph that I can find is at http://3stylelife.com/hello-world, and a query of the server returns that the relevant image was last modified on 12 December of 2014, though the article that uses it cites a date of publication of September 9 of 2013.

Youngson's earliest copyright registered certificate is a group registration titled still-images-13-08-24 under certificate VAu-1-149-100, with an effective date of registration being August 26, 2013; this appears to be the only of Youngson's certificates that predates the published use of the coffee bean picture as on 3lifestyle.com

Now I wanted to see if there were any published uses of this specific photograph that predated either the published use on 3stylelife.com and/or the registration certificate... and I got one hit: a Russian language website called finska.ru, on a page with URL http://finska.ru/category_20.html; Google had indexed the page back on 12 October of 2010 and reported the image on that site.

Now, this isn't a smoking gun as the indexing pointed to the following file

http://finska.ru/data/images/stati/luchshiy-rastvorimyy-kofe/1.png

The reported date/time this image was last modified was on 9 September of 2015.

Regardless, one of the other things that has my alarm bells ringing is that all images on the website 3lifestyle.com are only from NYPhotographic; I can't wrap my head around as to why this would be, but one might suppose that Mr. Youngson created the website 3lifestyle.com so that his own business - nyphotographic.com - would show backlinks and start to rise up search engine rankings.

Now my alarm bells ring extra-loud for two more reasons: there's a robots.txt file on 3stylelife.com that doesn't allow archival indexing, and the WHOIS data for the site is obfuscated via DomainsByProxy.

Lastly, Mr. Youngson appears to have a very narrow oeuvre of images that also appear to be of very low quality (from a sharpness, lighting & compositional sense). It just strikes me as odd that someone would go to the trouble of registering a body of work with the Copyright Office and then offering it up for both Creative Commons uses and also paid licensing.

It's odder still when you look at the following archived snapshot of jphotostyle.com

http://web.archive.org/web/20140104041339/http://jphotostyle.com

I believe in strong copyrights, and I absolutely believe in the right of creators to seek fair compensation for unlicensed uses of their work - and that sometimes litigation is the only route to that end... but I equally believe that the laws, as written, should not be abused, and anyone who appears to be doing so absolutely should be called out for it.

Matthew Chan

  • ELI Founder, "Admin-on-Hiatus"
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2764
  • 1st Amendment & Section 230 CDA Advocate
    • View Profile
    • Defiantly
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2016, 02:38:14 PM »
I can never say for sure I know EVERYTHING about a situation that gets my attention. But I generally have a good smell for bullshit or sleaze.

And there is something just damn peculiar with the way this Nick Youngson & the NYPhotographic.com website operates.

To be fair, the 3stylelife doesn't appear to be a legit website. I also don't pay attention to any .ru website. They are bad news. I think it is too much a stretch to attribute Nick to these websites. There are plenty of pirates out there.

I've had .ru websites pirate my work but I generally disregard it because anyone worth a damn wouldn't visit .ru websites. They are generally untrustworthy on par with Nigerian web scams.
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.

clist

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 69
  • On your side
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2016, 03:51:14 PM »
I have just received one of these letters from the usage of a image by this photographer.

I obtained the image through the creativecommons.org search which led me to a site (different from the ones listed in this thread) which directly links to the photographers site.  (it appears to be possibly owned by the photographer as the banners on it and all images / links point to his site)

On the first website, (where the image was obtained from) displayed below the image is : " This image _________  may be used for free even for commercial purposes.

The image _________ below is licensed by it's creator under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license which permits the free use of the image for any purpose including commercial use and also permits the image to be modified. "

Based upon this understanding I used the image.

Had I've known that purchasing a license was required I would have either (a) looked elsewhere or (b) paid for a license like I have done in the past.

Either way I have collected enough data to get this thing thrown out of court should it end up in litigation.

Pathetic.

« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 12:53:50 AM by clist »
Knowledge isn't free - you have to pay attention.

Albert

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2016, 03:36:25 PM »
Received the same letter asking for $2K.

Research so far makes this seem like a scam.  Something is just not right here! The problem is to uncover the scam is going to take time and money nobody whats to waste on these people.

I have my theory on how this scam works which I will keep to myself for now.

Any help on how to tackle this extortion would be appreciated. 

Libertas

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2016, 06:26:04 PM »
Received the same letter asking for $2K.

Research so far makes this seem like a scam.  Something is just not right here! The problem is to uncover the scam is going to take time and money nobody whats to waste on these people.

I have my theory on how this scam works which I will keep to myself for now.

Any help on how to tackle this extortion would be appreciated. 

I would definitely say these are a racket, especially in cases like Mr. Youngson's. It has been well documented that he submits his photos to Free Wallpaper websites, basically a honeypot to facilitate the proliferation of his images, in some cases showing up under creative commons search engines. 

In your case, I would research your photo as best you can and determine where you got it (if you haven't already).  Definitely read up on the Aloha Plastic Surgery Counter-Claim. Not that it may be a strategy in your case, but good reading none the less and showed how one individual was able to turn this business model on its head. Now that this extortion has become a business in it's own right, I like to think of ways to make this more expensive and time consuming for the extortionists. However, that might not always be the best choice, although it has worked in other cases. Definitely do your homework.

All these extortions are the same. They hope to scare you enough to settle and in most cases, their initial offer is around twice of what they expect to receive. You can settle it, ignore it, or fight it. The option you choose is the one you think will have the best outcome. The common Getty letters have been ignored by a lot of recipients and due to the large scope of their operation, the costs of suing people for de minimis copyright infringement, and other factors usually nets a good a outcome in those cases. However, in your case, it may be different and that is why researching these forums, pacer, and the internet might be a good way to determine a course of action.

« Last Edit: November 22, 2016, 06:39:25 PM by Libertas »

clist

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 69
  • On your side
    • View Profile
« Last Edit: November 23, 2016, 01:13:18 AM by clist »
Knowledge isn't free - you have to pay attention.

stinger

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 766
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2016, 09:41:25 AM »
Also, be sure to take copies of the web pages that led you to believe the images were free (just in case this ever reaches a courtroom, I doubt that it will).  The really good extortionists have a way of making things disappear to try and strengthen their claim.

Someone who can prove this stands to do quite well in the courtroom, methinks.

DavidVGoliath

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 221
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2016, 02:00:21 PM »
Someone who can prove this stands to do quite well in the courtroom, methinks.

The trick to doing that lies in the trap: most of the websites that offer the work of Youngson do so via a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 license, which mandates the following

You are free to:

Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format

Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material

for any purpose, even commercially.

The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

AttributionYou must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

I've italicized the text regarding attribution because it seems that Youngson is relying on non-attributed uses to claim breach of license and, by extension, infringement of copyright.

This is where it gets fuzzy: I do not know if there are any case precedents whereby any entity has sued for a breach of 17 USC 106(a) alone.... because the photographs as offered on jphotostyle.com, thebluediamondgallery.com, and picserver.org, all state variations of the following text

"The images on this web site have been created by photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com and are offered for free use, even commercial use, under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license"

I think most people read as far as the 'free to use' part and pay zero attention to the minutiae of  the CC license requirements.

Unless someone can point to a case precedent where a violation of 106(a) was the sole basis for an infringement claim (and certainly 501(a) - as written - seems to allow claims to be made on that basis), then it's going to take someone actually fighting this at court to establish the scale of damages for such an act.

That person will also need to subpoena the actual owner-of-record information for the websites jphotostyle.com, thebluediamondgallery.com, and picserver.org, because my gut tells me that Mr. Youngson is the owner of all these sites and (in a very roundabout manner that appears to be on the razor's edge of legality) is relying on people's negligence of the CC licenses on these sites to snare them into an infringement claim.

someco

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2016, 08:02:29 PM »
First of all, thanks to Matthew Chan and everyone else for bringing to light the doings of Nick Youngson and Higbee Associates. I'm glad I found this forum.
I have received a fairly threatening letter from Mathew Higbee about one image which was on my tiny startup's business website, and is currently on Nick Youngson's nyphotographic site for $9.95. It is a generic image (we already replaced it with another very similar and free, CC0 image from pixabay.com). Higbee is asking for $5k in a letter that even stretches the clauses of 17USC504 to their limit (in my legal-amateur understanding).
We had absolutely no intention of infringing any copyright and we obtained this file from a CC0 site in Nov 2015, as our download timestamp shows (unfortunately it seems we lost records as to which site is the source for this specific image. All other images on our site are from pixabay.com, pexels.com and a commons search and we have records for all others as being CC0).  It looks like we must have downloaded one of Mr Youngson's last CC0 images during/before the period he started his "crusade". http://www.nyphotographic.com/about.html.
We have of course immediately removed the image from our website within hours of receiving the letter.
In addition to any response advice folks on this forum may have, we have 4 questions:
1. Should we respond ourselves and see what happens, or just bite the bullet and get a lawyer to write a letter? (Not sure if the Letter Writing program on this site applies to non-Getty cases?)
e.g. we could respond stating: (a) no intent to infringe (b) we downloaded from a CC0 site (c) we have removed the image immediately (d) (still debating whether to include something like this - thoughts?) offer to settle for license fee of $9.95 + 200% penalty or approx $30 which seems fair.
If they continue to send letters, we would respond asking for all kinds of information as suggested in some of the other forum threads.
2. It looks like even if we can't prove we downloaded from a CC0 site (we are still trying to find records), the infringement is for not having attribution. We have not modified the image. Does this help us in any way?
3. The copyright they stated is for a set of image(s). I have written to the copyright office to get info on which images are included. Is there anything else to do to figure out if he explicitly has copyright on this image?
3. Nick Youngson and his company seem to be registered in the UK, not the US. Does this affect anything?
Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 08:07:59 PM by someco »

DavidVGoliath

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 221
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2016, 08:24:33 AM »
I'll respond to each point in turn, with the caveat that I am a photographer and have taken legal action in the US courts to defend my own images.

1. Should we respond ourselves and see what happens, or just bite the bullet and get a lawyer to write a letter? (Not sure if the Letter Writing program on this site applies to non-Getty cases?)
e.g. we could respond stating: (a) no intent to infringe (b) we downloaded from a CC0 site (c) we have removed the image immediately (d) (still debating whether to include something like this - thoughts?) offer to settle for license fee of $9.95 + 200% penalty or approx $30 which seems fair.
If they continue to send letters, we would respond asking for all kinds of information as suggested in some of the other forum threads.

As much as I am a working photographer who earns my full income from image licensing and assignments, it behooves me to say that Mr. Youngson's methods of enforcing his rights make it seem that he is operating a honeytrap, insofar that he appears to be reliant on users lack of knowledge of the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license terms to claim infringement. It certainly seems to be a very scummy play that borders on a scam. That's my opinion, and it would certainly colour my approach as far as responding to a claim goes.

2. It looks like even if we can't prove we downloaded from a CC0 site (we are still trying to find records), the infringement is for not having attribution. We have not modified the image. Does this help us in any way?

No: a copyright = the right permit another entity to make/use a copy of your work. An unmodified copy is still a copy and, without permission to make that copy and use it, there's a breach of rights.

With that said, the grey area lies in Youngson's ability to bring a claim solely on lack of attribution. I personally have never heard of such a claim being brought.  Certainly, Youngson's images are being offered without charge via Creative Common's licensing, and I do not know of any United States case law precedents where claims have been brought for what is tantamount to a breach of licensing terms, even though 17 USC 106(a) does have a clause citing lack of attribution as being an infringement of rights.

3. The copyright they stated is for a set of image(s). I have written to the copyright office to get info on which images are included. Is there anything else to do to figure out if he explicitly has copyright on this image?

Not currently, and this is a bugbear for artists as much as those facing infringement claims. I'd welcome the Copyright Office having a searchable database of actual images contained within a deposit. It would certainly speed things up as regards verifying claims for all parties. I'm sure you're already aware of the current process as described at https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ06.pdf

4. Nick Youngson and his company seem to be registered in the UK, not the US. Does this affect anything?
Thanks!

Nope. Treaties such as WIPO and the preceding Berne Convention allow citizens of signatory nations/states to protect their copyrights in other signatory territories. As both the UK and USA are treaty nations, Youngson is free to file a suit in the US if he wants to.

ih8trolls

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2016, 03:16:01 PM »
Has anyone actually seen any suits filed by Mr. Youngson? I could not find any cases filed by Nick Youngson, NY Photographic and RM Media on any federal court.

I'm in the middle of a battle with Higbee and Youngson right now. Of course they state in writing they that have litigated numerous cases for Mr. Youngson.  Yeah right...
« Last Edit: December 16, 2016, 04:31:12 PM by ih8trolls »

BGgruff

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2016, 04:23:50 PM »
Hi everyone

Much like ih8trolls, someco, albert, and clist, an acquaintance of mine is also in the middle of a copyright issue with higbee and associates over the use of a photograph. To answer your question ih8trolls, we did do some searching and could not locate any evidence that Mr. Youngson has gone to court yet over these cases.

There are several instances of higbee going to court for other clients over copyrighted images, but no case I found had ever made it to a judges ruling. Each time the case seemed to be settled between the parties and the cases were dismissed "with prejudice" against the infringing party. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know what that means.

kvanvreckem

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2016, 08:55:25 AM »
Good morning,

i also received a letter on Dec 17, 2016 from this lawfirm representing N. Youngson.
They are called LIEBOWITZ LAW FIRM from New York.

In regards to the image used, this is the image on PICSERVER.ORG:
http://www.picserver.org/m/marketing.html

I have removed the image from my website as stated by Matthew Chan here on this forum.

It also showed up as "labeled for Reuse" on Google where it sent me to picserver.org
I agree people stop reading after "Free to reuse" is mentioned on the website(s).

On Picserver, apparently you need to read the small print.
Here is the small print for the licenses:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

The specific image can be bought for $9.95
http://stock-photos.nyphotographic.com/highway-signs/marketing/

And apparently Nick Youngson is located in the UK, and the Licensee Contact Name has an email address that is not operational. Just try to go to www.jones.com -> not working
http://stock-photos.nyphotographic.com/licence.html

And reading this thread, this is nto the first time they are trying to "scam" people into money.
I am a hard working one man business owner, and i do not have this kind of money to float.

just wondering what you guys have done to move forward?
  • Leave it as-is, although the letter states to reply withing 7 days
  • Reply to the letter themselves, being all apologetic. But then i have a feeling they have you hooked and will extort you for money
  • Reply to the letter through a lawyer, letting them know not to mess with you


Thanks,
Kev

« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 09:13:21 AM by kvanvreckem »

kvanvreckem

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: Beware of Photographer Nicholas (Nick) Youngson of NYPhotographic.com
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2016, 08:58:26 AM »
I bring a warning and information about a Nicholas (Nick) Youngson (UK photographer) of NYPhotographic.com. He is represented by Higbee & Associates here in the U.S. In a short amount of time, I have run into the Nick Youngson / NYPhotographic free image/"Creative Commons" honey-trap.

I received the same warning letter yesterday Dec 17, but it was coming from Liebowitz Law Firm in New York.

 

Sitemap 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
Official ELI Help Options
Get Help With Your Extortion Letter | ELI Phone Support Call | ELI Defense Letter Program
Show your support of the ELI website & ELI Forums through a PayPal Contribution. Thank you for supporting the ongoing fight and reporting of Extortion Settlement Demand Letters.