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Author Topic: How can I verify a copyright Certificate of Registration number online?  (Read 5902 times)

GWB1

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I got a letter from Higbee and Associates telling me I used someone's picture on our website without his authorization.  They want $3000 to settle this.  I looked at the picture and found no evidence whatsoever that it is copyrighted or that it needed to be paid for by anyone.  It was on google images.  We are a very small ministry and it was a picture of a deer for my wife's blog.  I'd like to verify that this picture is legitimately copyrighted by this person before I proceed to respond to Higbee's demand for payment.  They did send me a copy of the certificate of registration but when I typed it in on one of the websites that searches for this (not sure it's legitimate) it showed that there was no copyright for this picture.  Any suggestions would be very helpful.  By the way, I found this person who they claim is the copyright owner of the picture on Facebook.  Would it be unwise for me to contact him directly and see if he owns this and hopefully he will be willing to not charge me or lower the fee?  Thanks.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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search here: http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First

search for the photographers name.. I would not contact Higbee of the artist until you get more facts under your belt.. Higbee will likely get paid a percentage of the demand, but the artist may not be willing to budge either....if you grabbed the image from a "google search", be sure to go through your site and remove any other images you may have obtained without a license, lest you get more letters fro other trolls..
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..

GWB1

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Thanks for your reply.  I put the certificate number in the link you gave me and neither his name or his registration certificate number comes up, however, after doing some more digging I did find this same deer picture on Pinterest.com which then led to his website where the actual picture of the deer is.  On Pinerest and on his website it shows in very small print on the bottom (hardly readable) his name on it.  I'm always careful to make sure there's no copyright or fees to pay for stuff we post but I obviously missed this.  His name is not on the google image we put up so I thought it was OK.  So now I guess I need to email or call Higbee and see if I can negotiate the fee from $3000 to ??.  We're just a small ministry and don't have that kind of money.  Any suggestions on how I should approach this?  Do you think it matters if I email them at the email they gave me or phone them?  They said I could contact them either way.  I haven't told my wife about this yet as it would totally upset her and ruin her Mother's Day.  Hoping I can handle this without getting her involved and negotiate this down to the bare minimum as we seriously cannot afford this.  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  So sick about this. 

kingkendall

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@ GWB1

  Contacting Higbee will let them know they got you shook and will only lead to them harassing you more.  Do you really want that?  They're only interested in getting you you to shell out a lot of money.  Do you want to do that?  Just because an image appears on Google images does not mean it's free to use.  Virtually every image found on Google is copyright protected for the person who created whether it is registered or not.  There's an ignorance gap millions of people fall into and copyright trolls are taking advantage of this.   

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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as already mentioned 99.9% of images found on google are protected by copyright, the only ones "free" to use would be images in the public domain. Neither copyright registration, or a "watermark" are required to afford this protection. Negotiating with Higbee or the artist would not end well, especially if you stated the image came from google, that pretty much admitting to infringement, and ignorance is not a valid defense. If it were me I would lay low and wait it out. IF and thats a big IF they decide to file suit, you can then maybe "turn the tables" on them.
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..

GWB1

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OK, so I'm stupid for thinking that I could use pictures on our website from google images because I didn't see a copyright on it.  Got that part.  Now, what do I do?  You guys are suggesting I wait it out and not contact them?  That's the best approach to this?  Should I not email them and let them know I can't afford this and try to negotiate it down?  You guys have a lot of experience so just telling someone like me I'm ignorant isn't really helping me out.  Yeah, I admit it but I need to know how I should approach this?  Just ignore it?  Please, give me some helpful advice as to how to handle this.  Thank you.

stinger

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Read through this forum and you will learn how copyright trolls work.  You will develop a better feeling for what they are doing.

The reason people are telling you not to contact Higbee is because, right now, they are shooting in the dark.  They don't know if they are talking to an honest person with a conscience, a mass murderer, or a turnip that they will never be able to squeeze blood from.

Every time you contact them, they learn more about you. 

I think you screwed up.  Learn from it and don't do it again.  I think what copyright trolls do is far worse than what you did.  They use the law to extort inordinate sums of money from people with means and a conscience.  What they do is not a mistake, it's a (dirty) business strategy.  Many make more money on their trolling business than on their image business.

If you read through this forum you can learn how lots of other people approached trolls and how things ended up.  You can plan a strategy that you can live with.  You will likely have to live with it for the next 3 years.

But put yourself in Higbee's shoes.  Would they sue someone if they didn't know the likelihood of winning?  It costs money to file a suit.  If the image is not properly registered, it is likely the court might come to a verdict of $200 or less.  How much money can Higbee make (lose) by filing $400 lawsuits where they might only win $200 or less?

That's why people are telling you not to contact them.  In the end, you need to live with your choice.  I recommend staying silent and taking all the time you need to get educated before deciding on your strategy.  Any deadlines they give you are arbitrary.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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I wasn't calling you "ignorant", what i was saying was, claiming you did not now, is not a valid defense...only you can decide how to proceed, each "case" is different. Do as Stinger suggests, get educated, then make a decision. There is no magic bullet short of paying them.
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..

GWB1

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I admit I'm ignorant. I messed up. I take full responsibility for it. From what I've read Higbee is pretty aggressive and most people seem to negotiate down with him.  I guess I need to do some more research. Thanks for your input guys. Just kinda shaken up about this. Thank you.

JuanSilva

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Sorry to hear about your situation.   Let me tell you what happened to me.   After ignoring 2 letters and about  5 or 6 emails - I got hit with a law suit - on Wednesday.  Obviously I  gambled and I lost.   They did not just go away.   My cousin's husband is a lawyer and I am hoping he will help me fight it.  But they are now asking for $7,000 settle and cover costs of the law suit.  They took the previous offer off the table which does not seem fair.    Has there been any instance of these lawyers suing when the image does not belong to the client?  The registration certificate was not very descriptive.    Will this lawsuit effect my ability to get a home loan?   I have a lot more questions.   Is this forum confidential?  Will posting details here comeback to bite me?

kingkendall

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@JuanSilva

You're situation sounds very unusual.  Can you give us more information?  You got a summons and complaint filed with a federal court with a docket number?  Just asking because copyright trolls like to send a template of a complaint that looks like the real thing but without a docket number.   

GWB1

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One last question.  Is there anyone here that's dealt with Higbee and had a successful resolution with them?  If so, how did you go about approaching them and how did it turn out?   I've read several comments on various forums that this company is pretty aggressive and doesn't back off until they get something from you.  I've read where they did negotiate from a few thousand dollars down to a few hundred dollars.  We're a VERY small non-profit organization and don't even have the amount they're asking for in our bank account.  Impossible for us to pay what they're asking.  Thanks.

kingkendall

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@GWB1

Asking what is a successful negotiation is a relative question.  If they're asking you for $3,000 and you offer to $1,500 and they go for it, some may consider thatr successful for knocing the demand claim 50%.  But, that's still otragously higher than the market value of that image.  Even if you offer $800 and they go for that it's still a huge mark up.  What I'm saying to you is you're not dealing with a honarable lawyer.  The agist you going through is exactly what Higbee wants you to feel.  ELI is a resource of a lot of other people that have gone through the same thing. 

JuanSilva

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A server came to my work and gave it to me as I was leaving.  It looks real.  My cousin's husband is supposed to look it up and get me details from a court web site today.   I will post more about it in another thread I dont want to hijack this gentlemans thread.   I also need to know if this site is secure - can anything I post here be used against me?   I also called my insurance company and am waiting for a call back from them.  I am hoping they can help. 

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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I see in Pacer that higbee filed a suit on the 11th, I'm assuming this is yours without giving to much detail.. Thus is a public forum, and all of the trolls follow us on a regular basis. If you have an attoreny, i would suggest to him/her to consider filing a counter-suit for a declaratory judgement, these "stock" images are not worth 8k.
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..

 

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