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Author Topic: How can I verify a copyright Certificate of Registration number online?  (Read 11269 times)

GWB1

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I'm curious to know how Higbee finds these photos?  Does his clients know he is doing this or does he  just do it on his own?   Do you have any idea what percentage he gives the owner of the images if he gets paid?

clist

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I'm curious to know how Higbee finds these photos?  Does his clients know he is doing this or does he  just do it on his own?   Do you have any idea what percentage he gives the owner of the images if he gets paid?

They have software that combs the web searching for "matches".
Knowledge isn't free - you have to pay attention.

GWB1

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Thank you, clist.


GWB1

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I was able to verify the Certificate of Registration through the copyright office. I've spent countless hours researching this and it's for sure legit and belongs to the person who Higbee said it belongs to.  Everything I found shows that it's not fake so now I am left to decide on how to go about resolving this.  I have read enough to know that this outfit is not going to let this go.  It seems my only option is to try to negotiate a settlement.  Getting ready to email them soon.  One last time, any input before I email them?  I know no one is giving me legal advise here but whatever you might say that could help me is much appreciated. Thank you.

clist

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I was able to verify the Certificate of Registration through the copyright office. I've spent countless hours researching this and it's for sure legit and belongs to the person who Higbee said it belongs to.  Everything I found shows that it's not fake so now I am left to decide on how to go about resolving this.  I have read enough to know that this outfit is not going to let this go.  It seems my only option is to try to negotiate a settlement.  Getting ready to email them soon.  One last time, any input before I email them?  I know no one is giving me legal advise here but whatever you might say that could help me is much appreciated. Thank you.

[not legal advice - merely suggestions from some random guy on the forum - take it with a grain of salt]

#1 Admit nothing. (You can believe that anything you tell any of these trolls will be used against you. *Even on the forum )

#2. (I'd probably do this before reaching out) Do some homework and see what the "market rate" is for the image and also see if the same image can be found elsewhere on the web. There are software tools available online that you can use to locate the image. *Google it*

#3 Respond don't react ~ Understand that these trolls have crafted these form letters and correspondence in a way to elicit emotion. They try and make you feel as if you have to act [and act fast] because you have willingly committed a crime. If you take some time and read through the forum you'll see that most scenarios are *innocent infringements* at best and it is up to them to prove otherwise.

#4 Read through these forums. The more you know the better. Especially when it comes time for contacting a lawyer or engaging in negotiation.

Good luck.
Knowledge isn't free - you have to pay attention.

kingkendall

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@GWB1

Clist has given you very good advice.  I would suggest take a breath amd don't act to hastily.   

stinger

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I agree with Clist's advice.  My only additional advice is:

If you really need an attorney, get one that specializes in copyright infringement and digital image law.  A lawyer is a lawyer is a lawyer is B.S.  On this forum, I have seen attorneys that do not specialize in C.I. and D.I. law recommend settling simply because the client or client/prospect has admitted doing something wrong.  The non-specialist attorney does not know his/her way around this topic.

If they really are suing you, I am interested in knowing more.  My experience is that they rarely sue over one image unless it is something special like an A list celebrity or some such thing.  If I were in your shoes, I would contact Oscar Michelen and fight it.  He knows the case law that might apply to your defense and whether or not you should settle.

GWB1

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clist and and stinger, I appreciate your input.  I have put countless hours into researching this and there just doesn't seem to be a good ending to this short of negotiating with them on the price.

I found on google, but since I got this notice to immediately remove the photo I have complied with that request.  It's a picture of a deer which is very common, however, I recently discovered the owner of this picture is a professional photographer who owns the rights to this picture.  No, it's not worth $3000 this outfit is demanding from me but spending money on an attorney to negotiate this could be quite costly too.

If I don't respond in a few days this attorney plans to file suit and then it will end up in court.  I've been obsessed with this and have done countless hours of research.  It's clear that this outfit is known for not letting things go.  You either negotiate with them or go to court.  If there's been anyone who has had success in not paying some kind of a settlement with them, I have not found them here on this forum or anywhere else for that matter.

My dilemma is whether or not I spend money on an attorney who will charge me for negotiating a settlement with this outfit or just go directly to Higbee and try to negotiate it myself.  I have not seen anyone who has ignored him end up in a better place.  He isn't going to drop this from everything I've researched on the internet from other people who are where I am now.

We are a very small non-profit ministry.  I receive no income from it because we don't receive enough income to pay me.  My wife and I both work as volunteers.  Both, the ministry and my wife and I don't have anywhere near the amount of money they are demanding from us.

I have received all the information I can glean from this forum and other places so now I need to decide where to go from here. 

Thank you all for your help and input—I appreciate it very much.

Jerry Witt (mcfilms)

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If this was posted on and by the small non-profit ministry web site, you may want to consider that the organization is "judgement-proof". That is, even if they go through the trouble of filing and appearing in court AND win, what do they hope to gain? If the ministry has no real assets and not much money, even if they win, they lose. Even if the court decides in their favor and awards them money, depending on the structure of the non-profit, they are going to have a very difficult time collecting.

If it were me, I wouldn't hire an attorney (except maybe Oscar). I would prepare a dozen similar images and the current pricing for them. I would tell them that you are a judgement-proof, small non-profit. I would point out that the organization is prepared to go to court if needed, but would prefer to avoid it.

Finally, I would point out that suing a small non-profit ministry may prove to be a public relations nightmare for their client. I would make a fair offer to settle. And I would insist that they share ALL this information with their client. It is important that you tell them that they must share your offer, your intent to appear in court, and that you intend to be very publicly vocal about them suing a ministry, with their client.

But that is just what I would do.
Although I may be a super-genius, I am not a lawyer. So take my scribblings for what they are worth and get a real lawyer for real legal advice. But if you want media and design advice, please visit Motion City at http://motioncity.com.

GWB1

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Jerry Witt, thank you for your comments and input.  What you've shared with me is very helpful and will give me some ideas on how I will put my email together.  You've given me a new perspective about this especially since we most likely are a "judgement proof" organization which I've never thought about before. 

We have no property or offices and mainly do ministry from the internet.  Our income barely pays our utility bills and office supplies.  What you said is really helpful and will help me think about how I will construct my email to this attorney.

You ALL have been very helpful to me and I appreciate each and everyone of you who chimed in with your comments and input.  I have learned a lot here and am definitely going to be much more cautious and diligent about what we put on our website in the future.

Thanks you ALL again for your helpful comments.  Wish me well as I try to get this matter resolved. 

Thanks again!

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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If you are going to spend any money on this, consider filing a counter suit if they file..tell higher you will be filing for a declaratory judgement (Google this)..thus will maybe turn the tables on higher and his client.
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..

kingkendall

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@GWB1

I don't think it's a good idea to contact Higbee and plead your case.  Why offer them any information about yourself?  Save all that for a judge if it were able to get that far, and that's a huge if in your case. 
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 10:10:33 AM by kingkendall »

GWB1

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Robert, thank you for letting me know about the declaratory judgement.  If it turns out I need an attorney we will definitely file a counter suit.  Do you think his client is aware that he's contacted me about this?

kingkendall, the thing is, everywhere I've read about people who have ignored Higbee they eventually heard back from him and he withdrew his previous offer and demanded more than he originally asked for.  I have not seen one case that was dropped or ignored by this outfit from people who ignored him.  Everything I've read shows that he will not let go until he gets money or takes them to court.  If I ignore him and end up in court I might end up spending more money by hiring an attorney to settle this.  I can't afford it.  I understand either way is risky but since I haven't seen anyone post having success by ignoring this guy I feel I don't have any choice in the matter except to deal with him. 

Interesting, this morning as I was doing more research I found the picture on the guy's market place website (which I never saw before now) and it just happened to be uploaded on the part of his website where he sells pictures for a certain amount of time used.  The attorney said in his letter to me that this was discovered in February of this year.   He waited until now to contact me...3 months later.  I find it interesting that this picture was uploaded on the owners market place website in February of this year as well.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  The owner of the picture charges $250 for using it for two years and Higbee is demanding I pay him $3000!

Anyway, I've gotten a lot of good input here from you all which I greatly appreciate.  I just feel that since we cannot afford an attorney that this is my only option.  I feel confident that we could win this case if it were to go to court, but if I can settle it for an amount close to what it would have cost to pay the owner ($250) for using the picture then I think it might be worth the gamble to go this route.  Only time will tell.

Thank you all for your time and input.  I really do appreciate it.

clist

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...but if I can settle it for an amount close to what it would have cost to pay the owner ($250) for using the picture then I think it might be worth the gamble to go this route..

In an ideal scenario this would make the most sense.

The problem is that a lot of the time this does not happen (read through the forums - numerous parties have tried this approach and have found that they still wanted exorbitant amounts) and by further contacting them you have now given them more of a reason to pursue you..

Knowledge isn't free - you have to pay attention.

GWB1

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clist, if I ignore them doesn't that make me look bad in court if we end up there?  Doesn't that show that I willfully ignored this and as a result should have known better than to act like this is no big deal?  I just feel either way I do this I'm gonna get clobbered.   Seems this is a no win situation either way I go.  I either ignore this and possibly end up hiring an attorney, which I cannot afford, or try to negotiate this down the best I can.  I've read through this forum and have spent tons of time researching Higbee, and while they certainly are not known for being ethical in the way they pursue people for copyright infringement, they also don't let go once you become their target.  If Higbee wants to go to court he's going to spend a lot of money to find out that there's no blood to squeeze out of this turnip. 

 

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