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: Nicholas Youngson Photographer (Rep. by Higbee Associates) Copyright Abuse  (Read 18356 times)

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

  • ELI Defense Team Member
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1859
    • View Profile
    • Yeah, We Do That.
I think if all of you file complaints the BAR association would take it more seriously than if they received an individual complaint.
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

Small Startup

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
I just received a $5k letter as well for an image found in a CC Search. I would be willing to join any group complaint as well. Isn't there some legal action to be taken against these people, some form of class action? I'm not one to sue people, but this is outright victimization of people who are, more often than not, simply trying to provide a service and build something.

nycopyrightabuse

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Hello, here is an update on Nicholas Youngson.

He has continued to build new websites in order to clear ELI references from search results related to his name.

But he has notably made one massive change to his websites that offer "free" CC images - he now has a disclaimer at the top with more clear language on his mirror websites.

See the screenshot below from bluediamondgallery.com.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7ZbRXn38e7SLTdTT2h1amRBNVE/view?usp=sharing

He has also disabled "jphotostyle.com" and routed it to http://creative-commons-images.com.

It seems that the confusion created with his "licensing" has prompted action. Let's hope that it's more clear now to other innocent people looking for images.

kingkendall

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
    • View Profile
Higbee and Associates are paying people $18 to $21 for case managers aka non lawyers to handle  their extortion letter operation Here is the link https://higbeeassociates.recruiterbox.com/jobs/fk06756

Any thoughts?

nycopyrightabuse

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Thanks for posting the link. This makes sense.

In my experience, their "case managers" only reply with canned responses with legal jargon they don't quite understand. There are also generally misspellings, grammar/wording issues, and other mistakes. They clearly don't have law experience. An attorney we hired responded to one of their emails and they did not acknowledge the response at all, just reiterated that they want the settlement check.

Matthew Chan

  • ELI Founder, "Admin-on-Hiatus"
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2763
  • 1st Amendment & Section 230 CDA Advocate
    • View Profile
    • Defiantly
This is a very good find and insightful. It seems likely this will get taken down at some point, so I am posting the text here so everyone can get the full and proper context.

==================

Case Manager- Full Time
Santa Ana, California, United States Full-time

National law firm seeks a qualified copyright case manager with a great work ethic to join its team in the firm's Santa Ana, CA office.

ABOUT THE LAW FIRM
We are a rapidly growing law firm with 70+ employees and in our 10th year. The law firm's goal is to not only have you play an important role in its success, but to also provide you with opportunities to develop your professional skills and be a part of a team of employees who have fun while working to solve problems for our clients.

DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:
- Call opposing parties to collect overdue payments
- Call opposing parties to negotiate settlements
-Provide above and beyond customer support to clients
-Correspond with opposing parties and attorneys via e-mail, telephone, and postal mail
-Explain the nature of copyright laws & negotiate settlements with opposing parties.
-Follow up with non responsive opposing parties
-Complete research and perform screening of cases
-Maintain task lists and procedures
-Miscellaneous tasks, including mail, emails, and voicemails
 
REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS:
- Experience with debt collections or sales
-Bachelor's degree
-Strong research, written, and verbal communication skills
-Be organized, detail-oriented, and able to work well under pressure and deadlines
-Be able to multitask and interact with others professionally
-Be able to take initiative and work as part of a team
-Proficient with Microsoft Excel
-Ability to navigate web pages and work with web links including saving important Information from various websites.

SALARY AND BENEFITS:
- $18-$21 per hour, depending on experience
- Modest performance bonuses
- Medical benefits
- 401K after year one
- Paid vacation days after year one

IMPORTANT NOTE:
H&A is a dog friendly office. Those who are not comfortable around dogs or who have dog allergies should be advised that there are typically 3 or more dogs roaming the office.

IMPORTANT LEGAL MUMBO-JUMBO
We are an equal opportunity employer, meaning that we do not discriminate in favor of or against anyone based on age, race, religion, gender, ethnicity or any other legally protected class. Job description, duties and hours are subject to change. This is an at-will position.


Higbee and Associates are paying people $18 to $21 for case managers aka non lawyers to handle  their extortion letter operation Here is the link https://higbeeassociates.recruiterbox.com/jobs/fk06756

Any thoughts?
« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 06:52:31 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, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

Matthew Chan

  • ELI Founder, "Admin-on-Hiatus"
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2763
  • 1st Amendment & Section 230 CDA Advocate
    • View Profile
    • Defiantly
I am going to reiterate a few points (only my opinion).

1. It appears that Higbee has been recklessly and irresponsibly "collecting" and "extorting" without vetting his client. I am quite confident that most judges would NOT be sympathetic to Youngson's shenanigans of making $10 images available for commercial use under Creative Commons but if someone goofs up the attribution, a supposed infringer is now liable for $5,000.  There is no formula, rhyme, or reason that they will be able to explain.  They might say "ohh... we don't actually collect $5,000".  Which means that it was an INTENTIONAL LIE and fraud to begin with on their fishing expeditions when they sent out the $5,000 invoices!

2.  One thing that I see as potentially liable is the apparent zeal to disseminate Youngson's $10 images using misleading domain names capitalizing on the phrase "creative commons".  Hence, it is a honeypot.  This zeal in Youngson's attempt to disseminate and distribute his own images but then goes to Higbee and screams "INFRINGEMENT" is disengenous. Only recently is there even a half-ass attempt at disclosure. There is still no warning whatsoever that he will nail any users with a $5,000 collection effort for not making the proper attributions.

3.  Personally, if Youngson and Higbee ever decide to file suit on anyone, a counter-suit might be worth considering and responding to the their abusing the legal process (like the criminals at Prenda) taking legal advantage of the situation and profiting from the honeypot vs. a legitimate attempt to curtail illicit infringements.

4. I have spoken to a couple of people and we still have not seen anything that shows any good faith on Youngson's part.  It looks to be a very convenient money-making honeypot scam using $10 low value images.  It is low-value because the photographer prices it at near free prices. And DOES give it away with attributions.

5. It is pretty well known many copyright troll lawyers commit many ethically challenging actions. From everything I see, Higbee has been taking advantage of Youngson's honeypot setup and foolishly sending out boilerplate $5,000 letters (without vetting how Youngson does his work) that has little or not justification to the actual value of the photo.  And they should compare their experiences to the California state bar in which Higbee is based at.

If I were on the receiving end of these letters, I would not be so quick to roll over without gathering the information history of the last 2 years.

As far as I am concerned everyone should be paying close to attention and getting screenshots for their own records.


Hello, here is an update on Nicholas Youngson.

He has continued to build new websites in order to clear ELI references from search results related to his name.

But he has notably made one massive change to his websites that offer "free" CC images - he now has a disclaimer at the top with more clear language on his mirror websites.

See the screenshot below from bluediamondgallery.com.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7ZbRXn38e7SLTdTT2h1amRBNVE/view?usp=sharing

He has also disabled "jphotostyle.com" and routed it to http://creative-commons-images.com.

It seems that the confusion created with his "licensing" has prompted action. Let's hope that it's more clear now to other innocent people looking for images.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 07:14:35 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, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

kingkendall

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
    • View Profile
Mathew Chan

Glad to contribute to the community.  But, I got a question of my own.  I got a call on my cell from a case manager for Higbee and Assocs.  I don't know how they got my cell number.  Is this legal?  My phone was charging at the time and it went to voice mail which I deleted.  This is a new wrinkle.  I don't answer any calls that I don't know.  It's been my practice for a long time.   So npted the call and will keep a log of any future calls to go along with the file I'm keeping on Higbee of all communications.  Has anybody else received calls to your cell?   

someco

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Just want to thank Matthew Chan, nycopyrightabuse, kingkendall and others for the latest research. It looks like this is escalating. Does anyone have information about what types of legal/ethics violations to cite if making a CA Bar complaint against Mathew Higbee? Please do share. Somehow this operation should have a class action, but otherwise mass CA bar complaints can be the next best thing.
Also has anyone settled with them? My understanding from glancing at past posts is that even more-than-reasonable-sounding amounts like $750 etc have not been accepted. I'm not yet planning to settle but that's the amount a lawyer recommended I offer (i.e. make it worthwhile for Higbee to agree to your offer by offering an amount where 30-40% of it, which is likely his cut, is a decent amount).

FYI for my case - they went away for a couple of months and are now back with the "case manager" emails with grammatical errors et al. The recent text is "This case has escalated to my desk to assist Mr. Higbee in hope to resolve this mater without moving forward with litigation. I will be your point of contact before our litigation team takes over. Please advise if you like to make a reasonable offer to get this matter resolve." I am debating what to do, if anything.

FYI I found this information in another Higbee/Youngson thread on this forum very important for people mulling whether to settle at  some point or keep waiting - it seems that one of the community members discovered that Higbee has indeed filed federal court lawsuits (not yet on behalf of Youngson). http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/photog-nick-youngson-(higbee-assoc-)-lists-rm-media-ltd-in-template-lawsuit/msg20919/#msg20919.
While getting a lawsuit is not a big deal, for most tiny businesses and startups and even closed-out businesses which didn't take their websites down (many of their victims), $400-500/hr for lawyer fees (and some large retainer in some cases) is likely impossible, and Higbee knows this, and is banking on this. My (extremely limited, amateur) understanding is that while individuals can represent themselves in court (pro se), corporations need legal representation to do anything, including respond to something. (If this is not correct, please do chime in here) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/can-california-corporations-represent-themselves-nathan-mubasher.
Thanks, hope this helps.

someco

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
@nycopyrightabuse - will you be  sharing the anonymized, quantified results you use for your company's response (based on the google form) with this community? That would be great and can be quoted by others in their response as well. Thanks.

Hello, I represent a U.S. company (name redacted as the complaint is proceeding) that received a settlement demand letter from Higbee & Associates (represented by Matthew Higbee) on behalf of Nicholas Youngson - the photographer and owner of http://nyphotographic.com.

The reason I am posting is because we believe that Mr. Youngson is engaging in copyright abuse by engaging in deceptive and misleading business practices. That is, he is freely distributing his images and encouraging others to use them only to later issue settlement demand letters over copyright infringement.

I am going to explain the situation and ask the community for help in order to substantiate the claim that Mr. Youngson's business practices are a pattern of behavior (impacting many people) and he is well aware of the nuances of his actions.

The initial complaint by Youngson/Higbee
Higbee's initial complaint to us alleges that we used images on our website that violate his copyright. For brevity, I am only going to include evidence related to one image.

Full complaint link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7ZbRXn38e7SVTBtak9JdzBsRzA/view?usp=sharing

Here is a summary of the complaint:
  • Mr. Youngson's images are copyrighted (as of August, 2016)
  • We used five images on our website without a "license"
  • Mr. Higbee demanded the sum of $20,000.00 or otherwise we will be sued
Now, here is a link to the image in question -
"Obamacare Scrabble": https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7ZbRXn38e7SeWhwMXVjeTRta1E/view?usp=sharing

Investigation and findings
We spent weeks investigating the matter and found some strange oddities with regards to how Mr. Youngson operates his photography business.

First, he distributes his images for a fee on his primary website, http://nyphotographic.com.

However, he also owns and operates a number of other image websites (the Mirrors), as many people in this community know:
On his Mirror website, we obtained the same image from this URL: http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/wooden-tile/o/obamacare.html

Note that at the top of the image, there is the following language:
Quote
The image below related to the word Obamacare 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, see license details below.
Please ensure the license and image size are suitable for your use, alternatively you can purchase the original full size image on a rights managed license for a few dollars from NYPhotographic.com here

There is attribution language at the bottom of the image:
Quote
Free License permits: Sharing, copying and redistributing in any medium or format including adapting, remixing, transforming, and building upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. Attribution required.

Additionally, Mr. Youngson has images from his Mirror websites indexed by Google images and listed as "Free for commercial use with modification."

See the Google search result: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7ZbRXn38e7SMFVDejk5ZzNnTDA/view?usp=sharing

But he does not allow his images to be indexed under the same licensing rights for his primary domain where he sells images.

Summary
In short, Mr. Youngson encourages others to take and use his images on Mirror websites, but sells them on his main website.

Interpretation
By distributing his images on the Mirror websites and presenting sparse and vague licensing information up front, there is a high possibility of confusion. It is this confusion that prompts any logical reader to ask the following questions:
  • Does Mr. Youngson own and operate the Mirror websites?
  • Why does Mr. Youngson allow the distribution of his copyrighted works on the Mirror websites?
  • Why does Mr. Youngson allow Google to index images on the Mirror websites with a “labeled for reuse” license?
  • Why does the copy on the Mirror websites prominently highlight free use language, while burying the attribution clause at the bottom?
  • Given Mr. Youngson’s core business of copyright licensing/collection and the plethora of other cases involving his Mirror websites, why hasn’t he reached out to the webmaster or modified the language in the copy of the Mirror websites to reduce end-user confusion?
Indeed, a reply from Mr. Higbee's office yielded the following response:
Quote
Each one of those domains mentioned is owned and managed by our client, Nick Youngson. He uses them as a platform to showcase his work. As I am sure you are aware, each image is available through a creative commons license. The terms of the Creative Commons 3.0 license can be found on the URLS that your [sic] provided. It also states that the top of the web page that attribution is required [sic].

Mr. Youngson is well-aware that his licensing/distribution causes confusion when reasonable parties look for images on the web and his counsel has not addressed the confusion in any capacity.

Abuse of copyright
In knowing that his distribution is the root-cause of the problem, Mr. Youngson has done nothing to amend his business practices. Instead, he has teamed up with a law firm (Higbee & Associates) to track down individuals who fall prey to this sort of "entrapment." Had his licensing terms and attribution stipulations been more prominently listed on his Mirror websites, I highly doubt many reasonable parties would use his images.

By allowing others to use and download his images under these circumstances, I believe that Mr. Youngson may be violating the U.S. Copyright laws by engaging in deceptive and misleading practices in an effort to gain settlement compensation.

We're asking for the community's help
We would like to conclude our business with Mr. Youngson and also ensure that others don't fall victim to the same deceitful enterprise. To do that, we must clearly establish a pattern of behavior by Mr. Youngson in the following areas:
  • Mr. Youngson is aware that his Mirror websites cause end-user confusion with reasonable parties looking for images
  • Mr. Youngson has pursued numerous copyright violations claims on the basis of his distribution on his Mirror website
  • Mr. Youngson refuses to amend the copy in his Mirror websites because he continues to profit from the confusion
This is the part where we need the community's help: if you have been impacted by a similar scenario involving Mr. Youngson's Mirror websites (listed above), please fill out the form linked below.

https://goo.gl/forms/1v2I0uIyfLcF4PEj1

Only include information you feel comfortable sharing. The replies will not be shared with the public (or anyone else) by myself or the company. If you do share your name, email and an incident summary, it will greatly increase the likelihood that Mr. Youngson will be prompted to amend his business practices and provide clear language on his Mirror websites. We only intend to share the total number of legitimate replies we receive with Mr. Higbee's firm.

Thank you all very much in advance. I hope that our effort in this endeavor will minimize the instance of settlement demand letters for ourselves and others.

You can also share any private emails with me using this dedicated email address: nyoungsoncopyrightabuse@gmail.com

kingkendall

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
    • View Profile
This is exactly what Higbbe wants for people to fold under the preasure.  I'm in the same position but I look at it in terms of I'm one of hundreds.  I don;t want to be the low lying fruit.  So I'm hoding firm.  Is it a pain?  Yes!  But, I refuse to be taken advantage by somebody of low character.  That what Higbee a low character who say a busness medel he wanted to ge in one.  He's not even a intelectual prop lawyer.  His main businees is record expundgement.  Stay strong!

stinger

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 766
    • View Profile
Does anyone have information about what types of legal/ethics violations to cite if making a CA Bar complaint against Mathew Higbee? Please do share.

My suggestion is to google the CA Bar Association code of conduct, read it, and make the best case you can for violations of that code of conduct.  That is what I did with attorney Lauren Kingston (who worked for Timothy McCormack's law firm) and the WA Bar Association. 

After I pressed my bar complaint, forcing her to hire an attorney to respond, on her behalf to the Bar, I never heard another word from her about their complaint against my firm.

kingkendall

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
    • View Profile
Here's a link to California code of conduct http://rules.calbar.ca.gov/Rules/RulesofProfessionalConduct.aspx

I'm giving it a read amd seriousdly considring making a complaint againt Higbbe.  But, I think more should do the same.  This way teh Cali Bar gets the message loud and clear

kingkendall

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
    • View Profile
Higbee and Associates put out Fake News
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2017, 09:34:54 PM »
On Higbee's website they claim they were named one of the top hundred most active copyright litigation law firms for 2016 here's the link  https://www.higbeeassociates.com/named-top-100-most-active-copyright-firms-2016/https://www.higbeeassociates.com/named-top-100-most-active-copyright-firms-2016/

"Lex Machina, an industry leader in law firm analytics, named the Law Firm of Higbee & Associates as one of the top 100 most active copyright litigation law firms in 2016. Lex Machina helps clients find top law firms in various legal fields by analyzing a wide range of data. The Higbee & Associates Copyright Division helps protect the copyrights of a wide range of artists, including, but not limited to, photographers, authors, musicians, and painters."

However when I went to the   website  https://lexmachina.com/  I can't find such a list.  So I Googled:  Lex Machina most active copyright litigation 2016, nothing pops up except for Highbee's press release. 

I think this really is advertising to scare up business for his copyright extortion operation   

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

  • ELI Defense Team Member
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3354
    • View Profile
    • ExtortionLetterInfo
Re: Higbee and Associates put out Fake News
« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2017, 11:13:19 AM »
On Higbee's website they claim they were named one of the top hundred most active copyright litigation law firms for 2016 here's the link  https://www.higbeeassociates.com/named-top-100-most-active-copyright-firms-2016/https://www.higbeeassociates.com/named-top-100-most-active-copyright-firms-2016/

"Lex Machina, an industry leader in law firm analytics, named the Law Firm of Higbee & Associates as one of the top 100 most active copyright litigation law firms in 2016. Lex Machina helps clients find top law firms in various legal fields by analyzing a wide range of data. The Higbee & Associates Copyright Division helps protect the copyrights of a wide range of artists, including, but not limited to, photographers, authors, musicians, and painters."

However when I went to the   website  https://lexmachina.com/  I can't find such a list.  So I Googled:  Lex Machina most active copyright litigation 2016, nothing pops up except for Highbee's press release. 

I think this really is advertising to scare up business for his copyright extortion operation

The Bar association may see this as false advertising, which would also be a violation of the codes of conduct..
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..

 

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.