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Messages - SoylentGreen

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1246
Yeah, Riddick's the worst.  Masterfile and Getty are Copyright Trolls.  But, Riddick's the Copyright Nazi.

The Copyright Trolls do bully and even stretch the truth quite a bit in their claims in order to intimidate.  But, the tactics employed by Riddick are really over the top.  He took on quite a bit of risk by doing this.  I wonder if this is just his nature, or has he become braver and more bold over time due to past conquests - the thought of which I find chilling indeed.

In a past post, he did say that he was going after larger companies rather than the small guys such as bloggers.  I guess that he was serious.  Yes... there are surely some past (or present) victims watching this closely.  I mean, was he only concentrating on Bernina?

S.

1247
Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Thanks to Oscar and Matthew
« on: August 10, 2010, 11:34:42 AM »
Lettered,

Thanks a lot for the links; they're pretty interesting.  I particularly like the paragraph at the end of the second article:

"The people pushing for this stuff are not well-meaning, and they are not interested in making life better for artists, writers, or any other kind of individual creators. They are would-be aristocrats who fully intend to return us to a society of orders and classes, and they’re using so-called “intellectual property” law as a tool with which to do it. Whether or not you have ever personally taped a TV show or written a blog post, if you think you’re going to wind up on top in the sort of world these people are working to build, you are out of your mind."

The AP trolling for quotes as small as "five words" seems very ridiculous to me. That's because the odds of the same five words appearing in many places seems awfully high.  Even if people have not infringed on AP's copyright, do they have to pay them anyway, because it's cheaper that fighting a litigation?  Or, just pay to make the harassment go away?

Again, it is also important to keep in mind, that if you say something to the AP and it's published, they'll charge you if you repeat your own words in any other media.

I agree with you 100 percent that a change in legislation will come about.  I'm just concerned that it will take a while, as large companies fight positive change.  In the meantime, companies like the AP, Getty, etc. will milk it for everything they can get.

Yes, this site is definitely part of the public voice, and I really appreciate it.

S.

1248
Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Thanks to Oscar and Matthew
« on: August 06, 2010, 07:49:01 PM »
Many fonts are in fact, copyrighted.  The terms of use for these fonts really vary... some allow you to use them freely for non-commercial work, but you must pay to use them for anything other than that.  Some, you have to pay for no matter what.

It seems that the Associated Press (AP) has been getting in on the game for a while now, including going after bloggers.  Many people have received "take-down notices" first.  But, some organizations have been sued.

But, there are some real peculiarities...

These two bloggers were charged for quoting themselves (one charged $17.50, and another $25):
http://daggle.com/ap-1750-quote-1261
http://www.zatznotfunny.com/2009-08/dave-on-tivos-pause-menu-advertising/

The AP will also sell you a “license” to quote words it didn’t write and doesn’t own. I'd post the phrase here (written by Thomas Jefferson), but I don't want to cause any hassle.  You can read about the issue here:
http://laboratorium.net/archive/2009/08/03/the_ap_will_sell_you_a_license_to_words_it_doesnt

The AP has also made copyright infringement allegations against the creator of the "Obama Hope" image:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9652OD01

These examples may be a little off-topic here, but these serve to illustrate a disturbing trend among different media on the web.  I'll be blogging soon, too.  But, I'll set up a limited corporation to run it, with no assets, a P.O. box address, and I'll shut it down completely should the need arise.  Not to abuse anyone's copyrights, of course.  But, to protect my own interests...

S.

1249
This is an important posting.  Riddick definitely harassed the wrong people. This court action could change the ‘game’ entirely.  Additionally, I believe that a win by Bernina could set a precedent wherein the likes of other Copyright Trolls such as  Masterfile, Getty images and others could no longer risk sending extortion letters seeking payment for content that they cannot prove that they even own. Can you imagine a class action put forward by a large group of Getty extortion letter recipients?  It’s clear that the likes of Getty and Masterfile state hugely inflated prices in their demands, and try to claim damages that don’t exist (much like Riddick). This is already a victory for anyone who’s been a victim of Riddick’s extortion business.

S.

1250
I agree with Mr Michelen.  If you’re worried about it, you can ask for a ‘full release’ which would simply state that the matter is settled, and cannot be brought up in the future.  If you have other images on your site whose origin you’re not sure of, you should remove those to avoid possible future trouble.

I’ve seen quite a few people on this forum state that Copyright Trolls such as Getty or Masterfile are harassing them over one or two images.  There are some things that are important to keep in mind in such situations.  These cases are extremely low-priority.  At any one time, the Copyright Trolls are likely pursuing thousands of similar people.  Although they make it seem that the copyright boogeyman is out to get you, you must realize that there’s no ‘war room’ set up with your name on the wall, they’re not saying “that ignorant John Doe who stole one image better pay up” in the boardroom,  and they’re not saying your name in the lunchroom on break. They have a project management system on computer that reminds them of who they need to send letters (or even phone) to at preset intervals.  The letters are simply form letters with your name stuck in there saying you’ve stolen “x” number of images on “y” date, and “here’s another photocopy of your web site” attached.  Each form letter is pre-made to sound more serious in tone each time, to make it seem like things are escalating. Although the fact that they don’t negotiate on price makes it appear that they are confident and quite serious, the real fact is that they simply could not afford the staff that it would take to make deals with thousands of people, so the answer is, “just pay it”.  Those who have allegedly absconded many images might wonder why they always phone on Wednesday at 1:30 PM, for example; that’s simply their project management system reminding them to bug you at a preset time; they’ll spend a couple of minutes a week on each target.  They next guy always gets called on Wednesday at 1:32 PM…

Getty in particular hasn’t done much to copyright any of their content at this time. So, the likelihood of them winning anything in court is practically non-existent.  Similar companies are presently losing court cases because they didn’t register their content correctly, so how could Getty win by not registering anything at all? To keep things in perspective, imagine that they sued you for use of their $49 image.  Even if they won, and got their legal fees awarded too, they would net a big $49 dollars for going to court. That $49 dollars would be eaten up several times over by the labor of preparing a case. It’s just not worth it for them to sue you for one or two images.  In addition, they cannot “invent” phony damages and seek them in court.  Even if you used one of their images, this never prevented them from selling the image to others or damaged the reputation of the company, etc.

The more Copyright Trolls such as Getty, Masterfile and others harass people, the more their reputation is damaged. Type “getty” into Google search.  Google attempts to complete the search with “getty images”.  But how long before that’s replaced with “getty extortion”, or “getty copyright troll”? People will click on those to see what the rhubarb is about, then they’ll begin to approach any business with them with distrust, and they lose. You don’t need an MBA to figure that out.

S.

1251
Hey Friend,

'Copyright Trolls' such as Getty and Masterfile are using software called "Picscout"  created by an Israeli company.  It's my understanding that Picscout is an image recognition 'bot' originally based on technology developed for the Israeli military.

You can read some interesting tidbits here:

http://williamfaulkner.co.uk/2007/09/picscout-getty-images-and-goodbye-istockphoto/

Folks like you and I might be allowed to use Picscout... but, not for free, silly!!  Where would the profit be in doing that?  Additionally, while a nice person like you might want to check your site for copyright violations in order to avoid any trouble, remember that the Copyright Trolls will make less money if people like you do that. So, why would they help you and lose money because of it?

Another conscientious person like you had a similar idea to have Getty check their site, just to be diligent and sure that they weren't infringing on any copyrighted images.  Here's a quote:

'This company sent Getty a link to their web site and asked them to review every photo and advise if they feel any were being used improperly. I had the same conversation with a Getty employee. Getty refused to do so. Instead, they sent their catalogue and asked that it be reviewed. The company returned the catalogue to Getty and renewed the invitation for Getty to check every photo they have. '  So, no help there..!

Read more here:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/gettyimagesonflickr/discuss/72157612849664574/

I guess that if you are making your own website, you should assume that if you didn't create a picture or photo yourself then somebody else owns said content.  If you bought the content, then keep your receipt... even years later. If somebody else made your website for you, then you should ask to see receipts for photos/images that have been bought, and make copies of those. Perhaps, you could make up a contract wherein the people who made your site will sign that the images were either created by them and/or bought in good faith.  That way if a copyright troll comes after you, then you can hold the site creators responsible for your costs.  Keep in mind that if you have someone in another (third world?) country build your site, you may have little recourse if something bad happens.  So, support your local web designer..!  Maybe others have some other ideas too?

Good luck,

S

1252
With regard to Eyeswide's post,

Companies like Getty and Masterfile et al are Copyright Trolls.  They troll the Internet looking to scare money out of people under the guise of copyright infringement.

Getty hasn't registered any of their content with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, “Copyrights Database” at this time.  So, it doesn't look like they're doing much in Canada to bolster a Canadian lawsuit.

These Copyright Trolls ask for a lot of money, so that even when you negotiate them down to half that (many think, 'what a deal!'), you're still paying ten times the actual retail price.

As Oscar mentioned, they can get a collections agency to pester you, but since it's simply a legal dispute, the agency cannot affect your credit rating or attempt any real efforts to "collect".

People are beginning to get wise to the extortion scams of Getty and their ilk; that's because word is spreading quickly that they haven't sued hardly anyone as yet. Surely fewer people are paying up; therefore we can probably expect that Getty will actually file suit against an "infringer" once the threatening letters are no longer as effective. Such a lawsuit could instill enough fear to get the gravy train moving once again, simply by these Copyright Trolls sending more 'extortion letters'.

I can't see them starting a lawsuit over a single image. It'll be over something much bigger, against an uncooperative opponent. Probably in a country having laws that are amenable to such a litigation.  It has to be worth their while, and they must have a good expectation of winning in court.

S.

1253
Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Latest Masterfile Hijinks
« on: July 22, 2010, 11:40:23 PM »
Hey Friend,

I do recall those CDs.  I suspect that they were sent out to make it as easy as possible for people to comp their designs.  i.e., making it as easy as possible for folks to find what they wanted, and hopefully more images would be sold.  Sending out all those CDs with hundreds of *unwatermarked* images on them was probably a bad idea, for obvious reasons.

I recently posted some info about a legal case in Canada (2000/2001) which involved these CDs. In short, the defendant(s) employed images from such CD(s) in several web sites.  In that era, it seems that Masterfile only went to court after the defendants didn't comply with a cease and desist request. So, it could be said that it wasn't Masterfile's original intent to bait people into using images without paying, and "extort" later. Although, I strongly feel that unwatermarked images, legal threats and in some cases litigation are a big part of its newest business model, sadly.

The defendant(s) mentioned above won in court, because (in short); Masterfile didn't list any of the authors of the works along with the images.  Something to take note of, for sure.  See my post in this thread (dated July 01, 2010):

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/read.php?2,707

Good Luck,

S.

1254
You’re very welcome Matthew; I sincerely hope that I have helped others much as you and Oscar have.

I’m not a lawyer, and I have not “tested” the following theories, however consider the following a “thought experiment”.  I have been speculating whether the likes of Masterfile and Getty are actually willing to take their complaints to court in Canada.  While they have sometimes registered their complaints with the court for around 50 dollars in recent times, there has always been a discontinuance filed and nobody went to court.  As mentioned above, Masterfile hasn’t actually gone to court over copyright issues since 2000/2001 – almost an entire decade.  Getty has never actually gone to court in Canada.

What I’m saying is that Masterfile and Getty have never gone to court in Canada and won anything. Surely, some of the ‘accused’ have agreed to an out-of-court settlement that both parties agreed to. However, I do wonder if any of the accused simply said something to the effect of, “ok, see you in court”. Did Masterfile or Getty back off anyway? *Everybody* paid them off without going to court?  It’s hard to believe.

I have taken note that Masterfile hasn’t really registered much in Canada as ‘copyrighted’.  Checking at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, “Copyrights Database”, I can only find three documents copyrighted by Masterfile at this time.  That is, three “Best of Masterfile” image catalogs; Volumes 19, 20 and 21.  Search for “Masterfile” here:

http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/cpyrghts/dsplySrch.do?lang=eng

What does this mean?  Firstly, Masterfile hasn’t copyrighted much of its content in Canada.  Chances are, if one is told that they’ve infringed on a Masterfile copyright, it may not be copyrighted in Canada at all.  Secondly, since Masterfile has copyrighted several images in only three bulk catalogs (and not individually), this may reduce the number of alleged infringements made by the accused. For example, three copyrighted images that are infringed upon, but copyrighted in bulk in one place are often taken as one copyright infringement. While Masterfile has copyrighted more of its content in the USA, I’m not sure how much it would mean to a Canadian court that images were copyrighted in some other country, especially when it appears that the accuser seems to have been lazy in their home country.  If they want as little as $2500 or even $50,000 from you, they have to *prove* their case; it must be quite compelling.  I believe that there is also a big issue for Masterfile (and maybe others) in that, while they have copyrighted three of their catalogs, there is no info given as to whom the author is for each image that the catalogs contain.  That is to say, while the books are copyrighted, there's not enough copyright information *registered* for each individual image.  Oscar recently posted an article showing that there's a similar issue in the USA as well; while many images have been "copyrighted", the original author was never listed in many cases.

I’d like to wrap this up by saying that a Getty court loss or worse yet, another Masterfile loss in Canada would be devastating to both of them and many other similar companies. All of their future efforts to extort money from people here in Canada would be worthless. Anyone who performs the most simple of research would know that these companies can’t do anything to collect money. Even their “Copyright Enforcement Teams” would be out on the street, out of a job.  I’m not so sure if they can risk it at this time.

S.

1255
Hey Barry,

You might consider contacting a fellow by the name of David Fewer.  He's an intellectual property and technology lawyer, and is Director of CIPPIC (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic) - http://www.cippic.ca/en/

You can contact Mr Fewer at:
Tel.: 613-562-5800 x.2558
Email: dfewer@uottawa.ca

I'm not affiliated with the CIPPIC, nor do I know Mr Fewer, but it's worth a try.

MF is quite aggressive of late, and their modus operandi is clearly to squeeze as much money as possible out of their prey without having to actually go to court - that way it's mostly 'gravy'.  They'll try to drive you nuts until you settle, and if that doesn't work, they are betting that court will seem too expensive and make you settle that way.  If you search the court dockets, you'll see that in almost every case wherein MF has filed court papers, they later issued a "Discontinuance", meaning that the matter was settled without going to court.  In these cases, "court" was either a MF bluff and they backed off, or the respondent paid a settlement that MF felt was satisfactory.

Check out the dockets at the link below.  Just type in "Masterfile" in the "Party Name" section and click "Search"

http://cas-ncr-nter03.cas-satj.gc.ca/IndexingQueries/infp_queries_e.php


You may be interested to know that Masterfile lost a large Canadian lawsuit in 2001 over 149 images.  Interestingly, the defendants admitted that they used the images without license, and won anyway.  The defendants used the law firm "Fasken Martineau".

Case:
 
http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/en/2001/2001fct1416/2001fct1416.html
 
 
Decision:
 
http://recueil.fja-cmf.gc.ca/eng/2001/2001fct1416/2001fct1416.html
 
It's unfortunate that many have become so litigious.  The recent recession appears to have made some companies and/or individuals rather desperate, and they're using the courts (or the threat of court action) as a revenue stream.  Maybe it's just greed, or a bit of both.  A lot of companies / people have been sucked into the stock image / art trap of late and that's because many don't realize that the old, mostly 'polite' dealings of the Internet are as dead as the Dodo.  At one time, you'd just be notified to take the offending images / copy down.  But now, they may actually be hoping that their product will be misused inadvertently or otherwise.  They're making some serious money on this in some cases.

Good Luck, and let us know how it goes....

S

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