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shearwater

Model letter for contacting infringers

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Hello all,

 

Could someone lend me a model letter (email this days) for contacting for the first time with an infringer who has used an image without permission? Something polite but serious.

 

In recent years I’ve contacted various infringers, with no luck in obtaining a license of the used images. They just ignore it or delete the image ☹️

 

Thank you and regards
 

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Simon Croft knows his stuff all right, but there a few things first: Do you have any history of charging clients for the kind of use your infringer has made? You can't just pick a figure out of the air. Before you make any approach, take screen grabs so your infringer can't just delete and pretend it never happened.. Is your infringer in the same country as you? If you are in Spain and your infringer is in UK he is likely to consider it unlikely an action originating in Spain is going to gain much traction. So, yes, they are likely to ignore you. There are some photographers who have become pretty expert in this business and make good money pursuing infringers. They are doing us all a favour! There is almost a cult of people who think copyright is a kind of scam dreamed up by photographers and big-assed agencies like G.

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4 hours ago, spacecadet said:

I've modified the letter from EPUK in the past

http://www.epuk.org/opinion/stolen-photographs-what-to-do?pg=4

In the UK we now have a small claims court for IP which makes things soemwhat easier.

 

I had read that info in the forum but didn't remember about it. I will use it wisely ;)

Thank you, spacecadet!

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2 hours ago, Robert M Estall said:

Simon Croft knows his stuff all right, but there a few things first: Do you have any history of charging clients for the kind of use your infringer has made? You can't just pick a figure out of the air. Before you make any approach, take screen grabs so your infringer can't just delete and pretend it never happened.. Is your infringer in the same country as you? If you are in Spain and your infringer is in UK he is likely to consider it unlikely an action originating in Spain is going to gain much traction. So, yes, they are likely to ignore you. There are some photographers who have become pretty expert in this business and make good money pursuing infringers. They are doing us all a favour! There is almost a cult of people who think copyright is a kind of scam dreamed up by photographers and big-assed agencies like G.

 

Thank you for your answer and advices Robert.
About your questions:
- Unfortunately, I don't have a history of charging. I just pick the online calculator price by Alamy. It is my best approach.
- I have got everything: screen grabs, url's, etc. They couldn't deny it. 
- Unfortunately again, the infringer is not in Spain, this time it is in Greece. Which, with my past experience and as you commented, it is highly probable they will completely ignore me. But I have to try...at least I will vent it away.
- In the past, with other infrigements I also have tried to use Pixsy and Copytrack. They just rejected to pursuit.
- I’m aware that most people out there don’t give an damn about images, and unfortunately in countries like mine, less than that.

Typical answers I have got (apart from silence): 'Sorry, I didn't know', 'It was on the internet, so I thought it was for free', 'The web designer did it, so blame him', etc  😠

Thank you and regards

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3 hours ago, Robert M Estall said:

Do you have any history of charging clients for the kind of use your infringer has made? You can't just pick a figure out of the air.

It doesn't help shearwater directly but my experience is that  UK infringers are by now well aware of the IPEC route (or they very rapidly become aware of it!) and know that it's not worth going to court just to quibble about the fee demanded. So one can recover a much higher settlement than Alamy would charge. My best results were between 5 and 10 times what Alamy would have charged to licence the infringing uses.

However there is an EU small claims process- it doesn't cover IP as such, but of course one can simply render an invoice and sue on the debt when it isn't paid.

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3 hours ago, spacecadet said:

It doesn't help shearwater directly but my experience is that  UK infringers are by now well aware of the IPEC route (or they very rapidly become aware of it!) and know that it's not worth going to court just to quibble about the fee demanded. So one can recover a much higher settlement than Alamy would charge. My best results were between 5 and 10 times what Alamy would have charged to licence the infringing uses.

However there is an EU small claims process- it doesn't cover IP as such, but of course one can simply render an invoice and sue on the debt when it isn't paid.

 

Thank you, spacecadet. Wish we had something similar to IPEC here in Spain...or even better, as UE level. I will have to check the small claims process for the future.

regards!

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14 hours ago, shearwater said:

 

Thank you, spacecadet. Wish we had something similar to IPEC here in Spain...or even better, as UE level. I will have to check the small claims process for the future.

regards!

 

There are.

European: https://www.europeanphotographers.eu/

Spanish: http://www.fepfi.es/

 

There may still be others especially for press photographers. But here they have all come together in 2014 and joined FEP.

 

wim

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9 hours ago, wiskerke said:

 

There are.

European: https://www.europeanphotographers.eu/

Spanish: http://www.fepfi.es/

 

There may still be others especially for press photographers. But here they have all come together in 2014 and joined FEP.

 

wim

 

Thank you for the links, Wim. 

The fepfi seems to be a association for professional photographers (can't find much about legal issues in their services), not a specific court for Intellectual Property matters, as spacecadet noted.

But any info is welcome for sure! :)

Regards

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15 hours ago, shearwater said:

 

Thank you for the links, Wim. 

The fepfi seems to be a association for professional photographers (can't find much about legal issues in their services), not a specific court for Intellectual Property matters, as spacecadet noted.

But any info is welcome for sure! :)

Regards

 

My personal specialist on this has gone to bed. The ESCP is afaik no online dispute resolution (ODR) yet. It's still mostly paper. But it's there and has been for over 10 years now.

All legal issues are local to a country, not Europe or the World or the Universe yet. (Besides we already know the answer to every question: 42!)

Parties solve this by choosing governing rules and applicable law beforehand or by their T&C. Like your country or mine; or where it's used.

(And yes if money is no object, in the end there's always European Court of Justice - CJEU - in Luxembourg as the court of highest instance.)

So legal advice and best practices will be local also. Which is why cross border IP cases are not that easy. International IP lawyers fees are among the highest for a reason.

Look for advice from your local trade organization. And like I said: in some countries there are still very good and active press photographer's organizations, sometimes part of a general journalist organization.

 

wim

 

edit: after Brexit, the UK will be on it's own of course with no European Court of Justice to go to. One more win for the greedy wolves corporate world.

Edited by wiskerke

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On 15/09/2020 at 09:49, shearwater said:

Hello all,

 

Could someone lend me a model letter (email this days) for contacting for the first time with an infringer who has used an image without permission? Something polite but serious.

 

In recent years I’ve contacted various infringers, with no luck in obtaining a license of the used images. They just ignore it or delete the image ☹️

 

Thank you and regards
 

What I have done a number of times is to go after the URL's hosting company.  I've been successful about 50% of the time, and I've only gone after

large fish, with the small fish, a takedown notice usually works.

 

As per fees charged for unlicensed use, I start at $175,000 plus legal and all collection fees (the 175,000 is one time unlicensed use of a copywritten image under U.S. copyright law.)

 

Keep in mind that I am talking about a U.S. companies infringement and I am U.S. based.

 

Chuck

Edited by Chuck Nacke
addition

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@wiskerke and @Chuck Nacke  Thank you for your inputs, Wim and Chuck.

I know IP issues with crossing borders is tough. It would be almost enough for me to make the infringer realize and learn that you can’t use images for free without permission. Very naive for my part, I know. Just a matter of justice.

I think I will start with a polite and firm first letter. We will see if at least they respond. Alamy couldn´t obtain anything, so I think I have less probabilities.

We will leave the European Court of Justice for much latter ;)

Regards

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Chuck, we all admire the eye watering standard level of compensation in the US ( as long as you have registered the copyright) I assume you always go for the full amount in order to protect the ruling. You used to have a fairly high standard figure for lost transparencies back in the days of film. The UK usual figure was £400 and I never settled for less but pointed out that they were getting off lightly compared to US. Unfortunately that doesn't apply in these digital days; I used to do a nice trade in that area. Good records were the key!

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1 hour ago, Robert M Estall said:

Chuck, we all admire the eye watering standard level of compensation in the US ( as long as you have registered the copyright) I assume you always go for the full amount in order to protect the ruling. You used to have a fairly high standard figure for lost transparencies back in the days of film. The UK usual figure was £400 and I never settled for less but pointed out that they were getting off lightly compared to US. Unfortunately that doesn't apply in these digital days; I used to do a nice trade in that area. Good records were the key!

 

Robert, some British photographers do achieve high compensations through Uk courts as well. Unfortunately the group where Jools (Julian Elliott) sometimes posts his remarkable achievements is a closed one. But I'm pretty sure EPUK has some good stories to tell. However their latest success seems to be from 2018, at least on their news blog.

Maybe Jools could give some masterclasses in the UK.

 

wim

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8 minutes ago, wiskerke said:

 

Robert, some British photographers do achieve high compensations through Uk courts as well. Unfortunately the group where Jools (Julian Elliott) sometimes posts his remarkable achievements is a closed one. But I'm pretty sure EPUK has some good stories to tell. However their latest success seems to be from 2018, at least on their news blog.

Maybe Jools could give some masterclasses in the UK.

 

wim

Wim and all,

 

The $175,000 USD is a figure set in the U.S. per image.  It is a starting figure and one that gets attention quickly.

While I do not know any photographer personally who has collected that amount per infringement, like I said it gets

attention.  I did collect on an unlicensed use of one of my images by one of the three major U.S. television networks

and when I started I used the $175,000 figure.  My claim was immediately elevated to the top of their corporate office and

representing lawyers.  We agreed to a high five figure fee and I had payment in my hands within 24 hours.

 

FYI: it is quick and easy to register images online with the U.S. copyright office.

 

I would also caution people to make sure that the image (s) that they suspect to have been used without a license was not

licensed by an agent or library.  I have and do contribute to several large international libraries and I do not let different 

libraries represent the same image, I also do not do RF.  When I have suspected an unlicensed use of an image represented

by Alamy, I have contacted the appropriate person at Alamy and they have been quick to respond and helpful.

 

I am not a copyright lawyer, do not mistake what I have written as "Legal Advice" it is not.  If you have a serious copyright question

or issue, Do Your Own research or hire a Copyright Lawyer.

 

Chuck

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