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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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There are also guide rates which have been successfully claimed here. There are rates in there which are not nearly as high as those which can be attained if you are determined enough.😉

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5 hours ago, Pete Snelling said:

Have you thought about using Pixsy? I've used them on numerous occasions.

 

Hello, Pete

 

Yes, I have an account with them, but for this match they say:

"This match is not a viable case.
Pixsy has detected that this domain falls outside of the jurisdictions we currently support."

The domain of the possible infringer is Greece.

I have contacted by two different emails. Got no response yet (as Alamy did).

If they don't reply in a couple of days I will try to contact them via social media.

 

Thank you and regards

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On 17/09/2020 at 15:24, 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

 

Well, I could do ;)

 

To give you all some eye watering facts of what's going on in my own backyard of copyright infringements there is some 55000€ outstanding which needs to be taken through the courts.

 

Like Chuck I am registering my work in the US before it goes into any agency. It's simply the best way forward.

 

Taking screen shots is simply not good enough. You have to do the following:

 

1) Open up the page where the infringement is, then open up another tab that has a date on it such as an online newspaper. I use the Daily Mail as it's free. Now take a shot showing the image in place along with the date and a headline too.

 

2) Right click the image and choose "Open Image in New Tab" so that it shows the path of the image on the infringers server. Repeat screenshot process as above.

 

3) Write letter one from the site above. You MUST give them 14 days in which to respond.

 

4) If they don't then send them an invoice. Do NOT inflate it beyond what the infringer should have paid. If it goes to court, and I've been to court, the judge is going to ask you how you justified it. You cannot include your time writing to them; researching it etc as in small claims these things can't be claimed back.

 

5) If after 30 days then haven't responded take them to court. Use the eFile system as it's nice and easy.

 

In the UK familiarize yourselves with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This piece of legislation can destroy many arguments.

 

Note that there is no legal requirement to put a © symbol on any work. It is down to the person or company using your work to verify that it is free of copyright and they MUST try finding where to license it first.

 

Check who you're dealing with. Get the right address etc so that this cannot be challenged later on down the line. Keep a spreadsheet too of when you found it; when you emailed them so these things can be tracked.

 

If the infringement is in the USA you better make sure you've registered it first otherwise you'll get nowhere fast. 

 

I get one on average every 4 days.

 

PS Don't waste your time asking Pixsy to chase infringers. They are useless!!!

Edited by Jools Elliott
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22 hours ago, Jools Elliott said:

 

Well, I could do ;)

 

To give you all some eye watering facts of what's going on in my own backyard of copyright infringements there is some 55000€ outstanding which needs to be taken through the courts.

 

Like Chuck I am registering my work in the US before it goes into any agency. It's simply the best way forward.

 

Taking screen shots is simply not good enough. You have to do the following:

 

1) Open up the page where the infringement is, then open up another tab that has a date on it such as an online newspaper. I use the Daily Mail as it's free. Now take a shot showing the image in place along with the date and a headline too.

 

2) Right click the image and choose "Open Image in New Tab" so that it shows the path of the image on the infringers server. Repeat screenshot process as above.

 

3) Write letter one from the site above. You MUST give them 14 days in which to respond.

 

4) If they don't then send them an invoice. Do NOT inflate it beyond what the infringer should have paid. If it goes to court, and I've been to court, the judge is going to ask you how you justified it. You cannot include your time writing to them; researching it etc as in small claims these things can't be claimed back.

 

5) If after 30 days then haven't responded take them to court. Use the eFile system as it's nice and easy.

 

In the UK familiarize yourselves with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This piece of legislation can destroy many arguments.

 

Note that there is no legal requirement to put a © symbol on any work. It is down to the person or company using your work to verify that it is free of copyright and they MUST try finding where to license it first.

 

Check who you're dealing with. Get the right address etc so that this cannot be challenged later on down the line. Keep a spreadsheet too of when you found it; when you emailed them so these things can be tracked.

 

If the infringement is in the USA you better make sure you've registered it first otherwise you'll get nowhere fast. 

 

I get one on average every 4 days.

 

PS Don't waste your time asking Pixsy to chase infringers. They are useless!!!

 

Hello, Jools

Thank you very much for all the tips. They are very valuable and welcome 👍

One big question…I suppose all that is valid in UK and (maybe) USA…but how do you manage to claim to infringers from other countries, at least from “supposedly serious” like EU countries (for example, my last case is from Greece). Have you got any experience?

Thank you and regards

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@shearwater

 

I would say the majority are in the UK with a smattering in the USA then elsewhere. I do have a company in southern France that needs to be sorted but it's time amongst my other stupidly busy schedule.

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Hello Jools. Out of interest, is the 55,000 outstanding Euros you still have to pursue a result of sales via photo agencies who have not bothered to pursue the claims on your behalf, or is it via other routes?

 

rgds

 

Malcolm

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2 hours ago, Jools Elliott said:

@shearwater

 

I would say the majority are in the UK with a smattering in the USA then elsewhere. I do have a company in southern France that needs to be sorted but it's time amongst my other stupidly busy schedule.


Thank you for the info, Jools.

Then in my case I would have to start learning Greek 🤔 😄

 

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On 28/09/2020 at 19:32, Malcolm Park said:

Hello Jools. Out of interest, is the 55,000 outstanding Euros you still have to pursue a result of sales via photo agencies who have not bothered to pursue the claims on your behalf, or is it via other routes?

 

rgds

 

Malcolm

 

Malcolm. Come and find me outside of here and I'll explain :)

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