I recently had heard about some copyright infringement scams and no sooner did I hear of it, a client received a letter. Its pretty clever and very sleezy so I thought I would share.
So most of you are probably already aware of the lawyers getting in trouble for copyright extortion, asking small sites for money with threats when they were not willful infringers. This started with the whole Getty Images letters then some dishonest lawyers went out and used this as their new business model, teaming up with photogs and artists to collect on infringement using "state of the art software" and trying to get them to settle for large amounts regardless of how long or how the image was used.
Now I just want to mention that I am a web designer but I am also an artist and photographer so I get the need to protect your work and go after people for infringement and I do think that there are many people out there that are intentionally taking photos and should be made responsible.
However what is happening here, is that photographers are purposely supplying their images in large format to screensaver and wall paper sites, public use and royalty free images sites. Then they wait for people to start using it and go after them.
The way you know this is happening and how we figured it out, is that their art or photographs were available in large format all over the web offered for free download. As most of you know, any reputable artist never supplies their work in large files on the web. If an images are out there available at 1600px-3000px sizes, something is fishy. The photographer can be the only source of those files unless they were stolen. And if you put your work out there like that, you only have yourself to blame and shouldn't be surprised if your work was spread around. Doesn't make it right, but you can hardly be surprised!
But in this case they were supplying these images and trying to extort money. They only go after small sites and blogs and not the large companies because they don't want to deal with anyone who may have an attorney and fight back.
And they aren't making efforts to stop the distributors because they want those images out there.
Most professionals know to not use any images, even if offered free. But most mom and pops doing their own websites, don't know this and if someone is asking for compensation from innoncent infringers (especially in amounts that are way above what they should pay even if they did own it) without sufficient notice to remove the image first, especially if they know their images is available on sites claiming it can be used for public use, then something isn't right. Those who are legitimate would be asking for reasonable amounts, based on how the images was used, size, time it was up, etc.
anyway, just thought I would share. If anyone has any thoughts or experiences like this, would love to hear them :)