Infringement or Scam?
A friend of mine just informed me that he was recently notified by lawyers for a certain party that they were the copyright holder of record for a simple picture he had posted on his blog. They further informed him that unless he paid a “fine” of several hundred dollars that they would commence legal proceedings on the basis of copyright infringement. This was not merely a warning to take down the pic but an actual fee for this amount due based on his usage of their product. He contacted his lawyer whose partner is a patent attorney and he advised that this was serious threat of legal action and advised him to pay the amount requested rather than go to court with all the fees connected to such an action.
I just couldn’t resist!
It seems that now there is an application that a copyright holder can buy that will track his picture, document, article, or whatever the copyright might be and locate any blog, website, or other place where his item may be used. He then can contact that website or blog owner to demand payment. Obviously, this is a potential windfall for these copyright holders and will net millions with little more than a threat of a lawsuit …it is a veritable abogadro’s dream come true. This also leaves a gape that trolls and scammers can use to milk money from the blogosphere at little risk to them.
While there is an accepted allowance for informational and educational use of unauthorized items, it is the user’s burden of proof to demonstrate that his is an informational and educational website; …and I might add, profit is not the sole criteria for such proof. Aside from this the attempt to prove such a use can cost the blogger more in court and attorney fees than is worth the satisfaction of vindication.
In view of this, I just spent the late morning and early afternoon purging my blogs of most of my pictures, going back seven years to the inception of one particular blog. This is unfortunate since it is said: a picture is worth a thousand words, many of the pics accompanying my blog were both cleaver and facetious and had much to do with the content of the blog essay. So while it may be worth a thousand words, it certainly isn’t worth a thousand dollars or more. Besides, as most of the long-term readers know I’ve never been at a loss for words, so I’m sure I can come up with all the words needed to get my points across. In addition being part Irish the family has long been accused of kissing the Blarney Stone more than once. So while my blogs may be graphically impaired at the moment, this will not hamper my blog in the least. Indeed, I may now be forced to take up photography.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.
Slightly hampered, but never stifled.