Copyright Infringement Claim AKA Extortion

This post is for anyone who has ever shared an image online. Specifically bloggers.

Yesterday I received an email from a company called License Compliance Services, Inc. regarding an image that was posted on my blog. They claimed that I used the image without permission from their client, AUGUST.

Here’s a copy of the email:

On Jan 12, 2016, at 9:48 AM, <LCS@LCS.global> <LCS@LCS.global> wrote:



License Compliance Services, Inc. on behalf of AUGUST
701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4200
Seattle, WA 98104, United States
Email: LCS@LCS.global, Telephone: +1 855 387 8725, www.LCS.global

January 12, 2016

Attn: K. J. Farnham

Further to our prior correspondence to you, we hereby reiterate that unauthorized use of AUGUST’s represented imagery is considered copyright infringement and entitles AUGUST to seek compensation for infringing uses (Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code).
Please note that removal of the imagery alone does not resolve this matter.

You have previously been notified of this matter and to date, we have not received payment or any proof of a valid license.

AUGUST is willing to offer you one more opportunity to resolve this matter.
Your failure to make payment immediately will result in escalation to our legal representatives and the possibility of legal action being commenced for damages exceeding the amount presently being offered by way of settlement.

To avoid the possibility of legal action, you are required to immediately remit the {Original_Amount} settlement payment by one of the following options:

  • Online payment. You can remit your payment online at: https://settle.lcs.global/486464312554
  • Check payment. You can remit payment by check to:
    License Compliance Services, Inc.
    701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4200, Seattle, WA 98104, United States
    Please include Reference 4864-6431-2554 with check payment.

Full information regarding this claim can be viewed at https://settle.lcs.global/486464312554.
For any question or if you believe you have mistakenly received this letter please contact us by email at LCS@LCS.global or by phone at +1 855 387 8725.

Sincerely,

License Compliance Services
LCS@LCS.global
http://augustimage.com/df/help

Since I never received previous correspondence from them (even though they say I did), my first thought was that it was a scam created by someone hoping I’d click on one of the many hyperlinks within the email, resulting in a virus on my computer. But after further inspection and after looking up LCS and AUGUST, I decided to investigate a bit more before deleting the message.

First, I clicked to view full information regarding the claim. The link took me to a PROOF OF USE page that shows the image in question. To my surprise, it’s an image of Jamie Lee Curtis that I REBLOGGED back in May 2015. However, the photo doesn’t show the part of the screen that says I REBLOGGED it, and it doesn’t show where the original site that featured the article is cited and hyperlinked. I obviously can’t post the picture here, but here’s the text from that page:

Unauthorized Use of AUGUST’s Imagery.

AUGUST has mandated License Compliance Services to handle the matter of unauthorized use of its images.

AUGUST has noticed its represented imagery being used on your company’s website.
After searching its records, AUGUST was not able to find a valid license for this use.
You should note that use of an image without a valid license is considered copyright infringement in violation of copyright laws.

You can see below the imagery represented by AUGUST (left) and proof evidencing the use of this imagery on your website (right).

TO RESOLVE THIS MATTER
Click next to view the payment details, and then proceed with payment.

I clicked NEXT to view the payment detail, simply out of curiosity NOT because I intend to pay them anything. Guess how much they say I owe for reblogging a photo of Jamie Lee Curtis… $510! Seriously?

At that point, I became nervous so I discussed my dilemma with a group of author friends.

Here are some useful links I received during the discussion:

http://www.livingfornaptime.com/starting-a-blog/blogging-mistakes-to-avoid/

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/extortion-letters-from-august-images/

http://www.hackerfactor.com/blog/index.php?%2Farchives%2F627-A-Victory-for-Fair-Use.html

I also received this fine nugget of information (Thanks, ND!):

“…with copyright, you only have to pay if (1) they have registered it via the copyright office and (2) they can prove damages. BOTH are required. This is true of anything that is copyrighted. If copyrighted but not registered, all they can ask for is you to remove it (cease and desist).”

ETA: Copyright exists at the moment of creation, no registration is required. Registration with the US Copyright Office avails the creator the ability to sue for damages, but they can still sue you if not registered..Granted most won’t sue if the image is not registered and registered properly, as it would cost them more then they could “win.” (This is according to Robert Krausankas, who weighed in on this post in a PM to me.)

And this (taken from the LCS site):

“…This is called infringement. (This does not include non-commercial use, such as social networks or personal blogs.)”

After reading about these extortion schemes and learning these tidbits about copyright and infringement, I now believe that this is a frivolous threat. So this is how I responded to their email before deleting it:

I never received a first notice about this. By the way, I reblogged this post from another blogger’s site. Her post also included the source of the photo. I’ve removed my post and won’t be paying you people a dime. Don’t you have bigger fish to fry?

ETA: This would not be a valid defense, first notice or any notice is not required..and reblogging would only be a defense IF the image in question was linked to and NOT stored/Copied on your server.. Including a source does not absolve anybody of anything. (This is also according to Robert Krausankas, who weighed in on this post in a PM to me. Certainly important info to keep in mind about copyright law, but not relevant to this whole LCS debacle because they’re scammers!)

A bit snarky? Maybe. But $510 for an image that I reblogged? Give me a break! And you know what makes this shakedown even more ridiculous? This particular reblogged post on my site was viewed by a grand total of three people. And those three people viewed the post on the day it was reblogged back in May. Not one person has seen it since.

And one last tidbit, the blogger whose post I reblogged has NOT received an extortion letter like this from LCS. In fact, until I contacted her, she still had the post up on her blog. It’s gone now though. So,  at least that’s one less potential victim of LCS.

Have you ever received a copyright infringement claim like this before? How did you handle it?

UPDATE

I received the following emails today (1/14/16):

To
  • author.kjfarnham@yahoo.com

Message body

I responded to this one by marking it as spam.

About 10 hours later, I got this one…

To
  • K. J. Farnham

Message body

The Versatile Blogger Award

versatileblogger11

THANK YOU to Carol Balawyder for nominating me for The Versatile Blogger award!

A little about Carol:

I write about things that matter to me: justice, mid-life dating, grief, blogs that inspire me both as a writer and a person, awesome writing workshops. I also have series: How I Got Published, Femme Fatale, Nobel Prize Laureates, Writers’ Desks, Ten Great First Dates.

One of my goals is to make online friends with bloggers around the world of different religions, race and culture.

Learn more about Carol and her work by clicking HERE to visit her blog.

Information about the award:

The Versatile Blogger Award is given in recognition for the great commitment, diverse talents and generosity shown by bloggers here in our community. There is so much creativity on display that it is difficult to reduce a list to only a few, but for those nominated, it is hoped that it will motivate them as well as celebrate their work to date.

Here are the rules:

  • Show the award on your blog
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to fifteen blogs
  • Link your nominees’ blogs, and let them know

Seven facts about me:

  1. I am 50 percent Taiwanese.
  2. In my early twenties, I LOVED the Red Hot Chili Peppers. As a result, I have a RHCP-inspired tattoo on my inner right ankle. Do I regret it? No way. It keeps me young (and a little bit wild) at heart.
  3. Despite the fact that I am a terrible swimmer, I have completed five triathlons.
  4. I am a neat freak.
  5. I can say the 50 United States in alphabetical order in less than 30 seconds. Props to my elementary school music teacher!
  6. In 1994, I started college as a pre-med student. I graduated in 1999 with a degree in elementary education. And now I’m an author. You never know what life has in store for you!
  7. I am currently working on Click Date Repeat 2 and have three additional novels on the back burner. (Tentative Titles: Precious Few, By the Time We’re 40 and Diary of a Disturbed Teen)

And now for the bloggers I have chosen to nominate:

Deborah Bowman: http://bowmanauthor.com/
Jo Michaels: http://jomichaels.blogspot.com/
Rachel Author Barnard: http://rachelauthorbarnard.com/
Please follow these wonderful bloggers and share this post so that others can follow them too!

The Versatile #Blogger Award – Thanks and nominees –

A big thank you to Carol Balawyder for nominating me for The Versatile Blogger award! What a nice surprise. 😊

Carol Balawyder

versatileblogger11

Warm thanks to Debby Kaye, one of the most generous versatile bloggers,  for nominating my blog for this award.

«Sharing is caring!

I’m a nonfiction memoir writer who likes to write about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. I write about random occurrences and events as well as post articles on writing that I find informative and helpful for other writers. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping to empower others by sharing my stories which are easily relatable to women of all ages.»

Visit Debby on her website

 The Versatile Blogger Award is given in recognition for the great commitment, diverse talents and generosity shown by bloggers here in our community. There is so much creativity on show that it is difficult to reduce a list to only a few but for those nominated it is hoped that it will motivate them as well as celebrate their work…

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How to Get 100,000 Views of Your BLOG (21 Blogging Tips)

The advice in this post by Chris McMullen is priceless for anyone with a WordPress blog (or any type of blog really). Thank you, Chris!

chrismcmullen

Blogging Tips T

BLOG SUCCESSFULLY

I first began blogging actively on WordPress in December, 2012.

Only a little over 2 years, and my blog has reached 100,000 views and nearly 4,000 followers. My blog averages over 400 views per day presently, and the viewing frequency steadily accelerates.

If I can do it, you can, too. I believe it.

It’s not rocket science. (Just ignore the fact that I have a Ph.D. in physics. I didn’t use any physics to make my blog.)

In fact, I’m sharing my blogging ‘secrets’ today to help you do the same.

It’s not just me. I meet many other WordPress bloggers with many more views and followers than I have.

If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. You can get there, too.

I’ve created multiple blogs and webpages with WordPress, BlogSpot, GoDaddy, etc. By far my most successful blog or webpage is this WordPress blog. We’re fortunate that…

View original post 4,619 more words