There is More Than One Type of Sider on the Web
Photo from Unsplash
And not all of them are your friends
#SEO professionals like me LOVE spiders (the little electronic critters that go around the internet collecting data for Google etc), tempting them to call and ‘read’ the pages of the websites under our care.
We even place signposts (links) to them to make sure they get found so that they can be listed in Google’s results.
But not all of these eight legged creatures are there to help us, some are under the control of parties that are out to cause businesses like mine and yours trouble.
Trouble in the form of emails informing them that they appear to have an image on their website which they don’t own the rights to use.
I totally agree that rights of the copyright holders need to be protected, after all, they could photographers and artists, who cannot afford to have their work ‘stolen’ or used without payment.
The problem is that there are a number of companies out there that are not trying to protect anyone’s business, but instead are there simply to get money out of businesses that inadvertently fall foul of the law.
Unfortunately, due to an error an employee made in 2012, Serendipity can be added to the ranks of businesses that have been ‘caught’ by such a company.
Removing the offending image (which I won’t for obvious reasons show here) was not enough, and even though it was a mere 290 X 174 px, equating to just 8% of the size of the original image, the company in question wanted £545 as ‘damages’ for their client Reuters.
As of today, I have been unable to find the cost of licensing the image (which was hardly earth shattering, showing 3 mobile phones), a fee which I would obviously be happy to pay.
The fact that the blog in question was viewed just 6 times in the 9 years of its life, representing 0.04% of all the page views in that time, also made no difference to the company in question, they just want the money.
But how much would their client receive I wonder?
It Could Happen To Your Business Today
Every website uses images, and those who understand the rules make sure that they only use Royalty free images or ones that they gain permission to use or buy a licence for.
However, this would not stop an employee getting it wrong and using an image they should not, perhaps being duped because the image was found on a site that did not mention anything about #copyright
Then there are the hundreds of businesses who simply don’t understand copyright.
Either way, it is far too easy to make the mistake of using an image you don’t own.
Such an act puts you firmly in the sights of these companies, their spiders being able to check every page on your site (no matter how old) for an image that matches one in their database.
If it were just a matter of taking the images down when notified of their misuse, or even being made to pay the licence fee, then all would be fair. But is often not like that.
These ‘legalised vampires’ want far more than that, often claiming damages of hundreds of pounds on behalf of the copyright holder and threatening to use the full force of the law to obtain them.
The wording they use in these emails do not appear to be correct either, forgetting to mention the law on damages (section 97 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988) which limits the amount of damages that can be claimed.
Something that could make all the difference to paying up or fighting the damages request.
In my view something needs to be done to ensure that copyright is protected, but in a fair, unthreatening way.
With this in mind I have started a ‘Copyright Crusade’ with a view to making it easier for people to protect their work (and thus their livelihood) as well protecting businesses from these Copyright Infringement agencies. There must be a better way of handling this problem, as at the moment, it is a minefield, one that is in my view patrolled by some very unscrupulous characters.
Have you ever been contacted by one of these copyright infringement companies, or know someone who has and if so what was the outcome?