Busted. I got caught doing the very thing I warn everyone not to do. Copyright violation.
Last month I received and completely unexpected email regarding an image that I used on this very blog in 2017:
Unauthorized Use of Boxist.com’ Images Cease and Desist / Settlement Agreement – Case #150421B
It has come to our attention that you are using an image (or images) owned by Boxist.com (Stock Photography) for online promotional purposes without our authorization or a valid license which is copyrighted work in accordance with the copyright law, We own the image(s) exclusively and have filings with the U.S. Copyright Office for said image(s) under: Registration Number: VA0002000962.
We have searched our records and have not been able to locate a valid license for the use of the image(s) under your name, Attached for your reference is a copy of the image(s) in question and the usage found on your website, Also attached is a payment demand representing a settlement that Boxist.com would expect to receive for the unauthorized use of the image(s) should no license exist.
Although this use might have been unintentional, the use of our imagery without proper licensing is considered “copyright infringement” and entitles Boxist Stock Photography to pursue compensation for infringing uses, the consequences of copyright infringement can lead to substantial penalties, and If you continue to engage in copyright infringement after receiving this letter, your actions will be evidence of “willful infringement”.
List of the infringement materials on your website:
- The image(s) are displayed at the following pages: http://earthshards.com/shards/2017/06/thats-when-i-knew-her-name/
- Screenshots of the infringement on your website is attached to this letter for your reference.
(Digital cached data and printed proofs of this infringement have been preserved for our use as evidence in any lawsuit or litigation proceedings).
YIKES!! At first, I did what any computer-savvy person would do – I googled the sender, hoping it was a scam. Long story short, it turns out that they were right. This company does provide images but they require a license. They also do a thriving business in searching for people who are using these images without a license, and they found me, four years later.
The image was something I had found through a Google search. Here’s what it looked like in the 2017 blog post:
In my own defense, when I choose something from Google images, I do a cursory search for copyright, but in this case (and in every case) you need to look more thoroughly.
Boxist.com asked for $150 to use their photo – it didn’t matter that I had already taken it down. I had used it without permission. I also found through searches that this company catches a lot of people this way – but they are absolutely within their rights.
In the end, I went to their site and paid $50 for a license to use the small version of the photo which I wasn’t even using any more on a four-year-old blog post. But the law is the law.
I quickly heard back from Boxist.com – here’s the email: