Did you know that 3 billion images are shared on the internet daily? While it should not come as a surprise in the Instagram age, 85% of those photos are stolen. For photographers to make a living, they need to promote their work online. However, copyright violation has always been a controversial subject among photographers. Some people do not mind when their images are used freely, while professionals always struggle to enforce copyright. Despite using the standard safeguards to protect photos like right-click disables and watermarks, violators can find a way around and use the images. How can photographers defend themselves from copyright infringement? They can use the service of Copytrack!
Many infringers are unaware they are breaking copyright laws by using your images. Besides, once you find stolen images, how can you take legal action and get compensation for the infringement? Luckily, Copytrack offers photographers legal channels to deal with copyright violations. Read on to find out how the company works and how you can benefit from their services.
What Is Copytrack?
The German-based tech company came into existence in 2015, and they specialise in seeking legal solutions on copyright infringement of images. It has become the leading platform worldwide for enforcing intellectual property rights. With their cutting edge technology, they can locate pictures online and ensure the photographers are paid for the photos.
Apart from serving professional photographers, the platform also provides services to e-commerce sites, publishers, and image agencies. Anyone can upload their images to find out who is using them. The company locates the photos with a 98% accuracy using sophisticated crawlers. Over the years, they have overseen numerous out-of-court resolutions in over 140 countries globally.
Using the platform is free for everyone with an account. However, if you seek legal action, the company takes a commission of 30% of the payout amount. The fee can be higher (up to 50% of the revenue) if they take the infringers to court. With their extensive network of lawyers, you can rely on their post-licencing system to protect your photos.
For later: Why Copytrack is so successful in the United States
Copytrack helps me to keep an eye on my best images.
Kenta So Young
How It Works
Copytrack has created a straightforward procedure for enforcing copyright. Besides, their site is highly automated, and you can quickly identify stolen images. If you are new to the site, the following steps will help you get started.
Create an Account
If you want to start enjoying the services, you should sign up for an account. You only need an email address and your name to get started. With an active account, you can begin uploading images directly or through an API. You can also use their Lightroom Plugin. The platform allows you to upload up to 1000 images, create collections, and select categories.
The reverse image search kicks off automatically, and the crawlers analyse and identify sites where the images have been used. When the search is complete, the results on all the hits will be displayed. Like all the reverse imaging platforms, the hits will not be accurate, and you have to sift through erroneous results. The crawler regularly updates the search to find new sites using the pictures.
The copyright service provider will identify thousands of hits, but that does not mean the entire list stole your pictures. First, you have to do a manual assessment of the hits and separate the legal from illegal use. On the dashboard, you have several options; you can Whitelist Domain or mark the pictures as legal, illegal, or No-Match.
The No-Match option is for marking images that are similar to yours, but you do not own them. You would be surprised at the number of photos that will resemble yours, especially if you take pictures of iconic destinations and nature.
You can move an image to the illegal list, and come back later to determine the course of action. The legal images are those used with your consent and abide by copyright laws.
Images marked as Whitelist Domain are those you uploaded to various websites. For example, if you guest post and use your image, there are no copyright violations. The Whitelist Domain option is also useful for stock photographers who upload their pictures on stock photography sites and social media. Selecting it prevents the crawlers from searching that domain for copyright infringement.
For accuracy when sorting the images, the platform shows your image side-by-side with the hit they found for scrutiny. You can also do an overlay to be sure the picture is yours.
Raise a Claim
You can seek legal action and get compensation by submitting a claim on the dashboard. Alternatively, contact the infringer directly to remove the photo or give you credit for the image. Contacting the offender is usually the best option when dealing with bloggers and small website owners. Besides, the company often goes for commercial entities as opposed to individuals during the claim process.
Before you submit a claim, you have to provide specific personal details, including banking information and home address. Most requests are rejected during the first review if you seek compensation from wallpaper sites, websites that allow third party upload, and personal blogs.
When raising a claim, ensure you include the royalty fee since the post-licencing process will commence immediately.
When your claim is accepted, the company tracks down the copyright infringer, and enforcement begins.
A Letter or Email
The copyright infringer often receives a polite letter or email detailing the use of the image. At this point, the offender should provide proof, such as a licence, to show that they have permission to use the picture. If the infringer does not provide a licence, they can pay a fine for using the image and remove it from their site. Alternatively, the offender can pay a commission to get a licence and continue using the photo. The fines are determined by the importance of the pictures and are often similar to fees charged by macrostock companies.
The friendly-letter turns into damages for failure to respond to the post-licencing offer. The infringer gets an invoice on the fine and commission fee they owe, which is enforced by a collection process. If the collection fails, the company moves to court to enforce the rights.
How to deal with Copytrack?
Most people often think that getting an email from the image rights company is a scam. However, you should take the allegations seriously and know your options. If you are the website owner, it is prudent to delete the image and remove any traces of it on your image library. Holding on to it can only lead to further problems. Ignoring the emails will also lead to further consequences if the company takes you to court.
Should You Pay the Amount on the Invoice?
The email sent to you concerning the infringement can be scary. However, do not rush to pay the fine without consultation. You should contact your lawyer to discuss your options, but often they cannot do much if the allegations are true.
First, determine if you can afford the fine and negotiate for a fair price. The traffic to your site determines how much your website makes. Since the information is available publicly, it can be hard to negotiate a lower commission. If it was a genuine mistake, you can discuss with the copyright holder and form an agreement.
If you want to bring your pictures online and sell them, make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to Selling Photos Online in 2020 and make sure you use Copytrack or a similar service.
Or do you use one already? What is your experience?