In the digital realm these days, people will do just about anything to make some money off of others, even if this means an outright, illegitimate, and illegal scam. One of the more detailed and sophisticated scam programs that have likely taken money from an array of unsuspecting individuals, is none other than the copyright agency known as PicRights. When it comes to image rights and copyright laws of photos on the web, many companies and individuals strive to ensure that the images they use are done so in a legal manner, while giving credit where it is due. However, companies such as PicRights often attempt to undercut these efforts, by convincing their victims of the legal ramifications of using a photo that is “copyrighted”, in instances where the usage of the photo was, in fact, legitimate.
In a nutshell, PicRights claims to act on behalf of image owners as a means of protecting the copyrights to their photos, even when they do not represent any of the firms in which they claim. Their robust algorithm allows PicRights to pick up on imagery that is used throughout the web, popular images that may be owned by a single outlet, and that are used on another person’s or company’s website, and reach out to the latter in order to claim copyright infringement and nearly demand that compensation be provided so as to avoid legal ramifications.
Put yourself in any of these individual’s shoes, receiving a well-thought out, well-written email that includes an array of legal terms, many of which are foreign to the untrained eye. Without a doubt, the consequences of legal action on behalf of PicRights and their “represented agency” sound terrifying and daunting, which consequently causes the individual using the image to abide by essentially whatever the agency asks. This often plays out to the tune of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, which website owners quickly yet hesitantly relinquish to the scammers, in order to avoid any oncoming problems. Upon making the payments, PicRights then magically disappears from the inboxes of individuals, and further goes to ignoring them and their outreach to gain information about the image that they have now purchased licensing for. This leaves PicRights hundreds of dollars more affluent, while causing debilitating suffering to the company or person that was coerced into paying them. Thus, there you have it. A well thought out scheme, aimed at attacking unsuspecting victims, and squeezing as much money out as possible without legitimacy to do so.
One specific instance of a company which will remain anonymous, outlines the scam as having reached out to them on behalf of popular French media outlet, Agence France-Presse, claiming that the image the company used was under copyright laws, and that the outlet had complained about photo use without proper consent. However, further information from AFP showed that the outlet had not filed any form of complaint regarding the image to PicRights, and that their outreach was seemingly unwarranted. Nonetheless, upon reviewing the email the anonymous company paid PicRights’ invoice due to the potential onset of legal ramifications, in an attempt to resolve the situation. Once gaining the licensing for the image, any outreach to PicRights regarding how to publish the image accordingly under their name was disregarded and ignored, with the agency going so far as hanging up on the company when inquiring about publication rights.
The scam promoted by PicRights is one that has impacted an array of individuals in recent months, or perhaps years, without any proper or formal confrontation to the company on their illegitimate outreach. The agency simply sends the precisely-worded and legally-structured email as a scare tactic to their victims, in the hopes that such an intimidating correspondence will spark a reaction of payment. This, unfortunately, has been the case for many, and has worked for the agency thus far. However, as knowledge and information is the key factor in avoiding falling victim, publishing this piece, in our belief, is an obligation to the online community of bloggers and companies that are just starting up, and unsuspecting of the array of schemes that exist in the digital world.
If you have been contacted by PicRights, be very careful about your follow-up actions, and make sure they are well-informed before taking any measures. If they reach out to you “on behalf” of any major agency claiming copyright infringement, your best bet may be to reach out to the company being represented, to truly uncover whether they have filed such a complaint to the farce copyright agency. This will ensure that any payments that you may need to make, are done directly to the company that has filed the infringement, and that the problems that are resolved are done so by dealing directly with the primary party. Dealing with PicRights may cause you to fall victim to the scam that they have so robustly developed, leading to unwarranted and illegitimate payments that you may not have needed to make in the first place. As such, similar scams to PicRights exist in the online world today, and understanding how best to deal with these fabrications is the most effective way in resolving the problem to the best interests of both you, and the company that may (or may not) have filed a complaint.