This week is a little different from normal. While this started out as a question from one of my clients, “Hey Mike, is this real?” they asked, I’ve now seen it across multiple client sites and more and more out in the wild.
It’s a new scam that comes in via a comment or form submission seemingly from a photographer suggesting they are going to file suit for your using their copyright protected images.
While that could be true, this scam contains a link that goes to a malware file. Do not click on the link, do not download the file, and of course always use images that you own.
If you have used images you found on Google, there is a legit business model out there that’s coming for you. It works like this.
- A lawyer and his team find artwork or images that belong to a photographer.
- They offer to pursue the copyright infringement on behalf of the photographer.
- In exchange, they split whatever they earn.
- To the Photographer it’s better than nothing, right?
- So they first capture the image as it appears on your site,
- then they send you an email notification demanding compensation within a short time frame.
- If not paid, they will proceed to file a court case and collect that way.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Copyright is implied. That means the picture doesn’t need a watermark, or ‘copyright protected’ verbiage. It’s protected from the minute they took the picture. Period.
- No, you cannot just delete or replace the photo, they have a record of it on your site and so does Google’s cache and even the Wayback Machine.
- No, you cannot plead ignorance. We’ve all watched enough legal shows to know that.
- It’s easy for them to find the pics. There’s always the simple Google Image Search, but what if you cropped the photo, what if you threw a bunch of filters at it, what if you made it black and white? There’s much more sofisticated tools out there like TinEye. TinEye looks at the individual pixels and their relation to each other.