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Copyright Enforcement Group & AKM- Extortion Tactics « WP Robot Support Forum

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WP Robot Support Forum » WP Robot Support

Copyright Enforcement Group & AKM- Extortion Tactics

(17 posts)

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    bearbear

    Member

    This is a warning, be very careful of RSS feeds. This happened to me aprox 1 week ago. I rebuilt my whole site after this. Can't afford $1,000 per image.

    I was using the RSS function and pulling feeds from a website that allowed for their content to be used (thought I was good).
    My site ended up with this 1 image that apparently was copyright protected by AKM Images.
    I received no warning on this beforehand and there was no way for me to tell the image was copyright protected. There was no opportunity to remove the image. The whole thing is really shady and they really seem to be stretching the law here. Kind of like extortion.
    Below is what I received.
    Has anyone else had this issue?
    I have omitted some of the personal information.

    From: Copyright Enforcement Group
    > > > To: xxxxxxx , Legal Department
    > > > Subject: Notice of Unauthorized Use of Image Owned by AKM Images
    > > > Sent: Jan 22
    > > >
    > > > *** Note to xxxxxx: please forward the entirety of this notice to the
    > > > owner of xxxxxxxxxxxxx.com ***
    > > >
    > > > January 22, 2011
    > > >
    > > > Re: Notice of Unauthorized Use of Image Owned by AKM Images
    > > >
    > > > Dear Legal Department:
    > > >
    > > > Copyright Enforcement Group, LLC, ("We") represent AKM Images. AKM Images
    > > > owns all right, title and interest to the copyright-registered image
    > > > referenced in this document.
    > > >
    > > > We have detected the unauthorized use of the image owned by AKM Images
    > > > listed below. Each image is covered by a registered copyright. Our records
    > > > and those of AKM Images indicate that you do not currently hold the proper
    > > > license for the use of the image displayed on your website.
    > > >
    > > > The following image infringement was detected:
    > > >
    > > > # | Image Title | Evidence Exhibit | Settlement Amount
    > > > 1.) xxxxxxxxx | Exhibit X in xxxxx.pdf | $1000.00
    > > >
    > > > Total Settlement: $1000.00
    > > >
    > > > You are hereby notified that your unauthorized use of the registered
    > > > copyright owned by AKM Images for the image described herein is in
    > > > violation of the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 106. In this regard, demand
    > > > is hereby made that you immediately and permanently cease and desist the
    > > > unauthorized use and display of said image and remit settlement in the
    > > > amount of $1000.00 or produce proof of license of said image by emailing it
    > > > to: [LINK: mailto:support@copyrightsettlements.com]
    > > > support@copyrightsettlements.com
    > > >
    > > > You may also be held liable for monetary damages, including attorneys' fees
    > > > and court costs, if a lawsuit is commenced against you. You have until
    > > > February 22, 2011 to access the settlement website and settle online. To
    > > > access the settlement website, please visit xxxxxxx and enter Case #: xxxxxxx and
    > > > Password: xxxxx To access the settlement offer directly, please visit
    > > > [LINK: https://xxxxxxxx]
    > > > https://www.copyrightsettlements.com/xxxxxx.
    > > >
    > > > Settlement Information
    > > > Total Settlement: $1000.00
    > > > Settlement Website: [LINK: https://www.copyrightsettlements.com/]
    > > > https://www.copyrightsettlements.com/
    > > > Case #: xxxxxxx
    > > > Password: xxxxxxx
    > > > Direct Link: [LINK:
    > > > https://www.copyrightsettlements.com/xxx]
    > > > https://www.copyrightsettlements.com/xxxxxx
    > > >
    > > > If you fail to respond, settle, or produce proof of license within the
    > > > prescribed time period, the claim will be referred to our attorneys for
    > > > legal action. At that point, the original settlement offer will no longer
    > > > be an option and the amount will increase as a result of us having to
    > > > involve our attorneys.
    > > >
    > > > Nothing contained or omitted from this correspondence is, or shall be
    > > > deemed to be, either a full statement of the facts or applicable law, an
    > > > admission of any fact, or waiver or limitation of any of AKM Images' rights
    > > > or remedies, all of which are specifically retained and reserved.
    > > >
    > > > The information in this notice is accurate. We have a good faith belief
    > > > that use of the material in the manner complained of herein is not
    > > > authorized by the registered copyright owner, its agent, or by operation of
    > > > law. We represent that we are authorized to act on behalf of AKM Images.
    > > >
    > > > Sincerely,
    > > >
    > > > Dale Spislander
    > > > Copyright Enforcement Agent
    > > >
    > > > Copyright Enforcement Group, LLC
    > > > 8484 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 220
    > > > Beverly Hills, CA 90211
    > > >
    > > > Toll Free: 877-5-COPYRIGHT (877-526-7974)
    > > > Local: 310-526-8610
    > > > Email: [LINK: mailto:support@copyrightsettlements.com]
    > > > support@copyrightsettlements.com
    > > > Website: [LINK: https://www.copyrightsettlements.com/]
    > > > https://www.copyrightsettlements.com/

    Posted 6 years ago #
  2. anonymized
    Member

    This is the same group that was used by the record companies to target bittorrent users. Most of the claims were sent out without any actual evidence of infringement. The main tactic by these settlement farms is to send out these threat letters by the hundreds in the hopes that most fish will bite and click the "Settle Now" button. They advertise to content providers and rights holders with "Monetize copyright infringement! Increase your bottom line!". It's just another scam wrapped in a moral veil. Don't click on anything they send you. Don't respond to anything by clicking on it or they will gather evidence. It's the same advice any lawyer would give you: don't talk to the enemy. You may unwittingly implicate yourself or give them ammo which they probably don't already have. At this point they don't actually know your name, do they. They just sent this out to the registrar of your domain name or your ISP. All they have is an IP address and getting anything more would require a subpoena. I'm not a lawyer and I'm not giving you any legal advice, just my personal take, but chances are the cost or them actually pursuing this in court isn't worth the $1000. They're betting they can scare you into immediate payment with an emotional bliztkreig. If it were me, and this is just me personally, I would completely ignore it. It's one thing if you knowingly took an image that was copyrighted and physically took the effort to use it commercially. They say ignorance of the law is no excuse, but being a guy just trying to make a decent living on the internet doesn't make you a criminal, it just makes you naive. I would hate to see you cave into these aresholes. I would bet that if you ignore it, the only consequence will be increasingly threatening boilerplate form letters, which cost next to nothing to send out. Again, that's just me.

    Posted 6 years ago #

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    bearbear

    Member

    They do not know who I am, but I did respond back and gave them a piece of my mind. I should not have done that, but they made me very mad. They sent me an image of their image on my web page. So they do have that. They do have the proof that their image was on my web page. I am really not sure what to do. Obviously I don't want this amount to get bigger. My gut tells me they are bluffing, but I am not sure. Does anyone know if the law states they need to warn me first, and give me a chance to remove the image first?

    Posted 6 years ago #

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    action012

    Member

    I'm not a lawyer but my understanding of copyright infringement is that no warning has to be given and the holder can prosecute on the first infringement.

    That being said it just seem to me that they are going after the wrong person here. I would think that they should go after the source of the feed, but I'm sure, they think it would be easier to just go after you.

    You really should talk to a lawyer that knows copyright law, even if you have to sign up for one of those pre-paid plans to be able to afford it.

    Steve

    Posted 6 years ago #
  5. mrpops
    Member

    I would pay 50$ for the legal consultation and go talk with the lawyer and have him send a threatening letter back to those clowns.Chances are you will never hear back from them again

    Posted 6 years ago #

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    bearbear

    Member

    The strange part about this is I have been communicating with the source website, that the image came from, and they never did anything to them. I think he is going to change his feeds to thumbnails. For some reason they came after my website. It does appear that they are within the law to do this without warning. Obviously they are exploiting the law for their own profit and the profit of the image copyright holder. Unless the internet copyright law is changed I could see more of these companies popping up. Everyone needs to be careful. This type of thing could become more numerous.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  7. superbiz
    Member

    I had received notice from some sources (not the one mentioned in this thread) to take out content and images from one of my autoblogs or else they would pursue legal action. I guess they were not after the money and just wanted the content removed. I did not feel good about the whole experience and just pulled down the whole website. After that, I have been careful about the content that gets posted.
    I dont know about the legal stuff but I would say you better get prepared before this thing spirals out (assuming these guys actually own the copyright and are bent on taking yoou to court). As mentioned in another post, you could get a lawyer at prepaid legal or somewhere like:
    http://www.justanswer.com/

    update: just came across this regarding AKM images:
    http://www.naturescapes.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=129798

    Posted 6 years ago #

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    bearbear

    Member

    Talked to an attorney.
    Bottom line, from a copyright attorney, is I could try to negotiate with them. Which I have now tried and did not work. They said pay or go to court. I can't ignore this, they don't need to give prior warning. The image does not have to be marked as copyright protected. If I try to fight it, it will cost me a lot more money, he (the attorney)was sure of that. If I ignore it, it will cost me a lot more money (legal fees). There is no way out of paying it. The attorney said they can go after tens of thousands sometimes depending on the image.

    My advice is everyone, be careful with images, they can do this to anyone, without warning.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  9. blackjava
    Member

    This sounds like a total scam to me. To tell you that if you don't pay $1000 or they will take you to court is bogus. It could also be called extortion.

    Posted 6 years ago #

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    bearbear

    Member

    It is no scam. I wish it was.
    My attorney told me to pay them, or it would very likely cost me a lot more. They can go after a lot more per image, per the current DMCA law, plus I would have to pay their attorney fees.
    There is no way to fight it when they have evidence of the image on your website (which they do). They have sent me that.
    It is the website owners responsibility to make sure nothing on their site is copyright protected.
    Be careful with your RSS feeds, even if they come from a site that allows for re-publishing, that does not protect the website owner.
    You can thank your lawmakers for passing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

    Posted 6 years ago #

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    minoric1

    Member

    bearbear - what ever became of this? I also got a letter recently and my deadline to pay is upcoming, but I didn't do anything wrong in my opinion. Attorneys who have given me free advice seem torn. Can you tell me what you did?

    Posted 5 years ago #

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    bearbear

    Member

    After consulting with an attorney, I paid them. It was an accident but the law holds the webmaster responsible for the content of his/her site. It was a lesson learned and I am much more careful now with images. Do not load any images on your site where you are unsure of the copyright on it. They are very good at getting folks for the violation.

    Posted 5 years ago #

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    minoric1

    Member

    I have read on other sites that once you pay, they might come after you for other photos (as they know you have the money and willingness to pay). I've completed deleted my site, but have no idea what other screen shots they may have taken before I did that. They only served me with one notice for one photo, so I'd like to assume this will be it if I pay, but fear they might have more up their sleeve. Do you have any advice or insight based on your experience?

    Posted 5 years ago #

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    minoric1

    Member

    By the way thanks - this is valuable feedback. My "deadline" is tomorrow.... :(

    Posted 5 years ago #

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    bearbear

    Member

    It's been aprox 4 months since I paid them. They have not bothered me any more.

    I did immediately delete and rebuild the site.

    Posted 5 years ago #

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    bearbear

    Member

    Just as an update, it's been 6 months since I paid them and they have never bothered me again.

    Posted 5 years ago #

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    davidcl

    Member

    A simple screenshot of a website proves nothing, the image could have been hotlinked. If it was hotlinked you aren't infringing anything.

    Unless they can prove the image was not only on your website but also on your server they have nothing.

    If I had this issue I'd not respond to the first few emails (if they are serious they'll write a letter), remove the offending image or better yet replace it with an image almost identical (same filename, dimensions and ideally looks the same).

    I'd only be concerned when a letter dropped on the door mat, the emails are fishing for numpties (no offence) dumb enough to respond.

    David

    Posted 5 years ago #

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