Photos of Legal Rights

Passive Income from Piracy

December 15, 2018  |    0 comments  |  Legal Rights

If you’re like me and share your photos online in any capacity, you’ve probably had at least a few stolen by unscrupulous people for use on their websites or for other promotional reasons. Usually, you’d deal with this by finding the violator and either sending an invoice or filing a DMCA takedown. Unfortunately, in my experience, invoices sent generally mean invoices ignored. Of course, you could always hire a lawyer to go after copyright thieves, but that usually takes upfront capital, which can mean a fair amount of money out-of-pocket with no guarantee of a reward. And running down copyright violators on your own can take a lot of energy and time.

Time and energy that I don’t have. Nor do a lot of people.

So, what do I do about copyright thieves?

I recently discovered Pixsy.Com, a service that searches the web for violations, lets you choose the ones worth pursuing via their service, and goes after these for resolution.

It’s pretty easy to use and doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. Once you’ve signed up, you can sync your Flickr, SmugMug, Instagram or other social accounts or upload a batch of photos.

They then periodically scan the web for uses of these photos and present potential matches in an easy-to-use interface for you to browse.


From here, you can reject false-positives, confirm if the use of a photo is okay or submit a case.

When you submit a case, you provide some background information on the image, such as when and where it was taken as well as when you first published it on the web, and Pixsy goes to work. They evaluate your submission for feasibility of pursuing based on whether or not they feel it will result in payment as well as if the amount of payment is worth the effort.

If the image is accepted into the resolution program, they contact the violator via email, presenting them with documentation of the violation as well as an invoice. If this is ignored, they eventually start calling the violator until they get resolution. If they don’t get a response from a thief, they will consult with their associated legal firms as to whether or not it’s worth filing suit.

If they get resolution, they keep 50% as their fee, which might seem high, but I think it worth it for me not to have to mess with.

And it’s been pretty worth it for me. In the few months I’ve been using their service, I’ve netted of $4000 in fees for only a few hours of my time. And while direct licensing of there photos would’ve made me more if the violators had actually bothered securing a license instead of offering their usual excuses (“my web guy did it” or “I found it on Google Image Search, so I thought it was free”), it’s more than I would’ve made had I tried to do this on my own (which would be $0 because I’m a) busy, b) lazy and c) don’t have a law firm with which to send scary letters on my behalf).

The one caveat I have, however, is that Pixsy only operates in certain countries. So they’ve been unable to hunt down Metallica’s thievery of one of my photos because the record label that actually published the CD with the violation is based in Greece, outside of their operating area. To resolve this, I am looking at other legal options.



So, if you’re a photographer who doesn’t have time or energy or money to pursue pirates on your own, I highly-recommend giving Pixsy a try.

If You’re Going To Steal…

October 10, 2013  |    0 comments  |  Legal Rights

…don’t edit my photos to crap.

Just discovered that PocketVegasDeals—a Groupon-like site solely-focused on Las Vegas—stole one of my photos of the Encore for a promotion. Of course I was angered by the blatant disregard of copyright law, but they also apparently edited the photo to hell. And, better yet, they didn’t strip the EXIF data…you can clearly see my copyright notice embedded in the data. (LeftyRodriguez was an earlier pseudonym I used for my photographic endeavors and MGH is my initials.  Also, I have the raw of this photo, so there’s no excuse, really.  Anyhow, see the thievery and the butchering in the below screencap:

vegasAnd see the original here:



The Oddest Misappropriation of My Work Yet

July 24, 2013  |    0 comments  |  Legal Rights

I routinely use sites such as TinEye or Google Image Search to see where my photos are being used by copyright violators. This inevitably enrages me and I end up having to spend entirely too much time filing DMCA takedown notices.

Recently, I searched for my April 11, 2011 photo (below) to see if had been stolen.


And it had.

Specifically, it was being used in a presumably-home made video for a song  called Maula”  from an Indian movie with the somewhat questionable title Jism 2.  

You can see the offense for yourself (at the 1:45 mark):

Or, if you prefer, here are some screencaps (notice how they murdered the photo with a crappy, garishly-colored overlay:


Screenshot_072413_031609_PM Screenshot_072413_031525_PM







So now I get to waste even more precious time filing yet another DMCA takedown notice.

A Difficult Question of Copyright

June 5, 2013  |    0 comments  |  Elsewhere Legal Rights

I, like many photographers, routinely use Google’s Image Search in order to find people that have stolen my photos in order to issue DMCA takedown notices.  Recently, I came across a weird situation.

Several years ago, I took this photo depicting some “found” artwork at the site of the then-soon-to-be-demolished Good-Latimer tunnel in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood:

Demon Face

I photoblogged it in October of 2007 (and note that I don’t sell prints of it) and kind of forgot about it (that was almost six years and ~2,000 photos ago!).

So, imagine my surprise when Google Image Search returned a hit that showed some charlatan had taken my image, cleaned it up and made a (admittedly cool-looking) t-shirt from it:


And here’s an imperfect overlay of both.  The oblique angle that I took the photo at is apparent in the t-shirt…the other variations are obviously from cleaning up the photo a bit and vectorizing it.


Normally, I would’ve fired off a DMCA notice to Redbubble and had the t-shirt removed, but in this case, my photo is of another’s artwork, so it’s a grey-area.  The original work doesn’t exist anymore, having been demolished in late 2007 along with the rest of the graffiti-covered Good-Latimer Tunnel and determining the original artist would be nigh-impossible. And, since I don’t own the copyright to the original work, going after this image thief would be a pointless endeavour.  So, instead it looks like I get to sit back and watch someone else make money off a derivative of my work that was originally a derivative work to begin with.

And it makes me damn angry.

And if I make my own t-shirt of this design, what’re my rights?


It’s Things Like This…

January 11, 2011  |    0 comments  |  Elsewhere Legal Rights

…that make my blood boil.  Thomas Hawk is being sued for $2M for posting non-commercial photos he took at the World Erotic Art Museum in Miami.  In totally unrelated news, I’m booking a flight to Miami.  Here’s his blog post:

Thomas Hawk Digital Connection » Blog Archive » The World Erotic Art Museum in Miami is Trying to Sue Me for $2 Million for Posting Photos I Took There on My Flickr Account.


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