I’m getting sued (I think)

UPDATE: Since I’ve written this blog, I’ve received countless emails from others who have been in similar situations with PicRights. So to help save you the time, here’s a quick summary of my experience and what you should do:

  • PicRights acts like they are representing photographers, but they aren’t. They’re trying to make money off of you and then “credit” the photographer after. 
  • If you receive an email from PicRights for a photo on your personal blog or site, just delete the photo and ignore the email. They will not sue you for a few hundred dollars; legal fees cost more.
  • If you have a business site, I am not a lawyer nor have legal experience, but you should be good to do the same as above. Just ensure the photos you’re using on your site going forward are “free use,” meaning anyone has rights to use them.
  • After my silly email exchanges back and forth with PicRights, they basically tried negotiating the price down, which that in itself told me it was basically a scam. I haven’t received any additional emails since.
  • I had a person tell me they received a letter in the mail from PicRights. Just treat it the same.

If you feel like reading my whole experience, feel free to read on. Otherwise, I hope this helps!

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A couple weeks ago, I got a strange email with the subject line “Unlicensed Use of Agence France-Presse Imagery – Reference Number: 6519-4278-2604” and didn’t think anything of it. Few days later, I checked back on it to find I was being sued. Well, sued might be a little strong. Basically, I had used a picture of Nick Foles in my post-Super Bowl blog that was apparently from Getty or whatever source.

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Not my issue, I just take pictures from them Internets and throw it on here. So the email is from PicRights, some European company that works on behalf of photographers to get their hard earned cash. The email goes into all this detail about copyright laws and so on. I ain’t no lawyer, so this stuff is well above my head. But what I did understand was they were asking for (amount both Canadian/US). Shoutout to PicRights for including our friends up north. I gave it time before responding and followed up with this:

Hi friends, although I am flattered that you think my name is a business (e.g. AROD CORP), I wouldn’t exactly say my personal blog I write for leisure and fun is a company. I do it to kill time and trigger some snowflakes living in the North End (you can read more here: https://zacharyadamgray.com/ 2018/07/10/gmim-back-from- vacation/ )

Anywho, let me know if you still need 15% of my paycheck for a photo of Nick Foles to sit on my dumb website that 8 people read a week. It would be tossing salt on the Super Bowl wound.

Best wishes, Zach

If they read the blog, it would have been apparent that I don’t make a dime off this website. The blog was about Big Dick Nick Foles and a conspiracy that Belichick tossed the Super Bowl to avoid an awkward White House visit with his friend Donny T. Well, turns our the only thing they read are emails…maybe:

Dear Mr. Gray,

I am the Compliance Officer assigned to this case.

Thank you for responding so promptly.

The image in question is a rights-managed image Id: 914349958  / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)  represented exclusively by  Agence France-Presse (AFP) and by their sub-agent Getty in North America. The use of rights-managed images represented by Agence France-Presse (AFP) requires a license covering each and every use. By using their copyright-protected image without license or authorization you infringed Agence France-Presse (AFP) copyright and payment of an applicable retroactive license/no further rights granted is required to resolve the matter completely.

The fee for licensing the image in an editorial context only and accompanied by a credit line (None of which was done) would have been CAD$175.00 /US$158.00 (please see attachment) Our client is simply requesting payment of the actual licensing rate had you licensed the image from AFP/Getty prior to publishing it on your website.

PicRights does not set the price, the price is set by our client, PicRights does have the ability to reduce the fee in order to effectuate a settlement on our client’s behalf. In order to settle this matter amicably I have reduced the fee by 20% to US$125 This reduction will be available to you through (08/30/2018), by which time payment must be received or the offer will be withdrawn.

Kindly go to: https://resolve.picrights.com/ Home/Evidence/6519-4278-2604 click on the payment button and follow the instruction to pay via credit card or paypal.

Click on “Additional Supporting Documents” and you will find a copy of the Settlement and Release Agreement, Statement of Authorization, Confirmation of Rights Holdership and Request for Payment.

Hmmm, so the photo was worth a certain amount and PicRights doesn’t set the price, yet they just gave me a deal? 🤔

I love screwing with people, but I also don’t feel like paying up for anything. So I took care of things, in my mind:

Hi Sharon,

I’m not big into negotiations, nor do I understand much about image rights (again, 8 people read my blog for free). THEREFORE, I’ve gone ahead and deleted the photo of Nick Foles off the blog.

He’s gone. Dead (digitally).

Anywho, feel free to share my blog with your friends and get my reader count up to 9.

Pleasure doing business with you.

Warm regards,
Zach

Fellas, that’s how to end negotiations. All good, right? Wrong:

Dear Mr. Gray,

Thank you for your e-mail.

A copyright automatically exists from the moment a photograph is created.

Removal of the images is the first step, but a retroactive license still must be paid.

In the interest of resolving this matter without referring it to external counsel, I have reduced the fee by 39.87%.  That offer will remain in effect until August 30, 2018 then it will be withdrawn.

Kindly go to: https://resolve.picrights. com/Home/Evidence/6519-4278- 2604 the secure PicRights resolution website where you can pay by credit card or PayPal.

If this matter is not resolved by August 30, 2018 we will refer this matter to our attorneys in the U.S.

Alright, now I’m getting annoyed at this point. First and foremost, another discount? Hey Sharon, I thought you didn’t set the price? First it was $158, then you gave a discount to speed up the process, now we’re dropping the price by 39.87%. What the hell kind of percentage is that? Now I’m getting suspicious and figure I’d share my experience on the old Facebook. Might as well see if any people familiar with law know what the hell is going on. I was never going to pay, but I was curious to see if this whole thing was legit. No more than a minute later, my unofficial lawyer and local brewer Trevor (check out his brewery here) sent over some great advice. Here’s my response:

Any legal action on your end means you’re paying a lawyer thousands of dollars to get $95 off a guy who used a photo of Nick Foles in a personal blog which he profits $0 off of.

Boom roasted. Eat my shorts. You’re not getting a dime out of me. Here’s their futile response:

Dear Mr. Gray,

Thank you for your e-mail

Copyright infringement is a strict liability violation.  This means that irrespective of your intent, the reproduction of our client’s content on your website constitutes copyright infringement and our client is entitled to compensation for the unauthorized use of its work even if you did not intend to infringe our client’s copyright.

Yours truly,

Weird, no link to your PayPal to steal my information? No more discounts? I guess that’s what happens when I call out your bullshit.

Apparently this is a common scam, especially for small businesses. It all depends on how you’re using certain images and if you are making a profit off said imagine. Again, I do this shit for free because why not.

I thought about including the same Nick Foles imagine in every blog just for the hell of it, but I don’t feel like dealing with those dinguses in the future. I will continue to feature hot fire flames images and be an internet bad boy, I guess?

Until I deal with another “lawsuit,” read the bog, share, and enjoy.

Hey dummy, I’m on Twitter. Tweet me your thoughts or tell me how much I suck @zacharyadamgray, or if you’re old, send me an email to zacharyadamgray@gmail.com

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