So today I received 2 angry profanity-laced tirades from a blogger in Colorado that really sums up how broken the mindsets of many people are and how little people think about using another person’s intellectual property without permission.
About a week ago a client of mine notified me of a site that was using her images without permission. This site was not only using her images on their blog, but was using Twitter to advertise the blog. This blog was not linking to my client’s site, nor was an affiliate, but was using these images to promote their own site.
We looked at the site and saw that it wasn’t benefiting our client at all. The site had no registered DMCA agent, which is really short-sighted if you are going to be making a routine out of using another person’s works without securing permission. So there was no apparent way to file a DMCA notice with the site owner. Making matters worse, the site owner was using a private registration service, thus we could not ID the owner of the website. While there’s nothing wrong with privacy services, if you use one and then complain that someone can’t contact you then you really only have yourself to blame.
This left us with no option but to send our DMCA to the host of the site in question. The webhost took action, suspending the site.
Then today I received two voicemails from the site owner. The voicemails could best be described as angry and confrontational. At no point did the site owner take any responsibility for what had transpired. Instead his anger (and I mean ANGER) was directed at us. He then went out of his way to insult and demean our client with sexist and derogatory statements.
His defense appeared to be that he was using lots of people’s images without permission and none of them had complained so what made our client different? Clearly this ‘entitled’ position is full of logical holes and downright unethical behavior. Just because no one else caught you yet doesn’t mean what you’re doing is legal.
So before calling this site owner I made a list of points I wanted him to understand. I could tell he was going to be confrontational but I hoped he would understand that he was running a risk of being sued and that there’s lot of perfectly legal ways to use my client’s images. I hoped maybe he would become an affiliate of my client and thus have access to lots of images, all with permission. I wanted to stress the ease and low cost of registering a DMCA agent because without one, he qualifies for no safe harbor and would be liable for all his copyright infringements.
So I called him back. I first asked if I was speaking with the right person (I’m not going to print his name here), his response was “Yeah…What the fuck is your problem asshole?” So we’re getting off to a rocky start in our conversation. He then just went on his profanity laced tirade that was full of sexist remarks about my client “who the fuck does this bitch think she is?” and homosexual slurs “you suck so many dicks out there in California that you’ve become a huge asshole”…not even sure how that scientifically would work.
I calmly told him if he was just going to yell and insult me then we can’t have a conversation and that I was going to hang up. After getting a “Fuck you…” I terminated the call.
He called back, still yelling. I told him that I’d be happy to answer his questions if he actually gave me a chance to answer, stopped yelling, and stopped insulting me and my client. He mockingly gave me permission to speak…for about 2 seconds before he interrupted me screaming again. He stressed that he uses lots of people’s images without permission and somehow he figured that meant it was ok to do it.
I didn’t get a chance to give him any of the points I had planned to make. I wished him a good day, though I am sure he did not hear me since he was still yelling, and I terminated the call.
I know using people’s images without permission may not feel like you’re doing anything wrong. And if you think getting away with it means you’re in the right to keep doing it then you’re really setting yourself up for trouble.
It doesn’t cost a lot to register a DMCA Agent to receive your DMCA notices, which you really should do if you’re going to make a habit out of using another person’s images without permission. Here’s the link:
Putting a DMCA link on your page that allows copyright owners to contact you via email would go a long way towards keeping your host from pulling down your site. Note that a simple Contact Form won’t cut it as most people aren’t going to want to use a contact form for a legal takedown notice. Email allows for a paper trail, contact forms do not.
Also, if you’re going to use other people’s works without permission, be prepared to get caught. And when you do, blaming everyone but yourself isn’t the answer. If you can’t take responsibility for your actions, you shouldn’t do them. It amazes me that an adult thinks it’s ok to use another person’s images without asking permission. That some people seem to think it’s ok to use one company’s images to send traffic to another company they are an affiliate of, often by cropping out the watermarks of the actual copyright owner. But in this warped sense of right and wrong – the copyright holder is the bad guy and the infringer is the poor victim. This is truly a facepalm moment.
And if the site owner in question reads this, I sincerely hope you seek anger management. You screaming and yelling at me didn’t hurt my feelings, I was more worried you were going to have a stroke in the middle of our conversation and I would have to be the one to hear it. Life is too short to spend it angry. Maybe call these guys instead of me:
It’s also important to note that by using the images yourself (not user uploaded in other words), not registering a DMCA agent and being an overall unpleasant person when caught, copyright holders are not required to even send you or your host a DMCA. You could just be outright sued. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 images or 300. Having your site suspended could end up being the least of your worries.