PetaPixel

Sample Letters to My Copyright Infringers, from Credit Requests to Payment Demands

alexwild1

Because you asked, these are real letters I have sent to people found using my photographs inappropriately, ranging from “The standard DMCA takedown” to “The repeat commercial offender payment demand letter.”

1. The standard DMCA takedown

I send about a dozen of these per week, usually to the web hosts of small pest control companies. Legally, these are supposed to be directed at the company running the web server, but I try to cc the site owner if I can find their email address.

This letter is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The infringing material appears on the Service for which you are the designated agent.

The disputed content is a photograph of a bullet ant:
[link to infringing URL]

My original, copyright-protected work is here:

http://www.alexanderwild.com/Ants/Taxonomic-List-of-Ant-Genera/Paraponera/i-bLMBrgD

Please remove these files from your servers at your earliest convenience. Alternately, that image may be licensed for continued commercial use for US $95.

I have a good faith belief that the disputed use is not authorized by myself, the copyright owner. I hereby state, under penalty of perjury, that the above information in this email is accurate and that I am the copyright owner.

Thanks for your time,

/s/
Alexander Wild
www.alexanderwild.com
[address, email, & phone contact]

2. The credit-me-please letter

I sometimes send a gentler notice to people running personal blogs and webpages asking for credit, rather than removal.

Hello. I am the photographer who took a number of the photographs you are using on your beekeeping blog, [blog title]. Although I appreciate that you like my photographs enough to share them, I require that non-commercial uses of my images be accompanied by an appropriate photo credit and a link back to the source image on my website. While I’m not generally concerned by non-commercial use of my work, uncredited uses like those on your blog are a source of downstream commercial infringements that can become a problem, and adding a simple credit helps prevent these.

The images in question are these:
[URL 1, URL 2, etc.]

My original work is here:

http://www.alexanderwild.com/Insects/Stories/Honey-Bees/i-wJq9Jgn/A

http://www.alexanderwild.com/Insects/Stories/Honey-Bees/i-pFBwTK4/A

I would appreciate it if you could add a credit (“Image © Alex Wild”, or similar) to the photo caption, as well as a link back to my source image. If the images are not appropriately credited, I may send a takedown notice to your web host and the images will be removed automatically.

Thanks,

Alex Wild
www.alexanderwild.com

3. The let’s-work-something-out letter

A letter I sent just this morning.

Hello. I am the professional photographer who took the scorpion photograph that [company name] pest control is currently using in several places online:
[URL]

The image also appears in the scrolling banner on the site’s homepage:
[URL]
and as the header to the company facebook page, here:
[facebook URL]

My original photograph is here:

http://www.alexanderwild.com/Insects/Insect-Orders/Amazing-Arachnids/i-RC3MBgt/A

I don’t have a record of licensing this image to [company name] for commercial use. My regular fee that covers this sort of online marketing is $95. I request that you either remove the image from your various sites, or pay the license fee to continue using the image, or forward me any relevant paperwork showing that your company has legitimately licensed that image and I’m mistaken about this. If I don’t hear back from you within a week, I will issue takedown notices to your web hosts, and the images will be removed automatically.

I don’t mean to be harsh, but photography is how I make my living.

Thanks for your time,

Alex Wild
www.alexanderwild.com

4. The inexcusable commercial product infringement payment demand letter

Yes, this was an actual letter.

Hello. I am a professional insect photographer, and recently I was surprised and angered to discover that two of my copyright-protected images are being used to market [company name] products. This use is, to the best of my knowledge, without my permission and without payment of the requisite license fees for commercial use.

In particular, you have used my photograph of a rare, IUCN redlist-protected ant, Nothomyrmecia macrops, on the label of a pesticide product. On top of being a copyright violation, the use of a potentially endangered insect to sell an insect-killing product is both inappropriate and offensive.

The product in question is the [redacted]:
[URL]

My copyright-protected image is the large yellow ant on the label. My original is here:

http://www.alexanderwild.com/Ants/Taxonomic-List-of-Ant-Genera/Nothomyrmecia/i-N9p6C4z

This image also appears in thumbnail size in the rotating banner on the [company name] website:
[URL]

A second infringement appears in [company name] catalog, on page 40.
[URL]

The image is a leafcutter ant carrying a leaf; my original file is
here: http://www.alexanderwild.com/Ants/Taxonomic-List-of-Ant-Genera/Atta/i-xfM6LH4

I have contacted an Intellectual Property attorney about representing me in this matter, but I have not yet signed a contract. Working through the legal system will make this whole issue much more expensive, and time-consuming, for both me and for [company name]. If possible I’d like to resolve this matter directly.

I propose the following options.

Option 1. [company name] removes the image from the label of the [product], and from associated catalog and web use, and pays a rate of 3x my usual commercial-use license fees. A product label is $[amount], so 3x = $[amount]. The small leafcutter ant can stay in the product catalog if the fee is paid. My usual small-size rate, interior print, is $[amount]. So, 3x = $[amount]. Thus, if you remove the ant from the label, and pay a total license fee of $[amount], I will consider the matter resolved.

Option 2. While I really, really do not wish to have my rare ant image used on a pesticide label, I recognize that removing the product from sale to rework the label might represent a significant cost for [company name]. Thus, I’d be ok with having it remain for an additional cost of US $[somewhat bigger amount].

Option 3 is that [company name] does nothing, and I contract an intellectual property attorney to retrieve my fees, plus damages and attorney fees, through the legal system.

As I make my living through photography, I take my copyright seriously. Thanks for your time,

Alex Wild
www.alexanderwild.com

5. The repeat commercial offender payment demand letter

In case they didn’t learn the first time. Distressingly, I have to send about 3 or 4 of these every year.

Hello. One year ago I found four of my images being used on your company website [URL] without my permission, without attribution, and without the requisite payment of my license fees for commercial use. The images were removed on my request, which I appreciate.

I was very surprised, then, to find three new images of mine on your website. Again, the images appear in a commercial context and without my permission, as though you hadn’t learned anything from last year’s exchange.

The images are these (see also attached screen capture):
[URL1,2,3]

My original, copyright-protected images are here:

http://www.alexanderwild.com/Ants/Natural-History/Queen-Ants/i-5HKMCm6/A

http://www.alexanderwild.com/Ants/Natural-History/Queen-Ants/i-vcfhbb7/A

http://www.alexanderwild.com/Ants/Natural-History/Queen-Ants/i-WZkKVbC/A

As I make my living from photography, I cannot afford to be lenient with repeat infringements on the part of for-profit companies. Such infringements are illegal, they waste my time, and they devalue my work. Per the copyright infringement policy stated publicly on my website ( http://www.alexanderwild.com/Image-Use ), I have attached an invoice reflecting my commercial-use license fee of $95/image, plus a $50/image infringement fee, for a total of $285. You will pay this invoice in full within 14 days, and you will remove the images immediately from your website.

If you fail to respond to this letter, I will contact your web host with a formal takedown notice, and I may begin the process of recovering my fees, plus associated damages and legal costs, through the courts. I recommend you forward this notice to your attorney, who can advise you as to your legal situation, and to your web designer, who should be made aware of the problem.

Alex Wild
www.alexanderwild.com

As strict as I am about my photo copyrights, I don’t feel particular ownership over these letters. If you have encountered your own infringers, feel free to use these as templates. Consider them open source.


About the author: Alex Wild is an entomologist based out of Illinois who specializes in the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books, and media outlets. You can find more of his work on his website or by following him on Twitter. This article originally appeared here.


 
  • http://www.mkshft.ca/ Mark Shannon

    Thanks for sharing these examples. Many photographers may find great use from these. It’s also a great example of how we, artists, photographers, etc, can work together, rather than necessarily compete against each other, to bring value and recognition to our work.

  • Christian DeBaun

    Alex – these are simply great, and I bookmarked this for future reference!

    Thanks so much for this article.

  • trevorcoultart

    These are great. Really well worded and covering a range of scenarios. I’d not expect you to know this, but on the off-chance that you do, do you know what the eqiivelant UK legislation would be that UK based photographers ought to quote?

  • Fastball Photography

    I would be interested in seeing some of the more unusual replies as well, i am sure you get some good ones.

  • Todd Strong

    Thanks a ton for sharing these!

  • Oriol Ortiz

    Thank you very much! I had also bookmarked.

  • Benny

    Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988. There’s no provision for a takedown there though – if the hosting provider is in the US, you might just try a DMCA notice. Under the Berne Convention, anything published in the US (even if it was created in the UK) is still subject to US copyright protections.

  • Don Harper

    Good letters, but I think you should be requesting a larger sum of money for your work when it’s been stolen for commercial use.

  • Ron L

    Thanks for sharing

  • gochugogi

    I bet infringers don’t reply to most requests.Mostly getting ignored is my experience. The few that do either curse me, say I can’t prove the image is mine or claim fair use.

  • TSY87

    maybe some advice on how to figure out who, or how to contact a webhost?
    thank!

  • Felipe_Paredes

    this are great, but your photos are amazing! I love the hornworm and the aphids photos.

  • Alex Wild

    I haven’t done a formal tally, but about 2/3 don’t reply even when they remove the files, they just take the material down quietly or their web host does. Of the rest, most replies are apologetic mea culpas, a few turn into paying clients later (which is why I don’t go usually go full nuclear and demand as much as I can get), and an even smaller percentage push back in various ways- filing counter-notices, or blowing me off.

  • Alex Wild

    Demand amounts are tricky. I try to gauge an appropriate penalty given the context. The sample letter here was against a very small business in a very poor town that was barely solvent anyway, so I didn’t ask much. I demand more from larger companies and for infringed logos/product labels. But I hardly ever ask as much as the law entitles me to get; I am a niche photographer and most of my infringers are in the pool of potential clients. If bridges are to be burned, I’d rather let the other party burn it first.

  • Don Harper

    Thanks for the reply Alex, you of course know your market.

  • Addison Geary

    How do you find the infringements? Do you use TinEye or some other image recognition program, or do you just search by titles, keywords, descriptions? Thanks for the post.

  • MarvinB7

    This is where I want to be as a photographer: people stealing my work because it is that good. Thanks for the tips on how to deal with it!

  • Alex Wild

    I use Google’s reverse image search. It’s like magic.

  • Tripper

    I really like how you point out that it is tasteless to use an image of an endangered species on a product for killing it.

  • Grant King

    OK so here’s question for you guys? – a shot I took of a sportsman in his last game of his career has been changed to a silhouette & made in to a logo for his new clothing range that is selling Very well!! All done without my permission or consultation. where do you think I stand legally?

  • Noukka Signe

    Thank you so much for these, sadly I have to send similar messages on a regular basis and it really helps to get some reference to good letters (also because my first language isn’t English). Thanks again!

  • http://RTWin30days.com Jenny McIver

    Alex, thanks a million for taking the time to share these! I am just beginning to take on this battle with the images on my site and have been trying to outline a plan of attack. These are perfect examples to work from and I greatly appreciate your willingness to share them.

  • Mark Erickson

    Alex, thank you for sharing. Excellent letters with a good range of examples. I think I could especially use the “Let’s work something out” example.

    Some infringing individuals can be real tools. I found an eye clinic using at least a dozen of my images on their website, unlicensed, with a copyright claim to “all content on this page…”. I contacted them, rather cordially, asking for payment for licensing or removal of my images. Their response was that their website was “helping a lot of people with eye problems” and I should “get a life” and go pick on someone else. They accused me of being greedy and selfish.

    Actually, their website’s sole function was to promote their eye practice business in order to make their doctors wealthier.

    I’m a single parent of 3 kids and I hold a full-time job and also do medical illustration “on the side” to try to pay the bills. I’m being accused of being “selfish and greedy” by a group of wealthy doctors because I don’t want them to STEAL my hard work.

  • http://www.virtualmeetingcoach.com The Virtual Meeting Coach

    So kind of you to share these letters Alex. I have a situation right now in which using one of them as a template will be very helpful. It’s people like you that make the Internet the place I love to be.