Canadian Anti-Infringement Enforcement Company Caught Using Infringing Photos On Its Website
from the casual-infringement-for-all! dept
IP “enforcement” is a Herculean task (according to the enforcers), one that requires so much time and energy that those pursuing infringers barely have time to make sure their own backyard is clean. Many in the copyright industry (or closely affiliated) have been caught infringing on others’ copyrights: hosted infringing material. SOPA pusher Lamar Smith. NBC Universal. Righthaven. The US Copyright Group. The list literally goes on and on.
Here we are again, discussing an entity so concerned with outside infringement, it can hardly be bothered to notice the infringement within its own walls. Canipre, the Canadian “forensics software” company that has hunted down IP addresses for a “million pirates” on behalf of lawsuit-happy studios like Voltage Pictures (‘Hurt Locker,’ anyone), has decked out its (rather overdramatic) website with the unlicensed photos belonging to others.
Canipre, as a company, offers to track down people who are illegally downloading copyrighted material from record companies and film studios. According to their website, they have issued more than 3,500,000 takedown notices, and their work has led to multimillion dollar damages awards, injunctions, seizure of assets, and even incarceration.
In a recent interview, Canipre’s managing director Barry Logan explained that it’s about much more than just money—he’s hoping to teach the Canadian public a moral lesson:
“[We want to] change social attitudes toward downloading. Many people know it is illegal but they continue to do it… Our collective goal is not to sue everybody… but to change the sense of entitlement that people have, regarding Internet-based theft of property.”
Well, it seems the “sense of entitlement” goes all the way up. Here’s a screencap of Canipre’s website that features a self-portrait by Steve Houk.
We’ll quote Vice here:
So, just to be clear: Canipre has written “they all know it’s wrong and they’re still doing it.” Referring to copyright theft. On top of an image that they are using without the permission of the copyright holder. On their official website.
Houk says no permission was given to use his photo. He contacted Canipre directly to discuss its infringement and to point out that is was “disheartening” to see a company claiming to “champion intellectual property rights” obviously disregarding the rights of others. This led to Canipre’s marketing director firing off a volley of emails and phone calls before finally deciding to pass the buck.
Logan claimed that the company used a 3rd party vendor to develop their website and that the vendor had purchased the image from an image bank.
I pointed out to Logan that if that was true, he had basically paid his vendor to rip off other people’s creative work. Logan told me that he would contact his web provider and have the image removed. He also told me that he would provide me with the name of the website developer and the name of the image bank where they obtained my photo.
So, it’s important that Canipre maintains a presence on the web that properly (and noirishly) delivers its message on the importance of intellectual property rights, but not important enough to dot i’s, cross t’s and make sure its “third party vendor” isn’t simply grabbing images from “the internet” (or image banks with their own infringement problem).
Logan has yet to provide the name of the developer or the image bank, so it still remains somewhat of a mystery which 3rd party vendor slapped Houk’s photo onto an IP enforcer’s website. And this photo, taken by Sascha Pohlflepp. And this one, taken by Brian Moore. At this point, all of the infringing photos have been taken down, but only after Vice called attention to Canipre’s actons.
The ironic thing about the last two photos is that they’re both Creative Commons-licensed, meaning all Canipre (or its vendor) had to do was properly attribute the photos. But neither could be bothered.
Now, some might say that in the scheme of things, Canipre’s infringement is nothing compared to the infringement it’s fighting. But here’s the difference. Canipre is a company that helps studios like Voltage sue alleged infringers based on not much more than an IP address. File sharers aren’t turning a profit or presenting themselves as righters of the world’s wrongs. If you’re going to put yourself in the position of “educating” people (via mass lawsuits) about the importance of the intellectual property rights you’re being paid to protect, you had better make sure you’re not stepping on the IP toes of others.