Copyright Enforcement Service Claims $600 Billion-Worth Of Images Are 'Stolen' Every Day

from the why-settle-for-anything-less-than-impossible dept

A new “report” has been released by Copytrack, supposedly detailing the insane amount of “stealing” that goes on every day. “Report” is in quotes for reason. First, the “report” [PDF] opens up with a literally unbelievable statistic conjecture.

[I]t is estimated that more than 2.5 billion images are stolen daily. These license violations have the potential to result in up to €532.5 billion in damages daily.

Not even in the most fevered dream of the most overwrought copyright maximalist could this number be considered plausible. As attorney/law professor Jeff Pearlman points out, this hilarious extrapolation from facts not in evidence conjectures that copyright infringement of images alone results in a number that swallows the entirety of the world’s economy.

If you can’t read/see the tweet, it says:

Let’s do some math! GWP (combined global GDPs) is ~$87 trillion. That’s ~$240 billion/day. Copytrack says $600 billion/day in “stolen” images.

So: they say the value of “stolen” images is more than twice what the entire world produces in goods and services.

Color me skeptical.

Yes. Skepticism — massive amounts of it — is called for. Copytrack’s assertion of GWP-destroying infringement starts with another unbelievable number.

Two studies from IMGembed and Copytrack show that of the 3 billion images shared on the internet daily, around 85 percent are used without a valid license.

Let’s talk about sharing. Images are shared frequently, often without licenses. Does this mean each share can be equated with lost income? Of course not. People often use images on social media as placeholders for reactions or as standalone comments. There’s no replacement of the market for these images, unless someone — possibly Copytrack — assumes such innocuous, non-commercial use of images is a market that hasn’t been captured.

Supporters of Article 13 seem to believe this is the case. So does Copytrack. While the legislators behind the internet-crippling law in Europe may be beholden to powerful lobbyists, Copytrack’s reliance on ridiculous extrapolations to compose this report is pure self-interest. Copytrack follows its laughable claim about the “cost” of infringement with a sales pitch. And not “follows” as in “a few pages later,” but “follows” as in “it’s the very next damn sentence.”

Here’s the whole paragraph:

According to the figure above, it is estimated that more than 2.5 billion images are stolen daily. These license violations have the potential to result in up to €532.5 billion in damages daily. Many image owners feel that the extent to which image rights are violated signals a lack of respect for photographers’ work. Looking one step further, violations result in the loss of important revenues for rights holders on a daily basis. In 2018, Copytrack was able to obtain an average of €320 for each copyright infringement case submitted by a Copytrack user.

The pitch goes on from there, assuring users that a) billions of dollars are being “lost” every day and b) Copytrack can help them claw back a few of the billions of “lost” Euros.

If you have anything less than complete skepticism by this point, you’re probably a Copytrack employee.

Somewhat ironically, Copytrack claims the country performing the most infringement isn’t any of the countries listed on the USTR’s annual country-shaming Special 301 reports. According to this report, the USTR’s home country is worst infringer.

Our leader in regards to copyright infringement was not Asia, as many may have assumed, but rather North America with 33.90 percent of image copyright violations coming from this part of the world.

The US is ahead of every other country by a healthy margin, something Copytrack believes is due to the large percentage of the population with internet access. It then breaks this down by city, coming to the astonishing conclusion that the most infringing US city is… Scottsdale, Arizona. Here’s how Copytrack attempts to explain this finding:

Scottsdale was responsible for 5 percent of image infringements and did so with a population of only about 250.000 inhabitants! Finding reasons for this placement is not easy, however, in 1993 Scottsdale was rated the “most liveable city in the USA and made a name for itself in tabloid media as a celebrity vacation spot. In Scottsdale, photos of popular locations are some of the most commonly used pictures without a license. It is therefore quite possible that the sudden fame of the city was picked up locally and was spread across the internet – without sufficient diligence for image rights research.

Ok then. Maybe next time, try to perform some of that “sufficient diligence” before hitting the “publish” button. Here’s a more likely explanation why so much infringement appears to be coming from Arizona: domain registrar GoDaddy is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona and private registrations default to GoDaddy’s home address. This logic failure is especially ridiculous considering Copytrack suggested it was private domain registrations driving the surprisingly high amount of alleged infringement in Panama City, Panama — which leads the world in infringement percentage according to this report.

Given Copytrack’s inability to rein in its statistical leaps of faith or its bizarre theories about mass infringement in the Arizona real estate industry, perhaps it shouldn’t have applied its… um… prowess to minutia no one cares about. But it did and so there’s a whole page dedicated to breaking down the resolutions most commonly “stolen.” This, unsurprisingly, turns out to be 1920×1080, followed by sizes commonly used by online publications to ensure viewability across a wide variety of platforms and devices (600×400). Basically, the most popular sizes for infringement are also the most popular sizes for non-infringing use.

I mean, is there really any usable knowledge to be gleaned from this chart?

Obviously, Copytrack thinks so. Maybe this chart is included to let rights holders know they can limit infringement by uploading creations in resolutions no one would even take for free… like 600×150 or 350×1200 or whatever. Sometimes you just have to realize that not all data is relevant, useful, or even marginally interesting. Copytrack appears to feel it needs to use all the data it collected, even if the data is completely devoid of information.

I guess if the ultimate point is to pitch your services to new customers, Copytrack’s report can be considered a success… but only if it results in new customers. By any other standard, it’s a failure. And an embarrassing one at that.

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Companies: copytrack

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Comments on “Copyright Enforcement Service Claims $600 Billion-Worth Of Images Are 'Stolen' Every Day”

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58 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

the problem is that idiots in government jump on this fucking BS and use it to their own advantage, grandstanding, in getting new laws in place, removing still more freedoms from the masses all the while taking backhanders from the entertainment industries and screwing up what should still be, but is far from it now, the best thing that has happened to this Planet, ever, the Internet! these fuckers seem to think that handing it over to these industries, for a price, is going to be the best thing since sliced bread, all the while taking away the real purpose, spreading information everywhere!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: $600B a day stolen....

"The author must have studied economics at Prenda U!"

Other way around. Prenda studied at "Copyright university".

Which inherited the bulk of its teaching material from the 13th century catholic church.
According to the doctrines surrounding the sales of Indulgence it is indeed possible to create infinite worth by issuing an imaginary license to safeguard your immortal soul from the perceived damages caused by arbitrary "sin".

Today we call that the copyright licensing scheme.

Anonymous Coward says:

There is only one way they could reach this amount… If they assume that every image on the internet, no matter who took/made it, is copyrighted.
This is probably what they wish for in their wettest dreams though.

Or maybe they count the images in movies… 120 hz. That makes more sense than any reason they could reach that amount they claim.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is NOTIONAL damage, not actual damage.

Piracy does put money in the hands of criminals, which is one reason for stopping it, and it costs producers some of their distribution lists, but the $600 billion figure is clearly incorrect.

Article 13 is the latest attempt to stop piracy, and I hope it works without "breaking the internet" as some fear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

First we should prove that the sun rose today, for something more controversial.

Look up internet marketing and what people make with distribution lists to start. Some of those who use his methods have made tens of millions mostly off distribution and affiliate programs.

Piracy diverts valuable traffic from its proper source to a criminal.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"This is NOTIONAL damage, not actual damage."

In other words, not damage at all. Just a whiny loser complaining about market conditions.

"Piracy does put money in the hands of criminals…"

How? The only ones with the option of making any money through piracy today may be doing so in unlawful ways – but "unlawful" and "criminal" are NOT THE SAME. The difference usually being one of very high importance.

"…which is one reason for stopping it…"

Even if your previous statement was true – which it isn’t – this little gem by you is also a price-winning lie. Almost every business puts money "into the hands of criminals" in some fashion or other which is why, if we want to keep using "money" at all we need to observe degrees of separation before we go off half-cocked.

"…and it costs producers some of their distribution lists…"

Good Grief, this again. Once again since you seem to be VERY slow – pirates, by definition, do not use distribution lists – hence no distributor ever "lost" any such, nor did pirates copy and make use of them.

"…but the $600 billion figure is clearly incorrect."

Well, Baghdad Bob, I guess you must be out of form. The last part of that sentence appears to be correct. Normally you’d be able to achieve 100% pure bullshit in every post, almost without trying. Are you feeling sick today by any chance?

Kevin Hayden (profile) says:

We need a new collection society for this!

Since it’s almost impossible to track all of this infringement, why don’t we just create a new worldwide collection society to collect it all. Based on the current worldwide population the $600 billion equates to about $80 per person per day, or $29,200 per year. Get your chequebooks ready folks! It shouldn’t be long before the EU creates a new directive mandating that everyone pay up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: We need a new collection society for this!

The allows for a licensing system, whereby sites effectively buy insurance against their users uploading infringing content. That is like the rest of the directive, it is aimed at web site owners, and not those who infringe on copyright.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: We need a new collection society for this!

Just what we all need – more insurance!

I need insurance to cover the possibility of someone purchasing a pharmaceutical company and jacking up the prices a few thousand percent.

Now I need insurance to cover the possibility that someone’s panties are in a twist concerning a comment on an internet blog.

I am beginning to think I need insurance to cover the added insurance that I will "need".

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Fraud based economy

"Getty was selling public domain images for big bucks. Maybe that $600 billion is in fraud dollars."

Sort of.

Every other part of the economy deals in measurable and limited resources of some sort. Copyright assumes that every copy made magically doubles the value where the reality is that it cuts that value in half instead.

They assume it’s 600 billion simply because they are dealing with monopoly money. And believe that this means they themselves can arbitrarily determine "losses" by stating that the phony bill they printed isn’t being counted at face value.

Anonymous Coward says:

Who’s old enough to remember the TV show "Green Acres?" When Oliver Wendell Douglas didn’t have his mail delivered on time, he lost $500. When he complained about it, all his good neighbors offered to pitch in and help him find it. Maybe we should all pitch in and help look for all that cash they lost. I’m sure it will turn up.

ECA (profile) says:

Value without sale??

Lets ask everyone about Donations to Clothing stores that give you a Blank to fill out for the VALUE of the goods…
retail?? Wholesale?? CHEAP CRAP??

Looking at the numbers its around $200-300 per Picture..
Artwork??
2.5 billon into 500 billion
For those prices I will look around my little town and see who wants a pic taken..then ask permission.

That One Guy (profile) says:

As if more evidence was needed

Claiming that infringement causes damage close to three times the world production every day? Yeah, for them this is a good bit of fearmongering to try to con people into paying them, but for anyone with the barest bit of sense this is just more evidence how utterly insane copyright(and a dash of greed) can turn people.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: As if more evidence was needed

"Claiming that infringement causes damage close to three times the world production every day?"

Copyright math.

The heinous part is that if you accept copyright as valid then that math becomes factual truth…no matter what the actual world economy has to say about it.

And this is why I ceased to believe in any form of copyright above the right of attribution long ago. Much like communism or theocracy it’s a concept human nature simply won’t allow for to an extent where you can build a stable society around it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Property insurance..

"Someone goes into your home and steals everything…
Do you get to tell the insurance company HOW MUCH they should pay you??
F’ NO.."

Worse. Someone goes into your home and takes photos of everything. then build identical copies of your furniture in their own workshop.

When you go to the insurance company and demand they repay you for the lost value of your furniture they point and laugh. And rightly so.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They basically are, albeit not immediately. A tax break means that a transaction that was going to happen(not just might have) now isn’t(or is lessened), such that money that was going to be spent on one thing can now be spend on another thing of the tax-payer’s choice.

If I owe you $100 and I get a ‘break’ of $50 such that I now only owe $50 then that act has freed up $50 I can now spend(or not) as I wish.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

"Sounds like AOC and her idea that tax breaks are real cash"

Is there a news item that provides detail into this?

afaik, she has made comments about tax rates but I have not seen the item about tax breaks.

Tax breaks is an ambiguous phrase as it could refer to a credit, writeoff, exemption … were you referring to any of these?

What is real cash as opposed to not real cash?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: You reek of fear

I love the fact that it’s only due to their fear that she’s getting so much press.

Had they treated her like any other freshman politician, few outside of her district would have heard of her and she’d have had to work for a decade to get noticed. Now, her ideas are getting international attention, and it’s purely down to them talking about how afraid they are of her.

The fact that even with that they have to make random crap up about her, rather than focus on what she has actually said, is just the icing on the cake.

Rekrul says:

I know how to fix this!

First, all browsers must eliminate all "save" functions from their code. All computer operating systems must eliminate all "copy" functions from their code. And finally, all software across all platforms must eliminate all "open" functions in programs.

If people can’t save stuff off the net or copy or load existing files, everyone will be forced to create their own content and infringement will cease to exist!

I’ve thought this through as carefully as any of the experts think through their anti-piracy plans, and I am 100% certain that there will be no unintended consequences because of these changes.

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