Stock Photo Company Decides To Treat ‘Pirates’ Like Humans, Rather Than Demons

from the being-human dept

Over these many years, we’ve talked about a myriad of ways in which people and companies can respond to copyright infringement. The common reaction, and probably the one most natural, is for those copyright holders to absolutely freak out, scream about lost sales and “teh pirates!!1!”, and then turn to their lawyers. Others take a more nuanced approach. Some video game companies mess with pirates by making pirated games unplayable or annoying. Others look at piracy as a market force that illuminates where potential customers are under-served. And still others try to actively engage with those doing the infringing in the hopes of being seen as humans, building up a connection, and trying to convert them into paying customers.

Dreamstime, a stock photo agency, is an example of the last type of strategy. Like other photo agencies of the kind, Dreamstime has a program that crawls the internet for unlicensed uses of its photos. Unlike other agencies, however, the company has a relatively benign response to those infringing uses in most cases.

The Tennesse-based stock website launched a new infringement tracking tool, dubbed LicenseGuard, earlier this year. But rather than demanding thousands of dollars, it will offer a softer resolution. If the offender has only infringed once and it is a genuine mistake, then they can simply remove the image. Dreamstime will offer a “special version” of its regular image license that covers post-usage permission. The company will try to bring the infringers on as clients as well as providing education about best practices.

The reason for this approach, according to Dreamstime, is that most of the infringements it sees are accidental. Examples can include people who purchased themes that used stock images, individuals who don’t understand copyright law, and those that did not understand the license.

Now, in subsequent statements, Dreamstime has been very clear that it absolutely will go the legal route for repeat infringers and those that simply ignore its softer method for reaching out. But as far as middle grounds go, it’s not terrible. First, treat the infringers as though they’re human beings rather than piracy demons, show some understanding that copyright law is so counter-intuitive and pretzeled at this point that honest mistakes happen, and try to convert them into paying customers. Then, for those that truly are just out to infringe, go legal. Again, not necessarily perfect, but understandable.

And the important bit is that Dreamstime is looking at this as a way to bring in more customers, rather than being litigious assbags that piss everyone off.

The company sees these publishers as ideal long-term customers and believes that the current approach, taken by some stock agencies, is adversarial and scares people away from the industry.

100 percent true. And perhaps, just by being a little more human than the Getty’s of the world, a little honey will catch more flies than the vinegar.

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Companies: dreamstime

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Comments on “Stock Photo Company Decides To Treat ‘Pirates’ Like Humans, Rather Than Demons”

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19 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

What madness is this, treating people as people?!

The company sees these publishers as ideal long-term customers and believes that the current approach, taken by some stock agencies, is adversarial and scares people away from the industry.

They’re not wrong. If someone’s faced with Company A that assumes any infringement was deliberate and threatens ruinous legal fines unless a ‘modest'(read: still insane) amount is handed over, or Company B that’s willing to accept that infringement is trivially easy to engage in and is willing to meet the person halfway with reasonable offers should the person take an image down or want to keep it up one of those companies is a lot more likely to give people a terrible impression of the industry while the other is much more likely to turn someone who found a cool image that they didn’t realize needed to be paid for into a paying customer.

N0083rp00f says:

Re: Speedy

Hey, speed kills.
Speeding is a criminal offense.

Just look at the mass carnage on the motor speedways every weekend. Thousands every weekend if the supposed experts were correct with their statistics.

None of the actual mishaps were due to driver error, bad sections of roadway, debris, component failure.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re:

None of the actual mishaps were due to driver error, bad sections of roadway, debris, component failure.

Nor somebody’s Tesla stopping dead over a hundred metres short of the nearest emergency stopping area on a ‘smart’ motorway. If someone’s killed that way, it must be because they were going too fast in their car and not because they were trying to reach the crash barrier on the outside lane as being safer than staying in a stationary vehicle on a motorway with all lanes running and no SVD.

Anonymous Coward says:

Right on. As copyright cultist, you can act like the entitled asshole you are and not automatically freak out on every single failure of exploitation or to challenges to your legal entitlement, and instantly treat people who disrespect your “property” like pirates, demons, or thieves, ( like you are a force for good, and like Copyright is a force for good) and instead pretend you are more a service provider than a ruthless exploiter, and maybe win converts that way to the way of your thinking and your relatively backward business model.

Anonymous Coward says:

“people who purchased themes that used stock images,”

Happened to me, purchased theme that included ‘royalty free’ images, years later a stock photo company demands lots of $$ for one image. The theme developer who misrepresented them as royalty free was long gone nowhere to be found. The developer had reversed the stock photo and cropped a portion of it.

Rekrul says:

While I can see a company wanting to make money off their work, the idea that every photo is owned by someone really puts a crimp on people’s creativity.

I had an idea for a satirical meme that I wanted to make. To do it, I’d need a picture of two different types of cheese. Trying to find PD/royalty free images that were suitable is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I have no artistic talent, so I can’t draw them from scratch, and photos would work better anyway.

I can grab a couple of photos off a Google image search, but then I risk getting a copyright notice and possible demand for money.

I’m not about to pay $10-20 or more to license a couple photos just to make a meme picture.

To be honest, the copyright issue isn’t why I haven’t done it, I’m just a huge procrastinator.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

In the modern day I think it’s fairly safe to say that the majority, if not the overwhelming majority of creativity takes place in spite of copyright rather than because of it.

Were only 100% copyright law compliant works allowed to be made and distributed the number of songs, stories, artwork and other forms of creativity would likely crater overnight into almost nothing since basically everything is built on what came before, as has always been the case.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You nail it. This is why I reject Copyright as it does a lot of harm to creativity, and the good it supposedly do is overrated. If any current law deserves disrespect and disobedience, the Copyright law is it. It’s made for the welfare of rich people, not for the welfare of the society. It’s no better than the Alcohol Prohibition of the 1920s. This blanket Digital Copying Prohibition of our Digital Age has to go as it does not serve creativity well. The “do-gooders” behind the blanket Digital Copying Prohibition legalization can go fuck themselves with the “do-gooders” behind the Alcohol Prohibition legalization if they are still alive. Corporate welfare is lame. The welfare bums can quit their evil jobs as exploiters and find more honest work.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

Oh, I know. It’s so hard to photograph a couple of pieces of cheese!

So again, I have to spend money to make a meme picture. (wedges of cheese, not slices)

Also, creating your own work is no guarantee it won’t get hit with a copyright notice.

True story: A few years ago, I wanted to show someone I talk to online how loud the insects can get around here at night, so I pointed the camera at my open back window and shot a-minute video of nothing but insect sounds. No music, no voice, just insects. I uploaded it to YouTube as an unlisted video and was immediately informed that the audio had been muted due to a copyright claim.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Your apparent inability to challenge a false copyright claim makes for a very weak argument.

Challenging anything with Google is a joke. A couple years ago, I was informed that I’d been banned from posting comments on YouTube because I’d violated the community guidelines regarding spam/commercial posts. I hadn’t posted either.

I filed an appeal, which of course was automatically denied by the bot that processed it. I posted on the help forum and someone else with a tiny bit of influence asked a human to take a look at the situation. The ban was reversed a few days later. No explanation, no apology, just “Upon further review we have determined that you didn’t violate our guidelines.”

Also, I’ve only ever posted unlisted videos to share with friends, this was the first time I’d gotten a copyright notice and I had no idea how to go about challenging it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Your apparent inability to challenge a false copyright claim makes for a very weak argument.

How is that a weak argument, though? The main point was to underscore that personally creating something is not, by itself, a guaranteed protection against false copyright claims. Whether or not someone knows how to navigate YouTube’s appeal system is immaterial.

If anything, the idea that insect noises demand such stringent levels of copyright protection to the point where anyone else recording audio footage of the same thing must be slammed with copyright violations is a weak argument for why copyright standards today need to be this strict.

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