Micro-Stock Photo Agency Prefers Converting Customers To Cracking Down On Infringers

from the sometimes-a-handshake-gets-better-results-than-a-savage-beating dept

In this bold era of copyright trolling, calmly (ir)rational takedown bots, baseless legal threats and ridiculous statutory damages, it's a true rarity to see a copyright holder deal with infringement, especially non-commercial infringement, with a reaction that's actually in line with the "crime" committed.

As photo sharing increases, thanks to platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr, the chances of infringement increase. Paidcontent has the details on a micro-stock agency that's treating infringers as potential customers, rather than criminals.
Unlike other image owners, Dreamstime does not sic lawyers on people who like its photos. Instead the company, which claims to have more than 5 million users, responds by sending them a notice to take the image down or else to buy a license at the going rate which can be as low as $8.

According to CEO Serban Enache, this approach actually leads to better business.

“We want to respond to copyrighted images but we want to do it in a different, non-heavy-handed way,” said Enache in a recent phone interview. “This is very successful way of turning unauthorized users into customers. Once they learn of the license, they often obtain larger licenses.”
When you give infringers a logical option (take down the photo or pay a fee), most will take down the photo. If you give them the chance to license the photo for a reasonable rate, you should be able to find a few takers. The most important part of this scenario is that Dreamstime gives infringers an option, something most copyright holders are unwilling to do. Compare Dreamstime's method to those of other copyright holders.
As photos spread across the internet, bands of lawyers are springing up who offer themselves as hired-gun enforcers to image owners. When they find a target, they squeeze them for thousands of dollars and take a cut of the loot.

Major image owners like Getty possess image recognition software that lets them quickly detect unauthorized use of their images. The legal settlements they collect have become a major source of revenue.
These copyright holders are willing to imagine that a hobby blog's use of an image is somehow depriving them of thousands of dollars. Because of this irrational (but self-interested) logic, the "problem" is treated with utmost severity, resulting in demands for prohibitively expensive licensing fees.

Not only does Dreamstime request reasonable license fees, but it doesn't waste time with the DMCA process. A DMCA takedown notice almost always results in the infringing content being removed, but does nothing to help the photographers earn any income. It's hard to earn money by shooting first and asking questions later. Instead, the infringer is approached directly and honestly, rather than threatened with the possibility of legal action and thousands of dollars in statutory damages. Perhaps if more copyright holders approached casual infringement this way, they might see an uptick in income, rather than alienating another set of potential customers.
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Filed Under: converting, copyright, customers, infringement, stock photos
Companies: dreamstime


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2012 @ 9:18am

    Length of Royalty?

    It occurs to me that it is really difficult to take things down off the net. Let's say that you use one of their photographs, and pay the fee when they contact you (or even if you are proactive and license it first and then use it). Then after paying the royalty for a few years, you take the picture down, and of course stop paying the fee.

    Now there are copies of your site on the wayback machine, and possible copies of that picture that were taken from your site. Do you continue to be responsible for payment?

    While this seems a better model than the extortion/lawsuit model contrasted, a better model still would be no copyright at all.

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