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A question of image(s)

NEWS STORY
19/04/2022

Not for the first time, Pitpass finds itself at the centre of a vexatious action over images which it is wrongly accused of using without permission and thereby facing a hefty fine for "compensation".

Regular readers may recall that in late 2019, Pitpass was contacted by a company called Image Rights claiming that we had illegally downloaded a number of images.

In total we were accused of illegally downloading no less than 73 images for which compensation of 3,650 was required in order to "resolve" the matter.

Image Rights was acting on behalf of Motorsport Images, a branch of the increasingly powerful Motorsport Network, which is headed by Mike Zoi.

Confident that we hadn't illegally downloaded any of the images we began our research in to the matter.

The full story can be found here, but in short the images in question - other than a number that had been paid for, and for which proof was provided - were all from team media sites to which we had been granted access.

In other words we had not illegally downloaded anything, but rather legally downloaded the images from the team sites with full permission - indeed a number of the teams and Pirelli responded making clear to Image Rights that we had full permission to use the images in question.

From the outset we were confident of our innocence and at every turn was able to provide the necessary information but Image Rights continued to prevaricate until just under two month later the company's President & CEO, Joe Naylor, wrote to us to say: "Motorsport Images has been informed of your emails and is currently looking into the matter together with ImageRights. We will contact you shortly to resolve this matter."

We never heard another thing.

Sadly, our Easter weekend was marred by yet another email claiming that "Pitpass is obviously using an image without permission".

This time the company involved is Copytrack and is based in Berlin. In this particular case Copytrack is acting on behalf of WENN Rights International Ltd.

Once again Pitpass is accused of "obviously using an image without permission", and while it only relates to one image (phew!), the costs involved total 470.49 €, that is
250.49 € for the "Image license (valid for 1 year from date of purchase)" and 220.00 € for "Compensation costs (past usage)".

As was the case with Image Rights, we have opted to publish details of the case on the site, not only for reasons of transparency but to assist other websites which may find themselves facing similar accusations.

The image in question is featured in our gallery from the 2013 FIA Awards Prize-Giving Gala and features then president Jean Todt with F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and WRC winner Sebastien Ogier. In a gallery of 42 images it is the only picture that we are accused of "using without permission".

The Prize-Giving Gala was reported on the official FIA website and at the end of the article editors are advised that "Imagery can be downloaded from: www.flickr.com//fia-official"

On visiting the link given by the FIA, the sport's governing body, having gone back 46 pages to the 2013 Prize-Giving Gala, the image in question is still there and can be downloaded - indeed we downloaded another copy for this article.

In other words, as was the case with the vexatious claim by Image Rights, Copytrack is threatening and accusing publishers of using images without permission, and demanding compensation, for images provided expressly for the media to use, in this case by the FIA.

As was the case with Image Rights, whoever is behind the claim must know that they were working on behalf of a customer, be it a team or the FIA, who was free to do as they wished with the images, including providing them for editorial use to publishers, yet is seeking further remuneration and at the same time looking to compromise the reputations of said publishers by accusing them of illegality.

"We accept PayPal, credit card and bank transfer," writes Copytrack CEO, Marcus Schmitt in his email. "We calculate these fees based on our client's license history, as well as the duration of use and type of copyright infringement. Failure to provide a proof or pay for a valid license may result in your case being referred to our partner attorney and significantly higher additional fees.

"To avoid further action, including legal action, provide proof of a valid license by April 25, 2022, or acquire it by making payment in our online portal."

Will Mr Schmitt be contacting the FIA to advise that it is encouraging the media to use images for which they will be subsequently told they don't actually have permission and must therefore pay up accordingly, or should we do it?

Header image by Kim Becker on Unsplash

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by geordiemik, 22/04/2022 23:00

"This sounds like a slightly up-scale version of a well known scam perpetrated by scumbags looking for easy money. They have probably scoured the web for sites using their photos, of which there are probably many, and fired off demands to all of them. They know that some, like yourselves, will be legit but there will be many thieves out there. To save themselves the effort of sorting them out they know that the legitimate users will do the work for them leaving themselves free to pursue the crooks who will not be able to provide the necessary proof.
They are well aware of the tremendous amount of work it will put you to, but it's easy money for them as the thieves will effectively self select themselves for further demands. "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Editor, 21/04/2022 8:30

"We have been contacted by James Allen - yes that James Allen - who is President of Motorsport Network, and informs me of the original saga with Image Rights: "I know it's not about Motorsport Images this time, but just to say that we have taken on a new agency for infringements and one of the benefits is few errors of this kind."

Of course an apology from either Motorsport Network or Image Rights was never likely."

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3. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 20/04/2022 13:54

"@Ro is right. Counter claim if they keep popping you owe them money."

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 19/04/2022 20:46

"nili carborundum"

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5. Posted by Steve 666, 19/04/2022 20:41

"Oh dear, what a crazy and uneasy situation, don’t let the b*****s wear you down !"

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6. Posted by Defiant, 19/04/2022 17:59

"@Pawsche. Epic comment."

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7. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 19/04/2022 14:14

"I am with Ro, as you are clearly in the right, I bet a no win no fee would be happy to take this on to get you compensation, as the saying goes, "2 can play at that game" "

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8. Posted by Pawsche, 19/04/2022 13:29

"I think that Copytrack and WENN Rights International should be referred to the reply given in "Arkell v Pressdram" (1971).
"

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9. Posted by kenji, 19/04/2022 12:49

"@Ed. I would suggest you deliver to Herr Schmitt the same message as the Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island did when responding to the Russian Navy demands for surrender!!!"

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10. Posted by Ro, 19/04/2022 10:30

"I think I would issue a counter claim for deflamation and harassment against them. See how quick they run....Keep up the good work !"

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