In the last couple of years, companies have formed solely to scour the internet for unauthorized uses of copyrighted works. It is a booming business, especially with the proliferation of major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok.
However, this booming industry also has a dark side. Even though there are no official numbers, it’s estimated that up to 50% of all infringement cases are not taking into consideration the so-called ‘fair use’ defense. In other cases, the companies sending out copyright infringement letters threaten small business owners to pay thousands of dollars for images that actually belong to the Public Domain.
This is why JumpStory is now launching our new and free service Fairplay in Photos.
We want to help the thousands of business owners and freelancers, who are at risk of paying these unfair copyright claims.
3 billion images are shared online every day, and 85% of them are ‘stolen’
Companies such as Getty Images, Shutterstock, Pixsy, Copyright Agent, and others use algorithms to search the internet for the images in their databases. When they find a case, where they claim that an unauthorized use has happened, the companies threaten small business owners with litigation and demand compensation of damages for thousands of dollars.
According to the US Copyright Office the average infringement claim varies from 750 – 30,000 USD plus attorney’s fees, but in especially egregious cases of willful infringement, courts may award up to $150,000.
According to the United States Sentencing Commission, the fiscal year 2021 saw more than 100,000 copyright infringement cases. A number that just keeps on rising.
This dramatic development has caused us to take action. We launch Fairplay in Photos to help out small business owners when they are approached by industry giants and asked to pay thousands of dollars due to alleged copyright violations.
Our new service is totally free, and you don’t have to be a JumpStory customer in order to use it. The big problem is that there is no one out there helping out the stock photo users or buyers apart from very expensive lawyers.
Every year the stock photo industry turns over more than $5 billion, so it’s also become big business to send out copyright infringement e-mails to companies. In most cases the small companies can’t afford a lawyer, so they get scared and decide to pay – even if the claim might not be fair.
We want to improve the culture in the industry
At JumpStory we find it problematic that major stock photo companies threaten small entrepreneurs to pay fines for images that were CC0 and did not even belong to these stock photo providers. What we have seen numerous times is stock photo platforms uploading (either themselves or through photographers) CC0-images to their websites and then afterward suing companies to use these images, even though they didn’t actually belong to the stock photo platforms.
CC0 is a license term that describes an image, where the creator of the work (e.g. a photo) has decided to relinquish all copyright and similar rights and dedicated those rights to the public domain.
At JumpStory we love the spirit of CC0. There are amazing amateurs out there creating amazing photos and videos that may be hard to find but are worth curating and making available to the public. When stock photo companies use this public domain content to increase their revenue in an unfair way, it really upsets us.
About the author
He is one of Denmark’s most well-known entrepreneurs and business authors. He has been nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year and is amongst Denmark’s 100 most promising leaders according to a major Danish business newspaper.
In addition to being a serial entrepreneur, Jonathan Løw is the former Head of Marketing at the KaosPilots – named Top 10 most innovative business schools in the world by FastCompany. He is also former Startup-Advisor and Investor at Accelerace – the leading investment fund for startups in Denmark.