Photographers have it very difficult nowadays. Most people think the internet is a free self service area. Individuals and even companies download whatever they like and use it for their own purpose or business. This post got last updated on April 13, 2023.
What can photographers do about it? Some decided to do nothing or just ignore it while others decided to keep an eye on copyright infringements or even do something about it and use Copyright Service Providers.
What can you do as a photographer?
There are several copyright service companies on the market which could help you taking care of your rights e.g. PhotoClaim, ImageRights, Pixsy, Copytrack, Lapixa.
I worked with all of them and advise you to keep your expectations very low. All of them prioritize their own business over photographers.
With Pixsy I’ve had 1579 matches which resulted in 148 claims but only 3 got paid out. They have a quite good front-end but their back-office works rather slowly. Pixsy is stronger in USA, uses image post-licensing and has difficulties to process payments outside of USA. When you have the free plan they do not scan your images often enough. My impression is that they care more about their own profits. Pixsy e.g. discontinued a case with the following reason “After attempting numerous contacts with the Image User, we have not been able to settle or resolve this matter. When discontinuing a case we review the full details and discuss any other possibilities with our Legal Partner network.” I had Photoclaim take care of it and shortly after they were successful and I got paid out.
About another reason (Copyleft Trolls) why to stay away from Pixsy you can read here in Cory Doctorow’s post on Pluralistic.
I do NOT recommend Pixsy at all.
Copytrack found 1700 matches which produced 300 cases. 280 got closed, 14 are still pending (up to 6 years!!) and 6 got paid out only.
They have a quite good front-end (no matches per pic though) but their back-office works very slowly, especially for cases in USA. They use image post-licensing. Copytrack switched to a subscription based system April 2021. Their free plan includes 500 pics only. I do not recommend Copytrack (and stopped working with them).
As these two examples show you, the matches/pay out ratio was very low, 0.16 – 0.35 %. The cases/payout ratio was between 1.3 and 2 %.
ImageRights has a subscription-based system only and therefore is not fully comparable to the others. They are strong in USA and produced 7 payouts for me.
The frontend seems to be quite well made and they do some pre filtering of matches but something must be wrong with their system. While the other providers find thousands of matches for a specific picture, Lapixa finds 0 … 😉
Also the case submission is rather complicated because you should use a checklist before submitting a case which is in contradiction to their advertising where e.g. Calvin Hollywood is saying “just upload your images, wait, receive the money and take a vacation.” In reality, most users won’t even be able to get through the checklist and if you’re experienced it means nothing else than you do most of the very time consuming work.
“Truth does not belong to the one who shouts the loudest” or let this be a confirmation that you simply should never trust advertising.
I stopped using Lapixa mostly because of their bad search results.
PhotoClaim had a higher payout ratio because they checked and opened cases (claims) themselves in contrary to the other services where you submit them yourself. They had a simple, slow and not very reliable front-end which showed some information, but their back-office worked quite ok and did more work for you than others. You had limited insight in findings and cases. They were stronger in Europe and don’t use image post-licensing. Their office got moved from Germany to Poland. They’ve had ongoing staff changes and therefore their workflow got quite inefficient. Photoclaim did not really help photographers going to court because their business model was focused on making easy money with out-of-court-agreements by their lawyers sending cease-and-desist letters.
Read here more about a fine for unfair practices by the Italian Competition Authority. What another lawyer thinks about PhotoClaim you can read here (und in Deutsch hier).
Lately they had to reduce staff, sent cooperation cancellations to photographers and it looks like they will end their business soon completely.
More about Copyright Infringements in my blog post below.
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