The Tiger Post | How Copyright Trolls Are Ruining Ideas (Pt. 1 – Intro)

So this will be a very annoying series of post about Tigers, specifically about one specific picture of a Tiger provided by the 500px website.

This is also about copyright infringement, Copyright trolls, specifically LCS, License Compliance Services, Inc, and a stupid meme that made me pause as a tech enthusiast, budding game developer and political activist. TL:DR, I plan to buy the rights directly from 500px, but after I become a squeaky wheel and rattle as many legal cages as I can.

The above picture is not the tiger in questions

Cake n Iron is the first step of a dream for me; a step to learn how to code, to make cool games that are quirky, fun and tell great stories. I came from a low income background, so I didn’t get my first computer until I was 16. I didn’t look at code until I was 17 and, sadly, I did not know how to seek out mentors to learn how to code at that age. When it was time to talk to my student counselor about my goals in technology and the schools I wanted to get in to, she laughed in my face and told me to set my sights WAY lower. Yes, she was a dick but at 17 I believed her yarn about me being too stupid to code. This was the 90s’ after all and there were not black female coders in Texas, so I settled and slumped away to get a major that was more ‘suited’ to my intelligence.

I was lucky to get a few grants and scholarships, but none of them were enough to cover my costs and none of them were in technology, so what I did in my late teens was what most low income students do: work nights to pay for my full load at college, because, you know, having a degree will get you more fiscal opportunity. So between a full time night job, a full school load,trying to juggle them both, and the echoing laughter of my previous academic ‘mentors’, coding was the furthest from my mind.

My only pleasure was playing video games, specifically PC games that had voice overs and cool stories (TLC | POV | Gabriel Knight | Black Dahlia | Ripper | Noctropolis..to name a few) which I did before I slept. I never gave up my love but I thought it too far to reach.

Fast forward 20 years later. After knocks, bumps, highs, lows, moving to multiple states and giving myself a chance to learn from places like Udemy, Lynda, GamesPlusJames and Unity, I got the gumption to learn AS3, C#, C++ and start building what I love here. Sure, no one will probably ever play what I finish, but that’s fine. I love PC adventure games and just knowing I am making stuff that I would play and share thrills me.

Now, what does the above story have to do with Tigers?

 

Tiger_in_the_water

copyright: B_cool

Cake n Iron Games is a child under my parent company, Puhri LLC. This LLC is what I use to cover my non game, but still technical, pursuits such as Voice Over work for video games, film, commercials and podcasts as well as social media and project management consultation for small and mid tier companies since I come from the entertainment / AAA studio background.

I use puhri specifically to talk about random things I learned like: how to delicious make things out of raspberries, how to build companies with bitcoin, how new users can delve into Ubuntuhow to mod game sticks and random things I do because I’m a curious busy body. I want to see how technology can make everyone’s lives better and I want to see what mischief I can legally get away with. I’m a tinkerer and proud about that. My personal site has donation links in case folks want to tip me because the info is helpful, but I believe that information should be shared because everyone improves! Do I profit from it? No, but it’s there for those looking for answers just in case.

Which brings me to the experimental post that pisses me off about Copyright trolls, stupid memes and LCS, inc. It was a post about ghostwriters and ebooks. Here is Part 1 & Part 2 of the ghostwriting post. Basically I liked theHustle.co‘s post about ghostwriters, ebooks and the goldmine to be made that I tried it out and saw very interesting metrics about the ebook I wrote on Amazon and Smashwords. In the post there is a meme that I found via Google Search on a site called Quote Frenzy. The tiger meme in question can be found here. Note, it’s still up.

The post was written sometime in the Spring and I get a notice 5 months later stating that puhri LLC infringed the rights of 500PX and they would like 34 dollars,  please.

Hello,

First of all, the image in question is a copyrighted Rights Managed image, which have a very restrictive licensing model that limits use of an image to the specified size, type of use, placement, and duration of use set forth in the license.  This image license is not transferrable or shareable. That is to say, a specific license is required for the use of the image on any given website. Ultimately, the responsibility to settle this case lies with your company directly.

A valid license is required prior to publicly displaying any Rights Managed (RM) image on a website. You do not have a valid license to use the images in question. All it takes for you to infringe is to post a rights managed image publicly without a valid license.

Secondly, had you read the letter in its entirety and visited the link that was provided in the correspondence (https://settle.lcs.global/9641-2680-7871) it would give you the information about the image, image id, the name of the Photographer that owns the imagery that you used without a valid license or permission from him. Now, if you have authorization either proof of purchase, copy of a valid license and/or permission from the artist by all means please provide it for review.

And if you had also visited our client’s website it shows you the starting fee for the use of the imagery in question which is actually $49 (https://500px.com/photo/62310897/angry-tiger-by-arjan-vennema).  Also note that Royalty Free does not mean “free”. It simply means you do not pay royalties or license fees every time you use a (RF) imagery. And unfortunately this imagery in particular Rights Managed imagery Id#62310897 is a Rights Managed imagery NOT a Royalty Free imagery.

Resolution includes the removal of the imagery and the payment of the settlement fee for the unauthorized use. Please remit payment online at https://settle.lcs.global/Home/Settlement/9641-2680-7871.

Thank You,

Koleta Vee

License Compliance Services Inc.

Telephone: 1.855.387.8725 Email: lcs@lcs.global

Address: 701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4200, Seattle, WA 98104

Website: www.lcs.global

 

How did I do so? Well, I downloaded this picture from Quote Frenzy that states in their copyright page:

Images on Quotesfrenzy.com are property of their respective owners and readily available in various places on the Internet that are believed to be in public domain. We don’t hold any copyright about mentioned content.  Majority of our images are user-submitted and we cannot confirm their sources.

If you believe that any content appearing on Quotesfrenzy.com infringes on your copyright, please contact us through email. According to your request, we will put a link on your portfolio/site (if you’re the author), otherwise we would immediately remove this material from the site upon proper proof and identification. Or we will find another way to arrange the conflict situation.

Please Contact Us at: contactquotesfrenzy@gmail.com

Now, the original photographer, Arjan, did not contact me for the take down. In fact, if he did, I would’ve been overjoyed that he was protective of his work and wanted done correctly. So not for profit blog post about ebook ghostwriting must be getting enough traffic so much so that 500px and LCS, inc wants me to cough up the goods. Of course, I refused out of principal, stating I will gladly negotiate and pay Arjan for his work due to FMV (Fair Market Value via basis of David vs. The Gap), but LCS/500px can take a long walk of a short pier. You can find similar Getty Images that go for 8. 67 USD. Not 49 USD. Not 34 USD. Their response?

Hello,

As you may or may not be aware, Google is a search engine that is designed to find anything that fits your search description, not an image licensing company. Google warns the user about the copyright that exists in the images. First, once an image is located and clicked on, Google warns the user that the image may be protected by copyright. Second, on the Frequently Asked Questions page (http://www.google.co.uk/permissions/faq.html and http://mooglemb.com/threads/googlecache/64.233.187.104/help/faq_images.html), Google states: “I found an image on Google Image Search that I want to use. Do I need permission to use it?” Yes, you do need permission in order to use it. However, Google does not own the images found via Google Search. You must contact the owner of the image (typically whoever first posted the image on the web) and obtain his/her permission in order to use it. Therefore, your claim that you were unaware of copyright and “would not knowingly use copyrighted material illegally” fails.

My suggestion at this point would be for you to review our claim with an attorney who is familiar with copyright law since your position is not in any way supported by the law.  The screenshot is a snapshot of how this particular page previously appeared on the World Wide Web and we intend to move forward with pursuit of the matter based on this evidence. We clearly have proof that you used the image(s) in question and you did not have a valid license to do so. However, if your web developer has a distribution license than please provide us with a copy so that we may review the matter further.

We do not assume this to be a matter of willful infringement; however, please understand that in the absence of a valid license for the use of our imagery on any given public website, users of our imagery under those conditions are infringing on the copyright of our represented photographers, many of whom are small business owners themselves and rely on our efforts for their income. We will continue to pursue this matter of infringement in the course of our business.

I recognize that the circumstances in this case are unfortunate. It remains our intention to work with you directly in an attempt to resolve this matter amicably.

Thank You,

Koleta Vee

License Compliance Services Inc.

Telephone: 1.855.387.8725 Email: lcs@lcs.global

Address: 701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4200, Seattle, WA 98104

Website: www.lcs.global

Please note that Davis v. The Gap | FMV was not brought up. Please note that LCS does work for/with Getty Images as well. They’ve also been in schuffles with the EFF already.

There is a wonderful resource and thread for those who are currently fighting companies like LCS, which is still Getty Images, and the like.

Now, what does the above story have to do with Video Game Development?

 

J. Patrick Fischer

J. Patrick Fischer

I am not a lawyer and the above response is correct; I know nothing of copyright law, but I do know when I’m being trolled. Which reminded me of a few threads going on r/gamedev about Patent Trolls in the mobile space and anywhere they can snuff out innovation for small companies trying to do big things and create big fun. My case is a simple blog posts showing metrics, imagine if it was a game I sank a year or more into for something as flippant as this.

The best thread is one called Patent Trolls – Defending Ourselves, which is an excellent resource for small devs who get pinged by patent trolls on the mobile space. I know my measly 34 dollars is a tuft of fluff in comparison to the bigger suits, but it’s a primer that I need to know and face on a small level like this. I know this LCS group will harass me, but my 34 dollars in comparison to filing a 500 dollar lawsuit against me, which I will fight, will be too much of a hassle for them to collect.

I’m glad I watched Austin’s documentary, The Patent Scam (check out the rest of his youtube page), before I fully drank the ‘pie in the sky indie life’ kool-aid. There are trolls out there and they want their piece before you get yours.

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Austin Meyer won a few battles against his troll, but is still fighting the war and has been for years. Check out his vid about Suing Apple as well.

So was Mojang. So is/was Microsoft millions. So was EA.

And they sad thing is, with the exception of Google, Apple and few others, no one fights. They just pay, or if they don’t, they have to sign a gag order not to talk about winning. Which means, if we become successful, then we will end up paying too, or losing to some judges, and their lawyer sons, in Marshall, Texas.

Harry Reid had a chance to stop this patent nonsense…he did not.

You should write him and let him know.

Washington DC

522 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington , DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-3542

Fax: 202-224-7327

Toll Free for Nevadans: 1-866-SEN-REID

Become a member of the Application Developers Alliance.

 

Austin states that if they came for him, they will come for us.

My little blog about ebooks and stupid tiger memes proved him right.

 

PS: Koleta Gets Around the blog space.

About The Baker

Makin' the sick, twisted things for fun and intellectual discussion.