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Copyright Troll Warning

By Andrew Pollack on 01/28/2020 at 05:00 PM EST

There's a copyright troll firm that has automated reverse-image searches and goes around looking for any posted images that they can make a quick copyright claim on.

This is not quite a scam because it's technically legal, but it's run very much like a scam. This company works with a few "clients" that have vast repositories of copyrighted images. The trolls do a reverse web search on those images looking for hits. When they find one on a site that looks like someone they can scare, they work it like telemarketers. This involves sending out lots of threatening letters and making phone calls like a bill collector. They seem to ask for an amount of money to settle just small enough to make fighting them not worth it to most people.

If you believe you used an image fairly, under "Fair Use" rules (see the links below), they can be fought if you're inclined to do so. I believe organizations like this take advantage of people in ways that are bad for public discourse, work against fair-use doctrine, and should be fought when possible. The best way to do that is to shine light on them and reduce the number of people willing to just fork over enough money to make it worth their time.

I'm writing this mostly to increase your awareness and to increase the Search Engine awareness of the following two articles that you may find helpful if you get contacted by someone at "Higbee and Associates".


Here's a couple of links that provide more detail:

Public Citizen Article:

Consumer Warning: Copyright Trolling by Higbee and Associates

Here's a link to a law firm that's been helping people:

Vondran Legal


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