Masterfile Copyright Infringement Claims

Well, if you have ever used a Masterfile image on your website, and you do not have the proper license details, I would suggest you remove it immediately. MasterFile, a Canadian stock agency is on a raid to make some fast money out of innocent website owners.

Usually, a business owner does not create his own site. He gets it done through a third-party and he does pay for it. He usually does not have any clue about the details of images used on his website, where it came from, the licenses and when it was bought etc. Am I right? Some websites may have been created 5 – 10 years back and most of us do not keep any detailed record of it.

Masterfile has created a crawler which can match and identify site owners who have infringed copyrighted material. Once it finds out, it just creates a big Infringement Claim and asks the site owner to pay thousands of dollars. It also includes an invoice with the mail. If you have two images from MasterFile, then you can expect anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 invoice from Masterfile. Yes, that’s how MasterFile is making fast money. Maybe they realized this way they could make more money than selling images on their website.

I am not speaking in favor of copyright theft as I do understand the time, effort and money invested in copyrighting a material and the loss incurred due to theft and illegal use. However, a firm cease and desist notice could be the right thing to do and if the website owner does not take necessary step, then a legal notice can be sent.

Site owners who have got this infringement suit, tried calling up Masterfile to discuss about this issue and to let them know their innocence. But in vain. Masterfile just bargains and gives them a consideration but still it would end up in a huge pay out. If you are not willing to pay still, then you would start getting threatening calls from an recovery agent who will get 20% commission on successful recovery.

Here is what the OCILLA claims:

Title II: Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act

DMCA Title II, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (“OCILLA”, creates a safe harbor for online service providers (OSPs, including ISPs) against copyright liability if they adhere to and qualify for certain prescribed safe harbor guidelines and promptly block access to allegedly infringing material (or remove such material from their systems) if they receive a notification claiming infringement from a copyright holder or the copyright holder’s agent. OCILLA also includes a counternotification provision that offers OSPs a safe harbor from liability to their users, if the material upon notice from such users claiming that the material in question is not, in fact, infringing. OCILLA also provides for subpoenas to OSPs to provide their users’ identity.

Website owners and designers beware of these stock websites especially Getty Images and MasterFile as they are on an Internet crawl to make money from innocent website owners and the law is on their side.