The Story Of A Copyright Crime

One of the things I do on a regular basis is to check on whether an individual, a company, a corporation, or an agency is infringing on any of my copyrights.  It rarely happens, but it does happen on occasion, and when it happens, I address the situation legally and appropriately.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that picsant.com — a website that is a mere few months old at this point — had one of my photographs uploaded to their site for others to use as they wished.  The contact information was minimal at best with no physical address or email address or any other identifying information available on the website.

On the contact page, however, they did have this notice uploaded.

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Aside from the fact that whoever wrote the disclaimer seems to have a general aversion towards periods and capitalization, the claim that they believe the images on their website are in the “public domain” seemed to be an outright and duplicitous lie.  How can I say that it seemed that way to me?  Let me show you how.  This was my photograph that appeared on the picsant.com website without my written permission.

IMAGE 1
Check out the lower right hand corner of this photograph.

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Here’s a close-up of what’s in the lower right hand corner of this photograph.

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Yes, that’s a copyright notice.  There’s the world recognized © that means the intellectual property in question is copyrighted.  My name follows the copyright sign, and the year the image was created (2012).  In other words, there is absolutely no way that the owner(s) of the picsant.com website can claim that they believed my photograph was in the “public domain.”

What’s more, even though they credited where the image was from, the Shutter Shots blog is mine and they could have easily sent me a message through the blog requesting written permission to upload my copyrighted image to their website.  But they didn’t because that would be an admission on their part that they were aware my copyrighted image was not in the “public domain” which would render their website disclaimer null and void.

Now because picsant.com made it extremely difficult to contact them with regards to this serious matter, I had to invest time into finding out who they were, and to learn more about the website traffic.  Here’s what I found out.

IMAGE 5Additional research also yielded this information.

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So with 21,506 daily visitors as of today’s date, it’s not unreasonable to believe that about 10 million people will visit picsant.com in its first year of operation.

That’s a lot of visitors.

And since picsant.com has made it incredibly difficult for copyright owners to reach them, the next step is to contact the website’s hosting company.

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Those who have no problem infringing on the copyrights of others — claiming they believe said intellectual property to be in the “public domain” when it is obvious that said intellectual property is copyright protected — and who make themselves next to impossible to contact except through a website form may think they’re getting away with this kind of behavior.  The fact of the matter is, they aren’t.  There are always LEGAL ways to address the issue of copyright infringement.  This is just one of those LEGAL ways.

UPDATE (12 October 2015 at 3:39 PM EST)

I received an email time stamped 3:39 PM EST from Valentina Petrova.  The email address she used seems to indicate that she is in Russia.  Remember from the documentation provided Sunday in this article that the picsant.com website is hosted in New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Email from Picsant
I won’t quibble over what I believe the picsant.com owner(s) did or did not know about my copyrighted photograph that was on their website, and I won’t quibble over whether there was or wasn’t a visitor responsible for uploading my copyrighted photograph that was on their website.  The goal was to LEGALLY address the issue of copyright infringement, and to resolve the issue.  The end result was achieved.

That being said, dear readers and visitors, this proves what I wrote in this article.  Refuse to be victimized by those who disrespect your copyrights.  Defending your copyrights doesn’t have to end up being a lawsuit, and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.  Being firm in your resolve to defend your copyrights most often yields the results you’re hoping to achieve.

Elyse Bruce

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