Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Experience with Pixsy, A New Service for Finding and Resolving Copyright Infringement



If you're a photographer who posts photos on the internet, chances are someone is using them without your permission, or in a way that you did not authorize.  Unless you can find your photos being used, though, you can't do anything about it.  That's where Pixsy comes in.  Pixsy is a new service that searches the web for your photos, and, with your permission, seeks payment from infringers.  I've already received payment for my first case, and I am about to receive payment for my second case.  How much payment you receive depends upon the use of the photo.  Here are a few things to know about Pixsy:

  • It's totally free!  But for every case where you receive payment, they keep 50%.  This seems fair to me given the tradeoff that you don't have to pay for their service.  I don't have the time, energy, or finesse to go about seeking payment for all these infringements on my own.
  • Founder David Foster tells me they are planning premium paid features in the future, but that there will always be a free plan.
  • Pixsy does not act as your attorney, but they do have a legal team that they work with.  Having a letter come from an organization asking for payment carries more weight than one coming from an individual
  • Pixsy only deals with commercial or organizational infringement.  While all forms of infringement are wrong, commercial infringement is clearly worse, and that is the area Pixsy has chosen to specialize in.
  • Pixsy works with the infringer to license the photo for continued use.  This is not a way to get your photo taken down.  If you aren't comfortable allowing the infringer to continue using your photo or can't for legal reasons (lack of model or property release, etc.), then don't submit it to Pixsy.


Did you think that businesses knew better than to infringe?  Sadly, think again.  I can say from experience that this is hardly the case, and Pixsy founder David Foster has the same take.  "We've been very shocked at how prevalent copyright infringement is on the web," says David.  "A lot of people think that major publications and publicly-traded companies know better, and we've been very surprised at the number of big names using photos without permission. We've even found law firms using photos without license."  The double-edged sword of using Pixsy is that, while you can easily track down your infringers, you see how widespread the unauthorized use of your photos is.



Page one of my matches.  Names concealed to protect the guilty!

How Pixsy works in a nutshell
  • You fill out a profile, inputting where you post your photos online (Flickr, Facebook, your blog, portfolio, etc.)
  • Pixsy's reverse imaging software crawls the web to find uses of your photo
  • You must go through manually and decide what to do about each usage.  Sometimes the uses are from your own site or uses that you authorized (in which case you can remove them from the list).  Some uses are personal, which can't be dealt with through Pixsy.
  • When you come to a case you want to submit, fill out the form, which asks you to provide more information about the photo and its licensing history, and Pixsy will update you via email as to the status of the case.
  • You can also submit cases externally.

No company's perfect, so in order to keep this post balanced, I tried to think of a criticism to include here.  When I first started using Pixsy, it was hard to keep track of infringements because there was no case dashboard showing what you had submitted to them, but they recently added that.  That's hardly a criticism, but Pixsy is really responsive to any suggestions you have, so if you do find anything not working well, let them know and they will work to improve it.  Any kinks that they had in their site when I first started using it seem to be ironed out now.

I can see Pixsy being a game-changer for copyright infringement.  They're still in beta, so they're not really well known yet, but eventually, if enough people (especially businesses) are aware that services like this exist, they may think twice before using a copyrighted image.  Says David, "Our goal is to become the eyes and ears of every photographer around the world. Pictures know no borders, but unfortunately few photographers have the resource to handle licensing issues on their own. We want to give ordinary photographers the same tools the big guys use to tackle photo theft anywhere in the world. "

Disclaimer:  I received no compensation for writing this post about Pixsy.  These are my honest thoughts and this is not a sponsored post.

4 comments:

  1. Samantha ... thanks for being the guinea pig with this and for keeping us posted on your experiences with Pixsy. Appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't find anyone speaking to what kind of fees Pixsy has been able to secure for the photographer. Since it has been a year since this post, do you have any updates in that regard?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is my personal policy not to publish my earnings, however, I can report that through Pixsy, I have been able to recover licensing fees for a number of infringements this past year.

      Delete
    2. Also, many settlements include a confidentiality clause that prohibits one from disclosing the amount of fees recovered.

      Delete

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