39. Pernicious Copyright Robots Are Targeting Your Website: PicRights and the Practice of "Copyright Trolling"
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There’s a disturbing new trend making waves in the world of online content creation.
Corporate blogs, mom-and-pop business websites, podcasts…
Even stuff that you posted years ago to your personal website or social media.
It’s now being examined, sifted through and screened by artificial intelligence bots, which are programmed to search for copyright violations.
The practice has become known as “copyright trolling,” and when the bots find copyrighted images, they send a letter or email demanding payment of hundreds or even thousands of dollars to settle the claim, threatening costly litigation if the recipient does not swiftly comply.
And for the unsuspecting, often well-meaning online creators who receive these letters, it can be a disruptive, scary and expensive experience.
Working on behalf of copyright holders like the AP and the AFP, companies like PicRights and Higbee & Associates may have outdated copyright laws on their side. But according to our guests in this episode, that doesn't make their practices ethical or moral.
Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is a Belgium-based marketer, technologist and business consultant, and the founder of the market research firm Into the Minds. He has blogged about his experience being accosted by PicRights, and exhaustively researched the company and its methods.
And Caroline Fox is the principal attorney at CJFox Law in Richmond, Virginia. With an agency background in public relations and social media, she now works as an attorney specializing in copyright, trademarks and advertising / media compliance, and has advised numerous clients who have received demand letters from PicRights.
Together, we'll explore how these operations work, what the implications are, and how to protect yourself. Because, if you or your company creates content on the internet, you might be surprised to learn just how vulnerable you are to copyright trolling.
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And check out these wacky results from when we asked an A.I. to draw "Evil Robot Copyright Lawyers" for us.
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