I am looking for some advice on copyright infringement. We are an independent media run by volunteers and have not income, assets or offices at all. Therefore the staff varies. One of the volunteer download a photo from a blog that it seemed to be free use (the photo has been published hundreds of times in blogs that doesn’t ask for copyright) and we published the photo thinking it was OK.
But weeks ago a company called Copytrack emailed us and asked for money for the copyright infringement. So, I do some research, and found that indeed the use of the photo needed a license but when it was downloaded by the volunteer it was from a blog. So, it was a real mistake, but also an unintentional copyright infringement. So I remove the pic and article in full and I sent an email apologising for the mistake and even I offer to do an interview to the photographer or something similar, as we don’t have money.
They replied in identical terms they told @user1889580 “you have infringed on our client's image, pay us right away to avoid legal issues”, etc.
So, I reply with a more comprehensive letter, apologising again, explaining that we don’t’ receive money, plus we never make any profit from the work we published. Something easy to prove and in fact I invited them to check in internet, were you find that we don’t receive more than 30 pounds a year. So, I said I would paid something, from my own pocket.
They haven’t reply yet, but I have been doing a research and talking to colleagues and press associations. And there is a consensus: Copyrigth is a legal company but doesn’t act ethically, they act as scam and there are many complains. Plus I found this: “In view of German copyright law and the respective jurisdiction of the German courts, the amount that Copytrack claims is far too high”.
The amounts they usually charge are absurd. For instance, if a photo cost 30 Euros or 100 Euros, Copytrack asks for 500, 600, 1000 euros and more. We think this is because they don’t charge for their services to their clients, so the way to get their fees is by doing this.
I am are aware copyright infringement is something serious and we respect other people’s work, but I want all this managed in a fair, ethical and reasonable manner from both sides.
I have been asking for advice and my colleagues say, I must ignore it. But like @user1889580 , I am worried. I am ready to pay, but to be honest the blog doesn’t have money and me either, so I I have asked for a symbolic fee or for the minimum amount.
I am still checking and doing some research but I would appreciate your advice.