Monday, June 26, 2023

Beware of COPYTRACK Scam

Recently I received an email from a company named COPYTRACK GmbH claiming that I need to pay them for the unauthorized use of their client's image on my website TheQuotes.Net

Initially, I thought it is completely a scam email. After doing some analysis, it looked like an actual company. So, I sent them an email asking the below 8 questions.

1. when this image was taken, who took this image, etc.

2. whether your client made this image royalty-free at any point of time

3. whether your client is claiming a royalty-free image as his own.

4. Why you are sending this email for the image uploaded many years ago.

5. how did you calculate the Compensation costs  350.00 € while the total income from the site for many years is less than this amount.  It clearly indicates your intention of extortion.

6. What is the process you are following to make sure that your client is the ower of the image

7. are you sending this email after verifying the ownership of your client, or just like that sending this email

8. In case of sending this email without verifying the ownership of your client, are you aware that you shouldn't send unsolicited mail?

Instead of sending answers to my questions, they just replied that they will request the evidence and documents from their customer and will come back. By sending this reply, they agreed that they had sent me the extortion email without actually verifying the ownership of the image.

It made me realize that they are not a genuine company. So, I did a more deep analysis by going through various articles about COPYTRACK.

The result of my analysis was really shocking. They are very cunning at scamming people by pretending to be genuine. Let me explain in detail in the later part of this post. Previously, I had a good opinion about Germany.  Now, I need to rethink it as Germany is allowing to operate this scamming company these many years. It is really shocking.  Another thing is, it seems most of the affected people are in the U.S. I don't know why the U.S. couldn't take any steps to close/shut down this seemingly fraud company. It made me think that Germany is systematically grabbing money from countries like the U.S., by using COPYTRACK. It is unbelievable that the U.S. is not able to stop this. 

It seems already one person tried to report this scam company to German authorities. He explained it in detail here. So, it seems German authorities are allowing to run this company even after they know about their scam. And, even COPYTRACK threatened WhiteHouse official photographer for using his own images (Obama's photos) which are actually made public. 

From this, we could understand that they are making money by selling Public domain images including white house official photographs. I don't know why American officials are still allowing the operation of this scam company. By going through this article, the officials accepted COPYTRACK's narration of doing it by error story. Are they not taking any efforts to differentiate criminal activity and doing it by error?

We can read interesting details about yet another scam attempt of COPYTRACK here.

By going through this TrustPilot review comments, we could understand many things about COPYTRACK. First of all, we can understand their attempt to include fake comments there. While the negative comments are made with a lot of information, the positive comments are just stereotype content simply praising COPYTRACK without any specific information. But the negative comments are giving a lot of information about COPYTRACK. They explain how COPYTRACK is threatening them even for their own photos, for the photos for which they are having licenses, and for the photos that they never used (but are available on the server).

Another key piece of information is, the clients they mention seem to be mostly similar (e.g WENN Rights International).  By doing a detailed analysis of COPYTRACK, I could imagine/assume/understand their mode of operation. Let me explain my understanding. COPYTRACK is encouraging people to use their service to protect their images without giving any details about their operation, and they use their own set of companies acting as their customers to work according to their commands. And, then they are just scanning random servers, and comparing the images from that server, irrespective of whether they are used in their websites. Once they find any match, immediately they send threatening emails claiming some random compensation amount without verifying the actual ownership/license status, and without actually measuring the damage. This approach is a very dangerous thing affecting all parties. They are not answering any questions. 

So, it is very important to shut down this scamming company. 

We could see some legal support companies like this one which is claiming that they could reduce the compensation amount claimed by COPYTRACK. This thing further increases the possibility of considering COPYTRACK as a fraud company. 

If COPYTRACK is having the ability to scan servers, why not immediately send email for taking down any images violating copyright, why they are sending it after decades, that too with some random huge amount of compensation. All these things prove that COPYTRACK is scamming people, it should be banned immediately. So, I am going to report COPYTRACK to German authorities.  I am not sure whether Germany will act on it. Because I came to know that many people already tried it.  If Germany is not taking any necessary action immediately, I will be escalating it to other countries which are heavily affected by this German company.

I just tried to inform this scam to some concerned people  But as of now, there is no action. I understand that it is a tough task to stop this scam because some officials might be involved with this scam. Anyway, I will do my best to help the people to save them from this scam.

If you are affected by COPYTRACK scam, share your experience through the comment section of this post.

Find below some screenshots taken from TrustPilot 


Anonymous said...

It's worse than that. They did an ICO to raise money saying that we were investors in the company, and at least implying that our CPY tokens could be used for recording and licensing copywrited material. Then they pulled the rug out from under their investors and made the tokens useless while keeping all the money.

Eye On Things said...

Thank you for this thorough report. They are trying to get money for a photo taken in the 1930's and used to illustrate an article about the subject!

Ajay Arora said...

Yes, they are trying to befool people. They sent an email to my friend for paying the fine for one image on his website. He actually bought this image from he provided the necessary documents to copytrack. But then tried to understand the issue that why they sent email for a legally purchased image. He made some research and found that they are scammers. This website needs to be stopped at the earliest.

Nature Lover said...

They've taken this scam to the next level! I run two websites, both containing LOTS of images, but here's the thing - ALL the images are MY OWN, basically to short circuit any Copyright nonsense.
So today - 18/01/2024 - I get an email from COPYTRACK demanding image licence fees and fees for displaying an image from 2013. This is going to be interesting! So I go onto the website and DEEP within a batch of my images - there's one that's not mine, and which I of course did not put there. This is of course the image in question.The owner of the image is supposed to be WENN Rights International Ltd, which is interesting in itself as the name David White was at the bottom of the image.
All this information has been sent off to Action Fraud who are particularly interested in this case as it is of a type of fraud they have not come across before. said...

We received emails from this company. We gave out some questions to them, but their answers were unclear and unrelated to our questions. I saw that their operation ways like a scam company, although they have a nice website.

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