The Photograph Shakedown operates as follows:
- The owner uploads an image to an image sharing website.
- The victim uses the image believing the owner authorised use.
- The owner alleges copyright rights infringement, demands royalties/legal costs. It denies uploading the image or authorising use.
The shakedown is often successful as it is difficult to prove the owner uploaded the image and authorised use.
In Australia innocent infringement is a partial (but not a full) defence to Copyright rights infringement actions.
Caution: Image sharing websites may not hold a licence to use images. Relying on the representations of a website does not give you a full defence to infringement claims.
- Ensure you hold the correct licence to use the image. A paid licence assists but is not determinative.
- Research the website – ensure it holds the correct licence terms. Keep a copy of the T&Cs for evidence purposes.
- Take threats seriously. Seek qualified legal advice immediately.
- DoNotTryThisAtHome, you expose yourself to multiple claims.