The latest scam may disable your computer
Image Copyright Infringement emails are common – as a fraudulent attempt to blackmail you. If you have a website, chances are that you receive an email with a claim that “Your website or a website that your company hosts is infringing on copyrighted images owned by myself.” Some person claims that you are illegally using their copyrighted images on your website. They seem to prove it and are providing a link to a file. Sounds legit, right? There is a catch to it:
Do not download that file.
It is likely to contain a malicious code containing a virus triggering a ransomware attack on your machine. In case you haven’t heard about ransomware – it encrypts the files on your hard drive, making it inaccessible for you unless you are in possession of a decryption key (which you can only purchase from the scammer).
How did we get here?
Just copying (= stealing) images from websites is common. Many people avoid buying images from stock photo agencies to avoid high costs. Combatting that fraud, companies like Getty Images have developed a technology that scans the internet for duplicates of the images that they sell, but are unlicensed to be used on a particular website. This is very easy to do with modern licensing systems and robots searching the Internet.
Now scammers are copying Getty’s enforcement efforts for their shady practices.
Some legal threats are legit: Getty and Reuters.
After years of filing lawsuits and hiring an army of attorneys, Getty has settled for a streamlined solution – fining violations with smaller fees like $175 for displaying a Getty image without license to do so. Note that previous fines exceeded $1000.
However, if a person gets caught using images from Reuters, things can get even more expensive – calculate $1200-1500 for unlawfully displaying one tiny image from their collection.
So where do you get quality images legally?
Best is to use stock photo libraries and agencies. Please find some examples below.