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Jonas Voss

My experience with Pixsy's Takedown service

3 min read

One of the perks of paying for a Flickr Pro account is that you get a limited free account with Pixsy, a service that scours the web for photos from your Flickr account, to see if they are being used anywhere.

If you find a that your photos are being used without your permission then Pixsy offers, by just one click, to send a Takedown Notice to one or more sites. Besides requesting that your picture be taken down, the takedown notice also requests the site to amend the article that was using the photo, to include a paragraph saying that the photo has been removed due to copyright infringement.

I gave it a spin, and a few of my photos had been used without my permission. Most prominently these two pictures of MF DOOM from a concert in Dublin in 2010, were being used by wellknown websites:

So I hit the Takedown Notice button in Pixsy, and here's what came out of it.

I've sent out a total of eight takedown notices at the end of October through Pixsy. Seven was to commercially run websites with global reach and recognition, and the last one was to a personal website with no obvious commercial scope.

WebsiteCompliedReplied to emailRemoved pictureAmended article
Website 1 (2) No No Partially No
Website 2 No Yes Yes No
Website 3 (2) No Yes Yes No
Website 4 No No No No
Website 5 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Website 6 No Yes Yes No

In terms of full compliance to the requests in the takedown note, only 1 of 8 was 100% successful. The 100% successful one was an American university newspaper, that besides using my photo uncredited, also allowed visitors to buy printed copies of my photo, through their website. Nice.

Another prominent website's legal counsel replied that they genuinely didn't know that I was the copyright holder of the photo, and claimed that in those circumstances, using my photo without crediting me was within the fair dealing doctrine of UK copyright law. Guess what, it isn't.

It is true that you can use orphaned material on some ocassions, but photos are specifically omitted from this clause. It's also true that you can use material without crediting it for news reporting, but photographs are specifically omitted from that clause as well.

One of the websites that I sent out two takedown notices to (for two separate photos), removed the image mentioned in one, but didn't remove the one mentioned in the second. I'm looking at you, factmag.

All 'n all, I guess a 87.5% success rate on the initial purpose of the takedown notice, to make these sites stop using my photo without my persmission, is not too bad. The question is: Would I have had the same success rate if I had simply written my own requests for them to take down my photos, without all the legally binding text included in the ones from Pixsy? I might have to test that, as I still have a few photos being used without my permission.

Anyone else out there tried the takedown service from Pixsy and are willing to share their results?

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Jonas Voss