How to spot Image Copyright Scams

copyright infringement scams

It is a problem that nearly every webmaster (or just web user) has run across; someone is attempting to scam them. The latest scam claims that the site committed copyright infringement and asks them to click a link to see the proof.

When being threatened with copyright infringement, it is terrifying. There’s enough confusion about copyright material that even someone trying to follow the law might be uncertain if they did infringe.

Internet frauds are nothing new; requesting money for various reasons is nearly as old as the internet itself. That said, this particular sort of fraud, which targets web administrators and focuses on the use of photos on blogs, has recently experienced a resurgence.

You need to be aware of these scams if you’re a webmaster. Your money, your security, and your website are all at risk.

How Copyright Infringement Scams work

The scams follow a similar pattern, with an email alleging that material posted on your website is copyrighted. However, the payloads of the scams may vary, and they contain (but are not limited to) the following items.

  1. Direct Payment Scams: an email claims that an image is a copyright infringement and demands immediate payment for a settlement. These letters may look legitimate, but they usually ask for some form of direct payment through cryptocurrency or a sketchy payment processor.
  2. Spam Scams: the email won’t be seeking money directly but will instead ask for a backlink to a website (typically spammy). Often citing a Creative Commons licenses justification.
  3. Click Here for Evidence Scams: These emails are not targeting a monetary reimbursement; instead, getting you to click on a malware link to infect your computer, often disguised as “evidence” of the infringement. 

In each situation outlined above, copyright is merely a scare tactic to get people to take the required action. The con then shifts into a more conventional mode and attempts to steal your money, data, or even your website itself.

Schemes are riding on a wave of real-world anxiety in all instances. Many websites have been inundated with genuine demand letters from photographers and artists demanding compensation for the use of their work on websites, which has made image copyright infringement a vital topic.

It appears that scammers have infiltrated this area and tried to seem indistinguishable from genuine providers to defraud people of their money.

The good news is that you can easily defend yourself against these frauds. All it takes is a little planning and some awareness.

How to avoid these Scams

It’s not hard to avoid these scams. Awareness is vital in these scams, and follow these steps to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

  1. Be Careful where you obtain your Images: Only obtain licensed images or open-licensed sources. 
  2. Google the Letter: when you receive the email, perform a Google search to see if similar spam has been flagged.
  3. Google the Parties: Email the people sending the email; most of the time, these companies and people are made up.
  4. Evaluate the Claim: Look at where you got the image, and if there is a chance, it could be copywritten.
  5. Don’t Respond: Delete the email and move on. Chances are, if it’s legitimate, an email will be the last channel of communication.

There are genuine businesses that use email to communicate with consumers about infringements of intellectual property. Those instances must be addressed with care. However, it’s usually simple to tell the difference between scammers and real ones if you conduct some research.

In conclusion, be cautious about where you obtain your photos and always get a license for everything you post on your site. If you follow these simple precautions, you should be fine.


  • What is Image Copyright?

Published on: 2021-12-11
Updated on: 2024-03-07

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Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.