One of the risks of running your own photo website like The CoffeeShop Blog is using an image that you don't own the rights to and might have been stolen. In the beginning I always used my own images in my tutorials and before/afters so (I assumed) I would always be safe. But sometimes I get bored of just using my own personal photos so I will use images from photographer friends (with their permission) or from Pixabay.
Pixabay is a royalty-free site, thus the images they post can be used in any way you like. However, if I am using a portrait where the face is clear I message the person who posted the image to make sure they own the rights of that image and that they don't mind me using it on my blog. It never hurts to be too careful.
I don't know how well Pixabay can vet images before posting them for download. But I know some of the photographers who post up there regularly (like Jill Wellington) and I think Pixabay is an honest company and excellent resource. However, I know nothing is 100%. Heck, the Feds were able to hack an iPhone...
So today I received an email from Mediafire (one of the sites where I host my freebies) saying that a French company's lawyer notified them that I was posting an image copyrighted by them on the CoffeeShop Blue Velvet Luxe page and action download. I never click on email links so I went and logged into my Mediafire account and a pop-up came up with the same information.
In this email and pop-up, Mediafire stated it has suspended that specific download until this is resolved (I have 24 hours). Plus the lawyer's notice in the Mediafire email/pop-up stated that that if I don't take down the image(s) right away I will liable under French law for infringement! Which I interpreted as "If I don't take the image in question down this instant I will be sued for millions of dollars and thrown in a French prison where they will make me drink the cheapest French merlot (which is probably miles better than the stuff I drink now)".
I completely freaked out and went into full-panic mode. I am one of those people who tries to do everything by the book, all of the time. I am unfortunately a worrier and have a tendency to easily get anxious (even when I am blameless), so I try to avoid doing anything that could be wrong. It just isn't worth the stress.
My first thought (after my panic-attack) was I had used an image from Pixabay that hadn't been properly vetted by Pixabay. It was only a matter of time, right? I immediately went to the post to remove the image in question so I could hopefully avoid prison and be able to watch my boys grow up.
Wait, this is a image of my two sons in a local park, photographed by me on my phone camera.
Weird. It must be the other photo I posted. That must be the image that was copyrighted by that French company.
OK, stranger still. This one is an image of my niece and my son, taken at our local park by me using my camera.
Yeah, I think I own the rights of both of these images. I have to remove my own personal family images from my own personal blog or face the consequences? Even I shouldn't feel guilty about this one.
I have contacted Mediafire and will let you know how it goes. Before I click on any links to resolve this I want to make sure it isn't a scam or malware. I think I can prove that these two images are my own. ;-)
However, until this gets settled I will continue my mini-panic attack because that is how I roll. Even when I am 100% in the right. I think I will go take a walk with my kids (the same ones seen in the images above that I supposedly am using illegally). It is much too early to have a glass of wine.
I am posting a new freebie later today so I will keep you updated!!! Have a great Thursday.
UPDATE: Monday, April 11th: I still have not heard anything back from MediaFire, but I just checked my account and the download is active. I am surprised (an honestly annoyed) they didn't notify me, but I am happy that everything is back to normal.
Monday, April 4th: Still no word back from Mediafire.
Friday at 11:25AM: No word yet from Mediafire today about whether they have resolved this issue. I will keep you posted.
Thursday at 3:24PM: I had written Mediafire through their website about the email I supposedly received from them, and Mediafire just sent me another email confirming that the email they sent earlier is real. The message I submitted through their site was pasted in it for proof. So I went and clicked on the link to fill out a counterclaim form explaining that the images are mine and I have the children at home to prove it (and the original unedited images of course). Hopefully I will hear back soon that all is cleared up and Mediafire will reinstate my link for the action. I will keep you posted!!!
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