I’m sharing this for all my blogging friends even though I’m sure you all probably don’t need the heads up. There is a current phishing scam going on at the moment that seems to be directed at blogs. I don’t know if this is aimed at photo blogs or just blogs in general.
The gist is that you get contacted via your contact page (or maybe even email if you have that published) saying that you have material on your site that is in violation of someone’s copyright. I’ve now seen this phrased in a number of ways, but the base goal is the same. To try and get you to freak out enough to click on the link to see the image or material in question to verify their claim.
Because that is the other part of this. They don’t actually tell you what, specifically, you have posted that violates their copyright. They only post a link to a supposed body of work or catalogue, not a notation of your own post or page that contains the offending piece. They expect you to click that link to investigate their complaint.
What makes it easy to overlook that little detail is the fact that they throw out the threat of a lawsuit. They aren’t asking for removal of the violating content. They jump to legal threats right out of the gate. The latest emails I’ve seen go so far as to swear, under penalty of perjury, that all statements in the email are true in an attempt to sound more official and legal. Which is funny, because not a word of it is, in fact, true. Or legal.
The reality is that the link they provide that is supposedly proof of the copyrighted material is part of a phishing scam. More than one of the emails I’ve gotten like this come from known scammers, though I’m seeing they are starting to diversify and new email addresses are being used that haven’t ended up on warning lists yet.
This is a particularly aggravating issue for me as copyright violations, especially with regards to photography and art, are one of my biggest peeves. I don’t know if these idiots are just targeting photographers, but it is really infuriating. The first one I got irritated me. I thought it was a mistake that someone really lazy made because of the lack of citation of the violating material, so I just ignored it figuring they would realize they somehow contacted me by mistake and would correct it when they didn’t hear back from me. It wasn’t until I got another and I dug a little, that I realized what was going on.
So, heads up to my fellow bloggers. Just ignore those emails as they are just people being your typical asshole. That is unless you really do post copyrighted materials without permission (pretty much any photo or art or body of writing that doesn’t explicitly state it is free to use, even then, you should question it if it doesn’t come directly from the creator) . Then, you need to do some serious blog cleaning and self reflection because you’re probably the asshole in that case.
I’ve currently removed my contact page because this is starting to become a problem on my blog as I’m getting a lot of these lately. If someone really needs to talk to me, there is this awesome feature called a comment. It’s fun and useful and forces me into some human interaction, even if it is just through a computer.
Oh, and if you really aren’t an asshole and do have permission to share copyrighted material, be an awesome human and note the author/artist/photographer/whatever. Even better when you link back to their work so others can find them and worship them accordingly.