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Some company wants us to pay P45,500 for a press photo

Which we used for an Alfa Romeo Formula 1 story in December 2017

The story is so old that Charles Leclerc was still driving for the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. PHOTO FROM ALFA ROMEO

So, we’ve been getting messages from a company that calls itself “COPYTRACK,” which is apparently some copyright police on the Internet. They are calling us out for ‘violating’ a copyright policy concerning a 2017 article that featured media images from Alfa Romeo.

They first wrote us on April 8 this year:


We, COPYTRACK, are writing to you on behalf of our client WENN Rights International Ltd, whose license and image rights, limited to the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, we are here to protect—abroad this is done by our local lawyer partners. Our customer has informed us that VISOR is likely using an image without permission and has exclusively commissioned us with the clarification, administration of the image rights and, if necessary, the enforcement of any rights infringement. Images are protected by copyright law and infringements are actionable under national and international law. Please see the attachment below for details.

On behalf of our client, we must first determine if you have a valid license to use the images in question. If you have a valid license to use these images, please reply to this email and include proof of purchase and any other license information.

Supposedly what we owe COPYTRACK’s client. TABLE FROM COPYTRACK

According to the letter, we owe them €389.59 for an image license and another €350 for “compensation costs.” In total, they want us to pay €739.59 (P45,500). They demand that we settle this by May 7.

This supposedly pertains to a specific photo in the above-mentioned article:

We are 100% sure that the scammers do not own any rights to the above photo or to the logos of Alfa Romeo and Sauber Motorsport. PHOTO FROM ALFA ROMEO

Bear in mind that the images accompanying the Formula 1-related story were legitimately sourced from Alfa Romeo’s media website. Said images are free to be used by press members for editorial purposes. Hence, we laughed this off and dismissed it as a brainless scam.

But then they have persistently badgered us with the pseudo-legal letter, the latest one being a reminder sent yesterday. Because of our exposure to scammers both online and in real life, we normally ignore these comical attempts to scam us. But then, what if they victimize unsuspecting prey if we don’t speak up? Like we always say, our part of the world is sadly home to gullible people who are easily deceived by flowery words.

Just very recently, a number of readers notified us of a spurious message that they had received about a “no-contact apprehension traffic violation” that they had supposedly committed—a message that was urging them to click on a link. Yes, there are individuals who still fall for phishing.

Anyway, we’ve decided to share this COPYTRACK scam no matter how preposterous it sounds as a service to you, dear readers.

We’ve Googled posts about them so you no longer have to yourself. There’s one on Reddit. There’s another one here. And here. And one more here. And finally, the ultimate tale of this fraud.

Hope this helps in our never-ending battle against con artists.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.