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From humble beginnings, you’ve built your small business and your website to be everything you hoped for. 2020 may have even forced you to rely on this website as your sole storefront, but here you are. The sleepless nights and hours of work have paid off. Then bam, you receive an email with the subject line, “Image Copyright Infringement Notification” in your contact form. Your heart skips a beat, but before you lawyer up, how can you assess whether or not this is a legitimate threat?
Before panicking, read through the infringement claim a couple of times. Not only will this help to reduce your emotional response, but it also helps you read between the lines of the message! While every copyright infringement notification is different, there are a couple of recurring themes that we’ve seen among small-medium sized businesses websites that help signal that these are a scam.
Phishing is an ever-evolving malicious strategy. What once were strategies such as what the beloved Michael Scott of The Office fell for where “the son of the deposed king of Nigeria emails you directly asking for help, you help!” has forever changed. Now, subtle tactics with links that contain malware can be hard to recognize. Whether it’s a file like a PDF or a webpage, all it takes is one click. If a copyright infringement claim seeks to point you to an unknown website or file citing it, do not click it.
The link that such a claim provides is red flag number one. As we want to handle every claim as legitimately as possible, in your response, you can ask for them to provide a screenshot of the image in the body of the email they are claiming as wrongdoing.
You may discover that while it isn’t a phishing scam, it is still a shady tactic. Known as blackhat SEO in the digital marketing world, some digital marketers attempt to use the copyright claim to increase the backlinks–other links referring to their site–without having merit behind the claim. With numerous copyright and royalty-free stock photography platforms like Unsplash or Pexels out there, there are seemingly endless picture options. All without having to take away from others.
Depending on your website, you may have also used your own photography. When you create your website, you have a good sense of the sourcing of any and all elements, especially photography. So if you have every image of your website as your own and someone reaches out claiming an image is copyrighted, you’re in good shape but should still handle it appropriately.
One of the advantages of working with a variety of clients on their ongoing digital marketing efforts is that we’re plugged into knowing what matters for small and medium-sized businesses. We’re here to help our clients navigate these ominous threats and risks as we can help step back and analyze all of the facts behind such a copyright threat.
While every potential risk should be treated equally, these are some helpful methods to help assess growing phishing/spammy copyright threats. If you need more tips and help to navigate this kind of situation, reach out to our team of digital marketers.