Occasionally I use the Google image search function to see if any of my photos are being used on other websites. Yes… It is something to do when insomnia strikes.
Earlier this month I found quite a few of my photos being used on an very obnoxious site. The same page also contained numerous images from the West Hawai’i Astronomy Club website. I will forgo including the URL or link here, no need providing them one more incoming referral. Suffice it to say that the entire website was constructed of stolen or scraped material, the sole purpose of which is to serve as search engine bait. Once on the website clicking on anything generated pop-ups, pop-unders, a slew of ads. This was not innocent infringement, this is a business built on theft of intellectual property.
A little sleuthing revealed that the site was located on a hosting service out of the Netherlands, WorldStream.nl. As this site is not within the US a DMCA takedown notice is not legally enforceable. However, European law is pretty good with respect to copyright, the hosting provider should take a notice of infringement seriously. Thus I sent an email off to the listed customer service address…
A website that your company hosts (according to WHOIS information) is infringing on multiple copyrights owned by me.
xxxxxxxx.com/ operating from a WorldStream server is hosting multiple photographs belonging to me, along with key search terms. It appears that this material is used simply as search engine bait. Stealing material appears to be the entire purpose of this site and in no way can be considered under the Fair Use doctrine of the US or the Netherlands.
The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at:
I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately, and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.
I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that rights I own are being infringed. Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly.
A pleasant surprise… It worked.
A few days later I received a reply from Worldstream…
First of all thank you for your notice.
We just have informed our customer about the mentioned links / website.
If our customer will not remove the files within the givin timeframe of 1440 minutes his or her IP address will be blocked automatically.
If you are having any more questions, please let us know.
Have a nice day.
Met vriendelijke groet / Kind regards,
Rick – Abuse Department.
Checking a couple days later I found that the infringing material had indeed disappeared from the website. The offender did remove my material. I suspect that such challenges are just part of the game for this sort of website. Interestingly enough the actual website ownership is hidden behind a registration service here in the US, I suspect that the actual webmaster is also here.
The website still exists. There are hundreds of images scraped from dozens upon dozens of other websites. I am not impressed with any hosting provider that would allow such a site to use their servers.