Rise of the copyleft predator

Cory Doctorow reports on the "copyleft predator," a new breed of troll who uses obsolete Creative Commons licenses as legal boobytraps to snare publishers who think they're doing the right thing.

Creative Commons users really don't get this, by and large — neither the technical requirements for attribution nor the potential risk of getting it wrong. I have posted more than 28,000 photos to Flickr under very generous CC licenses and I'm constantly finding users who have failed to correctly attribute them. Like, I've repeated emailed the contact address for "Fintech Zoom" to request that they fix the attribution on this photo and all I get is crickets.

I see that failure to correctly attribute as a minor annoyance, but copyleft trolls see it as a payday.

Among those scaling up the scam is a company which sends automated legal threats based on image search results. Unfortunately for that startup, it picked a poor target for a shakedown: Cory Doctorow.

let's talk about the other warning sign in that email: did you see how Barbara threw her client under the bus? She says that her company sent me multiple legal threats not as the result of an automated process gone wrong, but because their client, Nenad Stojkovic, demanded that they do so.

It is my opinion that this is not true.

Pixsy's own marketing materials describe its processes: the company sends bots around the web looking for its clients' images, they figure out who posted those images, then they send legal threats to those people.

I think that's exactly what happened here. I asked Barbara if that was the case (I also asked her if Pixsy's legal threats were supervised by counsel, and who that counsel was, and where they were licensed to practice law) and she sent me a terse note referring me to the company's website. Needless to say, the website brought no clarity to any of this and Barbara didn't reply to my followup email