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    “Infringing on Copyright-Protected Images” Contact Form Email Scam

    copyright infringement contact form email scam

    We’ve started receiving emails like the one pictured below, so I thought I would take the time to remind you to delete – and NOT click the link. The emails that I received were through our contact form on our website, but they could come through another source.

    At first glance, it appears to be legitimate and concerning, having to do with a copyright violation of images used on your website and getting sued for $140,000.

    Here’s what this one looked like.

    recent scam contact form received
    A contact form submission one of our clients received

    The emails go something like this,

    “You are infringing on copyright-protected images owned by our company [Company name]. Take a look at this document with the URLs to the images you used on your website. Download it and see for yourself”

    This is paired with a hyperlink or URL they want you to click.

    Summary of the Scam

    In doing some reading about this scam – apparently, when you click on the link, it can infect your computer with ransomware (where a hacker locks up you computer and asks you to pay money for them to release it – which usually doesn’t work).  

    Why the scam is persuasive

    The scammer will often use a legitimate website domain in the contact form to make it look real. If you were to respond to the scam email, it may go to a real person who has no idea about the scam OR the email address never existed in the first place. The scammer has no interest or control over this website, they are only using it to generate a sense of authority.

    The primary goal of the scammer is to get you to click the link. Everything in the email is designed to socially engineer you to trust them to click the link. Don’t click it!

    A couple of quick points:

    1. Don’t click on a link provided by a user, unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure it is a safe link.  
    2. When emails are scary, it can lead us to respond quickly without processing it logically. Take a moment to consider whether this is legitimate – and connect with others who can help figure this out.
    3. Make sure your computer security software is up to date. 

    Copyright Violations

    This specific email is about copyright infringements, which can make anyone of us nervous! 

    What about your website?  Should you be concerned???

    When Bluestem Media builds websites, we use:
    a. stock photos – which we license to use on your website, and
    b. photos provided from you – which assuming that you have the rights to use the photos, then there would not be a copyright violation

    How do you know if you have rights to use the photo?  You are safe if:

    1. You took the photo yourself
    2. You purchased a stock photo (which includes a license to use it)
    3. You hired a photographer, and they gave you a license to use the photos

    Outside of that, there could be a concern about a copyright violation about an image — for example, sometimes people will copy a photo from Google or another website.  This is not a good idea. 

    Again, unless you have written permission to use the photo or graphic, you could be in violation.

    If you have any questions about any content on your website, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

    Eric Wiinanen

    Eric is the owner and founder of Bluestem Media LLC. He has worked in digital marketing since 1999, delivering web solutions to government, non-profit and business clients.