I was accused by a stock photography agency of using an image of a flower to create a banner or header on my web site without permission. They sent me a nine page "cookie cutter" demand letter -- not a "cease and decist" letter first, which is a far more common practice -- containing an invoice for $1,150.00 as "rent for one year's use" of what they say was my graphic desingers (at the time) having used -- either with or without permission -- or with or without payment -- it's hard to tell, since my web site was designed six years ago, and the designers were from another country -- a copyrighted image. Since my web designers did not use the entire image of their client's photo -- if in fact it was their client's photo -- and since all that was being compared by their image recognition software -- which trolls the Internet day and night, in order to provide them with enough ammunition to scare or intimidate people like me into paying them in full, without taking their time to check, like I did -- was a flower. Truth be told, it's difficult to tell whether or not the flower in question is actually the same flower, although they appear to be quite similar, when simply looking at them / eyeballing them online, since both flowers are the same variety, and the angle that both flowers were shot are very similiar. But without the rest of their client's image having been used on my web site, which it was not, comparing a photo of two flowers is tricky, especially since the flower contained in my banner is a JPG, which is a low resolution image for the Internet. My photography instructor said that "there aren't enough pixels in your flower, since it's a JPG, to compare the image in question to your banenr." The company which sent me their nine page document with invoice mailed it USPS bulk mail -- leading me to believe that it was a scam, or close to it. Apparently, they have been using these intimidation techniques for many years, sending out the same demand packet with invoice, for more than $1,000.00, due two weeks from the date their letter was written / not received, giving me and others about ten days total to pay in full, as their first level of contact, to literally scare small business owners and webmasters into paying exorbitantly high fees, for the same or simliar thing that they charged me for, which, from what I have read online, on at least six web sites that I've found so far, amounts to or is close to extortion. And although what they are doing has not been shown to be illegal (unfortunately), other people have stated online, on several complaint websites, that it is "unethical".
Since I am a business writer, and since I have managed to tacklet this problem so far myself, addressing and resolving some of the key issues, which I can't mention here, since this is being published, all I really need now, to put this matter to rest, is an attorney who is based here in the US (this is a must), to provide closure to this matter, by writing a letter on his or her law firm's letterhead, so that it is from an outside source, so that the letter has some "clout," so that that monies that they say I still owe them will be forgiven, and so that their case against my company is closed. I feel certain that this will work because they cannot prove that both trees are exactly the same. With an attorney's letter in hand, they wll know with certainty that they will not be able to proceed with any further action by sending my case to a collection agency. If you are an attorney who is based in here in the US -- this is a requirement -- who is wiling to type (but not necessarily compose) a short letter for me -- one that I can send you a draft of if you like -- whereby all you would really need to do is to type it -- knowing that you will need to assess this matter first -- so that I can forward it to them, if you are willing to charge me what I consider to be a reasonable fee for services, please contact me. Thank you!