The following is an email from the LWVUS:
From: Kayla Vix <KVix@lwv.org>
Date: November 10, 2020 at 11:36:44 AM CST
To: League of Women Voters State Leaders <email@example.com>
Subject: IMPORTANT: Image Use Violation Resulting in Fees
More and more Leagues are being contacted by third-party firms claiming that Leagues are violating image licenses and must pay so that they will not be sued.
While their practices may be “scammy,” firms like Pixsy and PicRights come to Leagues with legitimate claims about copyright infringement. They are scrubbing League websites—including everything from web pages to linked pdfs and powerpoints—for any image that is not owned by LWV or license-free, and they are assessing fees on behalf of the image owners.
This applies to images given to the League by other sources, images used strictly for educational purposes, images by which the League is not raising money—all images (photos, clip art, logos, everything) unless they are owned by the League, licensed for free use, or the League has written permission by the image owner to use their image. Unfortunately, because claims by these firms are real, Leagues must pay the licensing fees. Often times a lower fee can be negotiated. There are steps you can take to prevent this from happening to your League.
What Leagues need to do right now:
- Send this information to your local Leagues and ensure they comply.
- Remove from your website all newsletters, handouts, powerpoints, or other materials older than 4 years. To be extra safe, consider removing all non-webpage materials from your website.
- Review all remaining webpages, newsletters, handouts, powerpoints, or other materials and make sure each image (photo, clip art, logo, illustration, design) falls under one of these categories:
- Owned by LWVUS or your League
- You have written permission from the image owner to use it (maintain this documentation somewhere accessible); this needs to be in a pdf with a signature from the owner – an email reply saying “yeah, use our images” is not enough
- Image is licensed for free use and you have given proper attribution (state the image owner’s name, link to the license, link to the original image); ALWAYS read licensing agreements when using images from free websites
- Ensure all future images put on your website or your local Leagues’ websites follow our Image Use Guidance. If you receive a handout or powerpoint presentation from a partner group or outside speaker, you cannot trust that all the images in their materials are safe. The safest thing to do is not to host these materials on your website.
What to do if your League receives a bill from one of these firms:
- Verify that the image they identify has indeed been used improperly.
- Remove the image immediately.
- Consider getting in touch with the image owner directly to see if removing the image is sufficient. If they agree, you will not need to pay the third-party bill.
- Offer to pay part of the bill. Some Leagues have been able to negotiate down to half of the asking price.
Kayla Vix (she/her)
League of Women Voters of the United States
1730 M St, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036
202-809-9668 | firstname.lastname@example.org