Just over a year ago, I heard about a new company called Pixsy.
It was a beta service at the time, inviting photographers to use their algorithms and platforms to search for their photographs being misused on the internet. I would hardly call myself a big-time photographer, but I did get an email invite. Pretty quickly I realised that the service wouldn’t cost anything to try, so I signed up, imported images from my website and other photo accounts, and let the Pixsy do its thing.
Immediately I was struck with the sad reality of just how common photo theft is. My photographs had been stolen by people all over the world for just about everything you could think of. One of my most popular images (and therefore most stolen images), which I took on Great Keppel Island during my internship there, made up more than half of the results in my Pixsy search.
Sadly, most of these were non-commercial thefts, which meant all I could really do is send an email saying that the image was mine I wanted them to take it down. So basically, nothing could be done. And you know what? That makes me really annoyed. I took this photo. It’s my image, my experience. Some people who had reposted it had done so with captions indicating that they had taken it. Like, what?!
I really don’t understand some people.
Anyway, amidst the masses of matches (depressing), one really stood out. It was a match on an image I’d taken a few years ago on my way to Indonesia on a university exchange. I clicked the link to see who had taken it, and was amazed to see quite a well-known company using it to advertise one of their products. I was shocked to be honest. This is a company I would have thought would know better about the legalities of photo use. But there it was plain to see.
So, I put my case through to Pixsy, and waited.
Process and Payout
I submitted my case in December of 2015. A few days later it was referred to their legal team (indicating that there was likely some legitimate theft by a company they could go to) and the process began. There was some emailing back and forth in February of 2016 about the image, when I had taken it, establishing ownership etc, as well as some questions about whether I had licensed work before, and what I anticipated being paid.
Then there was a big gap until late June of 2016, when I was advised that the case had been settled. The amount of the settlement was CAD$4,500.
I flipped out. It was so much more than I had been anticipating, and to be honest I really felt that Pixsy had done a good deal. Cut to me dancing around the house like a loony at my recent windfall. Of course, not all that money was actually mine. As you might remember, I hadn’t paid anything so far for Pixsy to take my case, get lawyers involved, or deal with the company who had taken the photo. So, I had to settle my accounts. So, of that money the legal fees are deducted, then Pixsy takes 50% of the remainder, and I also had to pay 5% tax (it’s different for every country, this is the Australian rate).
Still, I ended up with just over US$1,100, which after transfer fees was a tidy AUD$1,450 in my bank account. Not much for some, but it’s certainly been a positive mark on my year!
What I Think
Was I happy with my experience with Pixsy? Sure I was. I got my remittance and I feel that in some small way justice was served to a big company that I, with my limited resources, would not have been able to touch.
But that doesn’t mean Pixsy is perfect.
I know what you’re thinking. How can you be made at someone who gives you free money? But may I remind you that it’s not really free. It’s money that I earned from producing an image that a company went on to misuse. Yes, Pixsy has done the hard yards for me legally, so I don’t want to complain too much as I really do appreciate that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have feedback.
For one, the process has really dragged out, and I’m not sure if that’s a Pixsy thing or just a legal thing. There were digital and paper documents to sign, associated postal delays, quite a bit of confusion about when the remittance was actually happening, and then right at the last minute more delays because of necessary tax forms (that had been forgotten). Basically, it was a bit all over the place. And yes, all I had to do was fill things out and drum my fingers waiting for the money to show, but still. The good thing is that Pixsy responded really fast to my enquiries, and eventually they did clear it up for me, and apologise, which is definitely something.
So where does that leave my views on Pixsy. Well, I think they’re a great company, and fantastic considering they’re really still in their infancy. I imagine as they go into the future they’ll become even more effective than they are now, and they’re already very good in terms of how fast they get back to you, and how happy they are to accept feedback.
I guess what I really want to say is that Pixsy is a wonderful idea that the internet really needs. Taking a stand against photo misuse is a must for photographers at all levels, and it’s great that the company is making that process really accessible, even to those without the big bucks to chase these companies themselves. But, it’s a slow process (like many legal processes I imagine), so if you happen to have someone misuse a photo, be prepared for that. Patience photogs!
Pixsy currently operates in 11 countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark). These are the only countries they will currently look into cases of photo theft, so unfortunately if your image was taken by a company based outside of these you’re out of luck. They’re still an invite-only service, but they were happy to provide an invite code for my readers:
So, if you’re interested in having a look at Pixsy, use the invite code, or alternative click on this direct sign up link to get started. At the end of the day, photo theft is something we should all be fighting, so I’d definitely recommend checking it out.
If you’re already using Pixsy, I’d love to hear your experiences as well, so feel free to share!