Brentwood, 1.37am: 23°C, broken clouds

The Legal Media Check scam


this photo is definitely not owned by a van hire company

We blog a lot here on phoenixfm.com but there’s always a worry that we accidentally use an image we’re not allowed to use. You can’t just lift something off Google image search – that person may have paid for the privilege, and we’re an impoverished community radio station with a zero budget for virtually everything. So we need to be careful.

If I need various stock images, I go to one of the free stock image websites. It can be hard finding them, because the ones that Google tell you are free aren’t necessarily free. You have to read a lot of small print.

This morning at 11am I had an email from Alice Felix, Content Head at Legal Media Check. She said:

Hi Paul,

You are using my client’s image (attached below) in one of your articles (URL given). We’re glad that it’s of use to you 🙂

There’s no issue if you’ve bought this from our market partners such as Shutterstock, iStock, Getty Image, Pexels, Adobe, Pixabay, Unsplash etc.,

However, if you don’t have the proper license for the image then we request you to provide image credits (clickable link) on your article. Or else this will be against the copyright policy.

Unfortunately, removing the image isn’t the solution since you have been using our image on your website for a while now.

Feel free to ask any questions that you may have.

Alice Felix
Content Head
Legal Media Check

This just seemed a bit weird. I Googled Alice, and it appeared that she lives in Texas, so why is she sending out messages at 5am? Also, some of the English on it just didn’t seem quite right either (“Or else this will be against the copyright policy”, etc). Also, for a legal letter it wasn’t very aggressive, which I was grateful for, but it set a few alarm bells ringing. Also, this part at the end of her email really surprised me:

Unsubscribe (link) if you don’t want me to followup with you.

So I’m being asked not to violate your client’s legal rights but I can unsubscribe? I went back to her and said:

I have spoken to the author who tells me the image was found from a free website. However I am happy to give you a credit, can you please give me the information required?

She replied very quickly (so she’s probably not in Texas unless she’s a really early starter).

Hi Paul,

Thanks for getting back to me.

Can you please give image credit to (Van Hire Company)?

Link: Van Hire Company’s link
Credit Name: Van Hire Company

It can be anywhere in the article. Just make sure that it’s a clickable link 🙂

Thank you.

Beginning to think that with all the smiley faces, this is not a proper legal firm.

I clicked on the link. It’s a van hire company. Not a photographer trying to make a living.

Obviously I’m not mentioning the name of the company, because that’s what they want. We get a lot of people asking us to link to them, because our website has a good standing with Google. Sometimes they offer to pay, which is great as the money goes in the pot to help run the station. (If you’re interested, the going rate is about £50). Sometimes they try to get it for free. But I’ve never had an SEO company pretend to be a legal firm and threaten me (very politely) with action just so they can get a free link for one of their clients.

The Van Hire Company stinks too. The website gives an address of London N7 and a phone number starting with 020, but it’s written in broken English and the prices are all in Euros.

I decided to email her back.

Can you please send me proof that Van Hire Company is the photographer who holds the copyright?

They seem to be the magic words, as the correspondence ended very abruptly.

So if you’re reading this, host your own website and you get any emails from Alice Felix, Content Head at Legal Media Check, save yourself some time and put them straight in the bin …

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