The COPYTRACK saga — a cautionary tale (about a very likely scam!)

Disclaimer (30-Jun-2023): In this blog post, I am sharing my personal experience with COPYTRACK. If you were contacted by COPYTRACK, your own mileage may vary — use your common sense when dealing with them and make sure not to infringe anyone’s rightful copyrights. But my personal experience dealing with COPYTRACK was very negative, so I needed to share it, in case other people are approached in the same way like I was. —Ani

On 16-Feb-2023, the following email landed in my inbox — excerpts are below, but I also provide a link to the full email.

Authorization request / Unauthorized image use – Case no: 5D9BEC

We, COPYTRACK, are writing to you on behalf of our client WENN Rights International Ltd, whose license and image rights, limited to the territory of the
Federal Republic of Germany, we are here to protect – abroad this is done by our local lawyer partners. Our customer has informed us that molif is obviously using an image without permission and has exclusively commissioned us with the clarification, administration of the image rights and, if necessary, the enforcement of any copyright infringement. Images are protected by copyright law and infringements are actionable under national and international law. Please see the attachment below for details. On behalf of our client, we must first determine if you have a valid license to use the
images in question. If you have a valid license to use these images, please reply to this email and include proof of purchase and any other license information. Please respond to this letter no later than February 23, 2023. If this is not the case, your use of the image material most likely constitutes a copyright infringement on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany – abroad, our local lawyer partners will check this – and you would then be legally obligated to compensate our customer for the damage caused by this copyright infringement. […]


In order to resolve this case amicably with you, we request your cooperation. Please complete the following steps to close this case:

1. Check // Review the evidence on this case by going to and entering CASE ID 5D9BEC

2. Proof // Show us proof of your license by uploading it, and if it is valid, we will close your case immediately;

If you do not have a valid license:
3. Compensation/License // Your publication on

You now have the following 2 options:

Option 1: Purchase of a subsequent image license (includes past and future use for one year after purchase).

Option 2: Compensation (includes the previous use and requires the immediate deletion of the image).
Image license (valid for 1 year from date of purchase): 132.79 €
Compensation costs (past usage): 110.00 €
Payment is due by: March 16, 2023″

This is the first email from COPYTRACK — click the image for full view. And there was also an attachment. (Note: Here and in the next few places where I am quoting emails, all email documents are provided in PDF format.)

And a week later another automatic reminder arrived from COPYTRACK. I was puzzled. Did I “steal” someone’s copyrighted work? Not likely, as I am usually very careful with these things — I always give credit where credit is due, I check other people content’s licenses, and I know a fair bit about fair use.

“In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, […] a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use qualifies as a fair use, then it would not be considered an infringement.”
What Is Fair Use? (Standford University)

These two blog posts of mine were quite old, I needed to check what is this postcard image that I used in them approximately 16 years ago:

  1. Влюбени мисли
  2. Thoughts in love

I have discussed this with Michel and we decided to politely respond to the COPYTRACK email, and meanwhile to try to find as much information as possible about the original image that I used — this was my reply, dated 24-Feb-2023. Right after sending my email, a quick automated reply landed in my inbox. And a bit later that same day, lo and behold! a human from COPYTRACK replied and offered a payment “reduction” — “only” 50 EUR to be paid:

“We understand that the circumstances make it difficult for you to pay the outstanding sum, which is why we decided to come to an agreement with you. We have lowered the compensation costs to 50€.”

Wow 50 euro, sounds like a bargain after the first email where we were offered to pay a total of over 240 euro (!) as a “compensation” for copyright damages and future use of this image and the such. Right?

Well maybe. But when using this postcard image, did I break the copyright of WENN Rights International Ltd? Or did I not?

The oldest Valentine card

Puzzle purse Valentine card from c. 1790 that is part of The Postal Museum’s collection. This photograph of the card was taken by a museum photographer in 2011, it is courtesy of the Postal Museum and is used here with permission.

First things first, I needed to find out who keeps the original and who made the photo of this old postcard! A half an hour or so of research lead me to the Postal Museum in London — apparently the postcard was dated 1790 (!) and was part of the museum’s collection. Michel quickly emailed the museum this same Friday (24-Feb-2023) and we started waiting…

The first reply from the museum shared nothing definitive but gave us some hope. The postcard was indeed in the museum’s collection! No, they were not sure who possibly owned the copyright for it.

But on Monday (27-Feb-2023) Michel received a new email from a Senior Archivist from the Postal Museum, with lots and lots of interesting information in it! Among other things:

“Copytrack sent us a similar message last year since the image is also on a blog on The Postal Museum’s website.

I responded by telling them: ‘This image is of a puzzle purse Valentine card from c.1790 that is part of The Postal Museum’s collection ( The photograph was taken by a photographer employed by the museum in 2011 so I am at a loss to see how the image is copyrighted by Wenn Rights International Ltd.’

I did not receive any further communications. […]

I hope that answers your questions but please get in touch if you want more information.

Best wishes,
Senior Archivist
The Postal Museum | 15-20 Phoenix Place | London WC1X 0DA

We exchanged a couple of other shorter emails with the super-helpful people from the Postal Museum but one thing became more and more clear — there was no way some obscure German company (WENN Rights International Ltd.) could be the rightful holder of the copyright for this antique postcard and another obscure German company (COPYTRACK GmbH) to threaten me with fees and judicial procedures while allegedly representing WENN Ltd.! This postcard was in the Postal Museum’s collection for decades and it was photographed by the photographer of the museum — how could some company pretend to own the copyright for this card, unless this company was some kind of a… scam enterprise?

“Armed” with this new knowledge, I emailed COPYTRACK on 27-Feb-2023 and asked a few important questions.

In addition, I now also had the official permission from the Postal Museum to use their photo of the postcard in my blog, by quoting the postcard’s source. I edited my two blog posts and everything was alright. Turns out that all these years I haven’t broken anyone’s copyright (of course) and I wasn’t breaking it now either.

The next day (28-Feb-2023) I received a new reply from COPYTRACK:

“In a few days, I will send you an ownership confirmation. And in the meantime, can you please send me the letter that you have mentioned in the point 3.”

No, thanks. “In a few days” does not work for me. I replied again and said that for now I will not submit a copy of our correspondence with the Postal Museum and that I require a proof that COPYTRACK indeed owns the copyright for a postcard that is kept in the Postal Museum for decades (!) and which was photographed by the Postal Museum photographer. And a bit later, I asked again for a proof. (I am still waiting btw, but there’s radio silence on the other end — see next.)

And suddenly! I received a new (which was also the last) email from COPYTRACK — after this email I haven’t heard from them again.

“Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your message.

We have reviewed the information you have provided us and decided to close the claim.

Thank you for your kind cooperation.

Best regards, etc. […]”

This is the last email that I received from COPYTRACK — click the image for a full view.


To sum this story up:

Have you received a threatening email from COPYTRACK? (Or from a similar “copyright hunting” company?)

If you did, don’t rush into replying to them, or worse — immediately sending them money!

First, investigate! Ask yourself a few important questions:

– Do you own the copyright for some piece of content hosted on your website? Perhaps you bought a license years ago (and have a proof of it), or maybe you have the permission of the original copyright holder? Or maybe the original content is licensed using some form of CC license which gives you right to re-use the content? Or maybe the content is in the Public Domain?

– It’s also possible that you don’t have any of the above yet you have used the content in accordance to the Fair Use policy.

– Don’t be intimidated. The company that threatens you, do they have a proof that they really own the copyright for this piece of content? Ask them and insist on proof.

In my case, not only WENN Ltd. could not have any real copyright claims over a postcard held in the Postal Museum’s collection (so they were either mistaken or were plain lying?) but also all these years I have used the postcard image according to the fair use rules and later I have also received an official permission from the nice people from the Postal Museum to use an even better version of the photograph of this antique postcard.

By doing some investigation first I saved myself a lot of trouble, a few hundred euro, and basically falling into some shady scam scheme.

Because yes, in this specific case there is 100% certainty that I was a potential victim of an online scam, so I absolutely don’t trust the words of another blogger who said:

“You are likely here because you have just received an email from a company called Copytrack claiming that you have used stolen images on your website. They want you to pay damages for this. It is natural to be skeptical of this email, the internet is a bit of a wild west at times. Is this letter a legitimate threat and should you do anything about it? The answer is yes, Copytrack are a legitimate business.”

A “legitimate business” would never try to extort money from you (or from the Postal Museum of London!) claiming copyright ownership over a postcard that is in the possession of the Postal Museum and when you start asking questions, suddenly to back up, to stop replying to emails and say “we closed the case”.

There are also multiple user reviews of COPYTRACK that confirm our suspicion that this is a very shady business — unverified copyright claims, money extortion, threats, multiple attempts to get money for the same piece of content, and worse:

“This company is a complete scam. Without doing any verification, they send automated messages to companies claiming that images on their websites infringes on third parties rights.”

“This is a scam company. I got an email to pay a licensing fee because I was supposedly using some photographers image. And yes, I did use the image which I paid for on DepositPhotos website. I have a subscription there for years. Also, went and checked the image is still there for anyone to download to and is for editorial use, meaning can be used on blogs, news article or websites for descriptive purposes which I did.”

“They sent us an e-mail saying that we had to pay to use a photo that belongs to WENN Rights International Ltd. The problem is that this photo does not belong to this company. WENN adds photos to its database under a free license, or very old photos from inactive websites. First, they add such a photo to their database, and then Copytrack sends claims for its use. It’s their way of making money.”

“They are clowns. They asked me 300 euros for a photo saying that the rights were Wenn’s, when in fact the photo was owned by Getty Images (bought by me on their site).”

“Same as others here, told I was using an image owned by some German medical company. Image is from Wikipedia Commons, in the public domain (!) and originally put up by the US Center for Disease Control. They want over 2000 euro for a ‘license’ and a further 2000 euro for past usage. Just ignore them.”


Don’t fall for it! Do your investigation first and if your conscience is clear, don’t be afraid to dispute COPYTRACKS’s claims.


  1. Allie Makin

    Thanks for writing this. I got one of these from a post from 5 years ago. Came across as a TOTAL scam. The say it is for images from a look book which is used to promote a well known designers collection. So being on my blog it is basically are free advertising. I addition I included a link to send people to to see more of the images from the collection as I did not post all of them. The images themselves were created and owned by the designer/label and are used to promote the collection. I do not know any designers/companies that don’t want free advertising LOL.

    But, thanks again.

  2. Cyrus

    I received 2 emails from CopyTrack. I am sorry but something has to be done about them. They have to be sued at some point. We cover tech products. It’s a tech news sites. We post product images from Kickstarter and tech businesses that want us to promote their business. WENN, on two occasions now has copyrighted them (without the permission of the artist) and goes after tech blogs. First time, I got the owner to contact CopyTrack and they dropped it. This time, the copyright owner is furious and wants to sue WENN.

    So let me get this straight: I owe these people I know nothing about $300 for a Kickstarter product image that was sent to us as a media kit but this “legitimate” business CopyTrack didn’t do the most basic due diligence to make sure they had the right copyright owner? How is this allowed? How is going to compensate us for all the time we spent as a business tracking down some 6 year old project to make sure we were in the clear?

  3. Anthony Brooks

    Thank you for this! One of my clients just received an identical email today from them! After looking into it, pretty sure we paid Deposit photos or Dreamstime images to use it but I didn’t scroll through 3500 images we have used to be sure. Now I know they are likely a scam and I feel much better.

  4. Deb Bailey

    Hi there,

    I’m a small business owner that had my website built a long while ago and have also just been receiving constant emails from this company so I have been in contact with the Australian cyber security who has informed me to seek guidance from the Australian copyright council.

    I have just received this email and I’m feeling relieved that this is possibly just a scam.

    Thank you
    Kind regards,

  5. MD

    Beware of (GmbH). They wrote to me in June 2023 about one image that I had posted on my website legitimately. Unfortunately, I did not keep the documentation to prove that I had paid for the image — the documentation vanished when I changed computers. As a law-abiding person, I paid Copytrack 260 euros compensation for use of the image, because I no longer had the documents to prove that I had paid for the licence to use the image. I made the 260 euros payment via Copytrack’s website; their system acknowledged that the payment had been received and that the issue had been settled. Two days later Copytrack emailed me demanding proof of payment. I sent them a copy of their own acknowledgment of the payment. They emailed again and again and again, demanding the same. I sent them an extract of my credit card statement showing the payment had been made and received. They emailed again saying they could not trace the payment and demanding further proof. It would seem that they are trying to get multiple payments for the one case in question. I warned them not to contact me again or else I will report them to the police.

    Conclusion: Copytrack are HIGHLY UNPROFESSIONAL. Either they are GROSSLY INCOMPETENT, semi-literate and semi-numerate (or innumerate), or they are scammers. I deeply regret paying them anything. I should have ignored them.

    Today (they emailed again despite me asking them not to) I will report them to the police for harassment and will pass any more emails from them to the police.

  6. Vivien Mckenzie

    Thanks for writing this, we have just received a letter – for an image that isn’t even on our blog! Thanks for all the comments sharing your experience too.
    This will help us to formulate a response!

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