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

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. […]

3 STEPS TO SOLVING YOUR CASE

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 https://portal.copytrack.com 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 molif.com

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 (https://catalogue.postalmuseum.org/collections/getrecord/GB813_OB1995_263). 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.”

—source: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.copytrack.com

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

WE BE MIRACLES by Jamie McDonald and The Number Nein (review)

„Give a little more, take a little less“

The best advice for all of us comes from Jamie McDonald with the last song from his new album – WE BE MIRACLES.

Let me tell you about the way I heard it.
The ten fresh songs from this album will definitely bring pleasure to your ears, but don’t be misled – there is also a lot more in it.
This time Jamie and The Number Nein are just him, Ivan Alexiev, Alexander Mihaylov and Borislav Petrov. No female back vocals this time, but that’s not a flaw – I guess it was a deliberate decision.
WE BE MIRACLES is not a simple album to please the occasional listener, for it pays an homage to some of Jamie’s music influences and it dives expertly in the complex matters of life and death.

WBM

Never shy to experiment, Jamie delivers an album with a timeless quality. There is this clever way of nodding to the past with two feet in the now and a hope for the future. Jamie certainly knows how to weave a song that stays with you long after the last note fades away.

There is a song that sounds like the band is jamming in the basement and the atmosphere is positively immersive.
There is a song with Irish motives and I think this is the first one when he pays such respect to his roots.
There are two more, this time with a sound that is unmistakably Bulgarian – the traditional sound of the kaval/shepherd’s flute is used playfully and the result is just beautiful.

Jamie is building bridges – between the styles and the countries, and connects the dots with sincerity and skill that only look easy.
After the first listening I was able to hear each and every song in my mind just a second after reading the title – which says a good deal about Jamie’s talent for songwriting.

Noisy, raw, energetic, vivid sound – haunting tunes that wrap the feeling of being resilient in difficult times – and soft and tender when it’s needed. That’s Jamie for you, once again, with feeling. :-) It is what I get from his music. You can give it a try and perhaps you might find that ray of light you desperately need in your life right now.

Diversity and exploration are the weapon of choice for Jamie, so for those who are already familiar with his previous work We be miracles doesn’t ruin the expectations. It very naturally adds another gem to the treasure chest of his music legacy. Humble and generous, it is gently reminding us all that the miracles we are waiting for… are not coming from outside.

P.S. Thank you for never being boring or disappointing, Jamie. I am eager to hear this album live, and soon. It’s a music you can listen when you need a lighthouse in the storm. My rate: 8/10.

P.P.S. If you wonder why I never write negatively about this guy, it’s simple – I respect and enjoy his talent and admire his work. You can listen and buy all of his albums here: /bandcamp link/

Dark of Heartness by Jamie McDonald and The Number Nein (review)

Dark of Heartness by Jamie McDonald and The Number Nein (review)

The Number Nein's logo

“What you claim not to know is merely what you’ve denied. You’ve recaptured your vagrant memories, what are you doing with them?” — The Queen of Hearts to Alice

It’s that time of the year again, folks! The time for exchanging gifts and kindness more than any other time of the year.
Here is a special gift for all of us: fresh new album coming out from Jamie Mcdonald and The Number Nein!

Perhaps you thought that he is resting on his laurels because the last album feels like not so long ago, huh? Well, I told you already – Jamie is the kind of guy that never stops.

The thing is, he made a new album and for what is worth, I think it’s better than the previous.

Maladies of Country and Soul are healed; get ready for the Dark of Heartness!

I got the privilege of digging into this album first and that’s exactly why I can confidently make a step up and tell you about his obvious and hidden gems.

Of course, everyone is looking for different things in the music they like, and we usually have a predisposition to like some kind of music more than other.

But if you care to know MY opinion, and to compare to what extent it covers your taste, here is what I found.

Here is the list of the songs and I am going to look into each and one of them, as usual:

1. Big Bass Drum
Sincere and brave as always, Jamie opens and pours his heart again without any hesitation. The Number Nein musicians work well together and they know what they are doing, but don’t get me wrong: this is not some pleasant background noise for your evening drink. You need to be engaged, to listen actively if you want to get what they give. The blend of Ivan Alexiev’s bass and the sax of Damien Mc Donnell will make this song echoing not only in your ears, but in your heart. There is even a Big Bass Drum’s reprise at the end of the album, just to frame and wrapped it nicely. :-)

2. Lie To Me
That’s a good song about the agony we face when we love but the feeling is not mutual. Jamie admits that at times he is obsessed with the idea of love being more real and romantic when we are honest and I agree with this.
But his character in the song is on the fence: he clearly knows it’s a lie, but he is desperate for love and he wants to be deceived. It’s a song with the potential to be even better live. Shows well the intensity and power of Jamie’s voice.

3. Catfish
Catfish is a very intriguing song. It puts me in kinda “Twin Peaks” mood – and it feels like it could work well in some movie's soundtrack. I would definitely be happy with a whole album of songs like this one, for it transports me somewhere else where I very much like to roam. :-)

4. Crazy (The Way You Drive Me)
That’s a solid song about strong, real, but mature love:

“I need you so, I need you so, that’s why I gotta let you go
I hope you find all you need and all you might
Despite those arms wrapped around you a little too tight”

Unconditional love… love without strings attached… being accepted with all your flaws, is this not what we all need and want?

5. Blood In The Water
At first you might feel confused that this is abruptly “breaking” the overall feeling for this album, somehow upsetting the “feeling good” vibe. Now, I admit that this song sounds like a mood changer… with all its rage and this mad, unhinged sax this is certainly not an easy piece to swallow. But after certain amount of time and listening I grew very fond of it – it works amazingly well when you see how it adds just another bright color on this strong palette of emotions that the album has been weaved of… So no matter if you jump at it at first, I’ll give it the credit it deserves. Just don’t cook while listening, for you might spill something. :-)

6. Roll Another, Johanna
There you have a song in stark contrast with the previous one. What can I say about a tender song like this one? You can hear Ekaterina Nenkova adding the shade of colour with her warm backing vocals and the song has this nice, easy harmony between Jamie’s powerful voice and hers that gives you the hint: it’s a delicate and passionate song, almost a duet.

7. Bambo’s Blues
When I asked Jamie about Bambo’s Blues, he said that it was a nice studio moment, a passing jam. It’s a nice break and a sincere, playful way to invite the listener to peek into this special place where music is created – from the magic that happens when good musicians are having random fun together. Unsurprisingly, Jamie is playing skillfully with our expectations and he knows what he’s doing: pushing and pulling at his ropes while also having a lot of fun.

8. A Love That Hurts When It Hits
Don't say you've never been hit by love. This is pure realism, never boring. It says all there is to say about love being true and hard, not all roses and pearls. It doesn’t cut any corners and it hits right in the feels. :-)

9. Love, Approximately
Ever felt confused in a relationship? I see everyone’s hand drawn up now. Love is never not easy. Every album has a song that’s the instant favorite and I believe this is the one here. Leave what you’re doing and let this song take you on a happy ride. Radiating pure joy with its melodic, nice riffs and catchy rhythm, with the lovely sax and whatnot, it’s just a song you won’t be able to stop humming all day. :-) But make not mistake, the sense of contrast that is so typically Irish is here again – hidden in plain sight between the deceptive lightness of the melody and the words that are not so light… at all.

10. Ain’t No Moonshine When She’s Gone
Very hard to review a song that I love from the first note. Beautiful, haunting melody and dreamy, sweet sadness reeking out of it. Love the “conversation” between the leading and the backing vocals here and the inimitable voice of the sax. Billyana Todorova is surely helping to make this track more balanced.

When I asked Jamie, he said the songs were written over many years - some new and some old... finally finding a home together. And now you have it - all aspects of love, thoroughly covered by these talented musicians, lead by Jamie, who is always steering his albums towards his strongest emotions and influences.

I like the fact that he is not easily satisfied with his strong points only and that he is never shy to challenge – himself and the audience.

You can also explore his DARK OF HEARTNESS – the album will be released on 12th January 2019 at Dada Bar, Sofia.

Now it’s your turn. Buy, listen and then don’t forget to share in the comments what grabs you and what doesn’t.

P.S.
You know, our culture and world perception are shaped by the things we consume. So choose your treats wisely and when you have a chance, don’t miss these guys’ gigs – I promise, you will enjoy massively the live experience! :-)

The Number Nein are:
JAMIE MC DONALD - guitar, vocals, songwriting
ILKO BIROV – drums & percussion
CHRIS CHILDRESS - saxophone
DAMIEN MC DONNELL - drums, bass, percussion, occasional sax
IVAN ALEXIEV - bass, string arrangements

If you want to explore the lyrics, here they are:
https://www.facebook.com/ManFromCarlow/notes

“I know you believe you understand what you think I said... I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Love, Approximately

22 questions with Jamie McDonald

22 questions with Jamie McDonald

Official site of musical artist Jamie Mc Donald. NEW ALBUM – Maladies Of Country & Soul (Album review)

“Music is the soundtrack of the only life we live!”

Jamie Mcdonald

1. Hi, Jamie. Let me ask you the sublime, metaphysical question – who are you?
I am ghost in a shell, a word on the breeze, a thought that evaporates when you try to grab, a dream undreamt…

2. What music in general means to you?
Music is the way to say all the things words alone can’t explain…

3. When and why did you start playing?
I started playing early in life as music just spoke to me. It was something that grabbed me like no other. I remember listening to Beethoven when I was 4 or 5 and just being lost in the layers of sound… Not knowing anything but feeling everything!

4. Which instruments do you play?
Badly, barely or really? ;-)

5. What was the first tune(s) you learned?
Hmm… actually, I don’t remember. I do recall my brother learning Tom Petty’s “Yer So Bad”… That’s maybe the first one he learned.

6. Is your family musical? Did you have their moral support on your way?
Irish culture is musical and so yes there was lots of music in my family too. There is no social gatherings that aren’t soundtracked by songs sung together or dancing to songs together in my family. Patsy Cline, Christy Moore, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison…and more, were all constant figures in my childhood.

7. What are your major musical icons/influences?
I find this one tricky. Influences… what actually makes its way into my own music? I would say Bob Marley, Van Morrison, Bobby McBride, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Lucky Bones Radiohead, The Beatles… an endless list and yet I still find more in past and present.

Jamie Mcdonald

8. Who are your favorite musicians?
Anybody getting up there and doing it. Actually playing music and exploring the world and sharing that journey. Anybody doing that with a degree of honesty gets my vote.

9. Do you ever feel fed up with singing a song too many times?
I tend to know when I can’t sing a song again so yeah, I just move on before that happens. Myself and Ivan Alexiev (bass player with The Number Nein) were just talking about this. He found a song of mine we never play and wondered why. My answer was I just can’t find more than one truth in the song so it doesn’t feel right.

10. What inspires you the most?
People who keep going, people with a “never say die” attitude, the explorers and warriors of our world.

11. What new music you like?
Well, I don’t know… What’s new to me is not necessarily new. I am really digging the Irish band Interference but they are no longer with us. I only heard them for the first time a few days ago. Bobby Mc Bride always has new songs popping up (check him out!). We Raise Bears from Dublin are a really cool act, too.

12. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
What mistakes? :-)

13. You have performed in streets, bars, pubs, clubs… Do you (or have you ever) get nervous before a performance?
I get eager to start. Waiting is hard. I often want to cut out all the extra nonsense and just get to the music… is that nervous?

14. What was the biggest problem that you had to overcome so far?
Learning to discredit comfort and then having become comfortable with discomfort to shift the balance once more.

15. When did you decide to form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
I kinda collected the band over years of playing. The Number Nein has members across the globe and depending on where I am and who is near I call them up and away we go.
Basically they are all people who I find inspiring to have around musically and socially. There are lots of laughs behind the music.

Jamie Mcdonald

16. If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose this career? Would you do anything differently?
It chose me… and, yeah, I would do everything differently, but only out of curiosity.

17. Of all the places you have been to, which one you want to return to again and again, and why?
Well, I do love coming back to Bulgaria, because of the people. But mainly I love anywhere I can revel in the creation of music.

18. How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children, job?
Precariously.

19. What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
Damn…. I am seeking a living and peace of mind. If I don’t create this body of work that plagues my mind then nobody else ever can. That’s a burden but a joyous one.

20. What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue music career?
Do it before you don’t. And surround yourself with people who support and enjoy the music while having a laugh. We’re here for a good time, not a long time!

21. You’ve got a few albums out now. Are you satisfied with how they turned out?
Well, there are actually 3 studio albums and 3 home recorded ones, as well as a live one… so that’s 7 in all.
I am really happy with the new one and on reflection I love the older work as documents of a place and time.

22. What’s next?
Stay tuned!

Jamie Mcdonald

Bonus question: Jamie, you share the same name with Jamie McDonald (adventurer). Do people mistake you for him sometimes?
Never… I did once have some upset audience members in Antwerp because my name was misprinted and they arrived hoping to see Scottish chanteuse Amy McDonald.

Review of “Maladies of Country and Soul” – Jamie McDonald and The Number Nein

Review of “Maladies of Country and Soul” – Jamie McDonald and The Number Nein

“The yearning to transcend the art to reach some other untouchable place”

The album cover

I’ve always had a soft spot for Irish musicians. So it’s no wonder I instantly liked Jamie McDonald when I first met him. It was one cold winter’s day a few years back, when he was busking on a main street in my hometown (which is Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria — go find it on a map, I’ll wait. ;-)

Imagine the sight — it’s freezing cold with a lot of snow, and a red-haired man with his guitar and a smile larger than world is standing on a deserted boulevard and is giving away music with enormous energy and feel-good mood, like it was something he just cannot hold inside anymore. Not a living soul outside in this weather — only a few passersby like me and my husband, thinking that this guy is a wonderful gift on such a day. We stopped to listen, for it felt as a rare privilege just for us to witness his infectious performance (we didn’t have much money, so we bought him a can of beer as well — sorry for that, Jamie, it was not the right drink in the winter :-)).

He impressed me with his honest music and with his attitude — playing and singing with such passion, you would think he was on the big stage, surrounded by enormous crowd of fans… which he clearly deserves.

We never forgot his powerful performance and I took a mental note that he was different than most of the street musicians, especially because he was not singing covers, but his own songs.

I’ve met him again and again on the streets of Sofia, but I’ve missed most of his gigs in Irish pubs here, although I wanted to go there a number of times. Then I kept following his progress online up to the point where he decided to go back to Ireland.

Now is a good moment to check him up online — you will find his latest works under the name “Jamie Mcdonald and The Number Nein”, for wherever he goes, he manage to gather a big crew of excellent musicians to back him up. And it’s no wonder: when they work together, the guaranteed result is almost magical: a music to take you on adventure on the splendid ship of funk, folk, soul, and something else, where Jamie is your skillful Captain.

I really expected him to shine and he never disappointed me. :-)

(The first released album that I’ve heard of is titled simply “Jamie Mcdonald” and you can find samples from it on Amazon. “One Fine Day” seems to be the hit here, and you can find it on YouTube, while “Wild” have this catchy sound that might remind you a bit of a certain band from Liverpool, but my personal favorite from this album is “Tell Me”.)

Just recently Jamie Mcdonald released his new album, aptly named “Maladies of Country and Soul”. But you won’t find anything to make you sick here, except the desire to see him and his band live as soon as possible. :-)

The first track, “This Boy Is Back In Town”, has this gospel-like-lazy-western feel at the intro, but develops into a haunting melody that will carry you easy through words like “Everybody goes out looking for the little things we lack/Some of us forget to come back/But this boy is back in town”. The end comes abruptly, almost as if the song was cut by mistake, and as I can see it was meant to be like this, I still cannot say that I like it.

The second track is called “They Know Not What They’ve Done” and it is the honest groan that comes deep from the soul of every hard-working man out there, struggling to accept the unfairness of life (my favorite line here: “They tax the water from the sky/Why not the water from your eyes?”).

The third track (“Willow, Don’t Weep For Me”) seems to be one of the big hits here, and the deceivingly simple and merry melody just calls for you to get your dancing shoes ready… while pondering about life, the Universe and everything. I liked this song very much.

“Say Something” is just perfect for the ending credits of a nice, independent romantic movie :-). My favorite line here was “It’s getting colder/Make no mistake/But are we really talking about the weather/when there’s so much at stake?”

“Oh, Lonesome Me” gently enters with a violin and adds to the overall sound of the whole album – a rich, complete bouquet of melodies and sounds, not a single one there by accident.

The sixth track (“Take It Where You Find It”) reminds me sooo much of Rolling Stones, but let’s say, in a good way – respecting the good ol’blues tradition. :-)

“This Longing, My Bones” is the longest track (4:38), but being dynamic and rhythmic it doesn’t get boring and obviously intends to make you move around a bit while singing.

“Falling For The Dancer (Instead Of The Dance)” with its colorful, subtle oriental hints and the last song, “Night Train To Zagreb” are just the perfect ending for this music trip.

I will let you listen the album and have your own impressions, so I will stop with the dissection here. Although what you will hear might not shatter your world with surprise, my sentence is positive because one easily gets the feeling that every song here was arranged and recorded very carefully, with equal parts craftsmanship and pleasure. The trademark of Jamie, perhaps?

You can find something for everybody’s taste in the album, for this is an artist who knows how to tell stories. He is playing and experimenting with different styles, flawlessly sliding from one into another in the same song… That’s a guy that clearly likes to stretch out and cross the limits to express himself in the best possible way.

Also, Jamie sings with abandon, his music clearly comes from deep within his heart and it is impossible not to be touched by the sincerity of his raspy voice. It speaks to me on so many different levels — all of his songs contain this beautiful, bittersweet mix of emotions that appears to be the mark of many Irish musicians — the seemingly cheerful music, tangled with strong lyrics that can touch or tear your heart… it is irresistible, and you want to dance and weep at the same time.

Darkness and light, wrapped together like a delicious box of pleasant, melodic treats for your ears, feet and soul. Try it yourself and you will surely find that I have not wasted your time with this review. My only complaint is that the new album has only 9 songs, but at least one can listen to them on repeat. :-)

Bulgaria Web Summit ’17 — mascot and logo design

Bulgaria Web Summit ’17 — mascot and logo design

This year begins nicely — with a lot of work, just as I like it. :-)

Bogo Shopov from Bulgaria Web Summit asked me recently if I can create a new mascot for the event, and to integrate it with the conference’s website logo. I tried my best at the moment, and the following happened:

Bulgaria Web Summit mascot
This is Summitosaurus superioris (or Summi for short)

The concept is simple — the creature, Summitosaurus superioris, is a social and friendly animal, a kind of dinosaur.

(The event is not happening for the first time — in fact, Bogo is making these great things for so long now, that in internet terms it is almost close to ancient history.)

The back of the dinosaur is like a mountain peak and the reason for that is quite obvious — a direct analogy with the word “summit,” but also a hint that this is a top event. :-)

Summi carries a lot of knowledge and wisdom and is ready to share them with those who are not afraid to climb to the top.

The creature is a symbol of experience, competence, stability, power, friendship and sociability.

I feel quite content with the end result and what’s more important, Bogo liked it, too. What do you think?

Bulgaria Web Summit logo
And this is the event’s logo with the Summitosaurus superioris being part of it.

*Also, if by any chance you have been living in a cave and you’ve never heard about the Bulgaria Web Summit conference, make a point of checking it this year. The people who attend it are a great bunch and the speakers are as amazing as ever! The conference will take place in Sofia, April 7-8 2017. Tickets are almost sold out, so hurry if you want to attend!

Do you know Gravil?

Do you know Gravil?

There is this new software called Gravit Designer. It is a browser-based app for vector illustration and UI design. I am testing it from time to time, for it is still under development, but looks very handy and promising.

Here is their logo (I do not know the author?):

Gravit logo

At one point last year, while fooling around with the logo of Gravit and trying to do something fun with it (for the sole purpose of fun), this happened:

Gravit friendly fish

…and then it changed and evolved into that:

Gravil

And here is the GIF version:

Gravil animated

The team behind Gravit liked this second little fellow enough to call it Gravil and choose it for their official mascot. So I am quite proud with the progress of this little baby. Gravil even made it to new York city in life-size version! :-) Wish him luck!

Gravil in New York

Oh, and I strongly recommend you to try Gravit Designer — you will enjoy its features and the ease with which it can be used. :-)

Friday Bunny #100 – Gerontophobia

Friday bunny

100. Gerontophobia — Fear of old people or of growing old.

Friday Bunny is 100 episodes old now, officially! From now on he is going to take a long break.

You may check sometimes if there is another episode, though, and some of the old ones will surely be re-illustrated and improved.