Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The Pixsy Experience

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Lens cleaning cloth from Pixsy
Free gift of a lens cleaning cloth to celebrate getting paid!

As a PRO member of flickr (something I pay for) I get a complimentary subscription to Pixsy a service which matches pictures online. It is used to track copyright violations. Some people copyright everything they post online. Other use a Creative Commons license which attempts to restrict some of the uses pictures are put to.

At one time I was posting my pictures directly to this blog – now I try to post only links to my flickr photostream – as everything that is on this blog is covered by my copyright notice. But of course I also use plenty of illustrations from other people. I regret that I was not always as careful as I should have been over identifying the source of the images I used. So in using Pixsy I have discovered not just those pictures that others have used, but also pictures that I should have labelled.

In an attempt to speed up the effectiveness of my use of Pixsy I have now removed this blog as a match in the hopes of removing a lot of duplicates. It would also be nice if I could have got rid of a lot of old matches when I was not bothering dealing with on Pixsy. Unfortunately that still leaves me with a 2,363 matches – or which 2,266 “unseen” that need to marked ignore, approved use or not my image or followed up – send takedown or submit case.

Pixsy also identifies domains that are “not viable for commercial resolution” or those outside jurisdictions that they support . You can send them a takedown notice – which in my experience has been completely futile – although the number of those you can send through Pixsy is also limited. It is also pointless pursuing sites which are simply hotlinking back to another site which hosts the image. In that case you have to go after the not site but the host – which again usually means a takedown – but I have had some success with removing my images from such sites. Not so much in the way of reward for use of course. What is annoying is that it too often takes me time to fill in the necessary details, file a claim and then have it rejected because is in the wrong jurisdiction. It would be far better if their software detected that and did not waste so much of my time.

In fact so far in the course of three years, I have actually been paid three times. Not enormous sums, but worth some effort. Since I only get 1,000 images monitored on my free plan and on flickr alone I have 18,439 images I do want to get rid of the useless ones even if that does take a lot of time. Comparing what I would have to pay every month to upgrade with how much I have been paid in the last three years, I find it hard to justify an upgrade.

There are also many images on my photostream that are very similar to those of others. After most of the places I have visited are now highly accessible and – before COVID19 – everybody now travels and carries a camera or smartphone and often both. So lots of people post pictures that are remarkably similar. Good luck if you can actually demonstrate that your photo of the front elevation of Sacre Coeur is unique – and anyway France is one of those jurisdictions where Pixsy has given up altogether.

But the Good News there are sites which do indeed use my images but comply with the strictures of the Creative Commons license and get the Approved sticker!


I have also come across sites that go to great lengths to make sure they do not have to respond to DCMA takedown notices. Since these are commercial operations, that go to great efforts to avoid their responsibilities to people whose work they exploit, you have to wonder how they treat their customers. I would not want to spend my money on the services or products of those who have demonstrated such determination to avoid the consequences of their actions.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 23, 2020 at 6:21 pm

Posted in photography

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4 Responses

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  1. I never realized these perks were just sitting there…so I tried Pixsy. Kinda neat, but with the free version just scanning 1,000 of 25,000 images, it’s a pretty narrow window. Still interesting to see which images of mine go ‘viral’ at least in terms of reblogging, etc. There were about 6, all used many times, all were CC licenced.

    I also ended up trying to make a Chatbooks (for $10 off), and might make another Blurb book again ($35 off a $70 order), I have a few book prototypes I need to mock up.

    Thx for the post!


    April 24, 2020 at 1:06 pm

  2. I am happy to see the post was useful. It is also very satisfying to find a site that is not only complying with the license conditions but is also producing a useful service.

    Stephen Rees

    April 24, 2020 at 2:26 pm

  3. I found this article by searching about Pixsy after a pretty bad experience with the company. Like you, I run a blog and I use Creative Commons images. I’ve published hundreds of articles and I always try to give the correct attribution for images I use. Yet like you mention in this article, you occasionally make a mistake with this. In my case, I used a Creative Commons image, credited the photographer, but linked to the wrong page by accident.

    Well, Pixsy issued me with a demand for over $500 for that. No matter that it was an honest mistake. There was no opportunity to correct it, just a demand for the money and threats of legal action if I refused. It just about killed me mentally as I couldn’t afford that. Pixsy didn’t care and they were very clear that if I didn’t pay up I’d get taken to court and hit with a far larger fee in the end. All over what was effectively a typo.

    I’ve since learned that this is very common with Pixsy. It’s difficult to chase serious copyright claims so what they tend to do is just send out huge numbers of scary looking threats to everyone who makes a mistake with a Creative Commons image in the knowledge they can scare people like me into paying up. There’s now essentially an industry built around this where some photographers put up very large numbers of images under Creative Commons licences on the assumption that a certain percentage of users will make a mistake and they can then hit them for hundreds of dollars. This isn’t photography, it’s entrapment and Pixsy are the key link in the chain in allowing them to do that because they have no ethics whatsoever when it comes to who they try and seek payment from – charities, inexperienced bloggers that don’t know the rules, people who can’t afford to pay, all are fair game.

    I noticed from your blog that even though you accept you’ve done the same thing I did (i.e. make an honest mistake with an image you used on your site) that you still think the company is providing a positive service. I wonder if you’d stand by that if like me you’d been on the end of demands for hundreds of dollars for an honest mistake.


    November 23, 2021 at 1:04 pm

  4. My current stats on Pixsy

    There are 274 cases, of which 11 are still open, 22 closed and 231 “archived” which actually means “not accepted” or – more frequently – “discontinued”.

    Pixsy does not proceed with a case until the photographer asks them to. That means made a legally binding statement that there has been a breach of conditions, and it occurred where there is some expectation of redress. The EU has a very different idea about copyright than the US. Before I proceed with a complaint I make sure I am dealing with a commercial enterprise – someone who is expecting to make money from my picture but has no intention of giving me credit let alone recompense. For every “honest mistake” there are a hundred cases of greed and outright dishonesty. Very few people have ever asked if they can use one of my images. Most vanish as soon as I ask for a fee.

    The discontinued cases are those where Pixsy has given up. Where the miscreant simply ignores all communications. Not that I am recommending that. But that is the reality.

    Stephen Rees

    November 23, 2021 at 5:33 pm

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