Used an Internet image without asking? This Vancouver company is looking for you

A couple of West Coast companies—Copypants in Vancouver and Pixsy in California— scour the Internet for photographers’ work used without permission and help them enforce their rights. They send stern letters to suspected infringers, demanding that their clients be compensated or that licensing fees be paid. Copypants says it has represented more than 11,000 copyright holders, and has identified about 2.7 million image matches, with about 50 resulting in cases referred to a law firm it works with, according to Fast Company, which notes that services like Copypants also renew questions about how copyright law’s often steep penalties for unauthorized use, devised in the age of television and the printing press, coexist with the modern Internet, where amateurs or small organizations sometimes unwittingly incur big liability for reusing a viral or catchy image without permission.