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They are using copyrighted images. What if 1000 of copyright owners decide to sue them asking $100 000 each?

One thing you should be very careful about is licensing. If you post photos on Facebook or Instagram, you automatically grant them a license to redistribute the photo and share it with others. And these "others" can include Clearview. So, Clearview could have a contract with Facebook which legally allows them to get and save those photos. So, you are still the copyright owner, but due to licensing Clearview can legally store and use the photos.

About suing them if they would break copyrights: not sure about the US, but in Germany it wouldn't be that easy to actually sue them for such a high sum. You could argue that the company makes money by offering the search service, but there must be evidence that Clearview made that specific sum just with your photo(s), which is very unlikely.

They would have to be able to prove that in a lawsuit first. Do they have similar agreements with the alumini magazine? The python coder's meetup group? The personal blog?

Just one of those pictures would be enough for a lawsuit.

Of course, if someone were to sue, they would be heavily pushed to settle out of court. I suspect there's a lot more legal activity going on about things like this, but everyone that starts to make some noise is quickly silenced with a lump sum and a binding contract to shut up about it. If they don't, they're threatened with spending the next 5-10 years in court. Because if there's anything corporate lawyers are good at, it's stalling and making sure the suing party, especially if it's a random consumer, spends years and hundreds of thousands in court fees.

What we need is more rich people suing businesses. Or a massive public defense fund supporting the average joe's case.

But right now it's in the rich people's interests to support shady businesses, and if they don't they'll be offered massive financial incentives on the golf course.

At least if it is a photo in a news story or from a private homepage I would believe they are in trouble. I doubt they have licensing agreements from every news source. And I am sure they do not have them for private homepages.

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