Would an Employee be Liable?
Hi there. I too think this thread is VERY useful, however, I have an additional level of complication. Getty sent my client ABC a letter asking for $10,600 +tax with an offer of a 15% discount (actual cost of images used is $4545). My client had a contract from my previous employer XYZ stating that all images were included in the price of their web design/development. This should kick the client out of any obligation correct?
Here's my part: This was over 2 years ago and I was stupid. I thought that "Royalty Free" meant that there was no cost associated with the images so I told the client ABC to choose "Royalty Free" images. They sent their selections to me in a word doc. I did not check the images to make sure they were Royalty free or whether there was a cost associated with the images they had chosen. I know this DOES NOT make it right and I know that unintentional copyright infringement is still copyright infringement.
Here's the current status: I have been a sole proprietor for about 2 years now. My previous employer XYZ thinks I should pay 2/3rds of the current amount of $8000 :eek: (Getty reduced to 20% off). Is this fair? I don't remember anything about employee liabilities in my contract. This is one of the benefits of being an employee and not your own employer - the company usually shields the employee from lawsuits. However, if I was still an employee of that company I would expect to lose my job. The problem is that I was on a personal basis with my employers and I feel absolutely TERRIBLE about this situation. I have offered around $2400 in services since I feel a MORAL obligation but their reply: "Your offer is not close to being adequate". They also included "You will be a party to any legal action that arises as a result of this issue. I'd encourage you to rethink your offer before we start incurring legal fees to resolve this."
Any comments would be GREATLY appreciated.
Raising doubt - your best friend when you're under attack!
Everyone seems to be forgetting that Getty's position is by no means rock solid.
To be successful in any action, they have to establish (i.e. convince a court - or if the amount is sufficiently small enough, a small claims tribunal or the like) that at the time of the alleged infringement there existed an image they owned the copyright to. Further, they need to establish that you in particular - and not some other third party - were responsible for infringing their copyright.
Let's assume for a moment that they can prove that at a certain point in time there existed an image over which they enjoyed copyright protection.
How are they going to prove that you in particular - and not some other third party - infringed their copyright?
Apparently, they are utilising the services of an Israeli firm that tracks down sites containing images over which Getty enjoys copyright protection. This raises a number of questions, some of which have been raised already. These include the following:
How reliable is the technology used by the Israeli firm?
Is it possible that the technology used to track down images is flawed and that they have erroneously identified your site as containing an image owned by Getty? Presumably you will be arguing that, when shown their image, you have never seen it before.
Does the technology used by the Israeli firm consider historical, i.e. archived, internet data to identify sites suspected of having infringed Getty's copyright?
If they do - as seems likely - and in light of the inherently inaccurate and incomplete state of much of this archived internet material, it seems possible that such methods might lead to inappropriate and irrational conclusions. In this regard, and as has already been mentioned, it would be worthwhile:
1. Removing any images from your site that Getty are alleging are in breach of their copyright; and
2. Request that any known archive sites remove your site history from their database.
Did you exercise control over your site at the time of the alleged infringement?
Most sites are hosted by a third party over which you (the alleged infringer) exercise little or no control. For example, it is unlikely that, at the time of the alleged infringement, you exercised control over essential aspects of site security such as user access, passwords, script access (including access to open source scripts), authorisations etc. Surely, this would be a necessary prerequisite for you to be capable of ensuring that inappropriate material, including images that infringe Getty's copyright, did not appear on your site. After all, it is a fact that many people use shared servers. It is also a fact that many sites on the internet are hacked - some of them routinely.
Is it possible that, at the time of the alleged infringement the data gathered by the Israeli firm was not a true reflection of data posted by you (the alleged infringer) to your site but was instead the result of your - or another site on your shared server - being hacked? It wouldn't hurt to back these arguments up with data from McAfee / Norton's that indicate the inherent security risks surrounding internet sites.
Please remember, Getty don't want to get anywhere near anything resembling a court room. They want to be good guys. That's why they're offering each of you an individual special discount rate (15%, 20% or 25%) for early payment.
I think it might be useful if some of the discussion consider aspects of Getty's case and possible defences. It would pay to concentrate on areas where there exists doubt. In this situation, doubt is your best friend!
If in the event Getty did decide to commence proceedings against an individual, I can't see them getting a great deal of sympathy from any judge.
german getty victim with some infos about picscout
first of all i need to say .. I AM GERMAN ...
so you see not only american, canadian and uk citizens are being charged by getty !
forgive me, if my english is a little rusty .. if you find misspellings, you can keep them :)
I hope here are also some other germans, who received this (GETTY RECHNUNG)
invoice like me.
they charge me including + 21% irish VAT .. around 2100€
for one single .. tiny thumbnail ! the size if the picture is 110x160 pixels
a printable size of 0.9 x 1,4 cm ... (0.4 x 0.6 inches)
wow, so every 8 pixels cost 1€ (1.2$) .. or every single pixel 11 eurocent
that’s a discount !!
holymoly … is this lawful ??? is there no limit for this ?
i opened a small business in july 2005 ..
For the website I took a template from one of the thousends free template pages.
In this template was their “photo” thumbnail …
it looked more like a background ornament/drawing than a picture coz of the
cropped, metal framed, template styled poor low quality
if you know getty website .. it is smaller than the thumbnails they
use for advertising their large photos.
I was just too lazy to get it of …since I never liked it .. I wish I had…
Well, I didn’t earn any money in that 6 month I had to close the business.
And I closed the website after been online for only 4 WEEKS !
I was slow and didn’t think I need a website in the first month …
The web domain still belongs to me .. and I use it as a family homepage now.
jan06 I took the old company website offline and replaced it by a family homepage
without any pictures at all.
In oct06 I received one of the wellknown getty invoices.
Blablabla .. pay 2000€ or face the law … well, I checked my website, couldn’t find anything
changed, no pictures .. but their tiny little thumbnail was on the invoice …
first I thought “ignore that crap invoice” …and did nothing
now I received the 2nd letter … again sent from the usa but with London adress
Now I wonder if there is still no case known where getty sued anyone ?
So many invoices and all get payed ? I am not sure what to do ..
first I will ask online lawyers today for 1st advice.. to negotiate, pay or ignore them
I wished I live in the usa .. so your laws would protect me,too.
since at the time the invoice reached me the website was gone for month .. almost a year …
I did not even need the 10 days rule … and even google doesn’t know anymore it ever existed
No cache .. nothing
Another point of view is .. my website was offline, and some kind of robot “picscout” managed
to sneek in and sniff around in my “offline” files ?? what kind of business is this ?
I have some knowledge of networking, and so I found out that they scanned my website like
hackers/criminals .. the picscout robot (www.picscout.com is afaik gettys hacking contractor)
seems to use some stealth technology .. It never shows up in any logs or identifies itself in any way.
I cant find the date when they scanned me ...
maybe someone has a tip what ip’s to look for ?
I found the following ips:
126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124
use by the picscout robot .. (I guess so) since it came from dcenter.bezeqint.net who is known
to be picscouts ISP. There are some webmasters already hunting that robot …
Since that is illegal use of the owners bandwith !!! I guess in the usa someone could sue them for this
Maybe you check your weblogs for this IPs also .. and see they leave no other fingerprints …
very illegal in my eyes !!
And getty itself checked back on me in November and December.
http://www.picscout.com/Reports/Report.aspx was in my logs ..
so I guess, getty uses picscouts online database here to check if we removed the fotos/pictures …
Can someone confirm this ? maybe you know what date your website was scanned and what
date you received your invoice ? lets collect all infos we can get .. to file !
Maybe someone could tell us what happened after he ignored 3 oder 4 or even more of their
letters/invoices ? if there ever happened anything …
My case is fresh but I will keep you posted
If there is any german reading this, I like to talk to you by mail … firstname.lastname@example.org
Falls andere deutsche solche RECHNUNGEN von GETTY erhalten haben, würde ich mich über eine email freuen.