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  1. #76
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    Has anyone been issued with court action?

    It is great to get so many views on this as it appears to be happing to a lot of people,

    We purchases a template for our web site 3 years ago and recently got a letter from Getty stating that one of the images is unauthorized etc.etc..

    I sent a copy of the Invoice I got from the template company onto Getty, but as seems to be the case with the others on this thread the replay was along the lines of don’t care just pay.

    I curious if anyone has refused to pay, did they go to court? Is there any historical ruling for these type of invoices in the UK or Ireland. Getty are valuing the image at €2000

  2. #77
    Matt Williams revsorg's Avatar
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    If the template company still exists and sold you copyrighted material that they were not allowed to sell, could you take legal action against them?
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  3. #78
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    We've had the threat letter to!

    We designed a site in 2004ish. One of the images we used on the site was apparently a Getty Image. The image came from a third party site somewhere and to the best of our knowledge was not subject to any copyright.
    (BTW, how do you find out? do you have to ask everyone in the world if they own the image?!)

    Out of the blue 2 weeks ago the client who the site belongs to recieved an invoice for £1,350+VAT (UK sales tax). The invoice came from Moreton Smith International on behalf of Getty.
    A covering letter said:
    "Our client has given you prior warning that your company has utilized a represented image without a valid license from Getty Images, and that you have failed to pay our clients invoice......"

    This is untrue as there was no prior warning.

    I have spoken to a couple of copyright lawyers in the UK who have given me the following advice.

    1, take the image off the website - you are in breech of copy right, even if unintentionally.
    2, ignore the letter and see what happens, they might not follow it up
    3, if you want to appear to co-operate, write to them telling them they did not send you a warning letter, but as soon as you were made aware of the copyright breech you removed the image immidiatley. Ask the for proof of copyright. (as far as i can see the photographer of our image does not have it copyrighted with the US copyright office)

    If they do take things further, they are only entitled to damages. In this case, the only damages are for loss of earnings. Go to Getty's site, find out how much the image costs for the period they are invoicing you for. Thats what they are entitled to. If that is less than £3000, they are not entitled to claim back their legal costs.
    In our case, the most they can sue us for is £360ish + court costs if they win of around £100.

    If it comes to that then the advise is to them the £400ish.

  4. #79
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    Class Action Lawsuit against Getty Images

    As seems to be the case, from my perspective, and all that I read, and from information from attorneys, I believe, and I know others have stated a class action lawsuit against Getty Images for entrapment seems to be a viable solution for their letters of harrassment to small business owners, non profits, and unsuspecting elderly web site owners. There are hundreds of thousands of images availble on websites which may be downloaded as royalty free, if there is not an associated watermark on them, how is anyone to identify it as a Getty owned image?

    I personally would be interested in participating in a class action lawsuit against getty images. I believe a large NYC law firm would love to sink their teeth into such a case if enough people agree to participate. I would be interested to see if anyone else on the board feels as strongly as me that this could be a winning case for entrapment.

  5. #80
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    Post Worth a read, especially if you are in the UK.

    Hi again,

    This post is a bit long, but worth a read, especially if you are in the UK.

    1. How does one check/find if the photographer has the image copyrighted with the US copyright office ??

    2. And yes how do you find out if an image is copy righted if it either is not water marked, or the metadata contained in the jpg doesn't list any copyright or owner details ??

    3. Do USA copy right laws apply to the UK ??

    The image they claim I took (which I didn't) is portrait in style on their image databank. The one I used is from 2003 as part of a magazine website template (the meta data states that date) is landscape and has a whole big chunk of image/picture that is not on the Getty databank version. Therefore it looks like the photographer has listed it on Gettys site at some point after changing the image. Or Getty have bought up a image bank costing them $$$’s and now using the Israeli firms web bot, is searching websites for those images (it is not there any more, I removed it, as is the correct thing to do) and is trying to recover their money.

    My demand letter also says £1350 + IE VAT. Using contacts I have in UK HMC&E I am having the legality of the UK address and IE VAT number looked in.

    I sent a recorded delivery letter to Getty & Co yesterday, and again after speaking to a lawyer via the FSB advice line, the advice is to wait and see what happens as they have had lots of members calling in with the same demand letters but have not yet heard of any further action being taken if the image didn’t come from Getty image bank.

    The following is applicable to the UK and are my views and information I have found out:-

    I have logged a complaint about these demand letters at the UK Trading Standards, I would suggest more people also log complaints. The Getty London address as stated in the demand letter is under Camden Trading Standards area.

    Complaints about their tactics can also be logged at:-
    http://www.oft.gov.uk/default.htm

    If they are a Ltd Company
    http://www.oft.gov.uk/default.htm

    Cross Border complaints to governments can be made at:-
    http://www.econsumer.gov/

    For anybody that has received letters from the debt collection agency in the UK, write to the agency with a recorded delivery letter, inform them that the demand is disputed and
    “It is an criminal offence under Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970 and Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 to harass of debtors with a view to obtaining payment including the issue of letters which convey a threat or false information with intent to cause distress or anxiety.”

    No letter or bill can be enforced unless it has been issued by a legal court. Unless it is a court stamped document or Government/Police issued warrant, it is just some fancy words on a bit of paper from a person.

    More infor on the act can be found here:-
    http://freespace.virgin.net/bank.hel...lectionOFT.htm

    The debt collection agency emntioned above, Morton Smith, are members of http://www.csa-uk.com/index.htm
    And therefore must follow their code of practice
    http://www.csa-uk.com/COP%20-%20CSA.htm#
    Which includes the Administration of Justice Act 1970 Section 40. If they don’t, complain to CSA at the website above.

    This shows the debt collecting agency you are disputing the debt and know your rights which should make them think twice before harassing you again and going to court.

    Don’t get into a war of words with Getty or the debt collecting agency via email, it is all too easy to write an email and click "send" without really thinking it through. Send recorded delivery or special delivery letters that can be tracked by the Post Office.

    My civil court judge (i.e. UK Magistrate) friend has advised me that a judge will look at the facts, most of us here have got the images from free sites or templates years ago, not stolen them from Getty. That will be looked at by a judge if it went to court and the Getty case would be thrown out of court if you dispute the debt and could show that you did not take the image from them. You don’t even need to attend, go to a local solicitor and swear a “statuary declaration” stating/showing your case/the details etc.

    I would also support a case action for entrapment by Getty.

    If Getty and Co wants to continue actions against us, we can do a lot to hold things up and defer action which will only cost Getty & Co more money and time. Don’t pay, we haven’t stolen anything.

  6. #81
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    Sorry, the link for line above should be.

    If they are a Ltd Company
    http://www.dti.gov.uk/about/complaints/index.html

    Sorry, pasted the wrong address.

  7. #82
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    Update on my Getty Situation

    For reference, my original Post was Post#25 on 8/30/06. Here is the link: http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/show...4&postcount=25


    After racking my brain with this issue for several days I was fortunate that I recalled an old business associate from several years back that just happened to be a business attorney (a very hard-hitting business attorney I might ad).

    He drafted an official letter to Getty informing them that his law office is representing my company and basically telling them that we have complied with applicable laws by removing the images, that the images were used under existing agreements where we were given permission to use the images, and that we deny any and all responsibility for their invoices. This letter also went on to state, in layman’s terms, that if Getty took any further action toward me or my business that we would go after them to the fullest extent the law provides.

    Interestingly enough, I received a second letter from Getty stating the same info as the first but in it absolutely no acknowledgement of the letter my attorney sent. My attorney has not receive any correspondence from Getty even after informing them that he is representing my company (I believe this is a violation of law in itself since they are still sending me correspondence and not my attorney of record).

    As a struggling and very ethical small business owner, the long-and-short of it is this - I will not bow down to extortion tactics nor will I respond to or acknowledge threats from Getty Images. Believe it or not the information that has been posted on this forum has the potential to build a very strong case against Getty Images so Please, Keep this thread going and get the word out to have other victims of Getty's unethical business practices post their information here.

    I stated this in my original post and I will state it again here so there is no mistaking my position: I do not advocate copyright infringement and I firmly believe that intentional and malicious violators should be aggressively sought after. What I have problems with is companies like Getty using extortion tactics and harassment in going after anyone and everyone, assuming they are all guilty regardless of circumstances or written laws...and getting away with it!

    If there is a Class Action started, count me in.

  8. #83
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    If you haven't done so already, you may want to consult with your attorney about the possibility of filing suit against Getty Images on behalf of a class. Just make sure that your attorney is experienced in practicing (read: litigating) class-action lawsuits first. Also, if you do file a class-action proposal, having a co-plaintiff (or more than one) will help show the court that this really is wide-spread and will give your case more weight (I'm speaking from experience here--I was a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit last year). It'll also make it harder for the defendant to toss out the suit because the plaintiff did not meet all the criteria for class-action litigation (as they'll have to prove that all the co-plaintiffs were not eligible also).

    Strength in numbers, man. Strength in numbers.

    At any rate, good luck fighting the good fight. Even if you don't go to court (either as a plaintiff or a defendant), getting Getty off your back will be a sweet victory that you will be able to savor for a long time to come.

    PS: I hope your attorney sent the correspondence to Getty via certified (registered) mail with a return receipt.

  9. #84
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    I received letters from Getty Images so I researched the legal side of this in some depth including obtaining professional legal advice. Getty Images fails on a number of points, particularly with regard to the letters it sends to UK recipients.

    • Getty are issuing invoices headed with a US address, posted in London, with no VAT number but charging UK VAT. It is illegal to charge UK VAT without a UK VAT number on the invoice. HM Revenue and Customs takes a very dim view of this kind of malpractice.

    • Getty claim it makes no difference that you didn't know the image was copyright, but they also cite the UK's Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. Section 97 of the very act they are quoting negates Getty's claim. See http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts1988...n_7.htm#mdiv97

    • If it ever went to court, most of these claims (under £5000) would be dealt with in the Small Claims track of the County Court, and Getty would therefore be unable to recover its legal costs. It would be cheap for the defendant but expensive for Getty.

    • Getty would have to prove in court that they have actually suffered the damages that they are claiming. This would be very hard for them to do unless for example you had been selling the image on your site and Getty had lost sales of the image as a result. Less significantly, Getty would also have to prove that they own the copyright on the image.

    • Getty's invoices state that you have used the image over a specific period (e.g. 6 months). If Getty objected to your unlicensed use of their image, then they should have sent you a "cease and desist" notice when they (or Picscout) first discovered your use of the image at the beginning of that period, rather than intentionally letting you continue to use the image for months in an attempt to make you accrue a large (disputed) invoice in their favour. This point alone demonstrates that Getty's objective is revenue generation rather than copyright protection. Furthermore, deliberately letting you continue to use the image for many months could be construed as consent, albeit consent for the sole purpose of pecuniary advantage.

    On receipt of these letters, many people are tempted to contact Getty for the peace of mind of a quick resolution, but this is the worst thing you can do and it will certainly not get you peace of mind. The most effective course of action is to ignore all correspondence from Getty. As soon as you make contact with them, that's when they become even more intimidating as they then know you're taking them seriously. Getty's whole approach is based on intimidation and bending the truth of the law, in the knowledge that many people will cough up without a fight. If you ignore their letters, they may eventually send round debt collectors (probably Moreton Smith). However, as they would have no court order, they would have no power to enforce payment or to remove goods. If you refuse to pay and tell them the invoice is disputed, there's nothing the debt collectors can do. They will have no option but to go away and eventually forget about you.

    Don't be intimidated by Getty - just ignore them!

  10. #85
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  11. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz
    If you haven't done so already, you may want to consult with your attorney about the possibility of filing suit against Getty Images on behalf of a class. Just make sure that your attorney is experienced in practicing (read: litigating) class-action lawsuits first. Also, if you do file a class-action proposal, having a co-plaintiff (or more than one) will help show the court that this really is wide-spread and will give your case more weight (I'm speaking from experience here--I was a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit last year). It'll also make it harder for the defendant to toss out the suit because the plaintiff did not meet all the criteria for class-action litigation (as they'll have to prove that all the co-plaintiffs were not eligible also).

    Strength in numbers, man. Strength in numbers.

    At any rate, good luck fighting the good fight. Even if you don't go to court (either as a plaintiff or a defendant), getting Getty off your back will be a sweet victory that you will be able to savor for a long time to come.

    PS: I hope your attorney sent the correspondence to Getty via certified (registered) mail with a return receipt.
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  12. #87
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    Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs would be delighted to receive copies of Getty Images' illegal invoices, which are headed with a US address, posted in London, with no VAT number but charging UK VAT. It is illegal to charge UK VAT without a UK VAT number on the invoice. The department of HM Revenue & Customs that is investigating this can be contacted as follows:

    Phone: 0800 595 000
    E-mail: Customs.Confidential@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
    Fax: 0800 528 0506 (e.g. to fax a copy of the invoice)
    Postal address:
    Customs Confidential
    Freepost SEA 939
    PO Box 100
    Gravesend
    DA12 2BR

    The lack of a UK VAT number suggests that Getty Images in the United States (in whose name the invoices are issued) could keep the VAT and not pass it on to HM Revenue & Customs. The invoices appear to be posted from Getty Images' London office, the address of which is:

    101 Bayham Street
    LONDON
    NW1 0AG

  13. #88
    Guru Meditation Error gnarly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SortedGeezer
    Don't be intimidated by Getty - just ignore them!
    And just as importantly, TAKE DOWN THE OFFENDING IMAGE IMMEDIATELY unless you can prove that you have the right to use it.
    Olly Hodgson
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  14. #89
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    money making scheme

    ...If you ask me, I think the whole Getty Image situation, is a money making scheme. Go to any reputable image bank (with the exception of Getty ofcourse) and you will see a huge watermark across each and every enlarged image. This is to protect copyright infringement, and it keeps the image from circulating around the internet for use. Getty does not.

    Also, as a test, I copied one of the images into my Photoshop program, and followed the intstructions from Photoshop to check for copyright information
    Filter > Digimarc > Read Watermark....and funny enough, WATERMARK NOT FOUND. Soooo, Getty removes their watermarks, does not embed anything so you can research if it is theirs...but THEY embed their secret pixel coding so that their sophisticated partner in crime (picscout) can find who is using it, so they may bill you 4x's its actual price.

    To make matters worse, a call was placed to Getty today to actually verify that this is true - the guy said, we do not embed information for you to verify, nor do we use watermarks anymore, we are well protected. So we asked....so how do you protect me, your end user.......

    I guess you can figure out the answer to that one yourself.....they DON'T. Their interest lies in making money. I find this very unfair. And the sad part is, most people fear financial ruin, or the "what if" so they pay...which keeps the cycle going.

  15. #90
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    Hello

    We have contacted an attorney to file a class action against this kind of business practice. To consolidate affected people or businesses we have set up a practice message board and ask if you would continue the getty discussion there too please.

    the url is http://www.battlinggoliath.com

    The more people participate the better it is. Maybe we can rattle some cages. It would also be appreciated if you could spread the URL.

    I hope i have not broken any rules here on the board, if i did my apologies.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Dragster; Oct 2, 2006 at 20:55.

  16. #91
    SitePoint Zealot kosh's Avatar
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    Could you cite the lawyer or legal team that is working on the class action lawsuit? It would make your site appear more credible, if people could get links to the lawyers involved, and contact them about participating in the lawsuit.
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  17. #92
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    Hi

    I also got hit with an invoice from Getty for £3000 plus. My case is a little different in that it is a directory site where people can register and update their own details. Therefore I ought to be protected by the safe harbour part of the copyright laws which state I can't be responsible for what somebody else posts on my site - this is what protects sites like ebay, myspace etc. I've gone back to getty on this and am awaiting an answer.

    The VAT thing is bizarre. I'm based in England but the vat on the invoice says IRL VAT not UK VAT - this is Ireland VAT charged at 21% not 17.5%. Why on Earth they are adding this to the invoice is a complete mystery. It's also obvious the London office doesn't talk to the US office. The whole thing is pretty shoddy and extortionate and I hope everybody fights it to the bitter end.

  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosh
    Could you cite the lawyer or legal team that is working on the class action lawsuit? It would make your site appear more credible, if people could get links to the lawyers involved, and contact them about participating in the lawsuit.
    As this is in the works, a very large legal team specializing in class action suits is reviewing the facts. Experiences to review in addition to information provided will only help to make a case and show the broad scope of the issues involved. All information will certainly be provided once agreed to accept the case, I do not want them to receive 500 phones calls before even reveiwing the information.

  19. #94
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    Post Information re the VAT part for those in the UK.

    The VAT number on the demand letter I have is an Irish Republic number, IE9988348J, having had it checked out, it is registered to a Getty USA, address of, 601 North 34th Street, Seattle USA. They are stating/charging Irish VAT rate of 21% but in UK pounds.

    Presumably they've been allowed to register in Ireland on the basis of being an overseas business with VAT liability (probably the provision of services rather than goods) in the Irish Republic. Technically I believe they should be zero-rating the letter as we are registered/trading in the UK - the reason they've said it isn't a VAT invoice is to stop you/us attempting to recover the VAT. Plus to stop Getty having to declare the VAT in the first place at the point/date of issue of the invoice, otherwise they would have to request Bad Debt relief further down the line for any amounts not paid as I would guess they are not set up as a Cash Accounting Trader being a “large trader”. (assuming Irish VAT works the same way as UK VAT) So I wonder whether they have any intention of repaying this to the Irish treasury…..
    Plus unless your UK business is set up for cross border trading with UK C&E you can’t reclaim the VAT.

    I have reported the above informaton and Getty to the UK Customs Confidential as listed further above in this thread. It may be worth contacting the Irish authorities, the tel number for the Irish Large Trader section to report it is 00353 1-6470710, email:- largecasesdiv@revenue.ie

    The address on the demand letter is 116 Bayham Street NW1 0AB – that is their Office & Administration
    The address on the letter says 101 Bayham Street NW1 0AG

    Companies House have registered (amongst other Getty Co’s) :-

    GETTY IMAGES LIMITED
    101 BAYHAM STREET
    CAMDEN TOWN
    LONDON
    NW1 0AG
    Company No. 00948785

    GETTY IMAGES (UK) LIMITED
    101 BAYHAM STREET
    LONDON
    NW1 0AG
    Company No. 03728660

    So the UK Companies Investigation Branch, part of the UK DTI who I spoke to, at http://www.insolvency.gov.uk/cib/ would be very interested in hearing about a UK Registered Ltd Co trying to charge Irish VAT in UK Pounds and not UK VAT.

    My registered letter to Getty sent last week so far has not be returned or responded to, but it is early days yet….

  20. #95
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    Thats intriguing about the VAT - anyone have an official word from customs if they are allowed to charge the IRL rate to UK customers? I'm sure that cant be right.

    In answer to someone's post earlier - after much research I'm yet to find an instance of this going to court. It would be very interesting to hear if there are any cases.

    I got advice from a specialist copyright lawyer and apparently Getty are entitled to seek damages for copyright infringement even if you werent aware of the images being theirs (as apparently we should 'know' that all images are somebody's copyright) but that the damages in court would be limited to what you'd have paid if you'd licensed the images in the first place (unless you've resold the images or anything like that). Of course, it may be less than that depending on the judge and the facts of the case. There is definitely grounds for countersuits of harassment though (especially when they get debt collectors to try to enforce debts that dont legally exist which is all kinds of illegal).

    This thread is getting really good and I'm sure has been useful to 100s of visitors, not just those posting - so its great that we're keeping it going. What would be of real benefit is to keep hearing everybody's outcomes on this.

  21. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmy21
    Thats intriguing about the VAT - anyone have an official word from customs if they are allowed to charge the IRL rate to UK customers? I'm sure that cant be right.
    I should mention that they are fine on that point... Google does the same from their base in Ireland. The only simple way you can escape Irish VAT is to become VAT registered.
    Last edited by ticksoft; Oct 12, 2006 at 14:07.

  22. #97
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    Has Getty provided anyone with copyright information?

    I was asked by a copyright attorney today, if I have been provided proof that the image in question has the copyright held by Getty. and if it was still valid and not expired.

    Has anyone every asked Getty, or been provided information regarding this matter?

    Is there a way to research this on your own? Some sort of national database?

  23. #98
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    You all should take a look here: http://www.kkurkova.com/ads/dmca/

    Is that true?? If so.. Getty has no right to be doing that without a C&D order first!

  24. #99
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    The VAT question

    Getty may be able to add Ireland VAT on their invoice as Google do but the invoice has to follow the Irish Customs and Excise rules which states that the VAT number should be on the invoice and the address of the company listed in Ireland - neither true in my case.

    Another interesting case scenario. Someone I know had a similar invoice. He scanned in images from a brochure he had produced by a printer (he had assumed he could do this). When the Getty invoice came he checked with the printer and they admitted one of their staff had illegally copied the images from the getty website (as has been pointed out too easy as they don't protect their images on their website) - a clear case of copyright infringement. Are Getty going after the printer - no, they'd rather go after the poor shmuck with the website who was guilty of naivety because it is a lot easier to prove. The printer can just deny all knowledge.

    In my own case I'm still waiting for Getty to get back to me. Supposed to be about now - the woman I spoke to seemed to think I would be ok but was going to check (interestingly I rang the 0800 number and got an American voice so I think it went through to the States). We shall see but I'm prepared to keep fighting this all the way.

  25. #100
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    Be careful -- you may face a CRIMINAL RECORD

    The problem is that most people are missing the point. All images taken or created are under copyright. Some images are out of copyright if very old. Getty is simply protecting its investment in acquiring or making those images. You do not need to check if copyright exists. Only who owns it. The pulling down of images from a website and use in print or website, or the copying of any image within defined terms (Copyright Acts) is a form of theft. Copyright infringement is a form of theft.

    I think Getty is being heavy handed in its approach but it is aiming at a reasonable level of compensation. It wuold probably take an offer though to save legal fees. For the most part it would be easier to pay up than go to court. Getty's case is usually CUT and DRIED. Copyright infringement does not rely on intent for the most part. Alo, if you are a director of a company that has used a copyrighted image without permission (which could be free of payment) then you may also receive a CRIMINAL RECORD which would ban you from being a company director. That is not an option.


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