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  1. #301
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    With traditional stock agencies, of which Getty owns many, they are under contractual obligation to the photographers whose photographs they represent. What this means is that they owe photographers money when their images are used. They are under contractual obligation to go after entities that are using their photographs without paying -- they need to establish to the photographer whose pictures were stolen that they are doing everything in their power to protect their work. Getty's pockets are deep -- expecting them to go under is sort of like expecting Microsoft to go under. They are not going to stop going after the little guys who didn't know -- they can't. The lawsuits from stock photographers who have felt that their images are not protected by the contracts they have with Getty won't let them. Courts have traditionally awarded 6 figure settlements and more to photographers who have been abused by stock agencies. Courts might award small amounts to Getty from small site owners who claim they don't know better, but it's not the money that they're getting from small site owners that forces Getty to undertake these cases -- it's the protection against the bigger cases of photographers suing them.

  2. #302
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    Picscout is the only reason Getty is going after the small guys, if it weren't for them then I doubt Getty would have the ability to do what they are doing.

    Remember - by associating with Picscout - Getty are freeloaders themselves; they are secretly using other people's resources without paying the costs...

  3. #303
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    JaredS, et al,

    I speak as a 45yr career photographer/photo-illustrator who makes his modest living creating and licensing his work through the likes of Getty (who will be representing me, indirectly, in the near future) and Corbis (with whom I just finished a 6yr representation contract). I do not like Getty, or currently work for or with them, though we share common cause.

    My work has been infringed many times, sometimes willfully by somebody who should know better; sometimes 'inadvertently' through 'clerical error', many times by folks who thought I or my agency wouldn't notice.

    What's missing from this discussion, at least by Post # 170, is much understanding of the US Copyright Laws. I'll try and fill in some of the blanks, from a layman's perspective. Please forgive the meandering structure, these being to an extent Random Thoughts, not unlike the organization of the list.

    Ignorance of Copyright Law is a silly defense, inadmissible here (USA) and I'm sure in UK, Common Law or something?.*

    The burden of proof of a license or prior registration is not Getty's, it's the infringer's. G's and Corbis' sites are all copyrighted, most images have embedded copyright in IPTC-File Info. (Getty choses not to visibly watermark their images not to entrap anybody to download them but for the convenience of clients who have presumably read and agreed to the conditions for doing so.)

    So you don't think of me a some sub-human Getty creature, I will go on record as despising Getty's corporate culture. It is best evidenced, (after youse guys' unhappy experiences), by their recent tabloid-tacky escapade of registering every conceivable variation of competitor's names, (Jupiter Images), hyjacking the other bloke's visitor's. Should be unlawful, alas only epically sleazy.

    G's course of action with y'all would be a standard Fly vs. Sledge Hammer contest for their legal department, probably quite legal in all, or most particulars anyway. They need only amend their paperwork to comply with whatever tax laws apply, (I'm reasonably certain).

    Getty has a responsibility to the likes of me to do what they can to enforce my ownership, and to discourage the sort of free-for-all attitude engendered by the crowd-sourcing effects of the web. I'm glad for your admirable abilities at bringing this list/thread to my attention. Getty and I share common cause in this single respect, so I welcome the opportunity to speak in our joint behalf.

    Please appreciate the difficulties an individual artist has in enforcing their ownership. The deck is stacked against you. An attorney will only accept a case if the image's prior registration is perfect. Why? Only then am I entitled to the Statutory remedies which can be up to US#150k, and award of all costs. Only then can an attorney be reasonably sure of being paid. If the image is not registered, the plaintiff is limited to proving actual damages, insufficient to cover costs in most cases. If the infringer doesn't have the assets to attach, (deep pockets) or if pursuit would provoke bankruptcy, or a host of other Ifs, then you're SOL.

    Not so with an 800# Gorilla agency, who calculate that many will plead their case and negotiate the fees downward as best they can and settle; after looking at the cost of contesting the claims, and risks of incurring even higher costs & penalties, risking counter-claims for trade disparagement, libel.

    Getty and I appreciate the opportunity to acquaint you with our POV. Unless you've tried marketing your work in the current web driven race to the bottom, you can't be expected to understand the impact on those of us whose families depend on our license royalties. iStock has devalued mine (and every other full time stock photography producer's) income to the point of making new production unprofitable. (By production, I mean spending several hundreds or thousands of dollars on a given set of images.) Recovery of such investments depends on many small uses, of the sort many here appear to fit.

    No doubt Getty is in part motivated by a desire to 'crack down' on the rampant practice of 'swiping' images, a blooming hemorage of lost revenue. Making an example of a few may go a long way in discouraging imitation. Congratulations, you're the examples.

    It is helpful to remember that G is a publicly traded corporation and beholden to the widows & orphans; under (some think mindless) mandate to grow. In a flat global market, with rising competition over market share, there are only so many ways to grow, and sorry, but you folks are a line item.

    Some of you are quite correct in forecasting trouble with Google, hosts and others implicated by your actions.

    Re: Takedown Notices. They needn't make such demand prior to sending an invoice. If you pay it, your use becomes lawful. If you continue to resist, and further action is taken, then probably they will approach your host(s).

    I hope your proposed class action can gather more than a dozen ill-informed bloviators; that you can actually bring some media attention to the issues. It may persuade the speakers and lurkers to keep more careful track and a full paper trail on each and every image they use or convert.

    If any of you contemplate legal action, the very first instruction from your lawyer will be to shut up. Some here have accused Getty of criminal acts, potentially actionable. Your clever hacking has made these accusations quite public. At minimum such speech can adversely prejudice any proceeding that should ensue, and increase any penalties.

    Those of you who got infected by assuming the images were lawfully obtained by some template provider have an excellent cause for group action against the provider, so long as you have your contracts and full terms and those T&Cs don't immunize the provider against claims.

    If you received stolen property from a third party, well tough luck, the property still belongs to the owner, you lose. If you gave or sold somebody else's property to a client, you put the client's *** in a sling, and you'll be lucky if your relationship survives. Commercial designers have a fiduciary responsibility to keep their clients out of the sort of trouble to which you have exposed them. They have a completely reasonable expectation of being immunized by you, and compensated, pretty damn quick, too.

    The attitude has been expressed here that alteration of an image, by combination with others or PS manipulation somehow excuses the infringement. Also expressed is the view that such alteration reduces likelyhood of it's being detected. (I don't understand the details, but gather the search algorithms create a unique numeric signature for every image they are contracted to track. The unique image features create their own fingerprint, recognizable by the patented search software.)

    Alterations as advocated by one of your members won't reduce the chances of detection, and they can demonstrate deliberate intent to conceal your actions, getting you closer to the statutory high end of penalties. In small words, you prove a willful intent to defraud and increase any penalties.

    As to contesting G's claim of ligimitacy and prior registration: Getty, Corbis, etc. have their registration records. You do not. It's your burden to prove an image not registered, provided they can provide a registration number, very likely. It would be impossible for them to file an action without both proof and authority.

    It will cost you US$1000.00 in fees, on a rush, to retrieve the actual copyright deposit in Washington, DC. Then you either need to go there or appoint a power of attorney to physically inspect thousands of images, (watch the legal Taxi meter running here).

    The likelihood of a claim being made by the agency, and it being false is highly improbable. They have authority to enforce the copyrights, either by contract with the shooter, or because, increasingly they own the images outright.

    Cease and Desist can be assumed or implied in the language of your invoice. The amount is arrived at by taking the fee you would have paid, if through the front door, and multiplying it by two or three, the industry standard for resolving such amounts. You pay extra for unauthorized use if only as an incentive to do-right next time.

    For an individual creator, it's very complicated, and expensive to enforce intellectual property. In the US, any disputes are filed as a last resort in US Federal Court. Don't know who has jurisdiction in UK, but here it's not one of your every corner whiplash or divorce lawyer who can practice in Federal Court, but a fancier bloke. Here, in NY, where such matters are most often heard, an Intellectual Property Lawyers expect several hundred $ per hour, probably will write several hours worth of letters and charge you several times Getty's demand, and you pay Getty anyway, along with several hundred or thousands in fees & court costs. (Prior registration grants these to the prevailing party.)

    These are not costs or risks which Getty needs bear. They have a full staff who gets paid the same whatever they're up to, unlike you paying an attorney by the hour.

    Arguing that the offense is less because it is over is another Monty Python bit of cognitive dissonance at this site. You might as well convince a hooker to reduce the fee on grounds: "I was only in there for five minutes!"

    The enduser is presumed to have gotten value, otherwise they would never have used the image at all, for any noble or flakey purpose. As one of your brighter wits put it, because you pay for it after eating the hot-dog doesn't diminish it's value or exempt you from compensation, quid-pro-quo. Unless of course you barf back the meal in the manager's face and refuse to pay; not the case here in that most seem to have gotten their money's worth, so to speak, and only taken the infringed images down under compulsion.

    In conclusion, infringers enter the discussion with unclean hands and deserve to pay the consequences. Each must choose their own course of least resistance, and hopefully sin no more. Those who refuse to respond and negotiate may expect a letter from an collections attorney, threatening to file suit unless settlement is made. That's about as far as you can go without your own legal bills beginning.

    I expect at least a hundred responsess so will let fly before irritating any more of you. Sorry for not finishing the traffic before sending this off, but have a life to get back to. Some here would do well to imitate my example.

    * All will benefit from a factual understanding of US Copyright Law: www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html

    What's the equivalent source in UK? icantsurf sounds like they know the answer. Get more members like him/her. Some particularly noisy voices, less informed, are likely to get others in even worse straits with very bad advice.

    Thanks again for focusing public attention on these vital issues.

    Over and out for now.

    Infringed 666

  4. #304
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    Excelllent post Infringed666, i think your side is completely lost on those claiming to be victims here.

  5. #305
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    All I can say is - I am glad I live in the UK - with a set of laws that are reasonble, logical, and carry the basic tenet "You are innocent until proven guilty".

    So much for the land of the free (USA)!

  6. #306
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    Infringed666: If you are linked to Getty could you at least ask them to put pressure on Picscout to stop spoofing the user-agent of their crawler.

    They are potentially using up a heck of a lot of innocent people's bandwidth and by not declaring themselves as such, making it difficult to opt out of financially supporting Getty's activity. This puts both Getty and Picscout at financial risk should someone decide to go after them. It also provides another reason for defendants to use should they ever end up in court.

    Two wrongs do not make a right, especially when one is affecting a lot of innocent people who don't know that it is happening.
    Last edited by ticksoft; Nov 22, 2006 at 21:30.

  7. #307
    SitePoint Addict mx2k's Avatar
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    Infringed666,

    I understand where you are coming from, but here is my question, what if getty images owned subsidary companies who sold these images to people once through a royalty free license, shut down those websites/subsidary companies a couple of years ago or even 6 monthes, ago, then goes on a spree claiming to fight for its clients rights, charging people twice, because who has time to keep a contract and purchasing order attached to every image they purchase over the internet? How could you prove that you actually bought those images? and how do you know that they gave the money to you the photographer.

    To me, this seems like a RIAA for the photography and digital imagery where Getty gets all the money and all the rest of the parties get nothing. Lets not forget, in the music industry, the record labels own the music, not the music artists they claim to protect.

    I say start your own legit company who does something cool and gives each customer an id and when you download the image that customer id gets placed into that picture along with a copy of the contract and purchase. A guild of people in the media by the media without the middle man large corp with worthless ceos who are overpaid.

  8. #308
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mx2k
    I say start your own legit company who does something cool and gives each customer an id and when you download the image that customer id gets placed into that picture along with a copy of the contract and purchase.
    Now THAT is a cool idea!

  9. #309
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    hi guys.

    I too have just got the Getty letter, and read this forum entirely before taking any action.
    I am from the UK, my company is just a very small, more of a hobby than a fully fledged business, but i am registered as self employed. My profits for the last tax year (from August to April) was only 2,250.

    After seeking advice from my Chamber of Commerce solicitor, he said that there is no point in fighting. He has heard it a hundred times and Getty will just drag it on and eventually the costs of fighting will exceed the cost of the fine (fee?).

    He told me the best course of action is to explain to them that you physically cant pay the fee, the company profit for the entire tax year will be nigh on 75% taken by an honest mistake (which it was, but negilent on my behalf like most of us). I phoned them up, was automated system asking me to leave my details and they would get back to me. I have done this, so i await a response.

    I am going to tell them that my business is so tiny, and i cant afford to pay the fine, and offer a smaller token amount to see if they will accept an offer. I can prove the use of the image generated zero income from its use through my receipts.

    Apart from that, its just hope and pray.

    I have read this forum a few times from start to finish, and i cant really see many here with a genuine conclusion as to what to expect from this farce.

  10. #310
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    I am very pleased to have discovered this thread. It has some excellent information on it. Our UK company is a relatively small company (made a loss last year) and we run 6 websites. We have recently received an invoice from Getty for 14,000 for 9 images. They have tracked these images to one of our much smaller sites. Unfortunately these images are also on our main site which receives around 1000 visitors per day. As yet we haven't received any further demands for our other sites. One image was used across all 6 sites. Potentially we could be looking at around 30,000, which we cannot may in a month of Sundays. These images were put on our websites by people working for us, we did not knowingly use them, however I know this is no defence. We run directory sites and images are provided to us by companies and occasionally we have to source them ourselves. We have never asked for proof of ownership of any images. A lesson well learnt.

    We are a limited company and if Getty pursue us they could easily put us into liquidation. We have decided to take the following action;
    We are going to ignore their first letter - it wasn't sent by registered post.
    If they call we are going to deny all knowledge of what they are talking about and request they send us another letter.
    We will ignore their next letter if it is not sent by registered or recorded delivery.
    If all that fails we will then panic!!!! Hopefully by then some of the UK cases on here will have reached a conclusion and we will know where our future lies. Good Luck to all the small businesses out there just trying to make a living.

  11. #311
    Guru Meditation Error gnarly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dozy Mare
    We have decided to take the following action;
    You've skipped the most important step: If you haven't done so already, take the images down!
    Olly Hodgson
    thinkdrastic.net

  12. #312
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    it has been 24hrs since my solicitor told me to make the call. The machine said they will call back within 48hrs. Nothing just yet, i will let you know how/if anything happens.

    Im hoping the relatively small business profit/turnover might save me a hefty bill. Its fair to say since i got the letter it has been constant worry and to be honest it has made me feel depressed and quite ill. I just wish it was all over.

    I have also emailed my local council to see if they can help support the small business. Local councils seem to want to really support new, up and coming businesses in their area so it might be an idea to give them a call/email. I didnt know who to call directly, so i sent an email explaining the situation to the general enquiries address and they emailed back saying it has been forwarded on to the relevent department. No response as of yet, i emailed then this time yesterday.

    Amazing how a genuine mistake has cost us all so much. if they had told me to take the image down, and pay a infringement fee of say 50, then i would have went "fair enough, genuine mistake and ive learnt". But this 1650 bill, it will bring an end to my company and force me to start a new career. All for the sake of a tiny image which generated no revenue in the first place.

  13. #313
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    Received a second letter....

    Quote Originally Posted by Dozy Mare
    I am very pleased to have discovered this thread. It has some excellent information on it. Our UK company is a relatively small company (made a loss last year) and we run 6 websites. We have recently received an invoice from Getty for 14,000 for 9 images. They have tracked these images to one of our much smaller sites. Unfortunately these images are also on our main site which receives around 1000 visitors per day. As yet we haven't received any further demands for our other sites. One image was used across all 6 sites. Potentially we could be looking at around 30,000, which we cannot may in a month of Sundays. These images were put on our websites by people working for us, we did not knowingly use them, however I know this is no defence. We run directory sites and images are provided to us by companies and occasionally we have to source them ourselves. We have never asked for proof of ownership of any images. A lesson well learnt.

    We are a limited company and if Getty pursue us they could easily put us into liquidation. We have decided to take the following action;
    We are going to ignore their first letter - it wasn't sent by registered post.
    If they call we are going to deny all knowledge of what they are talking about and request they send us another letter.
    We will ignore their next letter if it is not sent by registered or recorded delivery.
    If all that fails we will then panic!!!! Hopefully by then some of the UK cases on here will have reached a conclusion and we will know where our future lies. Good Luck to all the small businesses out there just trying to make a living.
    That's one hell of a demand for payment. Like yourselves I received a demand plus a second letter (today) although this was only just over 1600 after VAT. I have also chosen to ignore the letters as in my case, I believe persuing such a small amount would cost them far too much in legal costs to chase.

    Not to mention the fact that a "Cease & Desist" order was never issued. In my opinion, the best course of action is to "Dispute the Invoice" - then any possible bailiff or debt collector has no leg to stand on.

    In my experience of letigation, the more these things drag out, the less worth while they become to the claimant if it ends up costing the earth to persue it.

    I just hope in your case you have removed the images in question. I guess your other option is to wind up your limited company, start a new company so whern Getty do chase your company for payment, you can say the business is no longer trading!

  14. #314
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    UK victim of Gettymadness!

    I received an invoice etc from Getty Images a few weeks back which did put a crimp on an otherwise nice day. My first reaction was to ignore it then I thought that i'd call the number just to tell them I had removed the image, which I did.
    I got the standard (according to these posts) 'you've been a naughty boy and now you'll have to pay' speech from a US lady who went on to say that if I didnt pay up quick the ulimate bill could be much higher because because they would bill me for the total time the image had been on my website not just the 6 months usage (plus their exhorbitant 'damages' on top).
    In common with most people on here I dont begrudge the right for photographers to get royalites due for their work but I have 3 questions for anyone out there that may know the answers:

    1. As I am in the UK, i am curious to know if clause 97 in the act they quote does apply? (has anyone got experience one way or the other)

    2. If the act does apply then if I were to offer them the advertised cost of the image in question (less than a third of what they are invoicing me) do you think they would take the money and run?

    3. Their threat about increasing the bill to include the full amount of time the image has been on the site is worrying as this would up the bill hugely - BUT - if they could do that they why didnt they to start with and secondly is it in fact possible to tell how long an image has been on a website through meta data or something?

    Excellent thread and contributions by the way!

  15. #315
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    PUPPY33. Yes it is a huge demand! Every day we await another demand for our other sites, but touch wood we haven't received anything yet. I would indeed be a dozy mare if I hadn't taken down said images. My only problem is that because our main site has absolutely thousands of images on it and we didn't put them on ourselves we have no way of knowing if the images are legal or not. I guess time will tell! If Getty pursue us they can liquidate us, rather than us winding up the company prior to that as it would cost us more money.

    I watch this thread with interest.

  16. #316
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    Unhappy Second letter received - what next?

    Hi guys

    Yesterday I recieved a 2nd letter about 2 months after the first Looking at the envelope window I could just about see that it appeared to be the same letter as the first. It was invoiced with the same date. I didn't open the envelope, it believe it has the same contents as the first. I decided to not open it and return it "addressee not known at this address" and return to sender. Since it wasn't addressed to me personally, but rather my website name - I cant see how they can prove the website is operating at this address. It's a private residence - so can I not say that it may have been a previous owner who hasnt updated the whois record and play innocence?

    Anyone who has received a 2nd letter - what has happened after this? Have you received a 3rd demand or what? Can anyone further down the line tell me how things have progressed? If I know what might happen next, I can prepare by defences.

    Thanks

  17. #317
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    Hello.
    Its been a week since i made my first call and left my details on the answering service, still no response even though they said they would get back to me in 48hrs.

    I feel better every day about it, but that still dosent mean that a letter will not arrive.

    On this site, there are hundreds of posts about the problem, but barely a single one with a sucessful resolution which leaves me very worried indeed.

    If i were to get a second letter then i will respond with a letter to explain that the money is not available, and i will offer a token amount, say 5 or 10%. Not a lot else i can do, as the money is basically not there to pay such a ridiculous fine (fee).

    Anyone got a resolution to this?! Surely someone has!

  18. #318
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    I doubt Getty will ever drop it or say "we won't be pursuing you any further" I think the best you'll get (if you are innocent) is a stalemate with Getty saying different to you.
    A judge could finalise it of course but I doubt that Getty would take you to court without a confession from you. In other words, if Getty is unsure about winning I doubt they will take you to court.
    Collections agencies operating (collecting) without a court order are illegal if you dispute the debt.

    However a letter costs pennies; so expect to get more mail.

    I believe stalemate is all you can hope to get.

  19. #319
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    Just had a call from Getty Images (in Seattle).

    With my most "hard up" voice, i explained to them about how it was entirely innccent, and that the company didnt make the amount to cover the bill over the last tax year (which is true).
    She then said that on the website it says we moved into new premises (which includes a picture of my local university) and i explained that i use this as a post box only. This is also true. She then said she can offer me an additional 20% off, and i said that i simply cant pay it, as the bill exceeded the entire profits from the last tax year.

    I kept saying it was basically a hobby and that i can prove with receipts that the website generated no income.

    I then offered a "5%" on the total, and she says she will have to go away and talk to her manager and get back to me tommorrow.

    Looks there there is a reduction in price at least...

    What a shame, all my hard work lost for an innocent mistake. But she says she will call again at this time tommorrow so it looks like there will actually be a case of resolution on this website for people to look at.

  20. #320
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulie_A
    I then offered a "5%" on the total, and she says she will have to go away and talk to her manager and get back to me tommorrow.
    I'll speculate that they will come back and ask for a figure at least the same as what you would have paid had you bought the image in the first place. This could be anything from 250+, depending on what the image was and where it was used and how long it had been used.

    The reasons for pitching the price at this level is that that's the most they could hope to recover if they pursue this to court, as I understand that UK law protects people who weren't aware that they were infringing copyright and therefore doesn't levy damages.

    This being the case, you can either pay up (for peace of mind) or let them hassle you further, but I very much doubt that they would pursue you to court for a single image offence, considering what it would cost them and how much they would hope to recover. Pity you contacted them in the first place but if I were in your shoes, I'd sit tight if they ask for anything more than the 5% you've already offered.

    Let us know how you get on.

    Sal.

  21. #321
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    no response today from Getty. They said they would get back to me at 5pm today. Waited with baited breath.... nothing. Has my sob story paid off? Only time will tell...

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    VERY Informative thread guys - watching this with interest to see if anyone gets a conclusion on the matter - seems unbelievably extorsionate what they are trying to fine people!

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    I have not heard from Getty for several weeks and am too waiting to see what happens in all of your cases. Thank you for the continued daily posts and keep them coming. Getty is after me for use of 6-images ($6K). Jared

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    Got my second letter...

    I look forward to the next phase

  25. #325
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    Is Stealth Crawling Legal?

    I've been working on a new angle against various stealth crawlers which might be quite amusing if it pans out. It appears companies like Picscout are possibly violating laws in the U.S. regarding "Computer Hacking and Unauthorized Access Laws"

    My working theory is that if they identified themselves that we would block them. Therefore, since they know we would block them, hiding as something known to be authorized is technically unauthorized access. As a matter of fact, the lawyer I casually ran this by said that the current U.S. definitions of hacking may be much broader than even I am thinking.

    So, if you follow the logic here, they may be committing an actual crime, one that has fines and jail time in the US, trying to enforce a civil copyright violation. Unfortunately, they're in Israel beyond our jurisdiction. However, if a local image bank hires a company to violate the law, then isn't the image bank also violating the law?

    The trick is to either find case law that confirms this or create case law to stop the spoofed crawling.

    Will keep you all posted if I get anything promising.


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