Getty Images is after me


#1

Hi Everyone,
Several months ago somebody made me a website and used several images he claimed he got from a public domain site. Last month I got a letter from Getty Images demanding $1000 for the use of the picture. I ignored the letter as I had no knowledge the picture was from their site. I searched google using the name of the pic they supplied and found three other sites selling that same picture, one for $89 and the other two sites around $200 each.
Does anyone know if Getty can sue me for the $1000 even though I didn't make the website or "steal" their picture. Also how can they know what site that picture came from given it is sold on three other sites.
What if somebody posted this picture on a public domain site that my webmaster used, can Getty still go after me?
Getty does not watermark their images so anyone can steal them. Also I think Getty put some of their images on public domain sites so people would use them and then get fined for it. Has anyone challenged Getty on this issue and won?
Thanks for reading.


#2

It doesn't matter if you obtained them in good faith. Remove the pictures and Getty won't pursue it. It's cheaper than hiring a lawyer to defend yourself.


#3

IMO removing pictures is a good idea, because they could contact your host and have them remove website for copyright violation (assuming you're not hosting it yourself)
What does the guy who made you the website say? Is he in the same country as you are?

Does anyone know if Getty can sue me for the $1000 even though...

They can sue you for any reason or no good reason at all if you are in the same country


#4

To the best of my knowledge, if contents is approved by the owner/admin of a site, then that person is responsible - just like the editor in charge of newspapers.

It doesn't matter what Getty does with their images - unless they specifically state that they are in the public domain, they are protected by copyright. It is the responsibility of the person using the material to check this.


#5

This activity is rife at the moment. There are systems scanning the web and checking every image they find against copyrighted material. I know because I have experienced it first hand and was NOT at fault whatsoever.

Removing the images and pleading your innocence is no good. They have graphical, date stamped backups that show the copyrighted content on your site. They are professional lawyers and know exactly how the media copyright

ANd its not just illegally used images that are in the wrong. The images I used where given as free stock on the front of a macuser CD (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=205033&sid=d9e8457324d2f11d2443fcb848d014fa)

I was hit with a very large fine (http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=399896). Mac users lawyers took over the incident and thatnkfully I never had to pay anything. But be warned, any image you use you need to be 100 percent sure it is safe.

For a more details explanation on whats going on you can read this interesting article.
http://www.theregister.com/2006/09/01/digital_images/


#6

Wullie, I read the other thread and do think the $12,000 is lawyer's bluff. I also note that you said the images were 'royalty free'. My understanding s that 'royalty free' does not mean free. It means you pay an upfront fee but not ongoing fees to use the image.


#7

I agree, royalty free does not mean free. However, the magazine had released the images to the public for use. This was my, and their understanding. The issue arose when lawyers acting on behalf Corbis approached us with 1 years charge for a "rights managed" image.

No matter what happens unless you can prove where you stand legally in regards to the image, then you can be sued/taken to court and face legal action. Taking into account the cost of a rights managed image over a year, and cost incured from lawyers, the fee is actually not that rediculous. I have spoken to a company that Getty Images sued for over $20000. They where using at least 5 imagges that they should not have been on their site.


#8

If the image was legally obtained, then the person who designed the website for you will have the receipt from the purchase of the image, and should have forwarded that to you when they transferred ownership of the site to you. If they did not forward this to you @ the time of sale, contact them now and request the information immediately. Essentially you need to prove that the image was legally purchased.

I would also consider forwarding the designer's information to Getty as it would appear that the image/design may have been sold to you in bad faith. If the images were stolen, or if the images were represented to you as being OK to use when they were not, that makes you a victim and not a malicious offender. I'm not saying that makes you 100% innocent (it does not) but you can help Getty get closer to someone who is ripping off their property.

Do some digging on your designer and find out the "rest of the story." Then decide at that point what your next move is... getting a lawyer, dealing with Getty yourself, etc. Whatever you do though, don't just ignore them. They will find you, they will take you to court, and they will cause you a world of hurt. Their pockets are a lot deeper than yours and they have nothing to cause them to drop their case (like, they aren't going to run out of money). They aren't going to just go away.

smiley Bailey


#9

Even if you purchased the image in good faith, I don't believe that that is a defense in copyright matters. You're ultimately responsible for it.

Anyway, get a lawyer, try to work out a settlement.


#10

I would removed the image straight away, as an act of good faith and take it from there. Consult Getty stating why they where there and I'd also look at what was documented with your supplier in terms of imagery i.e. have you paid for images in the contract etc

Si smile


#11

I am hosting the site myself on my own server. The guy who made me the site is in another country and his email address is bouncing back. Last I heard he converted to Islam, he sent a mass email to notify everyone of this, and I have not heard from him since last May. I did not pay him to make the site, we bartered. I removed the pic immediately from my site as well as all the other pics too.


#12

I did not purchase the site or the images on it; I bartered with somebody for it. His email address is bouncing back and I don't know where to find him. Last I heard he had some epiphany, converted to Islam and left for parts unknown. They can hunt me down all they want and try to cause me a world of hurt, but I am incorporated so they can't personally hurt me. If I had wilfully stolen their image I would pay for it, but I am not paying for something I had no part in stealing.


#13

Unfortunately, while that statement may make sense to you, ultimately, it's your site and their image and unless you can prove legally having permission to use it --- ie a receipt -- they're perfectly in their rights to go after you. You'd do the same if you found Getty had used your images on their site! Being incorporated might cause you even more grief -- the Getty lawyers could go after you even harder for being a legitimate business and not an individual. Copyright theft is serious business and if they can claim damages, your business could be hit with a serious lawsuit. BTW, it's not just Getty though they do own something like 50% of the traditional stock photography businesses at this point having bought most of the big players up. Anyone who feels that their photos are being used without their permission can cause you serious problems. With stock photos available legally for $1 a piece, there's no excuse for not playing by the rules.


#14

Well, technically, according to the DMCA and their image licensing scheme, you are stealing it if you can't prove you legitimately bought it from them (Getty). If you were in possession of it legally, you'd have the license to it in-hand. If you don't have the license or receipt, it's stolen property. It's really not a gray area.

In my opinion -- totally opinion smile -- you're in a tough spot. Get a lawyer. Even being incorporated might not necessarily protect you personally 100% ... I'd be real careful there. The stakes are so high. frowning I mean, even if you're incorporated, they can still dog you 'til the cows come home, and dogging costs... costs time, money & energy.

Not trying to be a jerk here, it sounds like you're in a tough spot and legal counsel would probably be the best route. JMO! smile Good luck!

smiley Bailey


#15

Herein lies the problem. Some of the people posting say they have the image because it was a part of a template they bought from a popular template seller. I thought I also read at least one case where an image was downloaded from either a free or low-cost stock site. How the image ended up in both locations is another question? By the photographer, by a purchaser who decided to “share”?

Getty seems to have taken the approach accuse AND bill first, ask (disregard) questions later. If it really turns out that a lot of the problem is stemming from template and low/no-cost stock sites, you would think it would be in Getty’s better interest to work with those sites first to stop the leak. Or, resolve if there really is a leak for that matter. If it really turns out that the images in the templates are legit and rights transferred correctly, but Getty just doesn’t have a record of that end user having the rights, then Getty has done damage to its image. And, it would probably be in the better interest of the template sites to require (if they don’t already) licensing info on any images used in the templates.

The fact they now own istockphoto.com is another can of worms.


#16

Actually, if you read most of the jargon that comes when you purchase the use of an image, it prevents you from transfering the licensing to another individual. Getty is in full authority to go after both the template reseller who did wrong and the enduser. The enduser could go after the template reseller too, but that won't protect them from Getty. It's not too different than getting caught with a stolen car. You may have purchased it legitimately. You won't get prosecuted for stealing the car, but you might get prosecuted for possession of stolen material depending on the DA's discretion, even if you were using the car to drive your kids to school and not to make money as a taxi driver.


#17

I'm not saying Getty doesn't have the right to go after the individuals and template makers/sellers. I guess the question I'm trying to resolve is if they are following the process of DMCA? Are they actually allowed to just bill people? Do they have proof of a filed copyright on the image, etc? Demanding the violators to remove the image is one thing. Invoicing for more than the current purchase price is where I'm starting to get a little fuzzy.


#18

Copyright infringement allows the infringee to sue for up to 150k per instance (IANAL) so they're going lower and hoping to get paid off.

It's just another revenue stream to them.


#19

Plus, the costs for both parties would be considerably greater in a lawsuit.

If you buy a template, you'd better check whether the person you're buying the templates from is legit. After all, would you buy a TV from the back of an unknown person's van? Same thing, really.


#20

BINGO! smiley Sad, but true.

smiley Bailey