WARNING: Getty Images Cracking Down!

I also doubt he worked for them… Seeing how his post seemed a little childish…

But who knows i guess that getty is throwing a temper tantrum over this image use…

And I agree this has the RIAA written all over it :lol:

But to all you who have gotten a letter I would just take down the image and most likely ignore them… I don’t believe they have much bearing for the suit so…

But thats just my opinion… Feel free to feed the fire if you want too. :nanaman:

had the same problem of re-using an image from a template of an old client that went bust before he paid me.

got an invoice from getty around the start of the year and i could not find any info or advice on what to do.

they invoiced my new client after his site had been up for a couple of years - i took responsibility because it was just a suitable image that i used simply because it fit the job and i thought at least i’d get something back from the old client that didn’t pay.

so my mistake and my inexperience meant i had to pay about £1200 - i coudn’t afford to let it escalate to an amount that would put me out of business.

i took the image down immediately and phoned their legal dept in the uk

i apologised, offered to pay less and generally grovelled but basically they said that i’d better pay up so i did

had to look on it as experience and now always make sure i know the client has permission to use images and content in their sites.

i get all my stock images form istockphotos.com now

it’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

I know of a guy in UK who got an invoice from Getty earlier this year and he took the image down pronto. Getty still sent him reminder invoices etc but then eventually gave up and passed it on to a UK debt collections agency called Moreton Smith who are hassling him. His solicitor says to don’t do anything as they can’t legally enforce a disputed invoice.

It looks to me like Getty just pick an arbitary figure and hope enough people pay up the full amount to make it worthwhile.

I had a similar issue several years ago from a photographer. He sent a nasty letter saying I owed him $15,000 for his photos that were used on a site. In actuality, I inherited the site from another designer and had simply finished the code and uploaded it the client’s web server. He also sent the same letter to the client. Turns out the President of the company scanned some images from his company’s brochure and sent them to the other designer. He just wasn’t aware about copyright laws and thought the photos were on his brochure so…

I did remove all of the photos as soon as I got the letter.

My lawyer sent a response back to the photographer letting him know that I could sue for slander (he was especially nasty with name calling and threats) and that I don’t him anything. My client didn’t pay either.

It was a lesson-learned though. My contract states that all images that I recieve from clients are owned by them or they have the license.

On that note, my clients (even the bigger ones) don’t want to pay Getty prices. So, I stick with istockphoto.com.

I am unable to find a phone number on template-help.com

I did get a response though on my support ticket. I was given the name and email of someone in their legal department, and was told to supply him with the template order number, the documents received from Getty, my website url, and my contact information. Then the support person closed the ticket.

I sent the information as requested and also attached the zip file of the template. This is as far as it’s gotten. I guess I’ll wait a few days to see if I get a response.

lol… look what I’ve found:

“In February, Getty Images, the largest agency by far with more than 30 percent of the global market, purchased iStockphoto for $50 million. “If someone’s going to cannibalize your business, better it be one of your other businesses,” says Getty CEO Jonathan Klein.”

kosh is absolutely right about the DMCA procedures!

template-help.com is the non-branded service center of templatemonster.com, mainly used by their affiliates to hide the fact they are TM-affiliates (I operate some affiliate sites myself as well). So you can call TM if you want to. But it seems you have chosen to send a ticket, which is good. They will very probably take care of it. I had the exact same situation almost a year ago. I sent a support ticket to TM, forwarded all the details to them as well, and never heard from Getty again.

I wonder if this whole Getty thing isn’t a phishing attempt (or similar scam) to get people to provide credit card or bank account information in order to pay the “fines”

I’ve been reading a lot about scams like this including one from someone claiming to be a representative of the Court system calling about a “failure to show up for jury duty” and that you face time in jail if you do not immediately reply and when they get you on the phone, they ask for Social Security and personal info to “verify” that you actually missed jury duty, but that’s when they have you.
The FBI and other agencies have a warning out about this scam, saying that the Court systems seldom if EVER contact anyone by phone or email, and especially not about missing jury duty.

Just a thought.

Here’s the link for the Jury Duty scam…


I understand its not a scam in that context … extortion maybe but not fraudulent.

I received an email from templatemonster’s legal dept. person. He says I do not have to pay the invoice if the photo has been removed and not used anymore. He contacted the author of the template. I feel relieved and thankful that I still have the order details after 3 years, and that I found this forum. Thanks you guys.

I also understand why Getty is cracking down, but it ticks me off how big companies like this take advantage of poor (literally) unsuspecting people. They’ll get their just reward some day.

I’ve received 3 letters now, all the same. I removed the images in question and sent them back a response but they just keep sending the letters.

I understand they want to enforce their copyright on the images (and I agree they should) but I would think they are doing themselves more harm than good from a business standpoint. Just let the owner remove the images upon notice of the copyright. I don’t really see how it would hold up in court.

Just curious - how would they scan an image? Is that even techincally feasible? I mean technology that compares image to image I can imagine (like whatthefont etc.) but for it to scan and compare with thousands upon thousands of images is hard for me to fathom. And if a webmaster has cropped, edited and manipulated that picture how would the bot know?

Windmills, that technology is actually fairly common. You can even get the source code for it from some Open Source apps. I believe GQview is available on Sourceforge. It will scan thousands of images, comparing them to each other, and tell you which ones are similar, even if they’ve been resized. People use it to remove duplicate images from their collections.

There is another application – I can’t remember the name – which allows you to draw a rough representation of what the image looks like, and then it will scan all your images and tell you which ones are the best match. People use it to find photos in collections that are too large or disorganized.

Both such technologies can be used on the Web on a larger scale. It would simply require more servers. Since the code is Open Source, it could be adapted & optimized for copyright infringement scans. More likely the people involved have created their own similar technology. For the sake of speed, I suspect they are not keeping all the images on massive disk arrays. I suspect they’re simply using a checksum on the files (basically, turn the data of a given file into a unique number). Something like the Linux “cksum.” Then they just compare numbers. When they get a match, the app probably pops up the original & the copy, allowing an admin to visually confirm. They probably have a few people in India or some other cheap-to-outsource country doing it full-time.


The methods that Getty uses to distribute their images are wrong. They rely on threat and intimidation to collect on debts that the consumer does not even acknowledge. It is blatant harassment, wherein Getty’s agents do not even respond to correspondence from the consumer.

Did you agree to use the images from Getty? Rather than make an effort to protect their images and keep them from being copied illegally, they are attempting to collect on them with methods that everyone agrees is HIGHWAY ROBBERY. We need to band together and get them to change the way they do business.

This has the stuff for a class action like Blockbuster’s business tactics. I am really curious as to how many unsuspecting people are falling victim to Getty’s marketing tactics and business practices. As a photographer, author, and software publisher, I agree that pirates disserve to be punished; but, I do not agree that the people that Getty picked out are real pirates. Furthermore, I doubt Getty can prove that they have the exclusive rights to all their images. They are not making an example of the pirates to deter piracy. They are encouraging piracy, so they can go after the easy pickings.

Around the world, community laws exist that require everyone to fence your pool, because it is an enticing and hazardous object with potentially life threatening consequences. I do not see how the situation with Getty is any different. The amounts that Getty is charging for use of unlicensed material would kill many a small business, the life blood of the USA. From what I gathered, Getty is betting that they can pick the honest consumers off one-by-one. In fact they designed their site to work this way. They are using predatory methods just like a lion on the savannah to prey on the herd’s juveniles. In this case, it is the stuff created by juvenile webmasters.

Furthermore, if you entice someone to commit a crime, it is not a crime. It is called entrapment. From what I have observed by studying Getty’s site and their agreements, Getty’s methods are designed to entrap and entice the unsuspecting with pictures that contain their logo and terms like Royalty Free; and, account activation procedures that do not properly verify the consumer and the site owner.

Our site was underdevelopment on a separate URL and the contractor turned out to be an idiot. He was telling us that the Royalty Free images were free. I was investigating, trying to determine what the deal was, struggling to identify the images, when Getty found our construction site and sent us this threatening letter, wherein we immediately removed their images. When questioned later, the contractor tells us that he was using the pictures as place holders. As it turn out, anyone with a URL and an email address can get an account at Getty Images. Once in, the user has free access to all the full size images, which may not contain watermarks; and, they can take them anywhere. It is a virtual hackers paradise.

Let us not forget that this is Getty’s problem. It is not your problem or mine. Getty simply makes no attempt to protect their stuff in any other way then by trying to collect on it. I doubt that they make a very good effort to scan the net for their stuff. Considering the volume and other technical impediments, it is not entirely practical. However, if Getty made an effort to limit access and track the downloading of images, they may have the problem licked; but, then again they would also miss this opportunity to overcharge us. Essentially, it appears that they are depending upon the good natured adults of this predominantly Christian nation to comply with their demands, knowing good and well that unaltered images are finding their way into our market without approval through the undercurrents, and into other markets freely like China where copyright infringement is rampant.

This is not the case with other services like IStockPhoto, where they track the usage. At IStockPhoto they want a credit card for verification purposes to setup an account. At IStockPhoto, whom Getty purchased right after we replied to Getty’s collection letter, they require a deposit before you get access to usable images. At IStockPhoto they then charge you for every image you download; and, IStockPhoto and others are far less expensive than Getty for images for your web site.

Face it Images. The Internet tends to lend itself to piracy, and some acts of piracy on this superhighway are overlooked purposefully. In Getty’s case, they temporarily overlook it so they can mark up their overpriced items 10 fold. Why don’t you go after Myspace and YouTube? There are plenty of your images on these sites. Many of these images are reprints of photos taken from news clippings and the video clips you will find are from network broadcasts. Virtually all of this goes unnoticed to the benefit of the host’s advertisers.

Use of copyright material is permissible under “Fair Use” in an education setting; and, it appears that educators may be purposefully directing aspiring webmaster’s to Getty’s site without making them aware of the consequences. In this setting where authors typically give material away freely when credit is given back to the author, the act does more to promote the originator.

Sure the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, referenced in the Wikepideia article provided by Kosh does provide protection, if you “did not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity.” Note the emphasis on the words direct and control. In other words, if you were reselling these images online like in a template that contained these images you could be in big trouble. There are criminal fines and prison terms associated with copyright infringement, when it involves unauthorized redistribution; but, the authorities rarely pursue individual cases that involve less than $10K in losses.

Keep in mind that Getty is playing on your fear, and your ignorance of the law to blackmail you into paying quickly. They want everyone to think that you are the villian with the money, that the webmasters are fly-by-night operations, and they (Getty) are the poor little victim. When you feel weak, just remember that J. Paul Getty bought most of the newspapers 100 years ago to crush the stories they were printing about him, rather than deal with the problem. It was his brand of yellow journalism that brought us here. If it were not for the abuse of people like Getty and Rockfeller, we would not have child labor laws on the books today, and even more so why we have an Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act.

Look into the heart of general Copyright Law and you will to will know without a doubt that Getty is barking up the wrong tree. They are creating a problem, where none should exist and attempting to profit from the confusion they are generating. With all their resources they could easily curb the problem with restricted access. Instead they act like PUSHERS who are using children to get unsuspecting people hooked on their drug. They then attempt to push the problem down the chain by making the site owner responsible, when it is the author, the webmaster, who has knowledge of the infringement and committed the act of plagiarism (piracy), and received the real financial benefit. Getty’s collection policy is a kin to making the owner or the inventor of the printing press responsible for infringement. Even though you derived some benefit, unless you (the site owner) had prior knowledge, you are not the person responsible for committing the act of infringement.

Blame the author, unless you have direct knowledge, and authorized its use. Above all be a credible witness. Unless the webmaster is your employee, they own the rights and/or the blame for the work. Typical web site design contracts contain clauses obligating the webmaster to provide all the material free of encumbrances, and deed it or license it to the customer. In turn webmasters are usually held harmless for material they inherit from the client, site owner.

Companies like IStock recognize this fact that the author is in control and should know better. The webmaster (author) is the one driving the bus. You are just a passenger. FYI, the license agreements for accounts at IStockPhoto allows the webmaster to put material on a customer’s web site with limitations. The image cannot look like a product endorsement; it cannot be used with a logo, or redistributed as part of another product (like a template). Maybe Getty can learn a thing or two from IStockPhoto.

Many services offer FREE images as an enticement to start using their service. In Georgia, our state, there are very specific limits to using the word FREE. Getty appears to be contributing to the confusion in the market place by freely distributing their images. This in order to sell goods that otherwise would not sell because they have priced themselves out of the small and midsized business market, which they have targeted. They should stick with the media giants and large advertisers, where it appears they get most of their business.

If you are doing business with Getty Images, STOP; and, think seriously about the relationship Getty has with IStockPhoto. Getty’s stuff is not that good. It is definitely not worth the price, the risk or the sacrifice. If you agree to Getty’s terms, the relationship becomes a dictatorship wherein they make the rules, choose the venue (the courts and laws that govern) and set the amount of restitution.

You can protect your pictures and images with a watermark. It is a way to write information into the pixels to trace its origin. The technique has been used by media giants for decades to put subliminal messages into advertising.

The ability to view and add copyright information is built into many leading imaging products like Adobe Photoshop. If a watermark is detected when you open an image in Photoshop, it displays a copyright symbol in the image window’s title bar and includes the information in the Copyright Status, Copyright Notice, and Owner URL sections of the File Info dialog box.

Digimarc is one of the leading suppliers of the technology to secure images.

Decent advertising agencies have no problem with paying the prices that Getty charge. If a client needs a specific image and the only place to get them is a Stock library such as Getty, then they have to pay for it - simple as that.

Yes, istock, etc do have some very good images, and I do use them quite a bit, but sometimes the images just aren’t professional enough for our needs - at the end of the day you get what you pay for.

I personally don’t know why you’re all fussing, read up on copyright before you go ahead and hijack images from anyone and then you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Maybe if everybody did pay the proper fees, then the prices may come down.

Incidentally, how do you all feel about pirate copies of programs such as Photoshop etc and the price reflecting the fact that there are unscrupulous people out there who buy them - ITS THE SAME THING!

You seem to have missed the point, as far as from my point of view. Getty is charging people who have no knowledge that the image has been hijacked. In a way, I can understand why they do this because they would have no way of knowing how the image got on the website. So rather than giving a person a chance to prove he is not guilty, they assume the end user is always guilty. I’d hate to have any of them be on jury duty.

I think you’ll see most of the people in this thread are not the ones truly hijacking images, though. I received a letter a couple weeks ago and have been lurking here since. I was hit for one image in the header of a site I purchased from someone else. The lady I bought it from, paid to have it professionally designed herself. At the time of our transaction (4 years ago), neither of us had any idea to think that I would need proof of that images’ legitimate purchase today.

The image WAS legitimately purchased and the original firm is going to try to find the records, but this was so long ago. IRS only requires records for 3 years.

As a small scale business myself, I have spent a lot of MY budget at Getty over the years. It just seems that they would be a little more reasonable than to hit me with this huge invoice and be unwilling to flex or consider the circumstances. My 2 weeks are up and I haven’t paid yet… I don’t think I am going to. My business is basically just enough to supplement our missionary income and this site that doesn’t even make me $1000 over an entire YEAR.

If they would take this on a case-by-case basis… look at the accused… have the purchased images before? do they have tons of images “illegally” or just a rougue few? What about charging a REASONABLE amount for the image with a graduating scale after x number of offenses? But this current method could put a LOT of self-employed folks out of business quick. I’m very tempted to just pull the plug and run - even though i’ve not got any other images in question that i know of - but trying to think back on every image i have put out there and how to document which company they came from, what date, where’s the invoice, was it in a package deal CD, template, etc… that’s a huge nightmare to consider.

A question for those out there who’ve designed multiple sites… would you have a record of the origin of each image you’ve used?