41 replies
Hi all,

Can anyone give me some advice please.

Yesterday I received a letter from Getty Images demanding £2500 for 3 images on one of my websites as apparently I have used them without permission.

The website was built about 6 months ago, and I cannot remember where I got them from! I am quite particular about the images I use (usually using Fotolia). They were only used on a picture gallery page on my business directory site to add visitor experience. I know that I did not go searching for the images in Google as the pictures have no real relation to the topic of the website (just there to add a bit of colour!). I also know that most of the images on Google are copyrighted.

I have just found one of the images on Fotosearch which also suggests that Getty Images do not hold complete rights to the picture!

Not only am I not in a position to pay the demand but having trawled the internet it appears that this letter is borderline scam used to intimidate people in to paying without questoning it.

I am off to see a solicitor this morning but has anyone got any further advice or had similar instances?

Your help and advice is valued - Cheers

Jonathan
#getty #images #problem
  • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
    This sounds really similar to a thread that was posted yesterday by someone who was asked for £2k because he had, allegedly, used copyrighted words (or something like that). Here it is http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ringement.html

    I wonder if it is a total scam, and from the same solicitors. I think the OP of that thread offered to tell you who the solicitor was by PM. Read the thread and contact the poster.
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    • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
      Many thanks. Looks a bit different though.

      Thanks for taking time out to write though.

      Regards

      Jonathan
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  • Profile picture of the author GoGetta
    Johnathan,

    Although I don't have experience with this myself directly. A client of mine offline was once stung for £2k by getty images for an image which was used on his website. This was before I started working with him, he did have to pay up, so I would look into it further as this may not be a scam!

    GoGetta
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    • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
      Interestingly I have found that 2 of the images they are accusing me of using are actually in the public domain!!!

      If anyone has further help or advice I am still open to suggestions

      Cheers everyone

      Jonathan
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Another business in our office building recently received a letter demanding £500.00 for copyright infringement and past use of an image from their website. It was a photograph they had taken themselves so they had a good case.

    It turns out the web designer had just lifted it from their site. Sheesh, what a schoolboy error.

    Anyway, her lawyer advised her to offer a smaller amount "in full and final settlement". She offered £100 and this was accepted.

    Hope this helps in some way.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author DogScout
    Many Getty Images are in the public domain. However their 'file' is not. If you used a PD image using their rendering (especially if it was a GIF and they have paid a license to use that compression method) they can act on the 'theft' of the file, not the image.

    Does that clear anything up or make it as clear as mud? Lol.

    If you use a PD image, never use it as you found it. Always open in a graphics program, check the tracking and re-export it in the file type you are using it in. Even if they have no case, they pay lawyers on retainer and costs them nothing extra to make your life miserable.

    Good luck,
    Mark

    (PS-Any Corel image file pre 1996 was released to PD by Corel, including GIFs, in '96 if that info helps)
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      • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
        Thanks Mark Andrews

        Your help in this is most appreciated

        Regards

        Jonathan
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        • Profile picture of the author hellbounder11
          Banned
          [DELETED]
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          • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
            Originally Posted by hellbounder11 View Post

            yah i would do that
            Dude, if you keep spamming threads with useless 4 word lines you will get your account banned.
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    • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
      Thanks Mark (DogScout)

      Was a bit mudlike!! The images were jpeg files.

      Thanks for your imput - much appreciated

      Jonathan
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  • Profile picture of the author B3n
    Take the images down immediately, do not contact Getty in any way and ignore any further letters.

    They should be sending a C&D but instead they are hoping you'll blindly send money to them.

    Eventually they'll give up.
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    • Profile picture of the author ExRat
      Hi Mark,

      Torquay eh? The English Riviera.
      Hmmm. Soggy much?

      How is life upcountry today?

      I'm a little bit further down the
      south coast, not far from The
      Lizard.

      Havn't been to Torquay in ages.
      Nice part of the world all around
      there. Brixham, Torquay, Torbay,
      Dartmouth, Totnes etc - very
      nice.
      I'm in Torquay. Yes it's soggy but it was still nice and sunny on the beach today (in between showers). I'm just up the road from the OP - so double trouble for him - he has problems with Getty and an ExRat just up the road.
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      • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
        Thanks to all for help - still open to suggestions!

        Hey ExRat, weird to think there are 2 IMers in TQ - small world! If you ever fancy a beer and a tactical chat......

        Jon
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      • Profile picture of the author mandela10
        Originally Posted by ExRat View Post

        Hi Mark,

        I'm in Torquay. Yes it's soggy but it was still nice and sunny on the beach today (in between showers). I'm just up the road from the OP - so double trouble for him - he has problems with Getty and an ExRat just up the road.

        I am in Florida, I haven't seen the sun since this morning, which is unusual for a Floridian to experience
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    • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
      Originally Posted by B3n View Post

      do not contact Getty in any way and ignore any further letters.
      Ahhh... the ostrich method. Also works for letters from credit card companies, mortages & loans that are behind on payments... NOT!

      This is bad advice in my opinion. If it does go to court you want to show that you made them some sort of offer, even if its just like £20 or so.

      Despite what they tell you this amount of money is small claims court territory. It would cost them a fair amount for a paralegal to handle the case, and legal costs cannot be claimed for in small claims court.

      And the money they are asking is punitive, it is not directly related to the value of the item as similar can be bought for pocket change.

      But make your own mind up, if you end up getting bent over by the legal system its not my fault ok?
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      • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
        Thanks GuerrillaIM

        Sound advice and where my head was going! I went to a walk in law shop where I found that solicitors are not allowed to offer FREE 1/2 hour sessions for Business matters!! Another one of Gordon Browns cracking decisions apparently!! Instead I was offered an hour at £150 Fantastic I dont think!

        So, your suggestion about offering a small amount I have heard elsewhere so I think that is what I will do. And as 2 of the pictures are in the public domain they can swivel for all 3 !!

        Legal extortion this amounts to.

        Cheers

        Jonathan
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        • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
          Originally Posted by Voyager64 View Post


          Sound advice and where my head was going! I went to a walk in law shop where I found that solicitors are not allowed to offer FREE 1/2 hour sessions for Business matters!! Another one of Gordon Browns cracking decisions apparently!! Instead I was offered an hour at £150 Fantastic I dont think!
          What they told you is a lie. There is a government backed initiative called lawyers 4 business. They will give you a free initial consultation to discuss business matters.

          more info @ The Law Society - Lawyers For Your Business
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          • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
            GuerrillaIM you are an absolute legend.

            The lying B******s misled me to try and get the £150. Thats one hell of a backend without even a FREE report to start!!!!! Lol

            Thank you soooooo much for the link

            Jon
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      • Profile picture of the author B3n
        Originally Posted by GuerrillaIM View Post

        Ahhh... the ostrich method. Also works for letters from credit card companies, mortages & loans that are behind on payments... NOT!
        The difference being that when you owe money on a credit card or via a mortgage or loan, you have signed something, an agreement or such, that proves you owe money. Here the OP is receiving empty threats with the hope that he will crumble and send money - or engage in further negotiations.

        I can appreciate where you are coming from GuerrillaIM but I think you answered your own question with the bit about Small Claims. It will cost them money to get money from the OP so it isn't worth their time to chase this beyond a couple of threatening letters.

        Should he ignore them it's likely they'll forget about him. Their letters are misleading - similar to the Domain Renewal Group letters made out to look like legitimate domain expiration notices.

        They exist to try and scare people into acting - sending money - without thinking.

        Start involving solicitors etc and you'll end up paying when you really didn't need to.

        Worst case scenario, extremely unlikely, is that you go to the Small Claims Court and are made to pay up to £2,500.

        Ignore them like countless others have - it's worth the chance.

        However, don't ignore credit card, mortgage or loan companies (which is a completely different scenario, completely off-topic) as you have signed forms promising to pay the money back.
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        • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
          Thanks to everyone - loads to think about

          Cheers
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        • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
          Originally Posted by B3n View Post

          The difference being that when you owe money on a credit card or via a mortgage or loan, you have signed something, an agreement or such, that proves you owe money. Here the OP is receiving empty threats with the hope that he will crumble and send money - or engage in further negotiations.

          I can appreciate where you are coming from GuerrillaIM but I think you answered your own question with the bit about Small Claims. It will cost them money to get money from the OP so it isn't worth their time to chase this beyond a couple of threatening letters.

          Should he ignore them it's likely they'll forget about him. Their letters are misleading - similar to the Domain Renewal Group letters made out to look like legitimate domain expiration notices.

          They exist to try and scare people into acting - sending money - without thinking.

          Start involving solicitors etc and you'll end up paying when you really didn't need to.

          Worst case scenario, extremely unlikely, is that you go to the Small Claims Court and are made to pay up to £2,500.

          Ignore them like countless others have - it's worth the chance.

          However, don't ignore credit card, mortgage or loan companies (which is a completely different scenario, completely off-topic) as you have signed forms promising to pay the money back.
          I used the free consultation from L4B and a little research. There are lots of laws regarding "fair use" and as long as the website would still work and make money without the image then I was told there shouldn't be a problem as long as I instantly removed the graphic, confirmed the removal in writing and to be even safer, make an arbitary offer for the use of the image.

          I really can't imagine any legal professional saying "What's that, a legal demand for money you say? nahhhh, forget about it, just ignore it".

          I was told by the solicitor I consulted that ignoring it would be dangerous as it gives them grounds to say you did not comply and were intentionally infringing their copyright. Of course, the thought hasn't escaped me that he was just trying to get a few billable hours under his belt writing letters. In the end I just took the free advice and wrote the letters myself.
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  • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
    Getty images tried the same thing with me for a small image on one of my websites.

    I did a lot of searching and found that they have threatened thousands of people, but at the time (around 2 years ago) not one case had gone to court.

    I wrote a letter back saying the image could be valued at no more than £1 but I would offer £100 for the mistake (They originally wanted about £2800). I also informed them the image had been removed.

    They got back in contact and said they would settle for £800. I told them to go stick their offer somewhere uncomfortable and if they wanted to talk about it any further we could do it in court. They called me a few times after that at which point I wrote a letter threatening to sue them for harrassment and that was the last I heard.

    Getty also own Istockphoto which sells photos for £1. To ask thousands for low res images on websites is a joke. It is an intimidation tactic to try and shake down webmasters.

    Follow your own gut, I may be just lucky. I talked to some solicitors who were all so eager to try and get as many billable hours under their belt as possible, so I thought I would just stick my middle finger up at the lot of them and see what happened. I think they are scared to go to court incase they lose, in which case it will be harder to intimidate people into giving them money for nothing.
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  • Profile picture of the author LivingCovers
    This is awefully interesting! I wonder what'll happen
    if the offender they are charging with all these accusations
    is not within their (getty) jurisdiction and the person decides
    to shut them off completely...what do you think will happen
    in such a case?
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  • Profile picture of the author BeautyMade-EZ
    Don't go getty ...
    Go iStockphoto(dot)(com)
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    • Profile picture of the author CyberSucces
      Originally Posted by BeautyMade-EZ View Post

      Don't go getty ...
      Go iStockphoto(dot)(com)
      GettyImages owns iStockphoto
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      • Profile picture of the author sigurdur
        My company got a big bill from one of Getty Images lawyer extensions .. we settled with them and made a "do not attack us again" agreement.

        We also implemented a TinEye rule .. every time we are going to take an image off the net, we search for it on TinEye (reverse search engine .. a lot of Getty Images collection is there).

        There's a TinEye plugin for Chrome (maybe also firefox), you just right click an image and get TinEye to search for the images' source.
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  • Profile picture of the author MoneyRaker
    I have been in similar situations in the past, and the best way to get over this is to immediately remove the pictures and write and apologize saying that it was an accidental mistake. Only do this if the email is coming from the offical getty images domain.

    Also write to them that you are not in a position to pay any money. If they trouble you more just politily tell them that since you can't pay them - their next email would directly enter your junk folder.

    They will never ever sue you because the cost of suing u would itself exceed 2.5k by a good margin and that they would have very little proof of you commercially benefiting for the photo.

    If your site isn't worth much then you got very less to worry about in the first place...

    Just my 2 cents.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nutrifitness
    I would like to revive this post as I got same letter today on 2 small images I got from a reseller product....seems this is still happening. glad I searched forum. I am surprised this hasn't been stopped on their part...does anyone have any updates on their situations with Getty?




    Originally Posted by Voyager64 View Post

    Hi all,

    Can anyone give me some advice please.

    Yesterday I received a letter from Getty Images demanding £2500 for 3 images on one of my websites as apparently I have used them without permission.

    The website was built about 6 months ago, and I cannot remember where I got them from! I am quite particular about the images I use (usually using Fotolia). They were only used on a picture gallery page on my business directory site to add visitor experience. I know that I did not go searching for the images in Google as the pictures have no real relation to the topic of the website (just there to add a bit of colour!). I also know that most of the images on Google are copyrighted.

    I have just found one of the images on Fotosearch which also suggests that Getty Images do not hold complete rights to the picture!

    Not only am I not in a position to pay the demand but having trawled the internet it appears that this letter is borderline scam used to intimidate people in to paying without questoning it.

    I am off to see a solicitor this morning but has anyone got any further advice or had similar instances?

    Your help and advice is valued - Cheers

    Jonathan
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    • Profile picture of the author eshera
      I as well got a nasty-gram letter and searched the forum (and web) to no avail...anybody have any updates and/or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
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  • Profile picture of the author Ducksauce
    http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ent-claim.html

    Has some very good information in it, just forget the advise of F O though !!!

    Basically, Getty Biz model is, acquire images, put a ridiculousness price on them, I looked at some and they wanted $9000 for a shared license, they know the ones they have not sold, EVER, they make it "easy" for you to lift, they have software that searches the net for them, then send you a pay up letter.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    The Getty Images Settlement Demand Letter: Reporting on the Extortion Letter Scheme
    Getty Clones (MasterFile, Jupiter Images, SuperStock, Corbis Images, ImageLine) Settlement Demand Letters

    and from Wikipedia

    Copyright enforcement

    Getty Images uses a firm called PicScout to scan the web for unauthorized and unlicensed usages of its protected images. Websites that are found to be in violation are sent financial settlements that retroactively licensed the image. Getty is notorious for sending letters for final demands due to copyright infringement. However, the settlements also demand damages, which are said to have been incurred against the copyright holder. Settlement demands are typically more than $1,000 per photograph, and are based upon Getty's highest possible price for unlimited-use rights-managed photos. Getty seldom takes individuals to court. For this reason, the letter has become widely referred to by recipients as the "Getty Extortion Letter".[17]

    Thousands of these letters have been sent out, yet as of October 2005, Getty had not taken any of these potential cases to court.[18][19][20] In 2008, Getty Images lost a lawsuit in Germany.[21] Getty claimed unauthorized usage, but the defendant could prove authorized usage as he had bought a retroactive license directly from the photographer.

    In 2008, Getty published a notice to its contributors describing how a court decision in New York makes it more difficult to obtain damages for infringement in the USA on images that are not registered at the United States Copyright Office. The letter strongly encouraged photographers to register their images.[22]
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    • Profile picture of the author koolphoto
      Sorry if I sound harsh, but I don't feel sorry for anyone having trouble with Getty. I really think it is a good thing Getty is going after people and making them pay for stealing Getty photographer images.

      If you copy a photo on the internet from any source without knowing who the photographer is or what the intended rights to the photo is you can get burned for a lot of money. You can plead ignorance all you want. You have still stolen a photo from someone who produced the photo. This applies to images, drawings as well as graphics.

      Photographers and other artists pay Getty a good chunk of change to sell their images for them and protect their images rights. Getty acquires most images by signing up photographers or image producers and representing and licensing their work for them.

      I read on this site of complaints that someone copied a website or copied an article and what should be done about it. Yet it seems to be common practice to copy photographs or images without great care as to the author of the photograph because you think it is in the public domain. The harsh reality is that many images that you think are in the public domain are really not.

      I would even be careful of royalty free images sold unless you know the company selling them because it is so easy today to steal images and photographs, package and then distribute them.

      Best bet if you want an image is the either photograph it yourself or pay someone to photograph it for you. If you don't want to do it this way then use a royalty free website that is reputable and then you won't have trouble.
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      • Profile picture of the author elliec
        @Koolphoto you are right about stealing a photographers work. People need to be more careful and frankly Google could be more clear about the fact that because an image shows up in Google images does not mean it is available for the public to use. They have small print when you click on an image that says "Image may be subject to copyright" but the message is not loud and clear.

        People need to really be aware of this issue and check and double check images used on your website. I have a client who has just been sent the Getty Images letter packet and I can confirm it is pretty scary. Getty is asking $780 for the use of a thumbnail image on an inner page. This forum is the place where we need to start warning people to be super careful using stock images on your website or any clients. The developers are not checking this so the website owner needs to confirm that the images are legal and ask for copies of receipts! Spread the word and I think anyone with any kind of online presence needs to visit the website noted above....great info from a lawyer and a nice guy who really want to help out. I encourage everyone to visit here...

        The Getty Images Settlement Demand Letter: Reporting on the Extortion Letter Scheme
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  • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
    If you step off your soap box for a second you may realize that in the majority of these cases the web design work has been outsourced and the recipient of the letter had no knowledge of the images provenance.

    I now know to keep a file with all of my image information and licenses for all work I publish just in case anyone tries it with me again, but that is not something the average Joe knows to do and I have rarely came across any reasonably priced web design company that informed their client of this and gave them all the relevant information to protect the client in all eventualities..

    If you think someone should pay thousands of pound for a web designer putting a small thumbnail image on their site without paying the royalty then you should send your CV to getty. I am sure they would love to have you.

    I don't support image theft, but I also don't support large companies bullying small independant businesses for large sums of money. Especially when said company also owns istockimages which sells similar images for £1.
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    • Profile picture of the author elliec
      What ticks me off the most (apart from the fact that I have now invested more than 10 hours of my time researching this) is that a simple "cease and desist" letter should suffice. I am hoping the guys on extortionletterinfo.com website go the distance with a class action lawsuit. I'm in if they do.
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      • Profile picture of the author CyberSucces
        Originally Posted by elliec View Post

        What ticks me off the most (apart from the fact that I have now invested more than 10 hours of my time researching this) is that a simple "cease and desist" letter should suffice. I am hoping the guys on extortionletterinfo.com website go the distance with a class action lawsuit. I'm in if they do.
        I think extortionletterinfo.com dont do nothing. I wonder why those guys come up so often on the GettyImages SCAM!
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  • Profile picture of the author Shane N
    You know what pisses me off the most...

    If you ask Getty Images to PROVE to you that they own the license to that
    image... They WON'T. They will flat out refuse to do so. At least in the case(s)
    that I've seen. Why should you pay them if they can't even prove to you that
    it's THEIR picture? Good luck with them.

    Best,
    Shane
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  • Profile picture of the author MaverickUK
    My friend got this letter last month demanding £2,300 for a low res image. He was very scared at first and made an offer to pay the original value of the image, which they rejected. They said they would accept £1,200, though my friend point blank said no, I cannot afford this.

    Since then Getty haven't responded and have seemingly given up on the chase.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adie
    Remove the images and forget about it. No big deal.
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  • Profile picture of the author pvarzim
    anyone here got to pay something for the company? who simply ignored the letters have had problems with the company?
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  • Profile picture of the author tracy821
    Lessons learned from all this? Push back at the bullies and they will stop bullying. CYA by keeping track of where you get all your images from-hopefully all from reputable sources. Thanks everyone for the input.
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  • Profile picture of the author webovative
    I actually purchased images from them several years ago and paid the license fee to use the images on a particular site. About 5 years afterwards they emailed me and demanded money for not having the rights to use the pictures. I ignored them and they eventually went away and I no longer use their service or any service they are associated with.
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