Getty images $6000 bill for images - anyone deal with this?

29 replies
Hi -

I've heard examples of where people got billed thousands of dollars by Getty for inadvertent use of their images. For example if you were a customer of a certain top-known template website, they apparently had unauthorized images in them.

There's a good site talking about this, at:
http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/f...-letter-forum/

Anyone else deal with this? eg you

a) bought a template from a top-known template site (I won't mention them by name)

b) you get a bill for thousands of dollars for unauthorized use (of a template that had say 6-8 images that apparently were unlicensed) from the image site?

c) there's the subsequent lower-claim-turns-to-collection-agency-dunning routine that the image site engages in?

Any tips/advice/insight? I've read up on other threads here, and other sites discussing this; would be good to hear any personal anecdotes/updates... thanks!
#bill #deal #getty #images
  • Profile picture of the author trafficdial
    In situations like this I would say your best bet is to first ignore anything they send you via email or regular mail. More often than not nothing will ever come of it. If/when they send something via certified or other similar mail then you know they are getting more serious. If they are going to pursue it you need to decide if you're better off paying them or maybe hiring a lawyer if you think it makes sense to try to fight them on it. I don't know the exact details so it's hard to say.
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  • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
    Whatever you do, do NOT ignore this. Getty images has a team whose sole job is to look for unauthorized use of their images. It is not a "bill" that you are receiving. It is an offer to settle. Ignore it and they will sue you. The damages and cost of defending may go much higher than their offer to settle.

    First, don't use images that you do not have permission to use.

    If you find yourself in this situation, your best bet is to have a chat with an attorney. Don't ignore it! They are contacting you because you stole from them and they want what they have coming to them. Ignore it and they will get it and more.

    Just ask James Jones. He hired a webmaster that made the mistake of using one of their images. James had to pay the price.
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    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
      Banned
      Originally Posted by E. Brian Rose View Post

      If you find yourself in this situation, your best bet is to have a chat with an attorney.
      Skip this step, completely. A waste of time and money.

      If you did not intentionally steal their images, speak with them directly. The BBC knows they are not going to get blood out of a stone. They will ask you to delete the images after learning in detail how you acquired them and from whom. They are after the people making money off of ripping them off, not the unknowing victim of a fraud.

      Use your head.

      Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Schenk
    I am not surprised by this. As one who owned a photography studio for almost 4 decades, I remember articles in the Professional Photographer Magazine about some $100,000 and $150,000 settlements!

    Like EBR said, "First, don't use images that you do not have permission to use."

    You need to know your source. Not always easy to do.

    :-Don
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  • Profile picture of the author kencalhn
    Right - agree. The disappointing part of this is that if one had legitimately, honestly bought templates from a certain biggest template site in the world, and then got this notice from Getty, it's one of those "how could you have prevented this?" situations.

    The template site in question has a contact person designated to handle this, and the company has apparently settled with Getty, according to information on various sites, including theirs, which establishes precedent law which may shield the innocent template buyer from the image site litigation since there's precedent. But of course this is best answered by IP legal rights counsel.

    Of course if one had bought a template from this site, and gotten sued by the image site, it may make sense for the template buyer to then counter-sue the template company that sold the infringing template to recover damages, which is time consuming. Since this seems to have been worked out via the template company in question and the image site, and is posted on various places, that could provide useful information in resolving it. This is all written in a hypothetical "what if" situation of course, and nothing is to be construed as legal questions nor related content.
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    • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
      Originally Posted by kencalhn View Post

      Right - agree. The disappointing part of this is that if one had legitimately, honestly bought templates from a certain biggest template site in the world, and then got this notice from Getty, it's one of those "how could you have prevented this?" situations.

      The template site in question has a contact person designated to handle this, and the company has apparently settled with Getty,
      Ken, I've seen the outlandish Getty "bills." The first thing one should do is remove the image - regardless of whether there is a dispute about it being used legitimately.

      Then, if a response is made to Getty, it may likely be demanding proof they own the copyright.

      If Getty is able to establish copyright ownership, you then tell them you are an innocent victim having purchased a template that contained their image. With that you would of course want to include proof of purchase of the template.

      Since you are no longer using the image Getty has no basis to sue for an injunction. As an innocent victim you are not facing damages or the many other horrors Getty likes to proclaim in its letters.

      Keep in mind you can run into the same type of problem buying images from istock photo, or anywhere else.

      When I buy a photo I keep two copies of it. First, obviously, for the website where it will be used. But second, I have a special directory, sorted by photo company, where I save a copy with the original downloaded name. With the date you can look for an email on the same day as proof of purchase.

      .
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  • Profile picture of the author patJ
    Getty images is one of those shady businesses that prey on the weak and ignorant and think they are morally right because they don't do anything illegal. If you would recieve a letter from them always talk to an attorney first. Never ask on a forum. If you unknowingly used their images and you take it down upon request, they shouldn't be able to win in a court. Usually, they just send out these letters and hope that people get scared enough to just pay. What they are doing is borderline extortion, something that many corporations are doing these days to people who accidentally used their content.

    I know a few people who have gotten these letters. All of them ignored it and just took down the image from their site. After that nothing happened. But, always talk to an attorney anyway.

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    • Profile picture of the author harrydog
      I have been in this situation. We had a web designer who used an image from getty and even though we had specifically told him that we would only accept images that had no copyright problems he still did it.
      Subsequently we got a letter from getty saying we had to pay £1000 from Getty images. I contacted them and told them that we had removed the image and we never heard from them again.

      By this time the web designer had moved on and we couldn't even trace him so it would have been us who footed the bill. As other people have said dont be bullied by them just take the image/s down and that will be the end of the story
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  • Profile picture of the author kencalhn
    nowadays I only buy images from istock.com and similar sites myself, and will never again use images that come in templates, nor use images in any way I haven't directly bought and licensed from image companies. Good warning re don't use images in templates, since there's no proof that the template designer bought and properly licensed the images. Which kind of defeats the purpose of templates. Same thing for outsourcing web design, is I would buy any images yourself directly from places like istock.com or whatever to have your web designer use, and don't trust anyone regarding claims that they've properly licensed images; eg buy them directly yourself, for peace of mind, so you're assured they're properly cleared.
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  • Profile picture of the author nicheblogger75
    Just ignore it. It hasn't happened to me but if it did I wouldn't respond. My thought is it's a bullying tactic and they know the statistics say that some people won't fight it and will just pay the bill. Sad.

    Also, you should note that Stock.Xchng (stock.xchng - the leading free stock photography site) is now under the management of Getty images.

    Therefore, I have removed every photo I ever used form there from all of my sites and blogs. I just don't need the headaches.

    If you are using photos from there, I would strongly advise you to read the TOS. You'll undoubtedly get an eye opener.
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  • Profile picture of the author mojojuju
    Ok, tell me if this plan looks good:

    1. Start a licensed image web site like Getty Images.
    2. Start an "unaffiliated" template web site that uses images from the web site in step 1.
    3. Have a team contact all customers from the template web site in step 2, accusing them of unauthorized use of images.
    4. ?
    5. $$$ Profit $$$
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    • Profile picture of the author rushindo
      Originally Posted by mojojuju View Post

      Ok, tell me if this plan looks good:

      1. Start a licensed image web site like Getty Images.
      2. Start an "unaffiliated" template web site that uses images from the web site in step 1.
      3. Have a team contact all customers from the template web site in step 2, accusing them of unauthorized use of images.
      4. ?
      5. $$$ Profit $$$
      No, it doesn't look good.
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  • Profile picture of the author MaverickUK
    If you pay it you're a fool. Whilst I don't think you should ignore it, you certainly shouldn't pay it - they're using it as a scare tactic and to date nobody has been taken to court for non payment.

    My friend had a letter from Getty claiming the amount of £1000 for unauthorised use of an image which apparently cost as little as £14, all because his web developer took an image from a free image site without knowing it was a copyrighted image.

    He subsequently replied to their letter claiming innocence, it was his web developer who put the image there in the first place. After numerous emails and letters from Getty that took a threatening tone, my friend decided to ignore their correspondence as he was getting nowhere with then - he even made an offer to pay a reduced amount to which they denied.

    7 months on and there has been no correspondence from Getty. Whilst I'm not a solicitor I strongly suggest you DO NOT pay it or cave in to their demands - if it ever went to court, which it almost certainly won't, the judge won't pass judgement in favour of Getty (unless you get an absolute * judge, which is possible I guess).

    I suggest making offer of 10% of the amount, if they reject it you can either decide to pay it and find yourself in potential debt or ignore it on the chance it won't go anywhere, which with most people is the case.

    FYI a solicitor will probably tell you to pay it - at least the solicitor my friend consulted with did.

    Edit: remove ALL infringing images from your website ASAP.
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    • Profile picture of the author George Schwab
      Originally Posted by MaverickUK View Post

      If you pay it you're a fool. Whilst I don't think you should ignore it, you certainly shouldn't pay it - they're using it as a scare tactic and to date nobody has been taken to court for non payment.

      My friend had a letter from Getty claiming the amount of £1000 for unauthorised use of an image which apparently cost as little as £14, all because his web developer took an image from a free image site without knowing it was a copyrighted image.

      He subsequently replied to their letter claiming innocence, it was his web developer who put the image there in the first place. After numerous emails and letters from Getty that took a threatening tone, my friend decided to ignore their correspondence as he was getting nowhere with then - he even made an offer to pay a reduced amount to which they denied.

      7 months on and there has been no correspondence from Getty. Whilst I'm not a solicitor I strongly suggest you DO NOT pay it or cave in to their demands - if it ever went to court, which it almost certainly won't, the judge won't pass judgement in favour of Getty (unless you get an absolute * judge, which is possible I guess).

      I suggest making offer of 10% of the amount, if they reject it you can either decide to pay it and find yourself in potential debt or ignore it on the chance it won't go anywhere, which with most people is the case.

      FYI a solicitor will probably tell you to pay it - at least the solicitor my friend consulted with did.

      Edit: remove ALL infringing images from your website ASAP.
      fugging mafia - say no to bad people - $14 for a thousand - my lawer will dump them


      in da ocean
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      • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
        Banned
        Originally Posted by George Schwab View Post

        fugging mafia - say no to bad people - $14 for a thousand - my lawer will dump them


        in da ocean
        C'mon. You're uncle Henry is not a lawyer. Your respect for legitimate business owners and their rights is astounding.

        Why do I feel that if someone stole someone from you you'd be screaming at the top of your lungs that they should be taken out and shot? lol

        Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author kencalhn
    thanks, Brian - that helps w/peace of mind.
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  • Profile picture of the author agc
    Take the following suggestion of what you COULD do as what I would do (and sometimes HAVE done successfully) and not necessarily as what YOU SHOULD do. It's not risk free... but I'm just a prickly a$$ who believes in standing in principle so to me the calculated risks are worth the reward.

    If you have records of having bought the template from a presumed legitimate vendor, then Getty will have a hard time proving any intent on your part in court. In fact, you have evidence that you actually went out of your way to protect their interests by buying a template when there are thousands being offered for free.

    Without intent, they are (most likely, but do your own research on this point) left trying to prove negligence... meaning that to win, they would have to prove that a "reasonable man" would not believe that a reputable vendor was using licensed images, or that a "reasonable man" would even have the means to investigate, were he to suspect and want to investigate.

    As you can see, they have almost no leg to stand on. Remove the image. Tell them the name of the vendor you got the template from.

    And tell them you have no problem paying then whatever amount a judge awards after a trial (because you fully intend to appear and they won't be getting summary judgment). But that you will pay them nothing without due process and a chance for a judge to weigh in on what is fair and reasonable.

    Further, tell that you have not yet incurred any legal expense in the matter, but any further communication from them that is not equal to EXACTLY the two words "THANK YOU" and not one word more or different will have to be forwarded to your legal counsel and every legal expense will be accounted for down to the last $27 paper clip and $4 staple, and will be presented for reimbursement. Even if the original matter never goes to trial, you will sue them in small claims court to recover your legal expenses incurred in direct defense against their harassment.

    This way you've dealt with it. It will cost them far more than $6k to sue you. They will almost certainly go away, unless they specifically choose you to make an example of.... and you are an example they are in no hurry to drag out into a public venue.

    The most important thing you need to know about lawyers is.... THEY DON'T WORK FOR FREE. Make sure you're more expensive (in probable lawyer hours) than you're worth.

    Oh, and NEVER buy anything from Getty Images, ever. Let them keep pissing in their pool of customers and eventually it will be devoid of life.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    They would only go after large users and deep pockets to make an example out of them, maybe a couple small guys as a loss leader to intimidate. It just costs too much to sue. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't send a couple threatening form letters to anyone of any size for some easy money. But they do have to show they are defending their copyrights in order to be able to continue them.

    Ask any vendor to add indemnification in any agreement for this kind of stuff to state they have the liability if you get pursued.
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  • Profile picture of the author agc
    Interesting Lawsuit that was filed in a similar case...

    IT Machines vs Masterfile / NCS Recovery: Initial Complaint

    IT Machines vs Masterfile / NCS Recovery Lawsuit

    Implies that Masterfile was intentionally colluding in the distribution of their images, then turning around and threatening to sue and demanding damages later.

    Fascinating.

    I am a firm believer in property rights... yet... The more I encounter copyright actions in the wild, the more I'm convinced the entire IP landscape has become just a big stinking cesspool swarming with snakes. Little of it has anything to do with the rights of the actual producers of any of this... it's all the aftermarket.

    If Jesus were to walk the earth today, it wouldn't be the money changers he speaks out against, it would be the "purchasers of intellectual property rights".
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  • Profile picture of the author kencalhn
    If something like this were ever pursued vs me, I'd absolutely, certainly contact the state AG/Atty General office in their state for help in countering, as well as file multiple FTC complaints. This seems to be the type of situation that class-action litigation is developed for. Rational, reasonable actions are always the best solution.
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  • Profile picture of the author adammck
    If they continue to be aggressive they will get more bad press, which will hopefully lead to users abandoning their service.

    It will be interesting to keep an eye on this moving forward.
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Thesecret2marketing View Post

      What they did is not right. They should inform the owner of the website where their allege photos were found. In the first place, Getty has not confirmed yet if the owner really got the pictures.
      Why are you bumping a thread about this that is over 2 years old?
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  • Profile picture of the author agc
    Whelp. Looks like the inevitable has finally happened. The skeezy bastids finally shot themselves in the a$$. Let's see how they try to candy dance their way out of this one.

    Photographer sues Getty Images for $1 billion after she's billed for her own photo
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    One man's terrorist is another man's patriot

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  • Profile picture of the author nicheblogger75
    I know a lawyer would probably say to pay it and not ignore it, but I have found in life the best thing to do sometimes is to take advice from a lawyer and then do the exact opposite.

    I'm only saying here is what I'd do.

    I'd take down the image and forget about it.

    If they kept up with their crap I'd write them back and tell them where to stick a few choice items.

    If they decided to sue me I'd ignore that too.

    They'd get a judgement against me and then have to try and collect the money.

    Good luck with that.

    Bottom line, if you want to be really safe just do what I do and take all of your own images and create all of your own graphics that you use on your blog and you'll never have anything to worry about.

    I don't like bullies and I don't scare easy.

    Oh wow, I just read the article in full.

    Getty actually tries to go after people for using photos in the public domain just because Getty "distributes" them.

    Wow. So basically it seems like Getty gets a bunch of images off the public domain and sells them on their site, and then if they catch someone else using one of those images, they demand a settlement from them just because Getty is "distributing" them. WOW! What a crock of BS that is!

    That is as LOW as it can go.

    Here's the quote from the article:

    Neither Getty nor Alamy has filed a formal answer to the lawsuit. In a public statement, however, Getty responded with bluster. The agency says the lawsuit is “based on a number of misconceptions” and plans to “defend [itself] vigorously.” It acknowledges that the images are in the public domain, but still maintains that it has the right to charge a fee for distributing the material. “Distributing and providing access to public domain content is different to asserting copyright ownership of it,” Getty says.
    All I can say is that they are SCUM!
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Did anyone READ the link of the NEW INFORMATION that was added to this old thread?


    Apparently not - as some are answering the question from 2012 instead of responding to the recent link....
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  • Profile picture of the author George Schwab
    You're right, my uncle Henry is not a lawyer.

    But my friend [private] is. He will go for 'extortion' of consumers and
    their right not be victimized by corporates that extend their right to
    charge outrages sums of money for a little bit of almost nothing.
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