Getty images socked with lawsuit for trolling

by MNord
13 replies
There was some concern here about the slew of copyright infringement demand letters/lawsuits from Getty Images. So many of you may find this an interesting turn of events. (And if you received a demand notice, you probably ought to read it.)

Short version: a law firm got a demand letter from Getty regarding an image that it hadn't posted on its website, but appeared there as a thumbnail in a feed.

The law firm (which I'm guessing knows what it is doing) filed a suit against Getty, claiming that the firm was damaged due to the time and expense it was forced to expend in defending itself against the improper claim by Getty.

Here you go: Here is the article in Techdirt
#getty #images #lawsuit #socked #trolling
  • Profile picture of the author jasondinner
    What goes around comes around.

    Although I doubt this will deter them at all from engaging in their primary source of income generating activity
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    • Profile picture of the author ForumGuru
      Banned
      Originally Posted by jasondinner View Post

      What goes around comes around.

      Although I doubt this will deter them at all from engaging in their primary source of income generating activity
      I highly doubt Getty's primary source of revenue is money they collect going after pirates...in-fact I bet it's not even close. Getty already allows bloggers to freely use millions of copyrighted images via their embed program. What more do you want?

      What comes around goes around....

      Cheers

      -don
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      • Profile picture of the author jasondinner
        Originally Posted by ForumGuru View Post

        I highly doubt Getty's primary source of revenue is money they collect going after pirates...in-fact I bet it's not even close. Getty already allows bloggers to freely use millions of copyrighted images via their embed program. What more do you want?

        What comes around goes around....

        Cheers

        -don
        When you have an entire division dedicated to trolling the web for the sole intent of extorting hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who have supposedly used one of their images at some point or another most likely without even knowing, and 90% of these people roll over and pay the ridiculous fee of $1000 or more per image because they are scared and don't know any better, I would wager they make most of their money from these extortion practices.

        I wonder if they have a breakdown of how they generate their revenue somewhere on the web.

        Doubtful they would disclose those numbers
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        • Profile picture of the author ForumGuru
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          Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

          There is an entire industry built around Copyright/Patent/Trademark infringement. Billions are being generated Numerous Individuals and Corporations are being investigated by Government entities here in the good ole USA.
          Originally Posted by jasondinner View Post

          When you have an entire division dedicated to trolling the web for the sole intent of extorting hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who have supposedly used one of their images at some point or another most likely without even knowing, and 90% of these people roll over and pay the ridiculous fee of $1000 or more per image because they are scared and don't know any better, I would wager they make most of their money from these extortion practices.

          I wonder if they have a breakdown of how they generate their revenue somewhere on the web.

          Doubtful they would disclose those numbers
          Getty is the LARGEST stock image provider in the world and the work they license is created by some of the BEST photographers in the world. If you can't afford to use a Getty image then don't use a Getty image. Don't steal from Getty if you do not want to pay the price when caught.

          #1 Don't use images you don't have a legitimate license for.

          #2 If you try to use an image under fair use doctrine make sure you are prepared to pay the piper if a judge decides you did not have fair use rights.

          #3 Get a clue before you use images. In other words, stop pirating images and using images that you don't know who the source is or what the license terms are.

          #4 Know the sources of your images and the license terms or be prepared to pay invoice price, or 3 times the license price which is a normal punitive fee for stealing an image.

          #5 Rights managed images regularly license for hundreds and thousands of dollars...the fees are not ridiculous at all. Not all images are cheap royalty free images....many images are rights managed images that have specific one-time use licenses for certain purposes only. Fly-by-night and Fiverr based internet marketers do not set the stock image pricing structures, the photographers and the stock photo companies do.

          #6 License cheap images from the legit microstock sites instead of using Getty's images without a license if you want decent quality images for less than the price of Getty's images. In-fact Getty owns a microstock site you can license cheaper images from.

          #7 Getty is the biggest and considered by many to be the most reputable stock photo provider on the planet with revenue of around $900 million dollars last year. Getty was sold for 3.3 Billion dollars in 2012. If you are going to run with the big dogs, be prepared to pi$$ in the tall grass.

          #8 If you pirate a $1000 image then be prepared to pay the $1000 price or triple that because you pirated the image instead of properly licensing the image.

          #9 Invoicing a pirate for a stolen image is not extortion...it's called charging the pirate for the use of the image.

          #10 Again, invoicing someone for a pirated image is NOT extortion...it's common practice. You steal something you pay for it and/or risk legal action.

          #11 You don't get to steal television sets from your local Best Buy so don't think you can get away with stealing from Getty, you may just get caught.

          #12 Getty has roughly 2000 employees and 150,000 photographers. Getty is doing their job by protecting the income and the livelihood of the photographers when they go after infringers.

          #13 If you know how the image business works then you know Getty uses embedded data in the images and computer power to track down pirates on autopilot. Yes, sometimes the process may find an image that may not be be invoiceable and error is made. This is one of the reasons at the bottom of the letter they send they have verbiage that reads something like "If you believe you have received the letter in error or have questions please contact us at xxx-xxx-xxx or email at us at xxx@gettyimages". If you use feeds on your sites that pull in images then don't be too surprised if someone someday asks you where the content came from. If piracy of Getty's property was not so rampant they would not have had to resort to such measures.

          #14 When you are a company as large as Getty and do almost a billion dollars a year in an 8 billion dollar a year visual content market you have a serious obligation to protect your digital assets. Billion dollar companies that deal in digital image assets will spend quite a bit of time and money on digital asset management and protection.

          #15 You can rest assured that the fees they collect from image pirates is quite small in relation to the revenue they collect from upfront licensing fees. And let us not forget, the revenue they collect from pirates is money that should have been paid up front.

          #16 Getty licenses 200,000 image per day. They have 70,000,000+ images online and 70 million more in their archive.

          #17 Getty serves more than 1,000,000 paying customers.

          #18 Getty made 35 million images free for bloggers to use and you should be thanking them for allowing you to use a library of 35,000,000 images for free.

          #19 Getty has offices in 18 countries and US offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, McLean, VA, Madison, WI, New York, Seattle and Washington D.C. Getty Images has been publicly traded on both the NASDAQ and NYSE.

          #20 If someone is dumb enough to use a pirated Getty image without being prepared to fight Getty on the use of that image then they need to be prepared to pay Getty for the image. If you purchase your stuff on Fiverr and/or similar sites then don't be surprised if Getty comes knocking on your door one day.

          Getty has millions of images that can license for more that $1,000 each and Getty does not play games. If you were the library of choice for the BEST photographers in the world you not be playing games either. If you regularly pirate images or use so-called free images on the web that do not have a proper license from a legit image distributor then be prepared pay the price someday.

          Again, Getty has made 35,000,000 professional images free for bloggers to use...most folks should be thanking them for their generosity.

          Cheers

          -don
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          • Profile picture of the author MNord
            Originally Posted by ForumGuru View Post

            Getty is the LARGEST stock image provider in the world and the work they license is created by some of the BEST photographers in the world. If you can't afford to use a Getty image then don't use a Getty image. Don't steal from Getty if you do not want to pay the price when caught.

            [snip]

            Don: I agree with virtually everything you say, and I am a firm advocate of property rights--including intellectual property rights. Some people I know very well are IP lawyers. One of them is the person that brought the article to my attention.

            The one thing I may differ with you about is very narrow and is the subject of the article. Specifically, I don't think Getty should get a pass on sending improper demand letters.

            I understand that Getty's image portfolio is massive, that it is often infringed, and Getty has the right and responsibility to defend its IP. However, its size and the difficulty of defending its IP doesn't necessarily make it ok for it to put an undue burden on innocent people ("can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs").
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            • Profile picture of the author ForumGuru
              Banned
              Originally Posted by MNord View Post

              Don: I agree with virtually everything you say, and I am a firm advocate of property rights--including intellectual property rights. Some people I know very well are IP lawyers. One of them is the person that brought the article to my attention.

              The one thing I may differ with you about is very narrow and is the subject of the article. Specifically, I don't think Getty should get a pass on sending improper demand letters.

              I understand that Getty's image portfolio is massive, that it is often infringed, and Getty has the right and responsibility to defend its IP. However, its size and the difficulty of defending its IP doesn't necessarily make it ok for it to put an undue burden on innocent people ("can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs").
              Yeah, I get your drift and I believe Getty has probably accounted for this happening. I doubt their intent was malicious and we will have to wait and see what happens.

              With a portfolio of nearly 1 million of my own images and the technology of today I see very few ways in which Getty can aggressively pursue infringement on a mass scale without making a few mistakes. Sure they could take a less heavy handed approach but then the effectiveness of their anti-piracy campaigns would probably be far less, and the expense probably far more, which would ultimately lead higher license fees and possibly more cuts to photographer commissions.

              Piracy is such a huge problem for Getty it's one of the big reasons they cut loose the 35 million free images for bloggers to use --> at least by giving the images away they receive attribution and a linkback.

              It appears as if SRIPLAW is looking forward to this fight and it may get interesting... If I had to make a guess as to how this plays out, I doubt very much that the plaintiffs get very much for their time, trouble and efforts once settlement time comes, even though they are quite well versed in the IP law area.

              Cheers

              -don
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              • Profile picture of the author MNord
                Originally Posted by ForumGuru View Post



                It appears as if SRIPLAW is looking forward to this fight and it may get interesting... If I had to make a guess as to how this plays out, I doubt very much that the plaintiffs get very much for their time, trouble and efforts once settlement time comes, even though they are quite well versed in the IP law area.

                Cheers

                -don
                Definitely will be interesting. I don't have enough insight to guess how the lawsuit will pan out. But if the law firm gets anything, that could open Getty up to a flood of similar lawsuits. I think that's the real risk here--paying out a few thousand dollars to the law firm is no biggie. But if Getty sent several thousand of similar letters based on thumbnails in streams, the damages could get ugly.

                While I'm not on Getty's side on this particular lawsuit, I do empathize with how difficult it must be to deal with piracy. Hard to say if there is a good solution. Remember when ASCAP (wasn't it ASCAP?) was trying to sue people over illegally downloaded music?
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        • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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          Originally Posted by jasondinner View Post

          When you have an entire division dedicated to trolling the web for the sole intent of extorting hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who have supposedly used one of their images at some point or another most likely without even knowing, and 90% of these people roll over and pay the ridiculous fee of $1000 or more per image because they are scared and don't know any better, I would wager they make most of their money from these extortion practices.

          I wonder if they have a breakdown of how they generate their revenue somewhere on the web.

          Doubtful they would disclose those numbers
          Getty gave up scouring the Internet for their images and started a program where you embed the image in your content for free.

          Starting now, that's going to change. Getty Images is dropping the watermark for the bulk of its collection, in exchange for an open-embed program that will let users drop in any image they want, as long as the service gets to append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page. For a small-scale WordPress blog with no photo budget, this looks an awful lot like free stock imagery.

          It's a real risk for the company, since it's easy to screenshot the new versions if you want to snag an unlicensed version. But according to Craig Peters, a business development exec at Getty Images, that ship sailed long ago. "Look, if you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply," he says. "The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that's what's happening... Our content was everywhere already."

          http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/5/547...es-free-to-use
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  • Profile picture of the author Everett and Carol
    I hope Getty has to pay out. It's always nice to see an internet bully, get bullied back!
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    I highly doubt Getty's primary source of revenue is money they collect going after pirates...
    There is an entire industry built around Copyright/Patent/Trademark infringement. Billions are being generated Numerous Individuals and Corporations are being investigated by Government entities here in the good ole USA.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMMer1975
    This is great.

    I successfully defended a client in a Getty copyright infringement claim. While I have full respect for copyright laws and the remedy of fair and equitable payment for being damaged via copyright infringement, I have disdain for the way Getty attempted to obtain redress. Without getting into the specifics, I believe they were/are skirting the line from a legal ethics perspective in their approach, so overall, it's great to see more claims against them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    As someone else who successfully beat back the bullies, let me say this:

    Getty is despicable in the way they handle this issue. Reprehensible. They prey on the weak and uneducated, bullying and threatening, harassing and extorting people who - in many cases - are innocent victims.

    I won by standing my ground and telling them to go to hell. The harassment went on for about two years. Most people, when they get the scary letters Getty sends relentlessly, do not have the courage to do that, and I imagine many pay their outrageous demands.

    Here is a little tip, for anyone who finds themselves in that situation...

    Getty barks loudly, but they (practically) never bite.

    ExtortionLetterInfo: Fight Getty Images Settlement Demand Letters ยป Reporting on Getty Images Settlement Demand Letters
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    • Profile picture of the author MNord
      Originally Posted by Jack Gordon View Post

      Getty barks loudly, but they (practically) never bite.
      That is exactly what the patent attorney told me. It's not necessarily worth it (or even possible) to actually follow through.
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