Getty Images and its stock photo competitors are accusing hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people of copyright infringement. I wonder how many of these images they are managing have ever been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. If I am forced to defend myself, I know one of the first questions I will be asking is if the image was even registered to begin with. I would also want proof that Getty Images has the right to enforce the specific image in question.
There are indications that most, if not all, of the images Getty manages is NOT registered. If they have not been registered, Getty would only be entitled to actual damages, not statutory damages. This means they do not get attorney’s fees or whatever extravagant number they dream up. They actually have to substantiate and prove the number they come up with.
Getty Image’s own website seems to imply that there are many photographers not registering their own photos.