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Author Topic: Can we just ignore the Getty Settlement demand?  (Read 16140 times)

dblink

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Can we just ignore the Getty Settlement demand?
« on: June 02, 2009, 01:21:47 PM »
We are a small software development company, and we have received a very aggressive Settlement Demand letter from GettyImages for $2,000.00 for two small parts of the images yesterday. The thing is that ALL images used in our corporate website have been legally purchased from http://www.bigstockphoto.com.  GettyImages has claimed our company to pay this $2,000.00 compensation for two small fragments of their images, placed on a private personal website, which GettyImages matches with our corporate domain. But that private domain is NOT registered as our corporate domain. Do you think we can just ignore their claim? Thanks for very valuable information, placed on your Information Website. We are ready to donate you some money, if you can give us a proper advice. Many thanks. DK

dblink

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2009, 11:14:05 AM »
We have carefully reviewed the two images, which Getty claimed our company has used with no license. As appeared, just two FRACTIONS (SMALL FRAGMENTS) of their original images (less than 15-25% of each) have been used in a web template issued under logo ©StylePage. We even hardly recognized those fractions, as parts of a whole image. One of our partners has downloaded this FREE template from one of FREE sources to design his personal website under our corporate web subdomain. Not ON our corporate domain! We didn’t hear the name Getty before receiving their rude, aggressive and threatening letter. Obviously if a FREE third-party web template, available on Internet, contains some fractions/fragments of any images with no Getty copyright explicitly given, how can a consumer be responsible for using or licensing it? Should a customer always make a search through all image-related companies and send them an inquiry like ‘Is this your image, by the way? It announced as free, but should I pay you?’  To me it looks just stupid. Honestly saying, what Getty business really is? To catch people who using FREE sources, available on Internet? What the law says about third-party using a small part 15-25% of Getty’s original image? Is it really same thing as using a whole one? Thanks. DK

Matthew Chan

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Re: Can we just ignore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2009, 01:44:41 PM »
DBlink,

Technically, you can ignore the letter.  The question you (and anyone else getting the letter) is whether you can deal with the consequences.  If you ignore it, they will likely keep harassing you about it even if they do not escalate the matter to a collection agency or to a lawsuit.  Even if you respond, both could happen also.

As a personal preference, I do not like to ignore these matters because they have a way of sneaking back into your life when you least expect it.  Unresolved matters have a way of coming back to haunt you.

But that does not mean you have to play into their hands.  I chose to aggressively fight back and defend myself.  I was prepared to do what ever it took because I too looked at my own case, situation, and so forth.  Even if I had "lost" in court, the other side would have had a very high price to pay.

I am not an attorney but it certainly sounds like you have some grounds for negotiation and a defense.  The fact of the matter is Getty has to be selective on who they escalate the matter to.  You have to determine whether they will likely come after you.  I personally think they have bigger fish to fry than 2 images.  But if you choose to ignore them, who knows?

There are certainly no guarantees either way.  Some people prefer to avoid and ignore the situation which I have heard works just fine.  Others like me have chosen to confront it and it has also worked out also.

Regarding donations, if you do not think the existing written information is helpful enough, you should NOT donate.  This is NOT a barter or exchange system where we reply, then get paid money.  If that was the arrangement, then we would bill you. I say this because I want to make it clear we choose to respond to any post because we volunteer to do so as time permits.

Our donation system is simply a mechanism for people to voluntarily show their gratitude or for people who simply want to support our cause and help offset our expenses.  You either feel strongly enough to do so or you do not.  It isn't a crime not to donate.  And there is no animosity or badwill if you don't.  And you can donate as much, as little as you want, or none at all.  You should vote your conscience.

Oscar posts freely here without expectation of payment. He only gets paid if someone chooses to hire him.  That is a clear arrangement with specific terms.  Even then, Getty cases are not a huge money-maker for him.  It is simply a way for him to donate his time to the cause without him having to lose his pants.  You have to remember, he generally commands up to $450/hour as a NY attorney.  These $150 Getty cases is really peanuts for him.  But he knows a lot of people are happy with him and serves a greater good assisting the little guy.

If Oscar never posted again, I think people will still be grateful for all the information we have written posted.  We get emails all the time how happy we have all this information freely available to read.

I write and post to this website as time permits but I promise you, I am more motivated by gratitude and goodwill than anything else.  If I began to think people were unappreciative or we getting attacked for our efforts, I would take the entire website down and let everyone fend for themselves.  It would be no skin of my back because this is nowhere close to my primary line of work or source of income.  I have said many times, I would have been fine if I NEVER received a Getty letter and as a consequence, not launched this website.

Quite frankly, there are still times I think about taking down this website. I have mixed feelings about having my name and reputation attached to it. But we appear to be creating a lot of goodwill and so we continue on.

Anyhow, forgive the exposition, I just want to make it clear to everyone that donations are obviously appreciated but that is NOT our primary motivation for the website. But people who do donate, we obviously know who is thanking us and I generally send a thank you email for their consideration.

MatthewC
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

dblink

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2009, 03:51:54 PM »
Thank you for replying, Matthew. We believe, we clearly understand your and Oscar’s goals for starting this website, and we really appreciate your volunteer commitment and your honesty. We have been kindly contacted by Oscar already. Basically as a one-man home-based company, we really are too 'small guy' to fight directly to such an aggressive monopolist as GettyImages.  Nevertheless, we will do our best with Oscars’s and yours kind help. The main thing is we do not feel guilty by temporarily personal using a FREE downloadable StylePage© third-party web template with no commercial purposes. Therefore we didn’t know who Getty is at all.  And we do not want to know who Getty is since receiving their racketeering letter. Also we have found many other frustrated and scared people on the internet hopelessly discussing those strange ‘Getty Letters’ received by them. We just need to help ourselves and to other victims to don't be victimized by GettyImages! Thanks. DK

Matthew Chan

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2009, 04:02:08 PM »
In my research, I also discovered a LOT of people who were upset and scared about the Getty situation.

But as you know if you read my story, someone had to take an intelligent, organized approach to fighting Getty's letters.  It is simply a great scam they are pulling off and it has to be stopped.  Threaten people with letters, emails, phone calls and money comes in? Honestly, I never thought it was that easy to make money.  But Getty successfully pulls it off with their college-students-based "License Compliance" department.

The price of ignorance is too high.  The prices of not having a spine is also too high.  Education is the best defense over such matters as Getty's letters.

I wish I could take all the credit but Getty has drives an incredible amount of traffic to this website.  Their letters make me and Oscar more famous each passing day!  :-)
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

dblink

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2009, 01:57:11 PM »
We have sent and faxed the all required documents to Oscar, and we hope to have the letter written and sent to Getty soon. Many Thanks.

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2009, 06:21:56 PM »
Haven't seen them yet Will keep you posted

dblink

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2009, 05:52:20 PM »
Thank you, Oscar. Getty sent the second letter already, requesting for an action by June 19, 2009. We would very much appreciate your involvement. Regards.

AriellaGamer

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2009, 07:01:55 PM »
I'm not sure why everyone is going on the defensive instead of the offensive. Copyright YOUR logo, which is the intellectual property of the person who created that logo. Did the photographer ask every dress designer, every furniture designer, every building designer, etc. if he can claim this as his? NO. It does NOT belong to Getty and it absolutely does NOT belong to ANY of the photographers who don't have an actual Registered copyright to prove their claims to clicking a camera button.

It, in fact, belongs to THE WEB DESIGNER. Copyright it for yourself and sue Getty for harassment / extortion / entrapment / false representation / etc. Again, don't threaten their call center kids. Don't waste any MORE time talking to their telemarketers - just get a Legal copyright, and file against them. They're crooks. Pure and simple. They do NOT own exclusive anything to anything. The actual photographer won't see that money, and the actual author is YOUR WEB DESIGNER, so don't try to settle.

It's very disturbing that people are actually trying to settle. Those letters ARE admissible in court, just with the word Settlement stricken from the record. Because they never had valid cause for settlement, it is therefore just a demand. The logo is the intellectual property of the person who designed the logo. PERIOD.

goober

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2009, 08:55:04 AM »
Some things might be fair use, such as the composition of a picture but if Getty does not actually have a legal copyright to an image then isn't claiming a copyright when none exists constitute fraud? Sending a letter via the USPS demanding money for images that they might not legally own the copyrights too does seem a bit on the edge with what is legal and what is not legal. The letters they send assume you are guilty. They even state that it doesn't matter where you obtained the images from, YOU don't have a license even if the web designer did have one. It seems that they have made a legal determination of guilt without any due process. How do we know what the terms of use were back in 2006 for Getty or MF? Perhaps they have changed or were too vague to enforce as stated by Pixelmill. See paragraph and link below. Can they now retroactively change their terms of use and claim copyright infringement? Can I now use the statement by Pixelmill to show that iStock was retroactively vague and we do not owe them any money.

 Pixelmill had a problem with iStockPhoto regarding just this , and when they (Pixelmill) contacted iStock they ( iStock) agreed that their usage policy was a bit vague and they would not take action against those who have already used their images.Here is the link regarding this. http://www.pixelmill.com/support/kb101435.htm


PixelMill is a very popular site for web designers. Lots of templates with images.
I would personally not use any image that I did not create myself or a photo that I did not take myself at this point. Not with 2 lawsuits filed against Masterfile the latest being June 23-09 http://www.rfcexpress.com/lawsuit.asp?id=48167
This is not new though, this has been going on for years with these stock photo companies. But with new digital steganographic techniques it is making it much easier for these companies to find people and either sue them, or send settlement demands. They don't seem to be going after large companies though, just the smaller companies who are more likely to settle. I bet they didn't expect this ELI forum to blossom as it has. Kudos to you Matthew and Oscar!


Here is another problem though, Archive dot org is not the only site that archives your website.
Iterasi.net does as well as aboutus.org. Domaintools too. They unlike archive dot org refuse to remove old thumbnails no matter what. So I think these stock photo companies should hold these archives responsible for their images since they are the ones now hosting the images on their sites, even if you remove the images from your site. So how do we get them to remove the images? You do have some control over Aboutus but the others are looking for a letter from a lawyer to remove the images.  I think we need to mention these sites since it affects all of us who do not like our sites being archived without permission. It should be illegal to do that without permission from the site owner or at least they should be required to follow the robots.txt or a request to remove the images and or thumbnails. The stock photo companies should not be able to use those archived images to claim copyright infringement. How do you know those dates or images on the thumbnails are correct?  What if for one second you did a mock up using a Getty image and the archive site took a snapshot at just that moment in time. How long was that image up there for? 10 seconds, one hour or one year?  Not sure if I like corporations acting like big brother on the internet.

Lettered

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2009, 10:07:29 AM »
Here's a theory (wish I could offer proof and call it fact, but I cannot):  They don't go after Google Images and archive.org because the effect of naive web designers using their images benefits them ... they like this because it equates to more letters to send out with more people settling. They also benefit from archive.org because they can crawl old history as well as current.  They allow Microsoft to ship thier images with Vista in a folder called "PUBLIC".  This, in my opinion, almost guarantees that a significant number of unknowing people will innocently infringe using their images on the web ... which is more letters for them and more settlements.  Think about it ... if you really were sincere about protecting your IP, would you ship a copy of it with every copy of the VISTA operating system in a folder named PUBLIC with no immediately visible watermark or disclaimer?  Some folks may have legitimate licenses that they bought legitimately through sources other than Getty, but have long since lost any proof of purchase.  Some percentage of these will get scared and settle for the inflated demand price.  I think it is all systemic part of their program.  If they simply started watermarking all their images and ceased shipping "example" images with VISTA, Im convinced that the number of innocent infringements would significantly drop ... however this would result in less letters for their program, which would be a reason for them to NOT do it.  Is all this legal technically?  I dont know (Ill leave that to the attorneys and courts), but I do hope someone will eventually be able to prove this or a similar theory and bring an action against them.

btw, I did not settle (1 image).  I probably would for a reasonable license fee for the image in question which to me is their ~$50 low res web use license fee.

In any event, until someone is able to shut down their letter program, I don't think there is a standard one size fits all response to the letters.  A demand for 1 image from Getty is an entirely different situation compared to a 20 image demand from Masterfile for example.  Any recipeint of the letter would be well advised to spend some time reading this forum (especially Oscar's summary) I think.

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2009, 01:12:50 PM »
Thanks lettered for your response.  Readers of this thread should also look at my latest response to ariella's other post.

goober

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Re: Can we just ingnore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2009, 11:26:54 PM »
You are correct Lettered, there probably is not one standard response to the Getty letter.
The fee that they requested was absurd and I was probably not at the top of their list for one image. I am not sure that using 20 images as opposed to one image makes much difference if the intent was the same. The end result would still be that $200 fee you would pay ( per image compilation being one image) if they found it was not willful infringement in court.

 Maybe the way these companies are using technology should be carefully reviewed. Personally I feel that using steganograpy and bots to find images on personal or business sites intrusive of my right to privacy. No one can enter your home and search it without a warrant, and they have to have a specific reason for that warrant. If they thought you stole a TV and the warrant was for a 52 inch tv, I don't think they can look in a small drawer for that tv.  

It's my personal server that the bot went on to find the image, irrelevant to it being on the internet. My server is my tangible property, it is not some ethereal space just out there floating around. If this searching by bots is allowed to go a step further, imagine your home PC now being searched for copyrighted images.....I do expect if things continue down the road this way, we might all have to worry.

dblink

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Re: Can we just ignore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2009, 03:59:10 PM »
Dear Oscar, please proceed with the letter. The check has been sent as per your request. Getty had requested our action by June 19, 2009. Regards.

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Can we just ignore the Getty Settlement demand?
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2009, 04:40:56 PM »
will do

 

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