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Author Topic: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI  (Read 11309 times)

Dan Evans

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Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« on: August 15, 2012, 01:40:51 PM »
Background

My wife Rachel is a writer and speaker and I maintain her website and act as her technology strategist (in other words I help her out with various tech stuff and occasionally say things like "no, don't post that").

Rachel has always been extremely careful not to use images on her site unless she has permission from the photos' owners, they are properly licensed (such as Creative Commons pictures), public domain, or are reasonably considered fair use (images of books she's reviewing etc.).

Our Getty Story

We received our first letter from Getty on July 9th, 2012 (dated May 31st), they were demanding payment of $780. We didn't respond. We received another one yesterday, August 14th 2012, threatening escalation if we didn't pay them the $780.

Getty sent both of the letters to my wife's event manager, since our physical address is not available on her website. The letters were then forwarded to us.

Observations
  • They mis-spelled and improperly capitalized her name "Rachel hekd evans" (her name is Rachel Held Evans)
  • They included the wrong email address in the demand letter (they included an address that exists for mostly satirical purposes on her contact page.)
  • They sent the letter to her booking agent, who does not handle these matters
  • They included printed screenshots of her website, including her logo, content, and website design, all of which are protected under the same law they claim we violated.

I've worked as a professional content creator in Broadcast TV and video production. As a writer, Rachel makes her living because of the protections afforded by copyright law. We're not ones to take issues like this lightly.

In my estimation, Getty has mis-stepped here.

Getty claims Rachel used, without their permission, this picture of Henry David Thoreau in a blog post back in December 2009: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Henry_David_Thoreau.jpg .

According to Getty, they own exclusive rights to this image. According to Wikipedia, the image in question was originally taken in 1856 and is in the public domain.

I don't think Getty has any grounds to accuse us of copyright infringement.

After getting the second letter, I responded to Getty, emphatically denying that we committed any copyright infringement, included the date the image was taken and the name of the photographer (Benjamin D. Maxham, June 1856) and politely requested they remove or discard any digital or printed copies of Rachel's website in their possession, since they do not have our permission to make digital or printed copies of Rachel's logo, content, or website.

Conclusion

My guess is that Getty will ignore me and continue to pursue the issue. If that happens I don't see much of a choice except to retain legal council in order to resolve the matter.

The research and reading has already cost me quite a few hours. The more I learn about Getty's questionable tactics and billing practices, the more frustrated I get. A part of me hopes they will continue to pursue this case. I would be happy to have their practices exposed in court to let a judge decide if what they're doing is legal.

Thank You

I appreciate all the effort that has gone into ELI and just wanted to share our story and say thanks to Matthew, Oscar, and all others responsible for creating and maintaining this site.

Update  August 27th, 2012

On August 24th, I received a reply email from Getty. It simply read: "Thank you for your message regarding Case # [my-case-number]. The matter has been resolved and we have closed this case."
« Last Edit: August 27, 2012, 09:18:22 AM by Dan Evans »

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 01:49:46 PM »
welcome to the forum, and thanks for sharing your story...reminds of the time they went after someone for using a picture of a fighter jet, that was taken by another fighter jet pilot...They want OUR Money!, they don't care how they get it they just want it , and they want it now!! I strongly suggest if they pursue this any further you file a complaint with the washington state attorney general, your stat AG, ect....
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Moe Hacken

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 10:27:54 PM »
Thanks for sharing, Dan Evans, this is really fascinating.

This forum recently discussed how Getty has "adopted" some public domain works by buying the negatives and scanning the images, making them available on their catalog, or by "representing" organizations that do the same.

I don't mind that they charge a fee for their trouble making the images digitally accessible, but I think it's a stretch that they claim they actually own the copyright of a public domain image because they converted it from analog to digital media.

One image we were discussing was a photograph of Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in as President of the US. The image is in the JFK library archives, available for free at a very high resolution. Getty acquired this and many other such public domain images and has them in their catalog. We were not aware of anyone being shaken down for any of these images — until now.

This is the Getty catalog entry that claims the image you used as "Rights-Managed" — meaning they think they own the copyright:

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/henry-david-thoreau-american-naturalist-and-high-res-stock-photography/AB30213

I think you could have a very valid legal challenge of this claim if they pursue it. They might have accidentally made a slip which would expose a very questionable practice of theirs. I really doubt they'll actually sue you for this, but their intent is simply to scare you into paying them. It appears they failed at that — good on you!

Thanks for sharing your story, Dan. This is certainly one of the most interesting developments we've had in some time. Would you be willing to share the letters Getty sent you with this forum? From what you describe, these are some particularly sloppy letters sent by particularly sloppy "compliance agents."
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SoylentGreen

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2012, 12:22:58 AM »
Actually, "rights-managed" doesn't have anything to do with copyright ownership by the stock image company (in this case Getty).
Rights managed simply refers to the type of license that's granted to the end user.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_managed

S.G.


Couch_Potato

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2012, 07:15:39 AM »
Getty will not check that an image is public domain but burden the person uploading it to confirm they have the copyright.

All images I've seen on Getty that are public domain have been available for editorial use only and the fee is for the trouble of someone obtaining the image from archives and uploading it. If someone has claimed copyright it appears they have misled Getty.

If Getty claim this image has copyright, but you have proof it is public domain then send them the proof and tell them to climb back into their hole.

I wouldn't be so sure Getty will pursue this. If you have sent them proof the image is public domain they would be taking a huge gamble in requesting any further payment. We have seen evidence in the past Getty has dropped cases where it is clear they cannot pursue it further.

stinger

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2012, 09:50:46 AM »
Background

A part of me hopes they will continue to pursue this case. I would be happy to have their practices exposed in court to let a judge decide if what they're doing is legal.


Dan, I feel the same way about my case.  And I am sure there are others like us on this forum.  So far Getty has been smart enough to make money on this, without their tactics being scrutinized by a judge.

I expect they will make a mistake soon.  Perhaps, transitions associated with the new buyout will lead to an error on their part that might give us the satisfaction we so richly deserve. 

Moe Hacken

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2012, 12:40:38 PM »
Actually, "rights-managed" doesn't have anything to do with copyright ownership by the stock image company (in this case Getty).
Rights managed simply refers to the type of license that's granted to the end user.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_managed

S.G.

That's true legally, but it appears to have something to do with it in Getty's bizarre and grabby mind. Why else would they even dream of sending a copyright infringement claim to someone regarding an image that's in the public domain?

This could be one scenario: PicScout flags obvious resemblance of public domain image to image on Getty's portfolio, sends report to "compliance technicians" at Getty. "Compliance technician" is supposed to vet the information to determine whether you have a false positive, but fails to identify the possibility that the image was legally obtained elsewhere and that the copyright user is NOT compelled for any reason to show them a license for the image or buy one retroactively.

So the letter could have been issued based on the fact that the copyright user did use the image and the same public domain image happens to be on Getty's website as "rights-managed", requiring the purchase of a license for use. This was probably not meant to happen but someone screwed up at Getty's "compliance department." I really doubt they would pursue this claim in court, and I'm actually surprised they've even sent a second letter. Maybe if one of their REAL lawyers got wind of it they would wise up and crawl back in their hole.

This is why I find it very dubious that Getty claims that they have the right to sell a "license" for a public domain work they simply converted to digital format. They should be able to charge a service fee but should not be allowed to claim anything like the right to manage it as a copyrighted work that needs to be licensed from them by the end user.
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SoylentGreen

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 01:17:14 PM »
Good posting Moe.

I guess that it's more of Getty's "phishing".
While definitely disturbing, it's not really much different than any of their other bogus copyright infringement claims.

Some people pay out of fear, and that's all that really matters to Getty.

S.G.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 02:11:42 PM »
Getty Images does everything half-assed..nobody "vets" anything, it's not part of the clerks job description to check anything before sending the typical form letter complete with typos, incorrect names, bad screenshots....we've seen it so many times, I think I have a good idea of the complete process:

1. picscout reports an image
2. some script checks to see if it is on getty's site
3. send letter
4. send letter
5. send letter

Actually looking into anything BEFORE sending the letter would cost them time and effort, which in turns hurts profit margin..JUST PAY US!

Hard to believe after more than 3 years I still get my panties in a knot over these asshats!

IMHO, Jonathan Klien and those behind the "letter program" are such dirt bags, i wouldn't piss in their mouth if their teeth were on fire...

end of rant!


Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

Any advice is strictly that, and anything I may state is based on my opinions, and observations.
Robert Krausankas

I have a few friends around here..

stinger

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 03:01:54 PM »
BuddhaPi, it is that passion that we all love!

Your rants should never end.  Your passion keeps me energized, and likely a lot more people on this site.

Mulligan

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2012, 03:22:28 PM »
Robert, keep those rants coming!

I too am surprised at the amount of passion I still have for getting the word out about Getty Images' copyright trolls and its collection agents like intellectual property lawyer Timothy B. McCormack of Seattle and his copyright trolling paralegal Ashanti A. Taylor.

Moe Hacken

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2012, 04:06:00 PM »
I like Robert's theory. Not to mention his graphic rant.

I wonder how automated their process really is. Could it be they only use humans to change the toner in the laser printer and everything is handled by simplistic scripts generating letters for anything that has a better than 50% chance of being a match for any image in "their" collection?

That would explain a whole lot of the sloppiness and lack of discretion.
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Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2012, 04:19:07 PM »
I like Robert's theory. Not to mention his graphic rant.

hmmm, is it time to fire up Photoshop??

Dealing with these trolls is much like:

http://www.ohmagif.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/windy-peeing.gif
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 06:16:49 PM by Matthew Chan »
Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

Any advice is strictly that, and anything I may state is based on my opinions, and observations.
Robert Krausankas

I have a few friends around here..

Peeved

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2012, 04:24:30 PM »
I like Robert's theory. Not to mention his graphic rant.

hmmm, is it time to fire up Photoshop??

Dealing with these trol is much like:

http://www.ohmagif.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/windy-peeing.gif

Awww yes....pissing in the wind....my favorite pass time.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 06:17:05 PM by Matthew Chan »

Mulligan

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Re: Don't Pay Getty - Thank you ELI
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2012, 04:48:41 PM »
Peeved, now you have me thinking of something Mark Twain wrote in Letter X of his controversial "Letters from the Earth":

Some Midianite must have repeated Onan's act, and brought that dire disaster upon his nation. If that was not the indelicacy that outraged the feelings of the Deity, then I know what it was: some Midianite had been pissing against the wall. I am sure of it, for that was an impropriety which the Source of all Etiquette never could stand. A person could piss against a tree, he could piss on his mother, he could piss on his own breeches, and get off, but he must not piss against the wall -- that would be going quite too far. The origin of the divine prejudice against this humble crime is not stated; but we know that the prejudice was very strong -- so strong that nothing but a wholesale massacre of the people inhabiting the region where the wall was defiled could satisfy the Deity.

Take the case of Jeroboam. "I will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall." It was done. And not only was the man that did it cut off, but everybody else.

The same with the house of Baasha: everybody was exterminated, kinsfolks, friends, and all, leaving "not one that pisseth against a wall."

In the case of Jeroboam you have a striking instance of the Deity's custom of not limiting his punishments to the guilty; the innocent are included. Even the "remnant" of that unhappy house was removed, even "as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone." That includes the women, the young maids, and the little girls. All innocent, for they couldn't piss against a wall. Nobody of that sex can. None but members of the other sex can achieve that feat.

A curious prejudice. And it still exists. Protestant parents still keep the Bible handy in the house, so that the children can study it, and one of the first things the little boys and girls learn is to be righteous and holy and not piss against the wall. They study those passages more than they study any others, except those which incite to masturbation. Those they hunt out and study in private. No Protestant child exists who does not masturbate. That art is the earliest accomplishment his religion confers upon him. Also the earliest her religion confers upon her.


Being the thoughtful sort in my younger chauvinist swine daze, I extrapolated a corollary from Twain's pissing observations before meeting my old lady blushing bride of 40+ years: That members of the fairer sex would also find it hard to piss into the wind.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 04:55:09 PM by Mulligan »

 

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