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Author Topic: Jonathan Klein and Getty Images Know How to Treat Their Contributors – Not.  (Read 6372 times)

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Before getting into the meat of this article I wanted to state that wherever possible I have linked to articles where I have obtained my information and that statements not directly reporting on the facts of the article are my own personal opinions.

This is part two of my series of articles focusing on the history that Jonathan Klein and Getty images has of questionable business practices. Previously I spoke about two separate stockholder lawsuits against Jonathan Klein and the top management at Getty which alleged that they were backdating stock option grants to historic low prices and lining their pockets at the company’s and stockholders expense. If you would like to read this article it may be found here:
http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/jonathan-klein-and-getty-images-a-history-of-questionable-business-practices/

Today I would like to talk about how Jonathan Klein and Getty images have treated their contributors in the past. The first case is a class-action lawsuit filed against Getty by its contributors over a new service Getty had started called “Premium Access”. This suit was a result of Getty allegedly disregarding their own contributor agreements on rights managed photographs and offering images for sale and unlimited use for very little money. In this class action suit there were around to 100 individual photographers and companies suing Getty asking for damages in excess of $100 million. Here is a quote from one of the brief articles I was able to find on this lawsuit
 
The photographs have allegedly been licensed by Getty to major media clients for as little as $2.08 for extensive, untracked use. This has severely undercut the market for comparable photographs, damaged the future market for these photographs, and violated both the Rights Managed Image Distribution agreements Getty signed and the Uniform Commercial Code.”

This almost sounds to me like they were trying to create an i–stock within their own site. From what I understand Getty owns i–stock and there are instances where a photograph appears on Getty and i–stock at the same time, the i–stock image being priced reasonable and in line with market value and the Getty image being typically way overpriced.

This case and it is frustrating for me as the stockholder lawsuits were, I do not know how it would’ve played out or if there’s any behind-the-scenes settlement as the stipulation for dismissal makes it appear that both parties agreed to drop the suit and walk away.

The legal documents may be found here if you are interested:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/110376269/Class-Action-Agianst-Getty-Images-Complaint
http://www.scribd.com/doc/110376270/Class-Action-Agianst-Getty-Images-Stipulation-for-Dismissal

The brief articles I could find may be found here:
http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/lawsuit/photographers-launch-class-action-against-getty.html
http://www.kreindler.com/Recent-Developments/Kreindler-Kreindler-LLP-Files-Class-Action-Against-Getty-Images-on-Behalf-of-Professional-Photographers.shtml


At this point I want to give a shout out to Robert Krausankas who does some photography of his own and pointed me to a couple of photographer sites where it shows how unhappy a lot of photographers are with Getty. Many appear to be contributors who are disgruntled over the recent sale to the Carlyle group saying every time something like this happens the commission rates are restructured and they are not making any money while Getty is keeping the profits. Here are the links to the sites that Robert provided for my research.
http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/8/15/Getty-sold-for-3-3billion?comment=2837210054
http://www.microstockgroup.com/istockphoto-com/hf-presses-on-with-$4-billion-getty-images-sale

So in conclusion we see that Jonathan Klein and Getty images not only have angered stockholders to the point of legal action for allegedly skimming profits rightfully due to the stockholders by backdating stock options as well as angering their own contributors to the point of a class-action lawsuit because of allegedly disregarding their own contributor agreements and offering rights managed photos for sale with unlimited use for as little as $2.08 and continue to anger current contributors by taking more and more of the lion share made from the photographs submitted.

My purpose of these articles is to show Getty has a history of this kind of behavior and the current business model of extortion settlement demand letters is just the latest in a line of questionable business practices designed to make as much money as possible whether earned and deserved or not. As I have said many times I consider Getty’s current business model, in my opinion, is nothing more than a form of legalized extortion where they are using current copyright law, scare tactics, refusal to provide proof substantiating their claim of exclusive rights, artificial deadlines and the threat of imminent lawsuit to get individuals, mom-and-pop companies and small businesses to pay them vastly overinflated sums of money. This is not to say that there are cases of willful infringement and I do not support nor does anyone on this forum that I am aware of support copyright infringement or the true theft of intellectual property, I refer to Getty’s insistence in pursuit of people and businesses which can clearly show that they are the victims of third parties and/or are truly innocent infringers.

You may ask why I have decided to name Jonathan Klein personally in this article. I am a firm believer in associating a face with any complaint that I make. In my original complaint letters I named my Getty Copyright Compliance pen-pal Douglas Bieker along with Getty images in every single complaint letter that I sent out. Jonathan Klein is the top man at Getty, he is aware of his company’s current business model and must give it the green light of approval so I choose to put his face on these articles about the company he runs. If you had not follow the thread and wish to read about my letter writing campaign as well as all letters they may be found here:
http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/an-experiment-against-getty/

This is part two in a series of articles I plan to write, the next part will show Getty’s history of talking out of both sides of their mouth where they refuse to listen to innocent infringers and tell them they must pay or be sued yet when they are guilty of the same infraction they claim no harm was intended and if there was any infringement on their part it was innocent so they should not have to pay. So stay tuned for part three…
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

Mulligan

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Excellent work, Greg. Thank you.


Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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You're very welcome Mulligan!  :)
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

RyanHealy

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Great article, Greg. I'm looking forward to Part 3.

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Great article, Greg. I'm looking forward to Part 3.

Thanks for the kind words Ryan, I'm working on the final touches and part three should be out tonight or tomorrow night at the latest.
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

stinger

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Greg:  You are the man!

I am thinking that when you are done outing Getty for what they real are, we should compile a self published compendium of your articles.  If they are sending out 40,000 letters per month and you could get just 10% to buy your low-priced e-book, that's a nice bonus income.  In fact, you might want to donate a portion of the proceeds to ELI.  With the SEO expertise around here, you could probably get your book title in front of half the people getting troll letters.

Perhaps Getty can become a second source of income for you and ELI?  8)

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Thanks Stinger, I have never thought about an e-book but it is something to consider down the road.

I do recommend supporting ELI as it is a one of a kind valuable service.

Thanks again for the kind words.


Greg:  You are the man!

I am thinking that when you are done outing Getty for what they real are, we should compile a self published compendium of your articles.  If they are sending out 40,000 letters per month and you could get just 10% to buy your low-priced e-book, that's a nice bonus income.  In fact, you might want to donate a portion of the proceeds to ELI.  With the SEO expertise around here, you could probably get your book title in front of half the people getting troll letters.

Perhaps Getty can become a second source of income for you and ELI?  8)
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Here is something I found in the forums while on lunch today from a year ago and originally posted by Soylent Green.  It is an article where the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)tells their member that due to contract changes they recommend not signing the new contract and look for other options to sell their photos.  The article may be found here:

http://www.pdnonline.com/news/ASMP-to-Getty-Photog-2608.shtml

And here's a similar response from the American Photographic Artists

http://www.apanational.com/files/APA_4_29_11_Getty_Statement.pdf
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

Oscar Michelen

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Great post Greg. Like all other media, digital images are now being controlled by large companies that smaller independent ones just can't compete with. Getty consolidated the industry by buying up all the small and not so small ones over time. With all those images and all that money, no one can match their distribution stream and reach.  Your picture has a greater chance of being in major media and getting exposure if its licensed through Getty than most other outlets. So most photogs put up with a lot to get that potential exposure. Looks like the ones that sued got some form of settlement and dropped it.

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Very true Oscar but from what I have read it seems of late Getty continues to take more and more of of the profits and give their contributors less and less.

Great post Greg. Like all other media, digital images are now being controlled by large companies that smaller independent ones just can't compete with. Getty consolidated the industry by buying up all the small and not so small ones over time. With all those images and all that money, no one can match their distribution stream and reach.  Your picture has a greater chance of being in major media and getting exposure if its licensed through Getty than most other outlets. So most photogs put up with a lot to get that potential exposure. Looks like the ones that sued got some form of settlement and dropped it.
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

April Brown (AuctionApril)

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Greg Troy - you are a great addition to the ELI team. Keep up the investigation. Please consider sending your articles to Washington Media. You might flush out other "reporters" missing your angle and ELI's position. Everyone loves to see abusers brought to justice, especially during difficult economic times. Consider repeatedly sending emails to all the business writers in this area (repeatedly). I guarantee you will get someone to pick this story up.

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Adding this to the archive.

#gettyflubs
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Thread bump
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

 

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