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Author Topic: stockfood.com extortion letter- getty images? what to do- any help appreciated:)  (Read 19537 times)

Asrael

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Hi
Today I received a phone call, and was silly enough to return the call. 

It was regarding an image on my website that I had gotten from google images a few years ago.  There was no watermark, no anything to mark it as someones photo. 

As the story goes I am a small business.  This photo was supposedly from stockphoto.com and copyrighted.  The phone call was from a collection agency in Seattle called lcs services.  The woman was very rude, and said I was in copyright infringement.  They said I owed $680 dollars, but would take it down to $510 and I had to pay by January 30.  She had sent out letters to me in Virginia Beach.. (I live in Canada) and then sent me an email (I did not give her the email it was on my website) with a link to the picture and what it was.  I posted the email below.  I immediately removed the picture and removed it from the saved files of my site as well.  My question is.. What do I do?
 
Do I ignore the barrage of calls/emails to come?  The company is in the states, my webhosting company is in the states.  I live in Canada.  My business is in Canada. 
Do I write a letter as some people recommend?  The image is on stockphoto.com but is also on many other websites/blogs.  and I certainly did not take it from there.

It appears that stockphoto.com is related to Getty pictures. 

I have looked over the forums, and will continue to look more, but I thought I would ask and see if anyone could just offer any help.  It made me feel sick to my stomach, and obviously stressed out. 

Thank you in advance :)

Here is the letter they emailed me.

License Compliance Services on behalf of © StockFood.

605 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104
United States

1/18/2014

Dear,

It has come to the attention of StockFood that an image or images represented exclusively by StockFood are being used or have been used for online promotional use by your company and without permission. According to our records there is no valid license issued to your company for use of the image(s).
To view the image(s) in question together with the usage(s) found on your company’s website, you can click on this link: 

Using a StockFood image without a valid license is considered copyright infringement and in violation of the Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code, entitling StockFood to seek legal remedies and compensation for infringing uses. It is our contractual obligation to make you aware of this infringement.

To resolve this matter, we need you to take the following action within 10 business days of the date of this letter: (1) identify an existing license for the use of the image(s) in question, or (2) remit a $680.00 settlement payment.

If you believe a valid license has been issued for the image(s) and use(s), please provide the license information by emailing lcs@stockfood.com and include the invoice number of the license purchase. If the image(s) was/were validly licensed on your behalf by a third party please provide us with the company name, contact person and phone number.
If you cannot provide proof that the image(s) has/have been properly licensed, you must cease the use of the image(s). In addition, the above mentioned settlement payment must be received within 10 days of the date of this letter. Ceasing use of the image(s) does not eliminate liability for payment of fees due.
If you do not respond within the time frame provided we will take the appropriate actions.

If you desire to continue the use of the image(s) you are welcome to email lcs@stockfood.com or call +1 855 387 8725 to discuss steps to obtaining a valid license.
If you believe you have received this letter in error, please contact us immediately by email at lcs@stockfood.com .

StockFood is committed to investigating license infractions not only to protect our interests but also to protect the interests, intellectual property and livelihoods of the contributors with whom we work. We enforce our licensing conditions rigorously and believe that prompt cooperation will benefit all concerned parties. This letter is without prejudice to StockFood’s rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.

Sincerely,

License Compliance Services on behalf of © StockFood.
lcs@stockfood.com

 

 

Remittance Payment Options
_____________________________________________________________

Please remit payment using one of the following payment options:

You can remit payment online by clicking on the below URL:
https://lcs-usa.stockfood.com/4JUDABI8

Remit Check Payment To:

License Compliance Services
Picscout Inc.
605 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104
United States
Please include Reference Number 4JUD-ABI8 with check payment.

Alternatively, you may contact us at +1 855 387 8725 or Pay By Wire Transfer to:

Bank of America
Picscout Inc.
Bank Account number: 138110423135
Routing (ABA) Number: 125000024
Swift Code: BOFAUS3N
Address: PO Box 25118, Tampa, FL 33622-5118

 For US copyright law, please visit the United States Copyright Office website: http://www.copyright.gov/
 

 

 Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is StockFood?

StockFood is the leading food specialist among image libraries.  We provide images, videos and feature text to publishers, advertisers and various food industries.  StockFood is a member of PACA (Picture Archive Council of America), CEPIC, (Coordination of European Press Agencies Press Stock Heritage), BAPLA (British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies) and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals).

Why is StockFood contacting me?

Your website was recognized by an internet service StockFood uses to identify all online uses of images we represent.  After notification by this service and upon review of our billing systems there is no record of a valid license for use of the image(s) identified online.

What if I didn’t know?

You may have employed a third party, former worker or intern to design and develop your company’s site.  However, the liability of any infringement ultimately falls on the company (the end user) who hired that party, employee or intern.  You may have been unaware this material was subject to license.  The Copyright Act treats infringements as “no fault,” meaning anyone who copies, displays or publicly distributes a photograph infringes the copyright whether they were aware that the use was infringing or not.

What if I simply remove the image?

While we appreciate the effort of removing the material in question from your site, we still require compensation.  Your company has benefited by using our imagery without permission from StockFood or its represented contributors.  As the unauthorized use has already occurred, payment for that benefit is necessary.

What if I need to speak further with somebody to discuss this matter?

Please either email us at lcs@stockfood.com or call +1 855 387 8725 .

Asrael

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More Info: stockfood.com extortion letter- getty images? what to do-
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2014, 01:19:40 AM »
More Info:
I have read much more on the site, and understand that sending a letter asking them to cease and without the copyright proof I will not be replying, and that I will only communicate by letter mail. As far as I know they do not have my address.. They have my phone number and they had my email.  Do I wait for them to find my post address and then reply?  Or do I send this reply via email?
I do not plan on answering the phone for them again.
Also I live in Canada, so I am assuming they need the Canadian Copy right as well.

Again I very much appreciate any and all help you may give me~ Thank you

scraggy

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http://www.mccormacklegal.com/blog/press-releases/stockfood-usa-has-retained-mccormack-intellectual-property-p-s

StockFood has retained McCormack Intellectual Property, P.S. to assist them in resolving copyright infringement claims for the unlicensed display of imagery on U.S. websites.

This is Getty's well known attorney!

Please send me privately details of the photo...
Where is the photographer based?
To whom did the photographer sign over exclusive rights?

Ian

lucia

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Do I ignore the barrage of calls/emails to come?  The company is in the states, my webhosting company is in the states.  I live in Canada.  My business is in Canada. 

Interesting. I'd say first figure out whether US copyright law applies to your case.  I don't know if the hosting company being in the States is enough to make it apply. (Maybe it does; maybe it doesn't. )

If US copyright law does apply, it would presumably apply in the state where your hosting company sits?   But we need to figure that out.

With respect to any debt collection calls: such calls would be illegal in the US. You would simply tell them that this is not a debt, it is a legal claim which has neither been filed nor adjudicated.  Then tell them to stop calling your you will report them.   I don't know what happens in Canada.  But this might be useful:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/h_ca02149.html
Quote
If you owe money to a company or a supplier and have not recently sent in your payment, that company or supplier can turn your file over to a collection agency. Here are some useful tips:

    You must be notified in writing that your file has been given to a collection agency. Don't panic. The agency is trying to recover the money you owe its client.

The link contains other useful information. But basically: before a debt collection agency can call, they would need to notify you in writing that the debt was transferred to the collection agency.  If you've received no such letter, they can't call. If you received such a letter, presumably it will tell you why they believe this is a debt and not just a demand. 

But definitely: try to figure out if US copyright applies to your case at all. It may or may not. You'll want to proceed knowing which law applies.
 


lucia

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Interesting stuff concerning Canada (I don't know if it's correct info, but it's worth looking for wat we find.)

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/if-a-non-us-resident-provides-web-service-with-cop-510039.html
Quote
If a non-US resident provides web service with copyrighted material in the US, are they required to follow the DMCA?
Asked over 2 years ago - Elizabeth, NJ
Flag

    Business
    Copyright
    DMCA

If a web hosting provider uses Canadian IP space and is a Canadian resident, but they colocate their servers in the US, are they required to adhere to DMCA policies? If so, how can someone have the infringed material removed, if the host refuses to do anything about it?
Save
Attorney answers (1)

    Mitchell Paul Goldstein
    Mitchell Goldstein
    Bankruptcy Attorney - Glen Allen, VA
    Contributor Level 20

    Answered 2 years ago. The American host has to follow it. You can follow the providers upstream until you reach a U.S. host. Foreign companies are not subject to U.S. law, though they may have their own.
My take on this is that 'Mitchell Paul Goldstein' who seems to work on bankruptcy not copyright says that DMCA wouldn't apply to the Canadian company.  That might suggest that US copyright won't apply to you or your company as you are Canadian.  It could apply to your hosting company, but that only means that the copyright owner can write the hosting company to get your material removed.  But your probably taking it down anyway, so that's not really a big deal. Writing the hosting company to take it down is nothing like suing you.


Anyway: if this is correct, that looks like any suit might need to be in Canada and Canadian law would apply. Oscar will know if there is any US law hook. 

 

Asrael

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Thanks so much for all of this input and information. 
I have at this point just decided to ignore the calls. 
I received my 2nd one today.  It will be interesting to look at the Canadian law and see what it says.  I am an unincorporated small business, and was unaware it was a copyrighted image.  I took it down immediately. 
I have received nothing in the mail, or in writing, and one email with the original call.  I would ask them to send me the proof in writing but I don't want to supply my address if they don't have it. 

I don't want to engage anyone on the phone any further- I wish I had not returned that first call.

For them to come to Canada to sue me for 1 picture seems like alot of money and time wasted. but if anyone thinks I am being to hasty ignoring them I would be interested in the input.

Thank you so much 

Mulligan

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Asrael, a major aspect of many of these copyright trolling schemes is to generate fear via phony deadlines suggesting if you don't pay or act RIGHT NOW the sky will fall in on you. This psychological ploy is powerful but it's also bullshit, as many of us here have learned.

So, first of all, take a few deep breaths and relax. Nothing bad is going to happen immediately or even quickly, and you have plenty of time to educate yourself and then decide how to proceed.

The chances of anyone suing you over one image used innocently are slim and none.

Keep reading the forum's old posts, watch the videos, and ask specific questions here as they come to you and we'll help you relax and play this game. That's really all it is... a nasty little game developed by nasty little people who like to try to force nice people pay big money for often lame and cheesy images.

JLorimer

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As Mulligan has said, don't rush to do anything.  These people do not move quickly, and they honestly don't know if you are either.  The observed date listed is often many months behind when they actually decided to contact you.  They will also take 6 - 8 weeks to respond to most things you send them via mail, if not longer.  They send out so many of these things that they simply could not process them quickly.

lindak

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Hi, I found this site after receiving the same email as the OP. It is from license compliance service on behalf of food stock and the payment is to be made to Picscout.

Both my husband and I spoke separately to the woman at the phone number. They sent us a screen shot of a blog post from November of 2010 side by side with a photo they said was on the post but didn't even appear in the screen shot.

I think they picked a good target as the fear tactics are working with me! Should we ignore any further calls or write a letter (or email) saying the image isn't even in their screen shot?

Thanks for any input--it is greatly appreciated!

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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payment made to picscout?? I would like to see this letter, to add it our archives, if you are willing to share it please send me a PM and I will give you an email address..naturally I will redact all of your personal information before hand.
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..

lucia

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They sent us a screen shot of a blog post from November of 2010 side by side with a photo they said was on the post but didn't even appear in the screen shot.

(1) Sounds like you are saying the image they claim was in the post doesn't even appear on the post? Ordinarily we advise taking it down as a matter of caution. But that would be rather impossible if the image doesn't even appear in the post.  Obviously, if the image is not there, they can't win a suit for a copyright violation!
(2) Nov. 2010? Are you in the US? The statute of limitations for filing a claim in court is 3 years from when they find the violation. Sounds like they missed that by a few months.  That means they missed the statute of limitations in Nov. 2013.  Too bad. So sad .... for them!

If the facts are as I understand them and especially if you are in the US, you should breath a huge sigh of relief.  Also: You should write a letter of complaint to the Attorney General complaining about the letter. Because this would be a great #gettyflub !

bernicem77

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payment made to picscout?? I would like to see this letter, to add it our archives, if you are willing to share it please send me a PM and I will give you an email address..naturally I will redact all of your personal information before hand.


Robert, the letter posted by the original poster above says that the money is going to picscout. It says to remit payment to "License compliance services Picsout Inc" or "Bank of America Picscout Inc"

lindak

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Thanks for the feedback.

Robert-I sent you a PM.

To clarify-there was no photo that was posted to our site but upon further examination they were pointing to a link that was on the blog post. The link was to a PDF file (a Genworth brochure about long term care) that had the photo in it.

The link is not active but I don't know how long it has been dead-I wonder if that would impact any statute of limitations.

Thanks again for the responses.



stinger

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Hot linking is NOT copyright infringement.  Apparently, picscout does not let them know exactly where the image comes from.

If I were in your shoes, I might ignore them.  You can choose to inform them of the fact, but be forewarned, they don't always listen to what you write.

Asrael

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I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the support and the help:)
I really appreciate it~
Asrael

 

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