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Author Topic: Surprise! I got a letter today...  (Read 4735 times)

Andrea

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Surprise! I got a letter today...
« on: November 15, 2010, 08:43:54 PM »
Firstly, let me just say how thankful I am to have found this site! I received my letter not more than six hours ago and my mind has been reeling and my fingers fast searching the web for anything that might help; that's when I landed here.

Secondly, I have read all the letter correspondence, most of the posts in the forum, but I still have several questions I hope someone might be able to answer here.

My first question is probably an obvious one; should I contact my own lawyer in this matter? The obvious answer for anyone would be yes, of course, however with reading some of the things here (written by Mr. Michelen), I am doubting if I should involve him at all with the suspicion that he may not have the required knowledge for dealing with "legal extortion" (as he mostly practices real estate law). I do have plans to call him ASAP, but am wondering if the delay in returning correspondence could prove detrimental to my company's issue?

Second question being, I am the owner of a single member owned and operated company, which is also an LLC, I do not wish to have this affect me personally and am curious if anyone could give me helpful hints as to keep this from happening? As it is, my business and myself, do not make very much money and cannot afford to even begin to fathom the thought of paying this "bill" ($600 USD; one image). The image was taken off my website immediately following receipt of the letter (and had been there for nearly a year prior without any notice of infringement). Another quick question, shouldn't I have received an order to Cease and Desist Use? What if I did not receive one?

Third question, according to the letter I received, there is a routing and account number made readily available (for the poor legally blind folks who DO actually remit payment). What self-respecting company does this? Potentially, wouldn't this allow for THEM to be taken "advantage" of? (Not that I really am concerned for them, but is raises yet another question of this company's accountability.) I know I wouldn't give out MY company's banking numbers out anywhere.

Fourthly, I have found the photographer whose work is in question. I do not wish to bother the man with silly things, however I feel that maybe if I write him a short explanation, he may be able to help in some way? Would you recommend that I do or do NOT do this? Like I said, I do not wish to bother such a busy man with something like this, but I also feel it couldn't hurt.

Fifth question is simply this, I found my image on Google images, Google has an infringement policy, so why is it that if people like us are getting these letters that Google either has not or has chosen to leave said images on their search engine? HOW does it become the smaller parties problem before the larger one? Or is that just another case of "money, money for hush, hush?"

In conclusion, and this is not a question, but merely a statement, if the letter you have received says the exact same thing (more or less) mine does, wouldn't it make you think more that this is indeed a scam to extort hard earned money from what I should suspect is decent, hard working people? I mean, had any one of us known that which ever image(s) we used, whether we knowingly put it there or a third party put it there, were copyrighted, I'm sure that we would not have used the image(s) in the first place. Just always better to just not use ANYTHING you find on the web. Period. However, now, we're all in the same boat: owing a company we never really knew existed before exorbitant amounts of money and basically having each and every one of our companies "black marked" because of it. And let me not leave out the fact that we are ALWAYS going to be found to be guilty by Getty Images and it seems (from reading their pre-formed letters to others) we have little to no chance of succeeding in civil, non-legal, non-monetary settlements. I do hope to hear from someone soon on any/all questions above and thank you in advance.

Andrea

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Surprise! I got a letter today...
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2010, 08:29:58 AM »
Hey Andrea:

Let me try to answer your questions. (1) While you are free to hire any lawyer you wish, I doubt you will find one with the experience with this issue that I have and at the price that I offer my letter response; (2) You do not have a right to a cease and desist letter first under the Copyright Act. Having an LLC protects you from individual liability if the company is properly formed and operated.  But since you will not be sued over a single image this is not a real concern; (3) Getty is very aggressive with this program so its no surprise they would set up an account for wire transfers and I am sure once the money goes in it goes out to their regular operating account asap; (4) whether the photographer is busy is irrelevant, Getty has the right to bring the claim and the photographer assigned that right to Getty; (5) the Copyright Act allows the copyright holder to sue the person who "benefits" from the infringement.  In the case of digital images that would be the end user or website owner.  

I hope I have answered your questions fully and good luck with this issue!

Andrea

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Re: Surprise! I got a letter today...
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2010, 10:16:36 AM »
Thank you for your prompt reply, Mr. Michelen. Just to be absolutely sure I understand what you've written, you're saying GI will not sue my company for the use of that one image, correct?
I do have the intention of contacting a lawyer who deals with Intellectual Property law, however, if I feel the need, I will contact you. Again, thank you very much for your reply.
Andrea

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Surprise! I got a letter today...
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2010, 09:12:43 PM »
The best I can say is that  to date -after nearly 6 years of running this program, Getty has never sued over a single image, in fact they have only sued in a handful of cases at all.

Andrea

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Re: Surprise! I got a letter today...
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2010, 02:23:27 PM »
That relieves my mind a bit. Thank you again for your response.

DanFeerst

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Re: Ignore? Or "Don't Contact me again?"
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 09:26:02 AM »
QUESTION: Thanks for asking the very same question, I wanted to ask. How should this letter be handled. Should we just ignore it? Or write back as I believe I read somewhere and tell them that this "will not be paid and to not contact us again about this matter."

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Ignore? Or "Don't Contact me again?"
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 09:36:45 AM »
That's up to you. Some choose to ignore it, but that leads to further contacts from a collection agency and even possibly a law firm like McCormack law in Seattle. Even merely writing them a letter that says "Leave me Alone" will not necessarily end their attempts to collect on this claim.

mellow6

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Re: Surprise! I got a letter today...
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2010, 02:18:45 PM »
Oscar, what do you think is the deciding factor for Getty to pursue or not to pursue in UK?
Do you think a defence of S97 Copyright Act is why Getty are reluctant to sue? If I were to be taken to court that is the defence that I would put forward but before I do so, do you or anyone out there ( provided he/she doesn't work for Getty)  know if this is a cast iron defence for an innocent infringer?

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Surprise! I got a letter today...
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2010, 10:49:47 PM »
There is no "cast iron defense" as they can argue that you acted through an agent and are responsible for their actions, but it is a strong defense that I wish existed in the US law. I do feel it is why they are even more reluctant to sue in the UK. I would love a UK lawyer to give us an idea of how often the defense is employed and it success rate, etc but no UK lawyer has ever stepped up on this issue.

 

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