ELI Forums > Higbee Associates Letter & Lawsuits Forum

Sample replies? Best course of action to take?

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So, newbie here, I've looked around the site for a while but hoping this merits something relatively new. If duplicative, I appologize:

I've gotten one of these letters, very standard, they want $1400 for "licensing".  This is not Getty, it's some random photographer I won't name working through a law firm we'll called "Firm X".  One of my writers got the image from god knows where, probably google.

Anyway, I immediately deleted the photo in question and apologized rather politely to them telling them the following:

"Hi guys, sorry about the delay, we removed the image in question as you requested. I have no idea where that image came from, and we have no interest in infringing on anyone's copyright.  Rest assured we follow very strict guidelines with our writers about using only images that fall under creative commons license and are free to use. As you know, the internet is crawling with millions of badly or mis-labled images and I can only assume that that the writer in question made use of the image in error.  It was removed immediately following your first letter.   We do not have any need to license anything."

To which, naturally, they tell me their client would still like to be compensated and they're happy to set up a payment plan for me (how nice!), and that litigation will begin in 90 days.

Anyway... question one is - should I respond immediately?

This is the response I'm considering, curious what you folks think. I am also thinking about cc'ing the client directly, though that might be obnoxious :-)


Dear Firm X - thanks for getting back to me.  I understand your client's concern, but I'm sure he's also saavy enough to know that images do get mislabeled on the internet from time to time, especially images as old as the one he's referring to. Our author got this image from a very old creative commons search and, assuming it was indeed your client's image, then that search result was obviously in error.   On the extremely rare occasions when this has been brought to our attention, we immediately remove the image as we have no interest in running commercial imagery. It is not in our business model to profit off anyone's images nor have we profited in any way from the apparent use of the image in question.  We do not think it's ethical to pursue compensation for something that we didn't even know we had done and I suspect your client would not be pleased to find out he is paying for what essentially amounts to an extortion racket on your part.   Civilized people understand this and I expect you do as well.

We have never had any relationship with your client, commercial or otherwise, nor do we wish to. Please inform him that we have no reason to license his image but thank him for the offer.
Well? Am I just poking a bees nest?  What are the odds these fuckers actually pursue litigation?


Matthew Chan:
IF you don't reveal the extortionist, we won't be able to tell you what they will or won't do.

Or you can go check for yourself at dockets.justia.com. It goes back 7 years or so.

Does sound a lot like bee's nest poking to me.

What Matthew says makes sense to me.  Not all extortionists are alike.  You have to know who you are dealing with.  Also good to know if the image is registered.  That can give you an idea of how much they might try to go after in a suit.

Thanks guys.  I'm just worried that they'll go googling around and discover this forum and somehow use it against me.  I'm probably just being paranoid, but before I reveal them, is there any good reason not to?

EDIT - using that search tool pulls up no results for the photographer's name nor his company.  Maybe that's good news?

Greg Troy (KeepFighting):
As Matthew said, without knowing who you are dealing with it is very hard to tell you anything.

This forum is read by several of the copyright trolls.

All I can suggest if you do not wish to provide any information is to read through the forum, most answers can be found there.


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