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Messages - starmanalpha

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Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: An Experiment Against Getty
« on: May 02, 2013, 02:23:33 PM »
Here's an update from my client...

I wrote a response letter for my client to Getty regarding the preview image supposedly used on their blog. The image was 100px by 133px - so really small.

1) We removed the image as soon as we were notified. This alleged infringement was unintentional at best and we want to keep it that way.

2) The image was used on a blog post discussing a news story and was not commercial - not directly. So we are claiming fair use. Probably not the best line but it was a paragraph non the less.

3) We send a document showing the same image on hundreds of sites via Google search. Many of these sites had publish dates in excess of 6 years so they are not hell bent on finding infringers if I can find so many in 5 seconds. Though we only pointed out that the image was prolific.

4) We searched their catalog and found the image was in a different color than the one in their catalog.

5) Keeping the above in mind how could we be sure Getty was indeed the legal copyright holder? We asked for the original copyright claimant and any assignment or granting of exclusive rights including the right to enforce violations.

Last week they sent a reply via FedEx. It's basically a similar form letter to the ones already posted. It more or less ignores the documentation requested on grounds of confidentiality. It also lowers the requested amount and puts in a nice fast date to make the receiver think fast. My client was actually out of town and thus didn't even get the letter till after the date had passed.

The most interesting thing was that the response letter DID NOT COME FROM AN ATTORNEY - but rather from Getty's "Copyright Compliance Department." Not sure if this shows a shift in strategy to keep the heat off from the AG and WA Bar.

Our reply strategy will be to ask for documentation on the copyright claimant and any assignment so we can be sure we are dealing with the right entity. We are willing to agree to confidentiality if needed but until we have that information we cannot simple assume Getty is telling the truth.

Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: An Experiment Against Getty
« on: April 02, 2013, 12:11:02 PM »
Greg & everyone else... thank you for your excellent work on this site.

I have a web design client that received an extortion letter from Getty for a 100px wide image used as a blog preview image. The information you provided will be helpful in writing a response for this client - who is freaking out because of this.

I have been involved in a couple of other intellectual property cases and having spent tens of thousands on attorneys I have learned a great deal about the subject. I don't know if this is shared elsewhere in this forum (I've only had 4hours on so far!) but these facts might help someone in deciding how they will respond.

  • A copyright case going to trial in Federal Court (US) will likely cost $80,000 and up. This is for atty costs, discovery, etc. I had a case that never went to trial - in fact it was never filed. It still cost my company $20,000 just to have attorneys searching the Library of Congress and doing our own investigation and even a brief negotiation.

    This is the real reason they are not going to trial. It is the reason the RIAA chose a few cases to make examples out of and did not peruse 26 million people that downloaded from Napster. The RIAA is no longer suing either... they realized that was counterproductive.

    One more real cost to consider... even if Getty were to get a judgment against you (disregarding their cost in doing so) collecting would be a whole other situation. The cost in employees, additional court filings, jurisdiction, etc. would cost far more than the $1000 or so they seem to be after. Again, in strict business terms no worth it.

    Consider this when assessing the real nature of their threat.
  • Consider the "Fair Use" defense... in my clients case the image was used on a blog. While they are a business, the blog is journalistic and educational in nature. Over 99.% of the visitors (and it's a small site) are not even able to do business with them which calls into doubt any claims Getty makes about the commercial nature of the site and any true damages. You can read about fair use here:
  • Getty does not itself have accurate records of who has licensed their photos. Over the years (since mid 1990's) my company has licensed hundreds of photographs either in collections or individually through Getty or one of the companies they acquired - Photodisc. I checked today and Getty has record of just ONE image that is licensed by us!

    On a real business level, we simply don't have record of licences for many of these images - stuff gets lost, deleted, etc. in the course of 15 years. Point being we are simply not sure... so Getty's actions have sealed our decision not to use Getty under any circumstances. (We generally don't like to use stock photo's but sometimes that's the least expensive option.)
  • Look for pervasiveness... while yes you are liable for the violation of a copyright - even unintentional - there is a difference between going to Getty's site and stealing from them knowingly and accidentally picking something up from what you thought was public. (Copyright law does make a difference between intentional and unintentional infringement) In the case on my client a 5 second Google search found hundreds of copies of this same image (actually slightly different than the one in their catalog) on sites - some having publish dates over 4 years ago. The point here is that as others have pointed out, it will be much harder for Getty to make the case it aggressively pursues infringement when you a simple mortal without the tools of PicScout can find so many similar cases. This only makes their case harder.
  • Fight... as this whole site is dedicated to it I just want to reiterate that you fight their claims. When they respond with boilerplate write the AG's and other listed in this post. Make noise. If you look at the simple numbers, Getty is looking for the easy money, not a real legal fight. They use the same intimidation tactics third party collection agencies use (many illegal for debt collection). The debt collectors do it anyway because they know you don't have the money (and probably not the will) to take them to court.

    But by fighting you cost them money. Every letter they have to send to you, an AG, the BBB costs the time of someone even to read it. At some point they will just give up. And even supposing they don't you have a case for defense (provided you have a few things you learned in this forum) and even if they win a case, collecting will be something else. I'm sure they have a calculous for the negative PR that would generate and will fly under anything that truly damages their extortion business model.
Again, thanks to everyone here for the great work.

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