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Messages - Beanpole

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UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Is your Getty letter legal?
« on: July 20, 2013, 08:25:20 AM »
An update to my first post, and a disappointing one. I've had a reply from Companies House saying that Getty Images Ltd are exempt from the requirements of the Companies Act because:

the entity that issues licenses to UK customers for use of their images is not Getty Images Limited, but a foreign subsidiary of the Getty Images Group.

I can't see why it matters which entity issues the licenses or cleans the toilets; my complaint was about the letters sent by a UK company from its registered address. But apparently it does matter, so... does anyone know which "foreign subsidiary" it is that issues licences to UK customers?

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Is your Getty letter legal?
« on: June 17, 2013, 02:55:32 PM »
I always want to be a pain in the arse :) But I'm not in contact with Getty, so I'm doing that in other ways I hope.

Seriously, though, that's interesting and I didn't know GII is the exclusive licensee of the images. But I think it's beside the point (no offence intended!). The company sending these letters doesn't identify itself, the law requires it to do so, case closed. Returning to arses, if they can't get theirs in gear and comply with the law, they've no business accusing anyone else of anything.

The transfer of "just the right to sue" was what undid Righthaven.  Getty likely has some internal agreement between its companies and subsidiaries that makes them co-holders of the copyright

I thought only the copyright owner (i.e. the photog) could transfer rights? I'm hazy on some of this, but I thought the exclusive licensee couldn't sue without the copyright owner as co-claimant, and the licensee couldn't assign his rights to a third party. (If he can, and does, surely he wouldn't then be an 'exclusive' licensee and therefore couldn't bring a claim for infringement anyway).

If rights are being passed around or shared between the various Getty companies, there's a loophole in this 'exclusive licensee' business that I'm a long way from understanding.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Is your Getty letter legal?
« on: June 15, 2013, 06:39:00 PM »
Hi Beanpole,
I've received a letter today, and has the omissions and irregularities that you mention.  Can I ask, as well as reporting to the various agencies did you reply to Getty Images also?

Hi Lee,
No I didn't. Since the letters were in breach of UK law, I felt there was no need to do anything but report them. I wouldn't dignify them with a response.

I don't know if letters since then have changed but it's very easy to miss the VAT number as it's not very obvious.

There's definitely no VAT number on mine (late 2012), nor a couple of other forum users I've PM'd with in 2013. One user's letter didn't even give a postal address, just a Sheffield PO box.

The letter I received a couple of weeks ago does have the Getty logo and a street address but no company number, country of registration or VAT number.

The VAT is at 23%. 

Yep, that seems to be the current form of the letter. The logo counts for nothing, and the street address is just one part of the required information: if it's Bayham St, London, there are about 20 photo agencies registered to that address, three of which have 'Getty' in their names.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Is your Getty letter legal?
« on: June 01, 2013, 08:13:38 PM »
After removing any image(s) referred to in your Getty letter, but BEFORE you consider replying, check whether your Getty letter complies with UK law.

Sections 82 to 84 of the Companies Act 2006 require all business correspondence (every letter, email or fax) and business websites to include the following:

- registered company name (eg. "Getty Images (UK) Limited")

- registered company address (a real address with a door you could knock on, not a PO box)

- registered company number and country of registration (eg. "Registered in England no. 03728660")

The Getty website doesn't include this information, and nor do the demand letters received by myself and some others (likely all others) on this forum.

Perhaps the company sending these letters has a reason for wanting to hide its identity, perhaps it's not aware of this (very basic) piece of legislation, or perhaps it doesn't give two hoots about breaking the law as long as its gets your money. Whatever the reason, any letters or emails from Getty that omit any of the details above are in breach of the law.

You can report them to your local Trading Standards office and to Companies House: these two organisations are supposed to enforce the Companies Act. Include a copy of the letter you received and point out the breach of the Companies Act. Point out also that this unidentified company is making allegations and threats against you and demanding money; this is not just harmless spam.

In case you need it, Companies House address is:
Companies House, 4 Abbey Orchard Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 2HT

Next, does your demand include a charge for VAT? If so, is a VAT registration number shown on the letter? And is the applicable VAT rate shown (eg. "VAT @ 20%")? And is VAT being charged at UK standard rate of 20%? (If they don't quote the VAT rate, you'll have to do the arithmetic yourself.)

The letters seem to charge VAT at 23% (with no VAT number or VAT rate quoted), and that's the Irish rate. Was your letter sent by an Irish company? Well, of course, you can't tell because the company doesn't identify itself, but it probably looks like it came from a UK company. But maybe the company is registered for VAT in Ireland? Again, who can tell without a VAT reg number. Maybe it's not registered for VAT anywere at all and they just fancy an extra 23%.

If your letters are in breach of UK law as described above, do you really feel like sending these clowns a big cheque with a 23% tip added? I didn't -- I reported them to Companies House and Trading Standards. I've written to various other government depts too, such as HMRC, but CH and TS are the ones that matter most, and they seem to be taking it seriously. The more complaints they get (and the more samples of illegal letters proving that this is an ongoing breach) the better.

But I think Beanpole is referring to something different.  [...] Getty U.S. is likely a different legal entity than Getty Sweden.  Can both legal entities hold the right to sue over copyright infringement?

Yep, that's exactly what I was referring to.

However, my very non-legal opinion is, that if the foreign office is set up as a completely different subsidiary company, with a local company registration and VAT number, then they are not Getty USA, even though they may be subsidiaries, and may even have VERY similar names.

And it's notable that Getty's UK letters include no company registration number, no country of registration and (in some cases I've heard of) no registered company address, and therefore breach the Companies Act 2006. I've reported this to Trading Standards and Companies House (among others) -- these letters are not legal. (They also contain no VAT registration number, nor the applicable VAT rate, so they're probably in breach of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 too.)

Could it be that Getty Images Ltd is deliberately trying to disguise the fact that it's a separate entity from the actual copyright owner/licensee by not identifying itself in its letters, even though that flagrantly breaches UK law.

(BTW, sorry to bring all this into the U.S. thread where it has little relevance! But I think this has HUGE implications for UK recipients and others like 'lagamba' in Sweden.)

Edit: I'll make a post on this to the UK thread.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: getty image demand
« on: May 31, 2013, 06:28:23 PM »
Just a small thing, but I'd say you're wanting proof rather than just evidence.


Oh.....and Getty UK, in my opinion, and based on the information available online, is not the same as Getty USA. So would Getty UK, or "Getty Images International" based in Ireland, even have a legal right to sue?

That's something I've wondered about: if Getty Images, Inc is the "exclusive licensee" of the images, and only the exclusive licensee can bring a copyright action (in the UK, presumably elsewhere too), where does Getty Images Ltd (UK) or Getty Images Sverige figure in the whole thing? Surely these companies are not in a position to take court action, so the "extortion letters" actually are extortive?

Does anyone know? Perhaps that's another reason they'll never supply proof -- because it would be proof that some other company is actually the licensee.

Lisa, it seems to me that sending them copies of your personal documents is giving them far more than they deserve, and also tells them they've got you rattled. (Just my opinion.)

A good option you may have read elsewhere is to offer them, say, 50 pounds to compensate them for your innocent mistake, subject to their first providing the proof that they're entitled to it (the 1, 2 & 3 you mention). They won't do that, but you can keep repeating your offer at each contact (or just tell them you've made your offer and you won't reply to any further letters unless they contain that proof). Since you've made a reasonable attempt to settle, a court is highly unlikely to be sympathetic to Getty, and Getty knows that very well, so a few more pestering letters are all you should get. (You may get a letter from Atradius Collections after a while, too, but you can ignore that entirely, and from my experience, that marks the endpoint.)

There's an important point about letters from Atradius that people often overlook. They're only printed on one side, so you can use them as scrap paper rather than just throwing them away.

Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Defending with the letter
« on: March 02, 2013, 05:17:56 PM »
I haven't used the letter program, but I've read here that the aim is to get the case dropped. The way it seems to work is that once Getty knows you have representation, they know they can't scare you into paying because they can't contact you directly. They either have to take it to court or drop it, and they choose the obvious option.

BTW, until Getty proves it has any right to demand your money, a "fair settlement" is zero.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Regarding copyright
« on: February 06, 2013, 08:24:01 PM »
Greg, thanks for the clarification, I figured it was "always", but wasn't sure. Not a huge surprise.

I've read the Advernet case -- hard going, but weirdly entertaining :)

Hi Per

As Couch Potato says, you need proof that Getty is the exclusive licensee of that image. If DK really does have a licence, Getty obviously doesn't have the exclusive. (In fact, maybe Getty has no licence at all.)

If Getty isn't the exclusive licensee, they can't pursue you for copyright infringement, so you owe them nothing - no negotiation needed.

If you could trace the photographer, maybe you could innocently ask whether the image was licenced to both companies. If it was, I think that's game over for Getty. (That may be risky, because you may have infringed the photographer's copyright.)

But if DK is selling the same image, that must put you in a good position by itself. If Getty still wanted to pursue you, they'd really have to pursue DK too.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Regarding copyright
« on: February 06, 2013, 06:37:57 PM »
It's a small point, but Getty rarely own copyright in images and they don't claim to, they claim to be the exclusive licensee. This page is worth a read:

If they really are the exclusive licensee, that gives them more-or-less the same rights as the copyright owner had. Problem is, they usually (or always?) refuse to provide proof of this. It's likely that they never bother checking whether they really do have a licence because that would just slow them down.

Also, the "legal department" they refer to is a debt-collection company called Atradius Collections Ltd in Cardiff. There's no point asking Atradius for proof of anything, or taking any notice of their letters. Whatever the rights and wrongs of your particular situation, you don't owe Atradius a penny.

Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: An Experiment Against Getty
« on: February 01, 2013, 08:48:10 PM »
...while Getty's position is legal, it's really unethical.

I'm surprised by the common acceptance that Getty's position is legal. They're accusing you of infringing their copyright without offering proof that they possess any such right. Who knows whether they do or not? I'm not in the US and I don't know US law, but I'd guess that if they don't have the appropriate license, the accusation and payment demand must be very illegal indeed.

It's a given that they operate unethically, and that lack of ethics could easily extend to not checking their facts before firing off a demand. It's happened before (35 times in a single case, if I remember rightly). At best, surely, their position may be legal, but without proof you can't possibly know.

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