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Messages - iandouglas

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Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: email from Leslie Burns
« on: July 27, 2018, 10:33:20 AM »
It is good you have an attorney.  Leslie Burns is only admitted to practice law in CA. Your attorney can explain how that fact, your location, the copyright holder’s location and that state’s longarm statute can impact the odds of the claim going to litigation.

Copyright holder is from Canada, for what it's worth, but did register the photo in the US. I currently live in Colorado. My attorney suggested that I not reply at all, but now I'm second-guessing that.

Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: email from Leslie Burns
« on: July 26, 2018, 07:40:34 PM »
How do you know the copyright registration checks out?  It probably doesn't.
Burns provided a copyright registration number. I searched for it at Library of Congress, and it does exist, names the artist and the name of the piece, etc.

The "client" probably registered a picture of dog shit
No, but that's inconsequential. The photo is on the person's portfolio web site where you can order prints, a book, etc.. Artist is legit. Copyright is definitely in place.

How do you know the "client" hasn't been seeding the image to entice you to use it?
I don't think that's what happened here, I found the image years ago through a friend or family member posting a "hey, these are cool photos" on social media, and I grabbed a copy and used it. Didn't bother to look for copyright, etc.. I can't speak for the intentions of the artist if they put that photo in a collection to seed it or not, but what difference would that really make? Also, I can't remember when/how I obtained a copy, so I have no documentation around whether I've had the image longer than their copyright registration in the US.

Out the "client" who thought $7500 was a good idea for a f'ing image on Twitter
Who's to say that's the value they actually put on the image, or some "pull a number out of the air" that Burns has concocted? If it was on a business site or I were otherwise making money on the image, sure, but this was on my personal Twitter account where I post about technology-related content and volunteer my time to mentor others in the tech industry. I make $0 from Twitter.

I'd be curious, though, if someone were to anonymously contact the artist and ask for a quote on some of their work to see what their license fee actually would be.

any "client" who needs to scam people out of $7500 isn't a photographer or anyone with any talent to make anything that's actually worth anything at all
As previously noted, artist is legit and they have some really, really nice work now that I've looked into their work. They don't have a HUGE portfolio, but what they do have online is actually very tasteful photography.

Getty Images Letter Forum / email from Leslie Burns
« on: July 26, 2018, 01:19:09 PM »
I've lurked on the forum here for a little bit and would love any input on this.

I got an email from Leslie Burns exactly two weeks ago, with a followup almost precisely 14 days later (today) at almost the exact same time. As a software developer, I recognize this as something akin to a marketing "drip" campaign. I haven't checked yet whether there was tracking data in the message or PDF file sent.

Attached you will find a letter regarding your infringing use of my client’s photograph. I encourage you to read the letter in detail and to seek the advice of your own copyright attorney or your business liability insurer prior to responding.

I look forward to working to a rational resolution with you or your representative.

Leslie Burns

The initial letter included a PDF file of a claim from a "client" of theirs, about my use of a stock photo I'd found online and using on my Twitter profile. I removed it that day, and even filed a "copyright infringement" against myself on Twitter so Twitter would remove the image entirely from their servers, which they have done.

Funny enough, their "rational" resolution (mentioned in the email) demanded a $7,500.00 payment. They also addressed the PDF letter to me care of my employer's address, which I don't knowingly publish anywhere, so it seems they've done some minor amount of work to find that.

I have not, however, responded to the original email, nor the followup. I contacted an attorney who I'm working with on an unrelated matter, and that attorney did less than an hour's worth of work online to see that Burns was a copyright troll and recommended I ignore the letter.

Today's email:

Despite my previous email, I have not yet heard from you or anyone claiming to represent you in this matter. This is not something you should ignore. My client is making the effort, through me, to work this out without litigation; but, for that to happen, you must participate. We note that you have removed the work from use, but removal does not cure the infringement—it only stops it from being worse.

I understand that you may think this is some sort of spam email, but it is not. You can look me up on the California Bar website—my bar number is 276687, as seen on the letter you received with my last email. You can also investigate my website (link in sig) to confirm that I am legitimate. Finally, you can search the site for cases I have filed for my clients in federal court.

As for this matter and your liability, you may also be interested in reading this article (I have no relation to its author) as it deals with the realities of using images found online:
I have no relationship to the author, by the way.

Please contact me as soon as possible to discuss settlement. If I do not hear from you in the next week, I will forward a print letter via USPS with tracking to confirm receipt.

PDF also included these bits:

(original artist name withheld) has hired this firm to handle the matter, including litigation if necessary, and he specifically requests that you do not contact him directly about this matter (although you may contact him to confirm that I represent him).

The PDF file included a screenshot of my Twitter profile showing the image, as well as the full Twitter URL of where the image was hosted.

This matter is ripe for settlement for the following reasons: (1) your use is indisputable (as seen above); (2) (artist name) has registered the copyright in the work (Certificate No. WITHHELD) and did so before the infringement; and, (3) copyright infringement is strict liability (1). In other words, there is no question about your liability here; the only issue left open is the amount of damages to be paid.

The (1) subnote contained this text:
(1) See, e.g., Educational Testing Service v. Simon, 95 F.Supp.2d 1081, 1087 (C.D.Cal.1999) (copyright infringement "is a strict liability tort").

I've searched for the Copyright Certificate they mentioned and found it at the Library of Congress, everything matches.

Please note that the amount above represents an offer of settlement but it doesn’t reflect the full damages that my client can and will seek in litigation, including attorneys' fees, as previously mentioned. If you do not accept this offer or if you refuse to negotiate reasonably, my client reserves his rights to seek the maximum available damages under the law—and those damages are, as explained previously, much greater than his offer.

And then some text about how I'm required to retain records of when/how I obtained the image (impossible, I have no recollection when/where I found the image), and this:

While we remain hopeful that we can resolve this dispute short of litigation, you must preserve the relevant data and comply with this notice during any settlement or other discussions or negotiations that we may have. Once this matter is settled (or after litigation, if necessary), the duty will end.

Thanks for any thoughts or advice.

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