Retired Forums > UK Getty Images Letter Forum

Worried UK


Upon receiving a letter from Getty in the UK, I took the advice of another forum to reply to my letter, thus:

"We can confirm that the photographic images referred to in your above reference (“the image”) has been used on our website We are, however, unable to comment on your ability to assert copyright in the image or take action for infringement having been provided with no evidence as to ownership or exclusive licence.

We do not admit liability, and immediately removed the image from our web site upon receipt of your letter and confirm that we will not use the image in the future. The image was provided to us by a 3rd party, who also asserts rights to this image.

The image was therefore provided to us in circumstances where they did not know, and had no reason to believe that copyright subsisted or was asserted by Getty as copyright was asserted as being owned by another party. The image provided to us did not contain the Getty logo or any other source information. There is certainly no flagrancy as to our intent which was entirely innocent.

Under Section 97 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (“the Act”) there is no entitlement for the claimant to recover damages where the defendant did not know, and had no reason to believe that alternative copyright subsisted in the work. Your claim for a royalty payment under a notional licence agreement described as a demand for payment is a claim for damages and as such would, in our opinion, fail.
You therefore have no grounds for claiming entitlement to payment whatsoever.
Should your company commence proceedings on the grounds outlined in your previous correspondence we reserve the right to refer to this letter on the question of costs and would hope this will now end the matter. As previously indicated, we have removed “the image” and undertake not to use the image at any time in the future, this action was taken despite us not being provided with any evidence of ownership or exclusive licence by you but is of the opinion that there is contested ownership which is outside his concern."

I have now received a further letter from Seattle (sent by FedEx, nonetheless!) which includes a watermarked copy of the image. The letter states "Your letter states that the third party asserted rights, which evidences your knowledge that copyright did exist in the work. Therefore, the protections of section 97 are inapplicable in your situation" it then goes on to demand £800 in settlement if I pay immediately.

I'm worried that with my initial letter I may have shot myself in the foot - does anyone have any ideas what is likely to happen if I ignore this?

Oscar Michelen:
Dear Worried:

Their response to you frankly makes no sense.  You wrote them trying to establish an innocent infringement defense and by telling them that the third party told you THEY owned the image you establish that innocence. Their response would only make sense if you were trying to claim that the images were in the public domain. While I am not an attorney in the UK, I can state that UK laws protect innocent infringement.  If you feel you need to respond you should respond with a sentence that mirrors section 97: "While I was stated that the third party asserted rights to the image, when the image was posted I did not know, and had no reason to believe that alternative copyright subsisted in the work. It was only after the fact that I was told someone owned the image and I was told it was the third party not Getty. I therefore decline to pay the damages you seek unlkess you can establish that Getty owns the images in question and section 97's inapplicability."  You can also ignore the message and see if they re-contact you.  I remind you that, to date, Getty has not filed a single lawsuit over any of this.


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