Sued by Getty images

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by john_mcmillin, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. My wife runs a small website concentrating on project management. No money changes hands through it, but it does enhance her professional reputation. To illustrate her articles, she uses photos and illustrations from various free-use sources. Apparently she picked up one photo that belonged to Getty Images and posted it to her site. Now she's charged with copyright violation. Getty is seeking $850, after opening with a four-figure demand.
    Though she keeps records for most pictures she uses, my wife can't document where she got the Getty image. She's certain that it had no warning of copyright attached. She took down the photo as soon as she got a notice from Getty.
    Does anyone have any experience to share in dealing with Getty Images? I'm looking for specifics, not general rants on the overall importance of copyright. I'm a photographer too, so I get that. She should have been a little more careful, but I'm suspicious that an agency could, hypothetically, salt the internet with unmarked photos and bring in a nice payoff by charging unsuspecting bloggers who pick them up?
     
  2. it

    it

    Not sure, but $850 is pretty cheap for this kind of situation. Maybe try and get it down to half that.
    My stock agency partners with Getty and when they find a violation they send an invoice for, I think, 5X the actual usage fee. The artist rep told me they always win.
    You might get some better advice here.
     
  3. She's certain that it had no warning of copyright attached
    The lack of a copyright notice does not mean that an image is free for everyone to use. As Ian suggested, you should try to negotiate a lower settlement.
     
  4. I'd say Ian has it about right.

    As for "salting the internet with unmarked photos" ... every image is owned by the person who creates it or the person/entity to whom they've transferred copyright. Unless you see it accompanied by license language that makes it clear you have the right to use it on your business promoting web site, you can very safely assume you don't have that right. We're many years past the change that removed the need to assert that on the image itself.
     
  5. Thanks for the responses. I'm finding plenty of advice from a simple Google search, among them http://www.extortionletterinfo.com. Evidently this is a widespread issue among web content creators.
     
  6. Yeah, "web content creators," sounds better than copyright infringers. There was a Las Vegas law firm (IIRC) that made it a practice to get transfer of copyright from a local paper then they searched out websites which used full copies of the news articles and tried to hammer them. They got away with it for a while but then think they overdid it and got hammered as well.
    There are "fair use" situations which might allow for use of random "found it on the internet" images but the rules change when you are working for a business compared to a history report in fourth grade.
     
  7. John,
    I feel for you. It sucks that they wouldn't just send you a " Take our image off your web site ! " letter. but... when you build a web site with someone ELSE'S stuff, you are not really a content creator, your a content borrower. Some license holders take offense at that.
     
  8. John, was the image used in a transformative way? This Wiki page might be of interest to you:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformation_(law)
    I came across one of my images used in a blog whose author is located in Greece; an apparent academic. From what I can gather, she used it as an illustration for her poetry which I had no knowledge of, but I believe her transformative and non-profit use makes it fair use. I would not have objected even if it wasn't.
    http://lygeri.pblogs.gr/poihma-apo-dhmhtrh-einai-kati-meres.html - top picture is mine.
     
  9. You need to hire a lawyer if you are indeed brought to court. Lawyer's fees vary a great deal but I estimate lawyer fees, in the USA, to be around $250 an hour. Every letter that you get from Getty Images will have to be reviewed and most likley responded to by your attorney. Estimating one hour to review and one hour to respond will end up costing you $500 for every letter you get from Getty. How many letters do you think they will churn out? $850 is less than two letters would most likely cost you. As others have recommended - try to negotiate a lower settlement, pay it, and learn from your experience.
     
  10. Your wife did something that was illegal. Whether this was intentional or not really does not matter. I would not hire an attorney but explain to Getty that this was an innocent mistake and see if they are willing to negotiate. In the end though, you are going to need to pay.
    I am sorry that you and your wife have to pay but I actually applaud Getty for what they are doing. Too many pictures are being stolen and used without proper licensing. By Getty doing this, it actually protects us small photographers.
     
  11. It would be interesting to know if the image was rights managed or royalty free. Some images are licensed for pennies or
    a few dollars. Also, there are degrees of misuse. Some people and agencies steal images for profit, and reprint them on
    merchandise or media, etc. But most of the interned seems to be a curated agglomeration of other people's photographs.
    Shouldn't everyone on Pinterest and tumblr be sued then? Plus, isn't editorial use acceptable? I'd like to know what the
    licensing structure for that image would be. I don't know all of the circumstances, but this seems like a kind of intimidation
    and bullying tactic to scare people who are not media buyers.
     
  12. people who are not media buyers.​
    Sometimes people who are not media buyers SHOULD be media buyers. One should not confuse "editorial use" with "fair use." These are different things!
    John, in addition to considering the advice given above, have your wife take a close look at this site:
    http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/
     
  13. grh

    grh

    The extortion letter info website is outstanding. I read through one of the articles and enjoyed it immensely, as well as finding it very educational.
    Using the DMCA as a model (in the US), the first thing Getty should be doing is submitting a takedown request. Only after that is ignored should a bill be submitted.
    The reason I think thusly is that, for example, if I hire someone to do some work for me, and they claim that the images are usable (by whatever mechanism) then I should trust that, in conducting business, they're doing their job. I shouldn't have to vet every image. Once it's brought to my attention, I should be given the opportunity to rectify the situation before anything further steps are taken.
    I do know that I would not roll over just because Getty attempts to conduct business in this way.
     
  14. the first thing Getty should be doing is submitting a takedown request. Only after that is ignored should a bill be submitted.
    So the only "penalty" for using a person's copyrighted work without permission is that you have to stop after you get caught? Then the incentive is to never pay for any use unless and until you get caught . . .
     
  15. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    So the only "penalty" for using a person's copyrighted work without permission is that you have to stop after you get caught? Then the incentive is to never pay for any use unless and until you get caught . . .​
    I'm always amazed at some of the anti-photographer statements I read here. If someone is using an image for a commercial web site that they didn't pay for, they should pay. Anything else is screwing the photographer. Getty is, of course, enforcing their own rights, but the photographer loses the sale also, so they are enforcing the photographer's rights also.
     
  16. "Evidently this is a widespread issue among web content creators."

    Really? Content creators are going around, in mass, making legal claims against themselves for using content they created?
     
  17. You mention you're a photographer. Why couldn't you come up with some nice images you've taken yourself for her little website? I'm assuming you have a modicum of talent. Cheaper way to go.
     
  18. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Picking up on the last sentence from the OP. What you surmise should not happen because people who use images in promotional materials should be aware that they can't simply use other people's images without prior agreement of terms. Just because an image is "unmarked" does not mean its available at all or available free. If the image is not clearly identified as available for commercial use free then you need to assume that you need permission for your purpose and agreement on terms from the owner or agent.
    And if you proceed to use an image without these, or you fail to pay, then its pretty obvious to me why the penalty is much greater than the fee that would have been charged if the issue had been handled properly- it's called disincentive and a need to avoid running your business on the basis that no-one pays until they get caught or get sued.
    I guess in negotiating with Getty you're going to need to judge the point at which they tell you that they've now briefed lawyers and they now expect you to pay their legal fees as well as the penalty. Best not to slip past that barrier whilst you think you're debating another $25 off the penalty amount. I have a Getty contract and iirc such penalties are rightly shared with the photographer, even though we might all debate the fairness of the proportions.
     
  19. It's cheaper to settle than to hire a lawyer. See if you can get it down from the $850.
    Blogger beware. If you can't determine the owner, then don't use it.
     
  20. Just for clarity since there are several definitions for "IIRC" especially pertaining to legal matters as well as a collection of images, how is that acronym being used in this thread?
    Is this it... "Image and Identity Research Collective"? from this list...
    http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/IIRC
     
  21. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Certainly on my post, the first on the list you reference, also identified as the most common.
     
  22. Even as a photographer, I find the responses disingenuous. These are not fair practices. It's extortion through the use of
    the copyright laws, and it hurts photographers. Aren't most of these fees collected going to lawyers? How does it help
    photographers' reputation when agencies and individuals go after bloggers with obscure websites for $8000 for an image
    in a blog post that a few people have read? Give me a break! That' shy so many consumers who previously had to deal
    with photographers are running away. Can you imagine paying for a wedding photographer, and then having said
    photographer hold on to the images until you pay again for printing, etc., because the copyright belongs to the
    photographer? National magazines pay as little as $200 for a cover image, how in any conceivable way, even with
    punitive or sanction intentions, can you justify this sort of legal extortion? Just because it's possible?
     
  23. National magazines pay as little as $200 for a cover image, how in any conceivable way, even with punitive or sanction intentions, can you justify this sort of legal extortion? Just because it's possible?
    Actually, some magazines pay as little as $0 for photos. Does that mean that no photos have any value? Choosing the lowest paying option as the guide for fair pricing isn't a reasonable means of assessing value.
     
  24. I guess then since the market won't sustain editorial photographers then suing bloggers for exorbitant amounts is a
    reasonable business plan. Particularly for lawyers and multinational picture agencies.
     
  25. You mention you're a photographer. Why couldn't you come up with some nice images you've taken yourself for her little website? I'm assuming you have a modicum of talent. Cheaper way to go.​
    Right on! Clearly the easiest and most ethical solution for all photographers, other content providers and internet commerce in general.
    That way those bloggers can see what it feels like when their work his lifted and used to draw eyeballs away from their site to other sites run by the less talented.
    I think the scorched earth, take no prisoners law suit policy is the best and probably only way to go to teach folks wanting attention on the internet to use their own work.
     
  26. suing bloggers for exorbitant amounts is a reasonable business plan
    It's not a business plan. Getting sued is a consequence of using copyrighted material without permission or license. The person getting sued is not an innocent victim; the copyright holder (or his or her agency) is not a villain.
     
  27. This thread is unfortunately reinforcing all of the negative perceptions held by the general public about the inflated self-
    importance and intractability of photographers. No wonder the consumer side of the photography business is in a free fall.

    We're talking about bloggers with personal websites. There was no sale to be made in the first place. So you don't want
    someone who doesn't know any better to use your picture, ask them to take it down. I'm not talking about a major retail
    outlet taking a design from a Flickr user and making curtains and window displays without licensing and compensation.

    Give me a break people. I'm a photographer too, but just because the law allows you to sue a blogger for any arbitrary
    sum because they used a picture doesn't make it right. It's good for lawyer's fees and a greedy agency. The law is on the
    copyright holder's side. But really? There was no sale here, no loss, ... it's pure greed and bad PR.
     
  28. So it's better PR if there's no disincentive to use other people's work without permission? It's better if people think that professional work is essentially valueless--you should use whatever you want because the worst that will happen is that you have to take it down if you get caught?

    "I wouldn't have used it if I had to pay for it" isn't really a legitimate defense for using copyrighted work without permission.
     
  29. I don't know where the original poster is located but unless they are geographically sort of close by, how much time and effort is Getty going to expend pursuing this now that the image is down? $850? That's not enough money for most people to do any more than send a few threatening letters or have someone make a few nasty phone calls to scare the person into paying. They've made their point. No you shouldn't have used the photo and you took it down immediately. Lesson learned.
    Rick H.
     
  30. "Illegal" ? Really....I think that's something for a court to interpret. Not a website member.
     
  31. Its a hard way to learn a lesson, but you can't just grab other people's work without either permission or a license if you are going to use it to promote yourself. Again see the million discussions on "fair use". I would just apologize, explain you didn't realize there was an issue (though you should) and ask if they can't see their way clear to lower the demand and move on. It seems hiring an attorney would just be throwing good money after bad in a losing cause.
     
  32. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Illegal" ? Really....I think that's something for a court to interpret​

    So is someone breaks into my house and smashes my cameras, it's not illegal until a court says so?
     
  33. "So is someone breaks into my house and smashes my cameras, it's not illegal until a court says so?"
    Jeff, I think civil litigation and criminal prosecution is where the difference lie, and there is the presumption of innocence in both cases.

    It might seem cut and dry to a plaintiff in a civil case, but a court indeed needs to decide the guilt or innocence in cases where a defendant is accused of tortious conduct based on the evidence and the law, often with surprising or unexpected outcomes.
     
  34. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I don't think it's different at all. If the issue is that a court has to decide, it's the same in both cases. The court has to decide.
     
  35. I think just as one should know that stealing cameras is a crime, one should also know that stealing the use of images is also a crime even if its civil not criminal.
     
  36. he uses photos and illustrations from various free-use sources.... Though she keeps records for most pictures she uses, my wife can't document where she got the Getty image.
    Use Google image search, upload the image at issue, and use that to try to figure out from where she got it. If it's from a site that explicitly declares the image to be free for all uses, then point Getty and the site's owner at each other and declare your wife an innocent victim, one way or the other (because then she was duped by either the site's owner or Getty).
    And if that's not the way it happened--if the website did not explicitly declare the image free for all uses, giving some sort of general license or something--then your wife wrongly took it. Just because it wasn't marked 'Property of Getty' makes no difference. It wasn't hers, and she knew that. If I leave my bicycle on the sidewalk, I don't need to post a sign on it saying, 'Dave's property, no you can't borrow it,' to make it unlawful for you to borrow it. So unless she was told she could use it, free, then she's in the wrong. $850 may seem steep, but it has to be steep enough to deter people in the first place. As lessons learned for doing something professionally-oriented that's unlawful go, $850 doesn't strike me as too expensive.
    As a semi-aside, if I had a dime for every claim of "fair use" I'd heard that was in fact theft or piracy, I could buy myself a nice dinner at any restaurant in town. That's not to say there's never fair use, just that it seems to be claimed ten times for every one legitimate instance of it.
     
  37. OP - several people have mentioned how unreasonable the proposed amount is but their comments are based on ignorance. You need to arm yourself with some facts - most importantly, how much do Getty charge to license this image. Until you know that you can't even begin to calculate what would be a reasonable penalty for infringement. To calculate that you need to know....
    1. What it would have cost if your wife had licensed it,
    2. then factor in a penalty on top of that - An innocent infringement carries a smaller penalty than a wilful infringement but you still don't get to use an image without permission and not suffer some penalty.
    3. The copyright holders costs in tracking down the infringement and taking action. As previously mentioned IP lawyers aren't cheap and that applies to them just as much as it does to you.
    4. Other factors - was the image previously licensed? If not then your wife's use of the image can prevent the copyright holder from licensing the image on an exclusive basis (which generates a higher fee than a non-exclusive) license, so they have lost that potential revenue. By placing the image on her site she exposes it to further infringing use by third parties etc etc.
     
  38. This thread is unfortunately reinforcing all of the negative perceptions held by the general public about the inflated self- importance and intractability of photographers. No wonder the consumer side of the photography business is in a free fall.
    We're talking about bloggers with personal websites. There was no sale to be made in the first place. So you don't want someone who doesn't know any better to use your picture, ask them to take it down. I'm not talking about a major retail outlet taking a design from a Flickr user and making curtains and window displays without licensing and compensation​
    So based on this, big corporations should pay however bloggers should be able to go to their local Walmart and take home whatever they want without paying for it. After it, it is only for a blogger who is not making money.
    Sorry but this thinking is absurd. Stealing is stealing. Period.
     
  39. If this is stealing, then what is a site like Tumblr? It is a curated agglomeration of other people' work. Why isn't basically
    every one of the millions of Tumblr users being sued for copyright infringement? Has anyone here noticed what has
    happened with the internet and digital technology and the market value of licensing in the last 10 years?
     
  40. What's the actual damage ? Should MEGA corporations be able to extort more money because they have the financial ability to do so, as compared to joe photographer who is a one man mom and pop operation, who may not have the financial ability to threaten to suee someone, have the means to "search" to see if someone is using their images ?
    I've always had a huge distaste for LARGE corporations using their power to screw the small guy, regardless of the issue. And that's what is happening here. A simple "take down" letter is all that was needed. Not some ridiculous " fill my fat pockets" threatening demand.
    How many of YOU out there have the means to do what Getty can do ?
     
  41. Not knowing the size and quality of the file used without permission or exactly how it was used, it's hard to estimate damage; however, I know that Getty sells my images for several hundred dollars each, but the range is from around $50 to $500. Assume $250, plus attorney's fees and it's not hard to get to $850.
     
  42. How does it help photographers' reputation when agencies and individuals go after bloggers with obscure websites for $8000 for an image in a blog post that a few people have read?​
    It doesn't affect photographer's reputation much at all. Its usually a stock house involved as is the case here. An ordinary photographer doesn't have the resources to pursue complicated infringement claims in federal court anyway. But I know of situation where these claims have induced people to stop lifting images in general and that goes beyond the stock houses. That's how it helps.
    That' shy so many consumers who previously had to deal with photographers are running away.​
    Hardly any infringers, in these instances, are dealing with photographers but they do wind up getting content in legitimate ways which tends to help photographers. You would have us believe these same people were somehow helpful to photographers when they lifted content. So many get real uppity if you merely request a take down of the use. The disrespect is already there.
    Can you imagine paying for a wedding photographer, and then having said photographer hold on to the images until you pay again for printing, etc., because the copyright belongs to the photographer?​
    That typically is how it was done. With rampant internet/digital copying ability that model has dried up quite a bit and still done to some extent. So, yes, I can imagine that.
    National magazines pay as little as $200 for a cover image, how in any conceivable way, even with punitive or sanction intentions, can you justify this sort of legal extortion? Just because it's possible?​
    Its called consequences. Hardly any infringer pays the amounts you are complaining about. Paying a few hundred under a statutory framework designed to protect against and deter infringing is hardly the horrible result you make it out to be in any event.
    This thread is unfortunately reinforcing all of the negative perceptions held by the general public about the inflated self- importance and intractability of photographers. No wonder the consumer side of the photography business is in a free fall.​
    Sure, because unfettered lifting of free content is the proper perception and has been sooo helpful to the industry.
    We're talking about bloggers with personal websites. There was no sale​


    Reproduction of images reduces any actual value it has and chronic infringement by all these innocent bloggers ect.l has tanked the value of photography.
    Cry me a river.
     
  43. "Has anyone here noticed what has happened with the internet and digital technology and the market value of licensing in the last 10 years?"​


    Because of people who, like you who believe that people should just be free to take other's intellectual property for their own use without consequence. One of the very reason copyright law exists. A hedge against people who think like you.
     
  44. John, when's the last time you downloaded something from Youtube without paying a licensing fee ?
     
  45. "Has anyone here noticed what has happened with the internet and digital technology and the market value of licensing in the last 10 years?"​


    Because of people like you who believe that people should just be free to take other's intellectual property for their own use without consequence. One of the very reason copyright law exists. A hedge against people who think like you.
     
  46. John, when's the last time you downloaded something from Youtube without paying a licensing fee ?​

    I realize this was addressed to John but stealing is stealing. It does not matter is you are stealing it from a large mega-corporation or your local store. If you want to rationalize it so that you feel better, that is your choice. But it is stealing. If you tried to walk into your local store and take something without walking out, anyone would call that stealing. Why is this any different.
     
  47. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    John, when's the last time you downloaded something from Youtube without paying a licensing fee ?​
    What John does or doesn't do is completely irrelevant to the fact that the image creator is owed something. Getty will also get something as the image creator's agent.
     
  48. It's irrelevant when people start romping around on their high white horse like their St. Michael acting like they're sin free.
     
  49. Yes stealing is stealing, whether it's a Getty image or some file from Youtube downloaded illegally that people copy for their own enjoyment. Be it music or movie. Don't throw out high and mighty accusations if you are guilty of the same thing in some other venue.
     
  50. Remember, Getty is an agent for people like us. The photographer that they're selling for doesn't often have the resources to protect their copyrights. Getty has gotten my images in places where I'd never had access, including Wall Street Journal and International advertising agencies, willing to pay good money. Getty is protecting its own interest, but also mine.
     
  51. Don't throw out high and mighty accusations if you are guilty of the same thing in some other venue.​
    You are arguing that stealing is fine since everyone else also steals, and that it is particularly okay to steal if you steal from a mega corporation. I am saying that stealing is wrong. I am not judging you as you are free to do whatever you want. But don't tell me that stealing is not illegal.
    Also what accusations did I make, and how do you know that I am guilty of stealing from Youtube? We need to take the tone down a bit. PN is supposed to a friendly site where opposing views are encouraged. If you want a street fight, maybe you should go elsewhere.
     
  52. TinEye.com is an image search engine.
    OP, I suggest you use TinEye.com to determine where the image might have come from.
    Photographers can use the same site to check for uses of their images.
     
  53. One thing I'll say, if your wife was using the image for something that relates to her business, it's especially bad PR for a PR person to shown to be making such a critical mistake like using someone else's intellectual property. Your problem is that Getty is the big angry gorilla in the room, and your wife happened to be caught holding one of the gorilla's bananas. The sad fact that even if your wife got it from a place which said that it was OK to use, it's really the end users responsibility to ensure that the proper permissions have been secured. Your wife's problem now is also the is public, and there's a chance that someone researching her as a potential expert may come across this, which as I said is pretty bad PR for a PR person. I'd try to settle for $500 (the cost of a large RF image - if it was an RF image, and close the books and lick your wounds and be grateful the gorilla let you off easy.
     
  54. Stealing is stealing, whether it's from Getty or YouTube. Case closed. Those tho like to throw stones live in a glass house.
     
  55. I'm very surprised by the lack of proportionality and fairness. This is an image used in a blog post. There doesn't seem to be any sense of understanding for how the vast majority of people use the internet. There is this absurd discussion about the equivalency of stealing in a store to using someone else's image in a blog post by a general user, not someone who would ever consider licensing an image. Not someone where there would have ever been a sale. Not someone who would regularly license images, which they could do literally, for a few pennies from any microstock site, or for free from a creative commons source.
    It's telling of the level of frustration in the industry, that no one has addressed the central issue, of the exorbitant amount, that even considering punitive damages, has no relation whatsoever with reality. Why can no one admit that by any sense of fairness, this is clearly a way for a powerful corporation to go after a soft target for a random amount of money, just because they can?
    Why don't they then go after Tumblr? What would happen if Getty images started to sue the millions of Tumblr users individually who's feed is entirely made of other's intellectual property. Each instance for each image could be arbitrarily set at $8000. Why is this not happening? Because the easy pickings are made by abusing a law to go after people who make innocent mistakes. These are blog posts people. How would a billion dollar corporation, on the other hand, respond if its users, the source of its valuation, started being sued, even though the scope and level of their copyright infringement is on a scale exponentially greater than the OP's?
    I will tell you the general public that reads this will have an even lower opinion of the value of photographer's work in today's market. They will say, why, they really are intractable. I thought in the old days, there really was a sort of practical reason to hold on to their negatives after a wedding, and charge again for printing, and drive the hard sell for prints and fancy books. I mean, a negative is a physical thing, and printing can be quite difficult to do properly. But photographers still think like this in the digital age. Do you realize how outrageous it is for the general public to pay for a wedding and have a photographer hold the original files hostage? To put crazy restrictions on their use for sharing on social media? To watermark them?
    By any sense of fairness, an offense such as using an image in a blog post by the average internet user would require a take down notice if it really bothers you that they're using your image. There are degrees of copyright infringement. But the responses here, about "stealing" and "breaking the law" and the moral equivalency of posting an image from the web in a blog post to stealing from Walmart or a store, really seem to point to a misplaced anger and frustration, a misplaced vindictiveness, a lack of common understanding of how people use thee internet, a lack of proportionality, a lack of a measured response, because I guarantee that a take down letter would be sufficient in 99.9% of these cases, if the interest of Getty would be in protecting photographers and their work.
    Do you know that if use a template that you purchased for your website, that the images that were originally legally licensed to whoever created the template, have not been licensed to you? At least, that's my understanding. So most people would change the banner and backgrounds, especially if they're photographers. But it's my understanding that if you use it as is, you could be sued for any random amount. Let's say, how's $8000 for the banner, and $8000 for the background image? "Well, well, I'm so sorry, but stealing is stealing. I don't want to hear it. You didn't know? Who doesn't know? Do you walk into Walmart and steal? This is the same my friend. I have no sympathy for people like you who have ruined the editorial and stock photography business. It's all your fault. And if it isn't, we're still all going to gang up on you, and start calling Getty a defender of photographer's rights."
     
  56. not someone who would ever consider licensing an image. Not someone where there would have ever been a sale. Not someone who would regularly license images, which they could do literally, for a few pennies from any microstock site, or for free from a creative commons source.
    You keep making the same bizarre "argument:" if someone doesn't value something enough to pay for it, then the penalty for using it without permission should also be zero. Do you genuinely not comprehend that, in practical terms, that equates to "if I don't want to pay for it then I'm entitled to use it for free until someone tells me to stop"? I've explained the consequences of that reasoning, and John H. has spelled out how that devalues all intellectual property.
    that no one has addressed the central issue, of the exorbitant amount, that even considering punitive damages, has no relation whatsoever with reality.
    See Dan Marchant's reply earlier in this thread.
    I will tell you the general public that reads this will have an even lower opinion of the value of photographer's work in today's market.
    Please don't presume to speak for the "general public." I could just as easily claim that members of the general public who read this will have a better appreciation that they're doing something wrong when they use photos without permission.
    By any sense of fairness, an offense such as using an image in a blog post by the average internet user would require a take down notice if it really bothers you that they're using your image.
    Actually, no, by your personal opinion about fairness, that's what should happen. If people use your images without permission, you are free to do nothing more than send a takedown notice. Other photographers and agencies can clearly have other ideas about fairness.
     
  57. Well, with sites like tumblr and especially pinterest, who is surprised that many don't understand that it is not OK to simply "re-pin" any image they can find on the web? It appears that pinterest protects themselves with some legalese in the TOS - but it doesn't seem that many are adhering to it.

    I just found out that an image I took is re-blogged more than two-thousand times (without a clue on how many times the re-blogged image got re-re-blogged) - not even once was I asked for a permission to use (and in many cases, the image isn't even credited). Don't even have the slightest idea on how many hours I would have to spend tracking them all down and issue DMCA take-down notices (and/or issue invoices).

    And if I was to address some of the bloggers myself, I wouldn't be too surprised to be told that I should know that everything on the web is free for the taking and that if I didn't understand that, I shouldn't post images to begin with.

    Seems to me I need to contend myself with "how most people are using the internet" but I wish that Getty would secure me some licensing money for that image.
     
  58. John, when's the last time you downloaded something from Youtube without paying a licensing fee ?​
    That's impossible to answer since I have never done that and the question is also unresponsive to what I wrote rather than a discussion of the merits involved.
     
  59. Stealing is stealing, whether it's from Getty or YouTube. Case closed. Those tho like to throw stones live in a glass house.​
    Agreed! Stealing is stealing.
     
  60. This thread is a stark affirmation of how deeply a certain sector of the photography world really does not wish to reasonably address and face the realities of current technology and media use. It's telling also, that as a photographer I value copyright, and that I never advocated against it in any comments here, but instead was making a case for fairness and common sense in the application of fines. Yet the responses are indignant self-righteous admonishments of moral absolutes. Stealing is stealing! Stealing at Walmart and posting an image in a blog post are morally the same. It seems like misplaced vengeance. The general public, I can speak to, because they have already made abundantly clear what they think of dealing on the consumer side with photographers.
     
  61. This is absurd. I agree that the punishment needs to fit the crime but don't tell me that it is not stealing. If the world was the way that you want it to be, then there is no value is producing content, whether that be pictures, stories, movies, music, tv shows, fonts, software or anything else. If that was the case, why would anyone bother developing content if others can steal it with no repercussions? Just because the OP did not realize that his wife was stealing content does not make him innocent. I give the OP credit for trying to make it right, but the fact is that his wife used the image with obtaining the proper licenses. I am happy that Getty is protecting their IP, and the rights of the photographers who created the content.
    I also did not realize that that the general public has made it abundantly clear that stealing content should be allowed, nor did I realize that they voted you as the spokesperson.
     
  62. Aside from the morality or innocence (ignorance) initially displayed, the copyright laws spell out what the potential penalties are for infringements. The question becomes, what is the reality of Getty turning to federal court to enforce their rights and what are the likelihoods of success. Another gorilla in the rooms is the possibility that some day Getty will choose to make an example of someone to prove that they can - not necessarily unlike the recording industry hammering someone who was a small potato downloader/file copier, etc.
    And that is something only an attorney well familiar with the practice and results of litigation over infringements can tell the OP. At probably some cost as well, although there are professional attorneys who might work for free just like some professional photographers might. At the risk of devaluing the profession and taking the food off the other attorney's tables, etc.
     
  63. Agreed! Stealing is stealing.​


    Yes, but this is about infringement, not theft.
     
  64. The lawsuits by Getty and other stock Photography companies to protect their licenses also protect the photographer. The use of these images is how many photographer make their living, so when you misuse the photo you really are stealing their income. There is no excuse for naively, ignorantly, accidentally on purpose because its my own personal blog, grabbing someone else's photograph without their permission, period, unless they have a rights statement saying it ok. This whole matter will be a good lesson for only a few hundred bucks that you always find the owner of a photograph when using it, unless you can establish a fair use for it. If you can't find the creator or owner of the license then just don't use it. Really very simple. If you do think its "no big deal" then be prepared to get tagged for using it. It actually is fair and people should stop whining about it, learn from it and move on.
     
  65. I was thinking about that. Its really the same thing. It is illegal and when caught people are made to pull off the content. Its just so widespread its difficult to police it. But you do see content pulled off of you tube all the time. Also if you make an album of music without attribution to the rights company, you can also get tagged. Even with so called traditional music that has some exemptions but also in many cases gets tagged with a ownership by someone who has claimed it. That really gets fun sorting that out. Wedding photographers like Joe Buissink always use stock music he pays a modest license fee for to accompany his slide shows so he doesn't have a license problem. The issue is not whether people are or not doing it, it is that if they do, they may get caught and then their may be consequences. When it happens, know you are not legally right and may get popped with a lawsuit.
     
  66. "Just because the OP did not realize that his wife was stealing content does not make him innocent." Wow! If not innocent, I wonder what I'm guilty of? Not supplying every image on her site? For years, she's taken images from a number of free -use or subscription sites, AFAIK. This is the first time she's been caught off the reservation. Getty prices the small, low-rex image she used lists for $45.

    Quite a heated debate going on here. Struggling stock photogs, I feel your pain. But I also value Spruce Parkman's comments about proportionality and justice. The opposing view, which I might call Copyright Fundamentalism, could be used to justify any amount of excessive claims and penalties. Getty is demanding we pay 18x the value of the image! If this is fair, what's the bar to a demand for 50x, or 100x?
     
  67. Generally YouTube and copyrights enjoy a twisted, often symbiotic relationship. I've been introduced to some great new music indirectly through unauthorized use of that music as background audio for someone's video. And I've been introduced to some marvelous movies as a result of finding familiar music attached to video clips from movies I'd never seen or even heard of.
    As a result, I've purchased new music, books, and movies I might otherwise have missed.
    From that odd perspective, YouTube and copyrights have an uncomfortable, non-traditional but often symbiotic relationship that benefits creators of intellectual property in ways that defy pre-internet modes of distribution.
    I suspect that's one reason YouTube and traditional media giants tend to disregard many instances of copyright violations, and at worst usually just take down material in response to DMCA complaints, rather than attempting to collect fees from or prosecute offenders.
    But with still photography use on persistent pages of websites and blogs, the waters are muddier. It's difficult to define an equitable benefit to the photographer. Most of the immediate, measurable benefit appears to accrue only to the owner of the website or blog. Particularly if the photo is uncredited, and directly uploaded rather than linked back to the authorized site/host chosen by the photographer or agent.
    In the past I've proposed methods that might help photographers earn something for such usages, such as combining Google's automated image recognition with an automated billing-or-takedown notice generator. This would be easy to do with Google Blogger, most of which earn little or no money for the blog owners but which might generate a bit of money for photographers via Adsense partnerships.
    For that matter, Google could itself become a sort of image agent/broker, by Googling images that have usages agreed upon by the image creators/owners. Make it easier for website owners and bloggers to choose and pay, and many of them will do so. The independent music industry has moved toward that type of scheme - admittedly, with mixed results, depending on whom you ask.
    Personally I would support such a system for my own images, which don't fit any traditional stock photography model. Some of my photos have appeared on other sites, but I haven't pursued any remedies because none of the usages were commercial - just personal blogs or very low traffic websites. It might work out if Google offered a way to use a pool of designated images, such as those uploaded via Google+, Flickr, etc., authorized by the owners, with fees collected via Adsense revenue.
    But some photographers will still prefer to retain exclusive control of their images, with all transactions handled only by designated agents. So it's still up to the end user to be sure they're not using photos without authorization.
     
  68. I also value Spruce Parkman's comments about proportionality and justice.​

    Unfortunately they are oblivious to those same issues.
    We are told that notices should be sent instead for small time users. There is no insight at all of the draining financial costs that employing people to perform these tasks requires. No recognition that such efforts are pointless, snickered at and that such infringing uses so often continue unabated. No understanding that non sales or non profit type uses of other images makes the images have less value overall. No concept that the one time fee for using an image isn't the value and the continued licensing is which what these users are eroding.


    We are told that the claims are for the sake of extorting people for profit. Its utter nonsense. These are stock house businesses. They make money by licensing photos. They incur costs, real money, to acquire photos. It requires obscene amounts of money to hire organizations and law firms to help prevent loss of property they paid for. These companies have no interest in suing people. Its a cost of doing business to preserve their business and, because of it, word to gets around. It has to somehow. In the end, these infringers are paying chump change, not $8,000.00.
     
  69. Yet the responses are indignant self-righteous admonishments of moral absolutes. Stealing is stealing! Stealing at Walmart and posting an image in a blog post are morally the same. It seems like misplaced vengeance.​
    They most certainly are not the same. The Waltons are the richest people in the world! There are numerous photographers that are barely living paycheck to paycheck. People just going around and ripping off images on the web is far more detrimental than someone living on poverty stealing some soap to bath their child. I just found out today one of my favorite local photography stores went out of business. Meanwhile Walmart stock is at an all time high. Times are tough in photography.
    If you want cheap images go to Shutterstock. If your wife can't bring herself to buy an image for $1 then she deserves the metaphoric back door violation the Getty gorilla is giving her. Frankly I view the $1/image Shutterstock photographers are prostitutes. But the type of person who can't even pay a $1 for a whore is really incredible.
    Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. It never has been. Just because it is 2013 doesn't mean I can go and catch a baby alligator in Florida (which is a felony) and tell the judge, oops I didn't know. By the way I just found out about that law last week. This is the society we live in. There are laws that regulate everything. Why should photographers be second class citizens? When I go out with my camera I have to know a ton of laws to prevent myself from getting slapped with a civil suit or being detained by the federal authorities (post 911 y'all). So why should I eat the costs and give the end user a free pass?
     
  70. Quite a heated debate going on here. Struggling stock photogs, I feel your pain. But I also value Spruce Parkman's comments about proportionality and justice. The opposing view, which I might call Copyright Fundamentalism, could be used to justify any amount of excessive claims and penalties. Getty is demanding we pay 18x the value of the image! If this is fair, what's the bar to a demand for 50x, or 100x?​
    Its not a matter of philosophy, or proportionality or justice. These are all irrelevant red-herrings. Such a statement shows naivety to the process of managing image rights. There's law that covers these issues, period. I'm no expert, but I understand the cost of doing things. $800 dollars, especially if they can negotiate it down from that is not unreasonable, nor exorbitant. John H has the right of it, IMHO.
     
  71. After having read most of the posts to this question, I went back and read the original post again. A few comments. (1) It would actually
    be interesting to be able to look at your wife's website to put this in perspective. (2) You mention that she almost always keeps records of
    where she gets her posted photos, but on the first one she gets caught she hadn't done it. Interesting coincidence. She'll want to make
    sure she doesn't slip up again. (3) Yes, Getty is a big company, but I highly doubt they are specifically trying to trick people into using
    their photos inappropriately so they can nail them with a fine. I'd guess they'd be perfectly happy if people just didn't misuse their photos.
    (4) Using the photo without permission gives Getty the right to do what it did. $850 is a lot and of course it is more than what you would
    have paid to use it legally. What would you expect? The fine is meant to be punitive and the amount is not out of line. Do what others have suggested and try to get them to accept a lesser amount - say $425. And don't do it again. And let others know not to do it.
     
  72. OP: For years, she's taken images from a number of free-use or subscription sites, AFAIK.
    Whether the website is free-to-view / use, or charges users subscription fees, is irrelevant, and the rule is the same: your wife cannot take pictures from it and use them elsewhere unless there's explicit permission to do so.
    OP: Getty is demanding we pay 18x the value of the image! If this is fair, what's the bar to a demand for 50x, or 100x?
    Well their images probably get infringed 20x for every instance they can find and address through legal channels, so 18x strikes me as pretty reasonable. They only way to deter unlawful conduct that is difficult to detect and/or prosecute (criminally or civilly) is to make the penalties high enough. Sorry, I'm with Getty on this one. If the law allows awards that are unfairly high, the answer is not to blame Getty, but to blame Congress (which has primary responsibility to make the laws) or the courts (which have primary responsibility to enforce the laws, when breaches are brought to their attention).
     
  73. What a photographer has to do when Getty Images, the supposed defender of photographers' rights, willfully steals his images. Trial opening in NYC:
    http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/photo-news/540204/photographer-takes-on-agency-giants-at-copyright-trial
     
  74. If Getty in fact did what that article says they did--is any of us actually privy to the evidence?--then they were completely in the wrong, and deserve to be lit up (forced to pay the photographer a lot of money). Big question: was this the result of a rogue employee doing something wholly unauthorized, or part of a pattern of corporate misconduct, or what? Anyway, that Getty may well have done wrong in the cited instance does not negate that the OP's wife certainly appears to have also done something wrong (there being no apparent grounds for a fair-use or other exception to copyright). If the legal system were to vindicate the rights of only those who are utterly legally and ethically blameless for all times and in all circumstances, then it wouldn't do much.
     
  75. Don't think it really changes anything. Photographers sue agencys all the time over rights usage and agencys go after users. The main concept here is that many quarters of the professional photogaphy world take rights usage very seriously, and you don't take other's images. Whether a consumer or an agency.
     
  76. Agence France and Getty guilty to the tune of $1.22 million.
    http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2308873/jury-finds-agence-france-presse-getty-images-guilty-of-wilful-copyright-infringement-awards-usd122m-to-photojournalist
     
  77. Interesting debate. Without addressing the OP post, I will just say I am glad companies like Getty are out there kind of enforcing copyright.
     
  78. Very interesting to hear Getty's defense:
    "Throughout the trial, which began on November 13, attorneys for Getty Images and AFP had argued that the distribution of Morel’s images was not willful infringement but the result of mistakes."
    http://pdnpulse.pdnonline.com/2013/11/jury-awards-daniel-morel-1-2-million-in-damages-from-afp-getty-images.html
     
  79. I'll weigh in on how this probably SHOULD have gone down:
    1) Letter from Getty requesting the image be taken down, with information on licensing the image in question and Getty's site information. Notice that billing will occur if image is not taken down.
    2) If image not removed, bill sent.
    3) Bill ignored, lawsuit filed.
    With the initial letter, Getty not only establishes claim, but also quite possibly creates a regular paying customer- this happens more than most people realize. Expanding customer base is in the interest of any business. As complicated as the law has become, we often forget that the average person has LITTLE or NO idea how intellectual property/ rights works. Mistakes happen. Getty is over-reacting in a big way.
    Were it me and I was in this position, there would be two lessons learned:
    1- Getty has lawyers who file paper.
    2- I don't give a rip about paper. Street rules apply. There are lots of people out there who resent corporations and I'm one of them.
     
  80. Notice that billing will occur if image is not taken down.

    So you're saying that people should be able to take and use images for their business, for as long as it takes for the owner to find them, and then just take them down when caught and incur no cost or penalty?
     
  81. Wow! So it is the artist's responsibility to only collect fees only when they can catch people using their material?
    So based on this premise, we can go ahead and stop paying for movies, music, books, or any other content, for as long as it takes the content creator to catch me? Pretty absurd in my view.
     
  82. I wish I would be represented by an agency like Getty who goes to sue image robbers and other creeps who have no respect for the hard work of photographers and copyrights.
    I wish, because when it happened (and it happens often with microstock and others like Alamy), I was on my own...
    So, sorry for what happened to you but well done Getty to go after criminals.
     
  83. What Getty is doing is not protection, it's extortion. What they are doing is predatory. There will be a massive class action lawsuit against this company, and hopefully it takes them down. Getty knew for years that people were using images illegally but did nothing about it. What they did do was start buying up photo/image sites (and jacking up the prices). Getty realized that they were sitting on a ticking timebomb... by acquiring all of these photo sites... at some point all they had to do was pull the plug on the party and start extorting money from people. I've seen this strategy many times by companies who file tons of patents, and then sit back and wait for some company to infringe on their patents-- but to not take action until the company had achieved success. They would then swoop in and sue the daylights out of them.
    Getty is a scumbag company. No offense to the photographers out there, but they are NOT protecting you... they are using you. You are the pawns in their master plan to extort money from dumb people who don't know any better. If someone however is obviously a repeat offender who is obviously and blatantly in violation and refusing to cease and desist-- then Getty has every right. THIS IS NOT WHAT THEY ARE DOING. THEY ARE SCUMBAGS. Are they sharing any of their lawsuit bounty with you? Answer: HELL NO!
    Photographers-- you deserve better than this. I think I'll start a legitimate photo site where you are fairly compensated, and where good people with good intentions who make a mistake are treated fairly, and those who don't play by the rules are dealt with accordingly. That is the only way to do it 'right' and ethically.
     
  84. Ima, why is requiring payment only okay for repeat offenders? We all know that we have no right to steal the images of others.
    How does someone that takes some one else's image "with good intentions?" It's stealing. What's good about that?
     
  85. @Ima - it's obvious you have something against Getty. Getty has always gone after anyone who they catch using their licensed photo illegally. What is wrong with a company protecting what it owns. It is no different from you going to you local Walmart and walking out the door without paying for anything because you claim that you don't agree with Walmart's business practices. It is stealing. You really don't understand ethics, do you?
    If you want to start your own site selling images, then go for it. I think that you have a great idea. Why even sell image licenses. You should just let people use your images and if you catch them using it, only then would you need to be "fairly compensated".
     
  86. Because David and Barry, there are circumstances where some idiot working for a company does something because they are stupid. I've seen it before. I know of a company where they had no idea that a fellow used an image that he found on the web for his blog. The company is a 4-person shop. Upon discovering this (from a letter from Getty), the CEO IMMEDIATELY took it down. But Getty didn't stop there. They pursued legal action against this company. That is BS. The fellow who did it didn't realize that what he did was wrong. Even our police use warnings and fix-it tickets to give people a second chance. Some people do dumb things. Some people don't even realize they're doing dumb things. And yes, ignorance is no excuse, but still, even the police give people a break to help good people learn a lesson and to not violate the law again.
    What Getty is doing is PREDATORY. If you can't see that, then you are part of what is wrong with our country (possibly you fellows are attorneys, you work for Getty, or you are politicians who are part of running this poor country that is now going down the drain (no idea why... heh)). And, if by chance you fellows are photographers, I highly doubt that Getty is sharing part of their bounty with you-- the $1,000+ of cash they are extorting from people? Answer... NO. They are just another example of a big bad corporation doing the wrong thing in association with a bunch of ambulance chasers trying to cash in on a quick buck (which by the way I have the utmost respect for-- not (another example of scumbags running our country into the ground)).
    Cease and desist (IMMEDIATELY). NEVER do it again. If you do, we will SUE YOU. It's just that simple. Nobody can argue with that.
    Fellows... simply follow the money. How much were the Getty Executive's bonuses last year? How much was the CEO's bonus? What percentage of revenue is coming from lawsuits? How much did the attorney's make? And, most importantly, are you fairly compensated for your work? Some of the images I've seen, some of the illustrations-- they are absolutely beautiful-- works of art. Getty doesn't pay you enough for all of your hard work. This is not an example of a corporation fighting the good fight in the name of the photographers. If it were the case, then Getty would GIVE BACK to the photographers-- from all of the MILLIONS they are getting from petty lawsuits and extortion tactics. But do they? NO.
    This is simply another example of a corporation taking advantage of others, in the name of a good cause, to line the pockets of the Execs and attorneys (much like what we are witnessing with our politicians and the attorneys using the people of this country to line their pockets these days).
    You and I fellows are nothing more than pawns in this game-- but we don't have to be sheeple.
     
  87. Ima, I think you're big on words and short on logic. Getty makes plenty of money from people and companies voluntarily and willingly paying pretty high licensing fees for access to an immense library of images. They're selling mine all around the world, to companies and agencies that I'd never have access to otherwise. I'm sure that the lawsuits supplement income, but it's not a high percentage of their income, given how many times I see the Getty logo on widely published images. They're a go-to resource for many publishing companies and art directors.
    People do not innocently steal images, just like they don't innocently steal music. Every teenager knows that it's against the law. You say, "The fellow that did it didn't realize it was wrong", so tell us what planet he's from. How could he not really know he was in the wrong? I'd bet that, if the truth could really be known, he was simply hoping not to get caught.
    By the way, Getty doesn't preclude me from selling "products" made from my images, such as prints. For me, they add an income stream, selling to major corporations and advertising agencies around the world that I really have no access to otherwise. With notice, I can take back my rights on a prospective basis. I was afraid they'd be selling my files for next to nothing, but the charges that they collect are substantial (usually hundreds of dollars per image). I'd would like to get a higher percentage, but I don't see a competitor with similar penetration at a higher royalty rate. (I'm willing to try alternatives, if anyone has real suggestions).
     
  88. I can't respond to absurdity so I am done with this. Wish you the best.
     
  89. David, the crime was committed by a fellow who had never even blogged before, and didn't know what he was doing. That does happen.
    You don't know the truth-- but I do. And what Getty is doing is beyond you, the photographer. Again, follow the money.
    I come from a whole family of attorneys and judges... even one who served in the House of Representatives. I know what goes on behind the scenes. I do not agree with any of what they do-- how they use people. The star chamber is real (sadly).
    I'm not against Getty services, I'm against the dark part of what they are doing. Absolutely go after the real criminals... but HAMMERS AND NAILS are not the only tools in the tool chest. Everything is not black and white, and there are exceptions. People do legitimately screw up-- albeit stupidly. Just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it right... absolutely... but in certain cases, people are just ignorant. People in this country aren't necessarily getting smarter if you haven't noticed-- when people like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus trump the news.
    Newbies who make a MISTAKE should be given a SINGLE pass. What Getty is doing IS EXTORTION. I wonder sometimes if the attorneys aren't playing both sides of this one. Lord knows they do in Washington-- create a problem, create a 'cause', fool the people-- so they can make money from both sides. Only naive people think that doesn't happen.
    As for Barry... baaaaa baaaaa. You go Barry. Keep living in the bubble.
     
  90. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Whether Ima Patriot is right or wrong, someone who joins Photo.net under a false name specifically to make a rant of this nature, conducted the way it is, on his/her first day is going to be thought of as simply vindictive. Certainly by me.
     
  91. David, you are entitled to your opinion, as am I. I, like you, am simply using my first amendment right, while it is still afforded us. I simply don't agree with Getty. I don't like what big corporations, attorneys, and politicians do to the people-- how they use people. I believe in the people and I fight everyday against corruption.
    Peace. In all seriousness, I wish you my very best.
     
  92. Thank you Ima. Yes, you have the right to your opinion. Since I have a different opinion, I was merely trying to inject it into the discussion. Peace.
     
  93. I am a photographer and got one of these demand letters for an image I used on a website and after spending many hours researching and doing a cost analysis I found a solicitor (UK) who took care of everything for me for about 10% of the amount Getty Images wanted.
    Since then I have started a website with free information on copyright and tips on the best way to respond to letters from any photo-library. If you have got one of these letters don't delay (see why on my website) act today.
    Meantime just take a deep breath and remember there is a solution.
     

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