Friday, 29 June 2007

Getty Images are Trying to Getty Me!!!

A client of mine had a website designed, the images which were used were believed to be 100% legal. Last summer 2006 my client received a letter from Getty images demanding over £1500 pounds plus VAT for one thumb size image.

Obviously my client was shocked by this unexpected demand from Getty images. To cut a long story short, the webmaster had done everything right, he got permission from a hotel to use their images. Unknowingly the people who design the hotel's website took an image off Getty, how on earth then was my client meant to know. Of course the image was taken down immediately and I contacted Getty Images. They were not in the slightest bit sympathetic to my clients situation, and demanded payment even though the image was only on the site for a few weeks on an internal page.

I have been reading around and found some useful information, I am by no means a lawyer or have any legal training, but by the looks of it there are 1000's of people in the same boat.

Also from the same forum:

Found this on www.sitepoint.com/forums/

The UK Copyright, Patents and Designs Act 1988 states the following

Section 98.—(1) If in proceedings for infringement of copyright in respect of which a licence is available as of right under section 144 (powers exercisable in consequence of report of Monopolies and Mergers Commission) the defendant undertakes to take a licence on such terms as may be agreed or, in default of agreement, settled by the Copyright Tribunal under that section—
(a) no injunction shall be granted against him,
(b) no order for delivery up shall be made under section 99, and
(c) the amount recoverable against him by way of damages or on an account of profits shall not exceed double the amount which would have been payable by him as licensee if such a licence on those terms had been granted before the earliest infringement.


Advice to all...
If you live in the UK and have received a letter/email/telephone call from Getty asking for payment for copyright infringement:

DO:

1. Complain to Trading Standards immediately stating that you have received a very threatening demand for money and believe it to be an illegal scam. If you are any doubt that this is a scam, then take my word, IT IS!
2. If the invoice is charging VAT and has a) A US address and/or b) No VAT number, then report them to UK Customs and Excise. This is highly illegal.
3. Remove your site from the Waybackmachine. Both Getty and Picsout use this to get information. Inform the Waybackmachine that you have removed your site and tell them why - they frown on companies like Getty abusing their free resource.
4. Ignore all posts from photographers on this forum. They have no advice to offer you.


DONT:

1. Contact Getty in any way. Ignore all correspondence. If you have already spoken to them, and have not done so already, dispute the invoice and deny all responsibility.
2. Under no circumstances pay them any money. If you have already paid them, report them to the trading standards and write to them stating that if they don't refund your money you will report them to the police.
3. Speak to a solicitor. In my experience (like most others on this forum) is that advice is bad, conflicting and generally designed to maximise their own income rather than resolve your issue.

In the [very] unlikely event that Getty do take you to court - fight them! Legally, they do not have a leg to stand on!

I am not sure what is true and what is not but one thing is for sure it sounds like Getty's business model is not to make money from selling images but instead to make money from Sueing unsuspecting business owners. Ah the American way you gotta love it!!!

If I was a photographer I would be careful about using such a company. I can totally understand why such a law exists to protect your work, but I think Getty have gone a step to far. It's the small guys like me who used to buy of a company like Getty.

One last bit of advice if you have have been in contact with Getty then ask the for the copyright number for the image, the rates on their website for the period of time in connection and the full contact details for the photographer.

If you want this advice to be found by other people then either bookmark this page or link to it.

I now only use www.photospin.com and www.sxc.hu now for all my images.

136 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for creating & putting so much positivity in the way of ignoring the stupidity of mass capitalism trying to recreate itself.Keep up the resistance ,we all have to survive in the end don t we ? Be assured they & they know who they are ,are pillocks xxxx

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree. I had a very threatening letter from Getty Images saying I had infringed on copyright of one image on my website. The image had no history to it. I was not using the image for any financial gain and apparently thats what Getty would have to prove if they did take you to court.

My solicitor told me that under no circumstances was I to pay any money or respond to them. He said to ignore the letters and only contact him if the threats mentioned the word court!!!

If your bill was like mine just over £1500 then its daylight robbery especially as Getty say that after you've paid the fine you're still not entitled to use the image! Exactly what are you paying for?

The best advice did come from my solicitor it was free advice and anyone out there who is worried about these letters don't be. Ignore them as Getty won't take you to court unless its viable and as already mentioned they have to prove that you have used that image for financial gains i.e. selling it on!

Take all unsuspecting images off your website immediately and make sure that you always keep receipts of images and who you bought the rights from.

As for Getty they can GETTY LOST!!

supermom said...

Is it possible that the web site designer is in on this scam.

Who did you use, we usd ISS.

Anonymous said...

I don't think so, but you never know!!! I don't think Getty as much as they have disagree at how they approached attacking un aware businesses owners would ever try that stunt like that.

Anonymous said...

I am from the US & I received one of these letters. It makes you not want to have a website. Who can you trust unless you do it yourself and I don't know how. The guy I purchased my template site from said he believes Getty Images collected pictures from free sites & had them copyrighted. Do you think this is a possibility? Have they ever taken anyone to court? They want over $2000 from me.

Anonymous said...

Threaten Gettyimages back. They have no permission from the people or the structures that you see in the images. The Gettyimages and the photographers are making money not the people in the pictures. Threaten Getty that the people who have been abused will join in a class action lawsuit against Getty.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone used Lime One Solicitors yet? I have just received a call today from Moreton Smith Debt Collectors and am tempted to let Lime One deal with the problem. Any feedback would be appreciated. Getty claim that I owe them over £8000! They will accept £5500!!! Lime One claim to have successfully dealt with 150 cases. Is it true?

Anonymous said...

hi,
i am in the same position as the previous poster.
i have been reading another forum, but all posts seem to have stopped suddenly earlier last year - up until that point the thread was going strong???? http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/printthread.php?t=390902&page=4&pp=25


i was wondering if any of the older posts could update us on their current situation.

many thanks

Anonymous said...

I have also received these letters and chose to ignore them. I am now receiving emails and phone calls from a debt collector but so far have managed to ignore them also!!

gettygangster said...

for germans who are scammed by getty:

http://www.getty-images-abmahnung.info/

are planning a class action lawsuit against getty.

fight those gettygangsters!

Anonymous said...

see here

http://www.bloggingbuyouts.com/2008/03/19/those-suing-getty-images-may-need-to-be-thankful-a-buyout-came-a/1#c11615012

So, Getty Images, whose share price has fallen through the floor, making lots of shareholders very unhappy decides that it needs to boost it's revenues.

Answer: Send out invoices to as many people as possible as soon as possible and try and scare people into sending them money.

Very novel approach - lets hope that the share price goes down even more.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Canada, and I got a letter from Getty with a $4,000 bill last September. In 2001, an employer of mine gave me these images to use in an internal presentation. I posted this presentation on my website to showcase it in my portfolio. Well I guess Getty's robocops found it and apparently these images weren't licenced. The kicker is, this employer laid me off, then went bankrupt long ago.

Even though I removed them, I received one more letter from them in January but I keep seeing these posts saying to "Ignore Getty" because they didn''t send any type of warning. I thought they gave up but now they have hired a collection agency who sent me a copy of the letter and $4000 invoice. Now this dude is calling me.

Should I keep ignoring them or should I get a few hundred bucks together and contact a lawyer? As far as I'm concerned, I'm innocent because I was not aware that these were unlicenced, I was just doing my job.

Anonymous said...

They send debt collectors after me as well, I just ignored them and said see you in court, not heard anything for 12 months. I am in the UK so don't know if that makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

Just found this page and feel very reassured by all the comments.

I had already replied to Getty stating that i was unaware of any license on the images. My solicitor has told me not to pay them a penny and if it comes to it to go to small claims court and they would loose miserably.

I am now being called regularly by a premium rate number regularly but just ignore them. Im sure they will get bored before they get any money from me.

See you in court Getty!

Anonymous said...

I've just got a Getty demand for £6500 for a third party designed site - just wanted to say thanks for all the postings - I thought I was on my own! Have spoken to a solicitor but having little feedback as what action to take or not to take. I was going to contact Getty to 'negotiate' but doesn't sound like a good idea now after reading comments. I have taken the website off however until we know what to do - like previous comments, it would be good to get update from older cases.

Derek said...

I'm in UK, I received a letter from Getty demanding £1,210 just 3 days ago, I immediately contacted Getty explaining the mistake since the image was supplied to me by a friend who claimed it was his. They ignored my plea and demanded I make payment.

I have since sought legal advice and been told by a solicitor that I can not be held responsible for use of the image as the it was 'Accidental Use' ie I was not informed of the true legal copyright and its applied terms and conditions.

Also by UK law a person can not be made accountable to any Terms and Conditions that they have not agreed to, so T&C for RM images Getty manage do not apply if you did not sign up to their site and agree to them them.

I was informed to write a letter (write not email) to inform that by removing the image immediately from the website is sufficient enough and not to be contacted again for any demand for money.

If Getty persue the demand I was told to take it to Small Claims Court where it would fail to win due to my actions of immediately trying to rectify the issue sensibly and responsibly.

Obviously their is a limit to how much the demand is for for small claims so that will not be helpful to those who are being demanded to pay up a larger sum.

Hope this info is of use to other.

Fight it... You have nothing to lose IMO.

Anonymous said...

I have just had one of these for £1210 (£1000 plus Irish VAT at 21%) No VAT number... highly illegal! I find it odd looking at the posts in other forums that they are getting away with this and there has not been more action from both HMRC and Trading Standards. Perhaps we should start writing to newspapers or TV suggesting that they give the story some coverage too!!!

Anonymous said...

Getty Images - We too had a demand in Guernsey GBG for almost £1000 showing VAT in Ireland & payment to a USA bank - For a thumbnail size image of 2 men on a sofa that was used by our US web master on a tech web site. - John

CS said...

It appears getty is in this for the long haul. We need to follow the advice of Oscar Michelen at http://extortionletterinfo.com/
Listen to the 2 MP3 files of the discussion he has and his advice to us all. We need to come together and push their stock prices into the basement with public discussions about their tactics and what they are trying to do to us all. Lets make this our Cause for 2008 and slaughter the giant HOG as Oscar talks about in his discussion. Lets come together on this and stop the insanity.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your comments, I feel much better now!!!! I thought it was a scam but to be safe I have sought legal advice. I then googled "getty images scam" and was amazed at how widespread this is and how long it has been going on. I'm in Perth Western Australia and run a very small business that cannot afford to pay the demand especially for two images that cannot be clearly seen on the site let alone earn me any money!!!

Shakedown Victim said...

Just had a call from UK debt-collectors Moreton Smith today. The thing is, I'm not in the UK. They don't have any jurisdiction where I live. They don't even have bailiff powers in their own country.

The guy at the other end of the phone was mumbling and couldn't even get my name right. I gave up trying to explain that I hadn't received an invoice, and if I had, it should be considered contested. In the end I simply hung up on him.

The tiny thumbnail image in question came as part of a free Joomla template and had no idea at the time it was copyrighted by Greedy Images. As soon as I knew it was, the image was removed.

I'm not paying Greedy Images a cent of their >€2000 bill for this pathetic thumbnail, although when initially approached I would have been perfectly happy to full-size license the image at its normal cost, even though I did not knowingly violate their copyright and even though I work for a small, not-for-profit community organisation.

They don't have a leg to stand on and they know it. If they have any sense, they'll leave well enough alone. They can go to hell, and take Picscout and Moreton Smith with them.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Some very useful information here. I also had a letter from getty demanding £900. My tiny image came from google with no indication of who it belonged to or who it was owned by. Not being aware of any of the issues around this, I spoke to the legal department and they 'to my surprise' negotiated a deal and reduced it to £630...I paid! Having now read the posts on this site, I am going to report to trading standards and write to the police fraud department. I agree to copyrights and would always ask permission to use any images from the internet and pay but owner information has to be made available. What stops someone using my own images, submitting to getty and getty finding the images on my site and sue me??!! Thanks again folks, will let you know how this pans out.

Anonymous said...

Great blog!

I am even being charged $1,2000 AUD for a banner on my site that someone else supplied to me!

We emailed them and got an email back saying they were willing to negotiate a price.

I do believe they are using bully tactics to get large sums of money from little people and through fear these people pay.

For a great alternative to buy your images from only $1, go to istockphoto [singular]. You can email the copyright owner direct as well. I buy all my images and graphics from there.

Anonymous said...

I received a second letter from Getty yesterday, demanding €4,500. I am not sure what to do. I see that most of the people posting here are from the UK and the UK law on copyright is slightly different than Irish. Does anyone have experience with the Irish copyright law, has anyone been taken to court in Ireland over this etc? Any help would be appreciated.

Just to mention, I can not afford to pay the above amount..

Anonymous said...

I also received a letter from gettyimages stating that I am using one of their images and should take it down and pay $1000. And if I pay within 14 days, they will give me $100 discount. I got that image from google image search in 2005, and I do not see any copyrighted watermark on that image. Is it possible that the image was later added to the gettyimages and now they are trying to exhort money? Although I have taken the image out from my website, I am really looking for suggestions to deal with this situation. Mine is a demo website, and I don't have $1000 (or $900) to give it to them for a single photo.

Anonymous said...

Minor correction for the above post - the image was downloaded in 2003, and accordingly to the US Copyright law, the civil suit needs to be filed within 3 years (at least that is how I am reading it).

oscar michelen said...

We are finding out more and more information about Getty that is only strengthening our legal position. Getty is now being sued by its photographers for selling their photos for $2.00 per image yet they continue to seek $1,300 per image from my clients. Wikipedia now has posted a memo showing that Getty knows it cannot get these "multiplier damages" yet it continues to seek these very damages in a letter to my clients. Getty has consistently shifted and changed its position in resposne to our legal position and we contineu to show flaws intheir approach. This last issue with the memo shows incredible hubris on Getty's part. With one hand they send a letter to us telling us they are entitled to get multiplier damages and with th eother hand they send amemo ot that states they cannot get multiplier damaegs wiothout great difficulty. Come visit us at extortionletterinfo.com to see the latest posts on this issue

Ruchi said...

Thanks for info. Great blog you have here.

Anonymous said...

I received a letter back in Jan/Feb 09 saying I owed them close to £1000 for using their picture on my website - a site I paid a professional web company to design and host for me. I don't have the sort of money to pay 1K, its more a hobby business that makes a few quid a month - I wish I hadn't bothered with it now.

No-one I speak to wants to know, Trading Standards weren't interested at all, Citizens Advice couldn't help, I tried to get a free half hour of legal advice from several law firms but as soon as they find out its civil they don't offer free advice. They want £250+ per hour. Have considered Lime One as they send a letter out but even that is close to £200 which is a fortune to me.

Not sure what to do, Getty dismissed the only contact I have had with them which was an email saying I contested the invoice as I employed a third party to design/host the site saying I was still liable. Interestingly I am in the UK and they are applying Irish VAT??

I received a second letter from Getty last week (April 09) and if I ignore that I guess the next step is that they send the debt collectors after me. Not looking forward to that - does it mess up your credit history etc? Do they send bayliffs to the house?

Am half tempted to get a loan to pay up as the worry is making me sick.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick message about our situation to try and put people at ease.

I'm a freelance web designer and my main client had a letter from Getty demanding £1500 for the unauthorised use of two of their images on a web site I'd created a couple of years previously.

I can't rememember where the images came from - most likely Google image search (lesson learnt there).

First action - I took the images off the site straight away and checked all my other sites to ensure that any images with unverifiable histories were also removed. I replaced them with properly licensed images from Stockxpert.com, which are a fraction of the price of Getty (a quid for a web quality photo, for example).

After discussing the matter with my client and searching the Internet to see what others' experiences were, we decided to do nothing. No explanations, no pleading, no acknowledgement, no replies whatsoever.

This was a few months ago and we've not heard back from Getty.

We did consider using Lime One solicitors, who I spoke to over the phone, but weighing up the pros and cons, doing nothing was a reasonable course of action (not to mention free).

We share others' opinion that Getty are trying to intimidate people into a quick knee-jerk payment and are not interested in pursuing the matter to court, which would soak up any money they may make from the court case (I understand that the costs they can get in a small claim are limited and nowhere near what they'd have to pay their legal team). I'd advise others to do the same.

Once you reply to them I think they may employ more effort to get money out of you. In that situation, paying £150 to Lime One to write a legal letter on your behalf might be worthwhile for your peace of mind and seems to have been succesful in putting Getty off their pursuit.

There's certainly no need to panic. Getty want to scare money out of people for the least amount of effort on their part. If it looks like you'll make them work for it, they'll leave you alone and go for easier targets instead.

Paul said...

I used a free template from themesbase.com and used the images with that, then get a letter from getty demanding £1000 - the site was for a school...they didn't care when i called them...

Cynthia said...

Hi there, found this blog really useful. I am being chased by Getty Images for a third party designed website. I note the comments about Trading Standards so will definitely try this tactic. Have spoken with my lawyers and they said they have come across Getty but the news isn't good as Getty will pursue the death out of you till they get their dosh. They want £3000 from me which I can't afford to give them even though my insurers who are sympathetic and will pay it. I would still have to pay the excess. Have written to them today. Interesting to see what they will say.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,
For anyone getting letters in the Republic of Ireland, I have found this in the Irish Statute Books.
Copyright & Related Rights Acts 2000
Chapter 9
Section 128
Paragraph 2

(2) Without prejudice to any other remedy, where, in an action for infringement of the copyright in a work, it is shown that at the time of the infringement the defendant did not know and had no reason to believe that copyright subsisted in the work to which the action relates, the plaintiff is not entitled to damages against the defendant."

Looks like, ignore Getty and let them take it to the doorsteps of the Courthouse, then plant this one on them.

I am not a solicitor/lawyer but I do know that the Irish Court system is slow, and cumbersome. It will be good to see Getty going through the works and then meet up with one of the Judges, currently been snowed under by repossession orders and finance company claims against heavily indebted individuals who can barely afford to put a dinner on their family table, let alone indulge the greediness of a Megaprofit Company. After all, Getty can claim damages all they want, but if you can't pay, you can't pay and the Judge will see that and make an appropriate decision based on your financial position and the fact that you "did not know and had no reason to believe that copyright subsisted in the work to which the action relates". Also, it is a known fact that they will loose at least 50% of their claim in legal fees, were they to pursue it through the courts and all for little or no reward in the end.

Anonymous said...

These Getty Images guys have been chasing us for a year; we made the mistake of responding to the letters refuting their claims etc & while their responses took a while to come, they just ignored what we said and continued on with their rant. They have now employed MoretonSmith to institute legal proceedings... AAagghHHh.... So looks like the "ignore" advice (that I didn't listen to) is correct. Am now going to ignore them completely now (probably too late), return their correspondence as "no longer at this address" & wait to see what happens.. I will do jail for non-payment of the debt before I'll give these guys anything.... It really needs to be covered in the National Newspapers (or PrimeTime) to generate some bad press about Getty and get them off e'bodys back... Now - there's an idea I hadn't thought of before... Am off to see if I can get a friendly introduction to somebody in RTE (or if anybody out there knows somebody, can you do likewise..)... It's like the Nigerian scams from Lagos years ago all over again....

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog. I have had a letter sent, and I'm sure I had the image as part of a paid web design template set from a company in India.

I am hoping that, as I did not know this was in copyright infringement, and because I have subsequently removed the image, and because I have not responded, I will be OK.

However, I will use some words in this post that may help with the search engine ranking results: I'm guessing that people will be looking for words like Getty Images legal letter, copyright infringement, demand for payment, scam, but if anyone else can think of others, feel free to add them here - at the very least, I'd like to help sully the name of Getty Images a bit more.

Anonymous said...

All those people writing comments here thinking because they find something on Google with no copyright notice, it is fair game to use as you wish.

No it is not. You did not create it, so don't steal it like you would not steal a tv or car.

If you want to use someone's product of work and effort you can bl**dy well pay or at least ask them. The fact you did not bother to check it out is no excuse.

Pay the money and accept you did wrong.

p.s. all images Getty own require a lenghty process of submission and proof of ownership by the photographer. If the photographer was lying, he or she could be sued.

Mark said...

"All those people writing comments here thinking because they find something on Google with no copyright notice, it is fair game to use as you wish.

No it is not. You did not create it, so don't steal it like you would not steal a tv or car.

If you want to use someone's product of work and effort you can bl**dy well pay or at least ask them. The fact you did not bother to check it out is no excuse.

Pay the money and accept you did wrong.

p.s. all images Getty own require a lenghty process of submission and proof of ownership by the photographer. If the photographer was lying, he or she could be sued."


I don't think anyone would disagree about paying for the photos, what the massive issue is how Getty is dealing with it. When a hotel offers you a photo of their own hotel from their own site to then find out Getty say they own it, how could you ever know? Then the amount they want for it without any negotiation is hat is wrong. The only thing the resort to is threats.

So saying people are stealing photos is totally incorrect.

Please can you advise people by suggesting when a customer has supplies photos they can be checked to see who owns them?

Anonymous said...

I too have received one of these demand letters this month for a thumbs size image for £972.00 (inc. Irish VAT). Getty says they are based in Irland so how come they put Camden UK address? Not even a company registration number on the letterhead. I was going to write to them but I'm not gonna waste my stamp money!

Here is an excellent website with resources about getty images scam.

Anonymous said...

Alan said:

I've just sent a long letter and copies of the gettyimages demand letters to Trading Standards in the borders of Scotland. I had one 72 dpi very small image of a road sign on a dusty corner of my website. Getty mafia are after me like others for £972 - which seems like their £1k per pic policy. The photographer was sympathetic and knows he won't see probably any of the £972 (fee)from gettyimages, but said he caouldn't afford to fall out with getty and suggested I ignore them.

I haven't given up the struggle yet - this is a scam and intimidation. Can we not work together to stop this?

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

Am close to paying up the £972 as my nerves are not made of steel.
Photographer's blogs are full of the usual rumours that that Removal firm sued by Getty had to pay around £24.000 in legal fees.

Does anyone know why that removal firm have not issued a statement of any kind? Why do they keep schtumm?

Also, it would be good to hear from anyone whose "case" has been dropped - or do we not have ANY positive news?

Thanks for support + infos so far!

Ali McMath said...

I am like eveyone else who's posted on here. I've now received two demands from Getty Images about a small image of an eye which I unwittingly placed on a sub page of my website. I removed the image straight away but they are still insisitng I pay £972 or £874.80 if I settle immediately. I have emailed them to say I am not paying.
Question: Should I contact Trading Standards and write to Getty Images to say I have done so, and not to contact me again?
I am glad I am not alone in this. Thanks for putting my mind at ease.

Anonymous said...

To be honest I would just ignore them and wait to see if they do take you to court.

The best we can hope for is we can damage Getty Images's Reputation by their hard handed approach.

Ali McMath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I contacted Trading Standards but they didn't seem all that interested. In any case call the HMRC VAT fraud hotline at 0800 595 000 and report that Getty are charging Irish VAT on a UK invoice. They are very interested in cases like this!

If Getty contact you again, just say again that you used the image unwittingly and ask how they calculate their claim (- in the end they'd have to proof how long you have been using the image to justify the amount).

Keep us posted on progress pls!

Good luck!

Ali McMath said...

Just to keep you updated .... I received an email off Getty today. They have now revised their extortionate demand, and now tell me they will accept £729. So, it's gone from £972, to £842, to £729! I may just wait until it's down to £15, which is the price the image is advertised at on their website. Onwards ....

Mark said...

Hi Ali, good on you, I have been approached again by them for another website, I have also contacted Watchdog this time to see if we can get them interested.

Anonymous said...

Hi I have received a demand for £425.25 for a picture on the template of my website this template was part of my website software package I purchased from a reputable software company which I would have expected they own all rights I am waiting for a reply from them to confirm.
Just to let people know I contacted VAT fraud about the irish Vat and they said they are are registered in Irland and allowed to charge even with british address on invoice.

Just to close I would be very interested in any updates from your contact with Watchdog as I may write to them myself as no official government departments seem to be interested in these theives maybe we should register some government photo's with Getty then get them to chase the government.

Anonymous said...

I received a second demand from Getty now. I am based in the UK.

Interestingly, the envelope was posted from Auckland, New Zealand!

The letter is from the Bayham St, London office.

The invoice say so to Remit by Bank Transfer to Bank of America - DUBLIN.

I bet they read these blogs, to see how receivers react to the threatening letters...what to do? Ignore?

Ali McMath said...

Yes definitely ignore! It's one BIG scam. The last I heard off them was at the beginning of November, demanding I pay them money before the end of November or else. I haven't heard off them since.

Anonymous said...

I had this situation happen 2 years ago.
I got Limeone to send them a letter.

I have just had a letter from them saying that they are prepared to hand over to there external lawyers which will result in court and quoted a successful court case in London.

Has anyone else had this new letter?

Anonymous said...

Saw this on another blog:

As previously mentioned I had a problem due to the use of the sample images supplied with vista. I contacted Microsoft as the image had no copyright information within its properties so I did not feel it was fair that we should be charged. Microsoft (amazingly) have been extreamly quick to deal with the situation. They have been in talks with gettys for the last few weeks regarding use of these sample images and I am happy to say that this morning I recieved the following message from microsoft:

Thanks again for contacting us in regards to this issue.
Getty has informed Microsoft that it will not pursue customers who have obtained the image from the sample image folder within a legitimately obtained copy of Microsoftâ?Ts Windows Vista Operating System. You should therefore notify Getty and let them know you obtained the image from your copy of Vista.

terrified, Obviously this will only help people who have used the sample images so may not be helpful to you. However hopefully it will help some others with the Gettys issue.
Good luck to you I hope you are lucky enough to get it resolved as we have been.

Mark said...

SAW THIS POST ON FSB AND THOUGHT IT WAS VERY USEFUL.

I have read the old thread regarding this (which for some strange reason has been taken off) and I have read this new one. I am finishing my legal course and I did help a fried with this issue and she hasn’t heard from them for nearly 18 months. I would like to make following observations:-

1. FSB and their legal help line are of no use. They tell you to “negotiate” which is almost impossible as these two companies and their representative take that as a sign of you caving in.

2. Most people on these forums go from one extreme to another. One side says that an innocent infringement, coupled with mitigating circumstances is theft!, the other says I got these images in a free CD (without knowing terms and conditions which usually state free for personal use)

3. Not many people appeared to have read the actual act (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/ukpga_19880048_en_1) this gives you loads of useful information about the situation people are in, the definitions etc (including what they can claim)

4. If you are accused of “stealing” an image, go to the respective (getty/ccorb) website and see what that image is worth (for internet use, over the period you have had it displayed) and save an electronic copy.

5. When you write back to them, refer to the above act, be calm and to the point.

6. If you have made a mistake, offer to pay them the cost plus reasonable compensation.

7. You do not have to pay Irish or any other overseas VAT unless you have a contract with them, which you don’t.

8. Report this demand for VAT to your local trading standards (not the consumer helpline)

9. Write to your MP.

10. Getty is owned by the venture capital firm and this man is responsible, e mail him http://www.hf.com/team/Team.aspx?membercode=aBallard

11. If you get demands from solicitors, tell them you have no contract and you will report them to SRA (Solicitors Regulatory Authority), if they persist, do so (they should take you to court asap instead of making threats)

12. Same for debt collectors, tell them you will report them to OFT, if they persist, do so.

I might sound harsh but moaning on a internet forum is not going to help you resolve this, You have to take steps to make yourself heard and with the election nearing, you will get some kind of result. No point in talking to press of BBC as they rely on these organisations for their images so they wouldn’t want to rock the boat.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

just had the same issue with getty....not for the huge amounts others have been asked to pay...mine, under £400.

The whole letter looks like a scam letter, but dont think it is.

Called Trading Standards....they can do nothing they said, get legal advise.

Called OFT.....they can do nothing they said, get legal advise.

Bloody joke this....they dont seem to want to touch the big guys.

Spoke to my accountant and you can be charged Irish VAT, or any other euro vat, in the UK.

So as far as i can see most of the advise on here is only building hope.

If its a large amount then get legal advise.

I will let you know how i get on when i speak to getty this week...

Hope you all resolve your situations and it does not stress you too much.

As far as getty goes these fees are out of order and we need to vote with our pockets....dont use them or their partners again.

I agree they should get money if their images are being used without license, but the amounts are far too much.

Good Luck everyone.

Einhander said...

(continued from above)

• Subversion: Revenue stream vs IP flagrancy prevention. “the conflict of interest”
The argument of recouping lost revenue seems out of kilter with the entire concept of IP protection. It’s important to make the distinction between solving problems before they arise by redesigning the system to prevent future problems from occurring; and that of treating the symptom of the problem so the problem remains and continues to reoccur. In light of the situation, evidence suggests that resources employed and deployed from Getty are heavily weighted in favour of the latter of the two options, that’s become somewhat of an industry panacea, which is unfortunate for all involved. But given it isn’t so much an option as choice is probably why this practice is looked upon abhorrently and with distain when viewed through the lens of ‘rights-protection’. It causes stress and disruption in a way that doesn’t even begin to address the actual situation… which is how do we stop people/companies from using imagery without our permission? Note; this is a very different question to ‘how do we create top-line growth?’ (I find it questionable that an entire industry has arisen from this self-perpetuating ignominious practice).

It is not uncommon to use branded watermarks as means of clear identification given the proliferation of internet use, in particular, increased bandwidth throughput, the ubiquitous use of imagery with the decline of line-code (indeed there’s much advice on the usage of watermarks on popular photography forums such as fredmiranda or dpreview). But given current conditions, one would have thought it reasonable to clearly demarcate boundaries of ownership, which to be fair many peers do! (branding 101). Though much imagery on the internet is public-domain, I do recognize some isn’t, however the recognition of distinction between the two isn’t entirely apparent on observation alone, nor do I feel website-owners are sufficiently informed in the finer details of the correctly sourcing of images, however awareness campaigns and the use of branded watermarks would help create or further reinforce that distinction. Photographic file Metadata/ EXIF data isn’t intuitively available to the technically ignorant (certainly this specialized knowledge isn’t as pervasive as language literacy). In light of that, it’s hard to fathom why anyone would choose not to tackle the underlying problem? Of awareness, changing entrenched mind-sets, putting the necessary systems place, with no conflicts of self-interest. Without that, inaction as well as actions helps precipitate the current climate i.e., it’s not what you do, but rather what you didn’t do, or choose not to do, which is why I see these image distributors as being culpable, as the situation such as it is, could be construed to be engineered by the very people who are profiteering from it, i.e., ‘it’s self-sustaining’ through inaction, that much is obvious, therefore acting in the interests of photographers is secondary (if that!) to preserving the status quo.

I assume as long as people allow themselves to be coerced into paying, the bully-boy tactics will not stop until industry reforms under new legislation with tighter regulation, and until that time these companies will continue to exploit the copyright act to support this abhorrent business-model. As it stands from their perspective, non-customers who pay are far better a (financial) proposition than non-customers who wouldn’t have licensed regardless, now what incentive would they have to change that?

None. This self-induced form of profiteering through intimidation has to stop as it’s setting a bad precedent for business practice as a cultural phenomenon, which has no place in civilized society.

-your friendly, einhander.

Anonymous said...

Hello Guys,
I read almost all the comments since I read them 10 monts ago. My advice to those who have received an invoice under 500 just pay it and forget it - you are really 'happy' with this amount. You will sleep much better. For the rest I don't have an advice...sinse I don't have it for me. We did receive their letter almost a year ago asking 1300 GBP for a small thumbnail which we did not know is a matter of copyrights. We payed Lime One to write a letter and we thought that was it, ... as we read at the FSB forums and all other places where you read the advice to ignore them or to use Lime One. Now they are back with a letter written directly from a big law company asking the fisrt price plus costs they have made on this matter till now - another 600. They don't explain what are these costs for. Lime One is just a writting service. They won't' take the correspondence further. One letter for which you pay GBP 200 or near... and that's it.
The same case is in the FSB which started in 2008 and came back now with a letter form a solitors. I read about. So... I'm not so sure that ignoring them will proceed any good...
I read a lot of statements saying that they can't proove this or that... but once you receive a letter from a solitor the matter seems a bit different, although I read that Corbis scheme is different - sending letters directly through solitors.
The thing is that although reading even the old topic in FSB or the new one or the two in the sitepoint forums I still don't find a case which is actually cleared. People post what happens in the begining but nobody so far posts what is going on further and how it ends... if it ends at all. So how could anyone know what is going to happen and if he ignores them won't make the situation worse. How do you know that this isn't their new tactic?
Maybe the best way is to ignore them from the first letter, but once you start writing they will go after all the way. The one thing I understood is they don't negotiate. I don't mind to pay a mistake I did without knowing, but to pay it in a reasonable amount. An image they sell on their website is for a price of 32. Even if you want to conpencate them 10 times... nothing can't compare with the amouts they want. I wonder did ever the photographer take even half of this after they receive their clame... or he just got his 32 and the rest is for them , to be able to buy more and more image companies, ..because as I see now they almost bought all image bank sites... even sxc.hu which is really sad. And it is strange for me they do it- all this big claims, cause if they were seeking less money maybe they would have been paid mostly by all the people they contacted. I don't know how we will proceed, probably take a bank credit and pay them... Sorry for not being supportive...but this really costs my health and sleep.

Anonymous said...

Having read through these posts we are shocked at the tactics of Getty Images with regard to demands that can only be described as extortionate.

As a company with a reasonably high annual spend for images, we have today cancelled our account with Getty and will now use an alternative source for our work.

We have no wish to be involved or associated with such an organisation.

I have emailed our forum of developers and media contacts of which two are today taking the same action.

Anonymous said...

Took me a while to find, but see http://contributors.gettyimages.com/article.asp?article_id=890
Maybe thats why Getty won't answer or supply any proof of ownership. Cos maybe the photo isn't actually registered....

From FSB forum

Kath said...

I had the pleasure of reciving a letter from them.
I of course got panic and answerd them on a mail.
Explained to them that my firm did not have that kind of money beacause it`s not oprative beacause im sick and cant work.

They agreed to let me get 25% off the sum.
And i thought, if i pay that i should really own the pictures, it`s not that expencive pictures.
So i googled the name that they put as the photographers and i did not find them.
The only link i had to those names linked back to Getty images.

I find that strange, how is it that i cant find the persons who took the pictures and should have copyright on them on the internet???

I dont know much about the copyright law here i Norway so i dont know if i should pay or not?!?!
Anyone have an idea on what to do??

Ali McMath said...

Ignore it is the best advice Kath. Try Googling 'getty scam' and see what you find. You'll be amazed.

Anonymous said...

A new site where you can post your stories about Getty Images http://imagesletter.com/

Anonymous said...

I think the BBC use getty images alot maybe its time to canvase them to stop using getty images as it is our license money that is paying these crooks, stop paying license fee untill they stop using them.

Anonymous said...

Please note! You list www.sxc.hu as a site that you still use for images. However, that site now says it's under new management - by Getty Images!

Neil said...

My website was built by a totally reputable firm who sourced the photo legitimately when it was advertised as 'free' on a site Getty now owns. Getty wrote to me out of the blue demanding £800 plus VAT. After my webbie researched this providing the link to this site and others I wrote back telling them to kiss my arse. No way am I paying these creeps, I'll go to court if necessary. I'm also reporting them to Trading Standards and the police for attempting to obtain a pecuniary advantage by deception.

Anonymous said...

Just received the dreaded Getty Images extortion demand of just under £400 if I pay within 14 days.

I have no intention of paying anything, I can prove the image I used came from a free website template.

I'm sure they are aquiring photo's which were supplied free at the time and that people have used in good faith, thinking there would be no copyright issues, until Getty Images claims them for their own and wants paid for them.

I couldn't care less whether they send a debt collection agency after me or take me to court, although their initial letter has no hint of what they intend to do should I not pay.

I have contacted Trading Standards but don't hold much hope for a reply.

The VAT say they are registered in Ireland and allowed to clain 21% vat, although I didn't say that I did not have a contract with them.

Something I did notice that has not been mentioned on here as far as I am aware is:

The letter I received with the demand for money has a photo of the website I created and own copyright to, could it not be said that Getty Images is in copyright infringement for using an image of that website in the letter and perhaps owe me money for using my website image, hope this sounds the way it was meant to.

My suggestions to anyone would be:

DO NOT contact them to explain anything
DO NOT pay anything to this company

Do contact Trading Standards
Do contact the Office of Fair Trading
Do sit back and wait to go to court, if they ever do that.

Email Watchdog and let them know what's going on, if enough people email them then they will sit up and take notice.

Going by all the post on here this is not just restricted to the USA or UK but is worldwide and must be making them a fortune and extremely more than the selling of images.

It's an extortion racket that would put Al Capone and the Mafia to shame, hope no mafia members read this, if you are a mafia member and read this, I'm the owner of Getty Images.

Stand firm people and don't let these people bully you into giving your hard earned cash away.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest you look here, and read the entire thread:

http://www.fsb.org.uk/discuss/forum_posts.asp?TID=2808&PN=42

Anonymous said...

Well, I have recently received a demand from Getty for £1,500 for the use of a small image on my little website. It seems Getty is making it their business to make everyone's life harder and more stressful.

But having read the posts from others (and thank you for your great advice and reassurance, I was really anxious when I opened that letter), I have decided to do nothing as advised.

It seems they use a debt collection agency in the UK to apply further pressure from reading other posts so I am bracing myself for some unpleasant phone calls in due course.

Anonymous said...

My company received a phone call a while ago about two images on our website from Getty.

They followed it up with an email demanding about £1100 plus 21% Irish VAT

I did reply and informed them that the website had been created by a third party website design company who had informed us that the photos were from their stock which we took to mean they owned which I had proof of.

Unfortunately the relationship with the web design company somewhat soured towards the end because they were terrible at getting things done so when I contacted them this time round obviously it was hard to get any information but I was basically told the images had 100% come from a free stock site.

I did reply to Getty and told them but they kept trying to say I should have not used the image unless I had permission from the photographer. Theres only so much I could have done to check the images were legitimate. added to the fact Copyright law is not widely reported so unless you have an IP lawyer working in your office its also not something you'd really think about for the average person.

I have read several other comments from people who did obtain the images from free stock sites which have subsequently been purchased by Getty so I definately think this is a business practise of theirs.

I got our lawyers to write them a letter to which they replied stating the various acts we referred to in the letter didnt apply and to pay up (which is a lie because they can't say the acts don't apply, that is something a judge would decide based on the merits of each case). I havent replied since and havent heard from them. It's been a couple of months. If I do hear from their lawyers or a debt collection agency I'll let you know how it goes.

They also referred to the now imfamous (among people who got the Getty letter) court case where they received a large amount. What they fail to mention is that it was settled out of court. Up until now I can't find proof of a single case in the UK that has gone to court.

I won't advise you to ignore the letter because thats up to each individual. I would think though that if they did go ahead with a court case it would work in your favour that you didn't just ignore it and at least tried to explain to them (although once you reply they will go the extra mile to pursue you).

I'd be amazed if they ever won against someone who had paid a third party and acted in good faith at all times. If you got the image from google then your position may be slightly more precarious.

Good luck to anyone taking on scum like Getty.

Dave Smith said...

Great blog! Not much to add - other than yes, I am also a victim of the getty 'extortion' letter this week - they want £1200 for use of 3 tiny images. Its a shame none of the earlier posters have come back with their outcome - I have read elsewhere that just ignoring and not responding doesnt mean they go away, but charges and fees start to escualte.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the comment above yours Dave. Currently we have now received a formal letter requesting payment which has now risen to £2000. Not sure where the extra £900 has arisen from as no lawyers have yet become involved.

We have been given 21 days to pay (after only getting a week when the communication was email only) but we've ignored it. We'll see what the outcome is after the 21 days.

We have now removed every picture from our website (not just the two we have been told are copyright) because we are not sure where they came from. We were initially led to believe they came from the stock of our now ex web developer so we assumed they were fine to use.

We replaced them all by buying images at our own cost so there is no way I am also paying Getty anything.

I suppose the next stage is for them to involve lawyers. We will probably make a fair offer based on the actual cost of the photos at that time as any other costs such as the cost of their copyright department is not something we should pay for as they'd have it whether we used those images or not.

I'm sure they'll reject it but at least we can show we made an offer to try to avoid it becomming a legal matter.

Anonymous said...

I posted last year, to date we have not been chased or had any debt collectors after the initial letters / threats. We have not responded and just return all letters to them.

Over the course of 3 years I still know noone who they have managed to sue unless they were trying to really profit from an image like selling it online which is bad anyway like cpoying DVD's and selling them on.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Thank You for your very informative and educational information.

Recently, we have received a "check your image right" mail from Getty in Japan. then i have started researching about Getty. and im so surprized that so many people in worldwide already being victimized.

Along with research,i have found some people in japan has been already victimized that im not sure they settled or not.

some people being charged more than $30,000USD for few stamp sized images in Japan.

so i decide to open webpages to educate homepage owners in japan.
http://blackmailedbygetty.web.fc2.com

i intend to update information about getty extortion.

Best Regards,

Anonymous said...

Hi

Just found this forum. It is very reassuring that so many people are in the same battle ship as I am. Just received my second letter from Getty today saying that they previously notified me and have attached copies of these letters.

I plan to ignore these letters. I have removed the image from my website. This is such a disgusting way to earn money, by scaring people. I initially was prepared to pay them before I researched these hundreds of cases online and now will strongly fight these wankers.

Guy

P.S They are asking for £968.00 for an image I found on Google images. No water marks on the image,(as most stock photo sites do until you buy).

Mark said...

Hi guys, I know many of you are very hacked off with Getty Images, I get many comments but I have to delete a lot of them, not because they have bad content or invalid points but because the bad language often added at the end of a post. So lets not tell Getty to swivel etc but rather show how bad their business etiquette is by lots of good examples of how they decide how much they are going to charge.

Anonymous said...

In which countries Getty is pursuing such cases. Is India included as yet ?

Anonymous said...

Yup even here in the Philippines The Getty Images Scam got through.... we also receive letters from them 1 week ago... thank for all the post.....

Anonymous said...

Istock photo and Sxc.hu are now owned by Greedy Images, so please don't by or take any images from them, I took a free image from Sxc.hu last years - they are a free image library or were until Greedy images took over, my client got a letter demanding £1000 for an image I took from Sxc's free image collection.

Considering I have spent £100,000 with Greedy images in the past 10 years as a Publisher, I will never use them again...

This company are absolute scum, and deserve to be shut down.

Good luck to you all in fighting these bullies !

Anonymous said...

I just received letter from collector company in Slovakia. I have to pay them within 7 day 6.100.- Euros for using pictures on my web site from Getty Images. I never heard about this company till I got letter. I was sure all my pictures on my web pages are free from public sites. It looks to me as big scam all over world.

Anonymous said...

I have received my Getty demad today and asking for £1200 inc Vat. I cried but then went digging around for advice and clearly it seems to be ignore it. I did call them before reading anything to explain an honest misunderstanding and they didnt want to know and said they would offer a small reduction of 20% but after I said I couldnt pay that I was asked to think about it and make an offer. But since reading this I feel confident that I can ignore these letters as they have to prove loss and damages and read on another site
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 so thank you for this blog I will sleep easier tonight.

Anonymous said...

Hi to all similar scam victims.

Just received a Getty demand for a picture obtained from a free site for £475 plus Irish VAT. I can't believe that even in the mystical and unclear world of copyright Law that the "offender" can be prosecuted without any obvious "guilty knowledge". The image was one of many on one of my webpages and I strongly feel , that apart from there being no warning or indication that the image was syndicated, how on earth can I have been seeking to obtain any financial gain from that image alone. I also don't think that ignoring problems is the way forward as positive action needs to be taken by taking the battle to Getty. Surely, for Getty this is a case of we send out thousands of letters and even if 5% of those recipients pay up the income generated by Getty is considerable. One can only think that this "sharp practice" is born out of the recession we all find ourselves in. Getty need to take a serious look at themselves.

Anonymous said...

Although I am not a lawyer or have any legal expertise, UK Law does differ from US. Anyone who has received a letter from Getty demanding ludicrous sums should familiarize themselves with, The UK Copyright, Patents and Designs Act 1988. Especially the following two sections. 98-1 already covered by Mark and:
Part 1 Copyright Chapter, V1 Remedies for Infringement, 97, Provisions as to Infringement in Infringement Action. This is an important piece of legislation and doesn't come up often in blogs regarding the Getty issue.

Getty letters seem to have been going on for quite some time now and the letter seems to differ slightly in renditions over the years. Your (the readers) copy of the letter may contain some FAQ's by letter recipients whom, according to Getty always state that you are liable whatever your reason for using the Image/s.
Getty are telling you that no matter what you are 'Liable' for copyright infringement. In my opinion this leads the reader to thinking that as they are 'Liable', they must be liable for damages. Now take a look at this:

“(1)Where in an action for infringement of copyright it is shown that at the time of the infringement the defendant did not know, and had no reason to believe, that copyright subsisted in the work to which the action relates, the plaintiff is not entitled to damages against him, but without prejudice to any other remedy.
(2)The court may in an action for infringement of copyright having regard to all the circumstances, and in particular to—
(a)the flagrancy of the infringement, and
(b)any benefit accruing to the defendant by reason of the infringement,
award such additional damages as the justice of the case may require.”
Yes, you are 'Liable', but you do not automatically have to pay damages. Getty are totally Biased to the way they read UK Law. Their letter follows the principle of telling you only what is in their favor, while staying away from those parts of legislation that may favor you.
If you did not know that material on your template was copyrighted, and I would say especially if you had paid a web designer to create your site, then you could count on the above legislation. Getty would have to prove you were either flagrant, or that they had a right to compensation due to the fact that you had made a profit from using their image. Either way, the amount is up to a court to decide and not Getty.
Rather than completely ignoring Getty's letter, I would write them back giving them as little information as possible and at the same time quote the legislation you would be relying on, if this matter were to go to court.
Finally, if your site has made a profit while using a Getty image and if you are certain that Getty is taking you to Court you could do the following. Look at the value of the image, (the money Getty would have charged you if you had bought the Image in the first place, then offer Getty at least that value up to a maximum of twice that value. Why? Because if it does go to court, the court may see your offer as fair, especially if you offer the maximum. To understand this point and others I have made, Read The Legislation. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/contents
Please remember that I am not in any way legally qualified, for quality advice see a solicitor or use some other form of law firm. May I wish you all the best in getting fair treatment from Getty Images

Evergreen said...

Hi,

Just found your website.:))
I got similiar letter from Getty Images,too. Did they leave you alone eventually?thanks for reply

Anonymous said...

I have recently received a Getty Letter asking for £968 for an image that was on a secondary page and had formed part of a flash object. The Site was created by a contracted Web developer and I wasn't aware of any possible copyright infringement. Based on advice on this Site (and www.extortionletterinfo.com), I am going to:

1) Ignore Getty
2) Email Watchdog (they might start to take notice with forums such as this) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/watchdog/gotastory/
3) If they call me, I will state:
a) I was not aware of the image infringing any copyright
b) The image (and Site) has been immediately taken down upon receipt of notification
c) Historical cases based on unwitting infringement would not merit an award of more than $200
d) I have contacted the local copyright office, who would not support any such claim
e) The Site was originally developed by a contracted 3rd party who would have arranged for necessary copyright
f) Hang up!

We'll see how it goes...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog.

I'm too are hit by the claim from Getty Images (£2200) for 4 pictures in size 150x150px, and right after the claim I removed all the pictures.

I found my pictures on one of the free image banks some years ago (8 years) and thought this pictures was free when they said so. I was wrong, but how can one check it, if we don't have the same tools as Getty Images. I would be happy to test my websites with a image bot, to be sure that none of them would give me a copyright issue.

It sounds like they will be back asking for the money again, but is it the best idea to ignore them completely? And would it not result in a bad case if you need to go to the court?

Dyson Medic said...

Getty have been doing this a long time. back in the days when we all used to randomly steal images from the net for our sites, the webmaster forums were full of "Don't use Getty" images. Now I play safe and make all my own images.

Anonymous said...

Getty Images are sharks! I received a letter from them asking for £2, 000 + VAT in January.

I wish I had read this blog sooner! We've had enough of Getty contacting us. We have explained time and time again that we simply took a snap shot of another company's web-site (home page) in order to highlight their disability services. We did this free of charge, no profit has been made. It was in good faith and neither party was aware that the web-developer who sold the web-template did not buy the images.

Getty had in fact been in touch with the web-developer but did not prosecute - instead they find us liable as the 'end-user'.

Funny thing is, today, to get them off our back, we offered to settle at £100 as we felt this was more than a fair price for the images in question. No, but they would accept £500? WTF!!!

Now I've read this blog, Getty can GET LOST!. To drop the price from £2,000 to £500 in a blink - told them we would take this up with the Office of Fair Trading. This alone told me they are up to no good!

It's true, they are not interested in selling images but instead set up traps for small businesses - SCUM!

I'm going to IGNORE, IGNORE, IGNORE

Thanks everyone for all your helpful comments!

Anonymous said...

Getty has sent me a letter stating i pay them 600 for an images i got off a free download and use as an inch big pic on my site that i didnt make money off of. they can suck it. i owe them nothing. i took it down ciest and desist.

Anonymous said...

Hi Everybody

Am from UK and just received one of Gettys demand letters for a picture that is not even on my website. The screen capture they sent with the letter and the bill, 968 Pounds Sterling was clearly not from my site. What a SCAM SCAM SCAM

Anonymous said...

I consulted my cousin, a solicitor who has had a number of designers, printer etc and this is what he told me to write.


Without Prejudice

I represent my client.
Thank you for pointing out an error in having used an image given to us by a third party.
We had no indication that the image was rights protected as it had no identification or copyright mark.
This is an accidental situation for which we apologise. We have ceased and dismissed by your request and taken the image off immediately.
Having taken legal advice, we point out that as a non-for-profit organisation, we have not used any item on the site for gain.
If you look at Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 - Sections 96 + 97 we fall under this category, in that we have never knowingly used an item for our website in which there was a copyright issue.
We believe a court would look favourably upon this.
As a small company we also have terms and conditions on the site, and uphold copyright issues, but would not look at such draconian issues such as inflated demands for what is in fact an honest mistake.
Yours sincerely,

Anonymous said...

Hi. Has anyone actually been taken to court after ignoring these letters or not paying up ?
Thanks.....

Reputation Management said...

I see google now suggests getty images scam for once I love the suggested search :-)

Anonymous said...

GI has sent me to a collection agency NCS Recovery in FL. The thumbnail pics were put on my site a small web company ten years ago. just last year GI surfaced and said its their coyrighted material. they would not show any proof that they owned rights to it 10 years ago. I tried reasoning with the contact person, no avail.
I even removed the entire website, not just the pics in question. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever experienced.

Anonymous said...

aha!

Just tell them that the image was obtained by screenshot and than doctered.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screenshot#Copyright_issues

cheerio,

G.

Anonymous said...

Great blog.

As somebody who has just found a close friend subjugated to this fascist form of capitalism (incidentally I'm a capitalist) - am taking this further with some pressure. We'll see how far we get.
Since GI are based in Eire need to get EU commission involved through national consumer agencies (eqv to UK OFT).

They need putting out of business in the UK. Suggest keep contacting BBC and national press over their connected use. See if we can get this raised at MP level particularly since we've just lent a few billion to EIRE......let's see where it leads.

Cannot believe that a 'legitimate' business can get away with this sort of behaviour in this day and age.

Anonymous said...

We even payed them for an image and they are still suing us over it. Advise for anybody that uses Getty Images: do not do business with them. Even if you are a paying customer, they will wait (in our case 9 years) until you can no long prove your purchase and start extorting you.

Anonymous said...

This place is a scam:
Getty Images (I spoke with Janea and her supervisor Dave) who are real people out of Seattle WA 206-925-6796 is the mgr's direct line. They are a total scam, they wanted 800 bucks for a picture that cost 10 bucks on other sites. it's SERIOUSLY terrible that companies hire people to do this type of job, but I guess highly lucrative.

They should have been taken down from the Better Business Bureau. But for some reason they are still clicking away at business. Shut them down or change their stupid tactics.

Anonymous said...

I just had one this morning, and will say that I am very much in the know when it comes to Getty's. Having purchased many thousands of images in the past, I have been victim of their bully boy tactics for many years. I find their company and attitude abhorant, and from what I have read their financial difficulties are down to their tactics, whereby individuals and companies are unsubscribing from their libraries because of their lack in eithics. I would imagine 99.9 per cent of illegally posted images are totally innocent, but Greedy's look to take advantage of the situation. I cannot believe they have not realised the bad publicity will inevitably become their down fall. My site allows others to upload their information, and I have a not responsible disclaimer written by a law firm. I would suggest that this investment £400 is worth while if appropriate to your website, and third party individuals have access to the site. Getty's may lose a lot of money when people cheat the system, but lets face it, how many actually do intentionally cheat the system. Getty's need to change their stance before it is too late, and the professionals who subscribe to their website decide to find a non-Getty owned image library, of which there are only a few. However, I do see them benefiting from Getty's actions increasingly more in the future. Wake up Getty's!!!

Anonymous said...

I recieved a couple letters early this year... after some thoughts and stress I decided to pay them the $500 they were asking and mailed them a check in early Febuary... by early March it was not processed so I stopped it. Now they are billing me again and asking for a replacement check! Why would I send another one? They had four weeks to process the last one and didn't... too late if you ask me!

Anonymous said...

Boo got stuck by getty the other day for an extreme amount for two images which I made for my self run business back in 2007.

At the time I did everything possible to check for Watermarks, file properties and checking for author, copyright and the usual, even searched the internet for a couple of days. Found no link so i used it.

They won't get a penny because I don't even have a penny.

Put it this way if they do pursue it I will shut the business down and start a new one. can't take something from something that has nothing at all.

Great way for my first year of actually running. lol

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody. thanks 4 all posts. stone from heart after getting letter from Getty. I rang them on 1800931876 in Ireland and I said have no money (€950 + €199,50vat = 1149,50) , that they can straight away put me to jail. I didn't read anything about it online in that time, but now I'm relieved.
Honestly Up the Dubs!!! and F..k Getty motherfu..ers.
Small biznesman from Poland.

Anonymous said...

hi i wish i found this site as soon as i recieved a letter from getty. I own a small fish and chip shop and a web designer customer talked me into having a three page website. Didnt really need one but thought why not.5 years on and i had the letter from getty to sat that i had useds twi unlicenced images, one of mushy peas and the other a prawn starter and demanded £2100.00. i ignored the first two letters but took legal advise on receiving the third. We decided to contect them and asked for proof of copyright etc and after a few more letters we overed then £750.00 which they turned down. now they are demanding the £2100.00 plus £600.00 costs or they will take me to court, my solicitor send them a letter to say that court proceedings were a little previous but that we were prepered to negotiate. what do i do next?
we have not heard from them for three weeks.

Mark said...

Are you a member of the FSB always worth talking with them. I think any UK court would say you made a very good offer. Once you take the bait they really go after you. If I was you I would just lie low and see what happens. They turned down your offer and came back with a crazy counter offer.

taas@sair.as said...

If the page holder wants to one new "exiting" case with GI, I have one. I have spent over 40 hours with my case because I truly will not tolarate this bulls**t. Hope everybody will stand against this and if I have to go court, let's go there with a BLAST!

Anonymous said...

Getty have been on to us for over a year now..have ignored all correspondence from them. Today had a letter from Simons Muirhead and Burton(who ever they may be)telling us to pay up £1350.00 to avoid court action...it aint going to happen! Anyone else heard of SMB?

Anonymous said...

Just got the same letter from Simons Muirhead and Burton. GI was onto me for 6 months now, demanding £1700 +Irish VAT for a small image that I downloaded for my website with no any copyright marks on it.
They have sent 2 letters and an email with a lower offer asking me to accept it in 14 days. I have sent them a letter after the first one I received from them having read all the good advice here and used it in my letter. So then ignored all their following attempts for contact.
Today (12/01/2012) i have received this letter from SM&Burton acting on their behalf and threatening with court if I do not pay (back to the first amount) immediately.

I am planning to ignore it and see what happens. Will update again here once I have more.

Mum of a little Kitten
London

Worried Man! said...

Hey me also, I got a letter today from Simons Muirhead & BUrton demanding £1,500!! Is this just bully tactics, who should we pay? My parents who own the company are now elderly and relaly do not need this stupid stress!

Worried Man! said...

Hey Mum of a little kitten, I have more or less acted in the exact way you have and now I have got a letter from the mentioned law firm!!!

Please let me know if you have had any updates? Me also am planning to ignore this letter, I reckon it is just another bully tactic but my parents who own the business are elderly and are getting abit stressed out about it!!! I curse these B*stards to a miserable life!

Be Bop Du Bay said...

Please share this petition against the getty images extortion letters! http://www.change.org/petitions/ceo-getty-images-stop-trying-to-wring-money-out-of-small-businesses-for-false-claims

Thanks!

steve_L said...

i had a meeting with our MP yesterday about the getty extortion letters - she was appalled that large companies using expensive lawyers bullying small businesses with extortionate demands for money - using copyright laws not for what they were originally intended - which is to protect the originator and not to be used to keep a company that is in administration from going under by menacing small businesses to pay large sums of money to them.
She wants everybody receiving these letters to contact their MP to make everyone aware that these laws are being abused.

Ian said...

Hi All,
I have received a letter from Simons Muirhead& Burton realting to my Getty demand for £1,200.00. Im not sure how to respond? I did hear Getty have never taken someone to court. I will go to court rather than give in to these bullys

Mum Of a Little Kitten said...

Hi Everyone,
Just to quickly update you, I got another letter from SM& Burton today (25/04/2012), asking to get in touch with them no later than 14 days of receiving this letter.

No way! any news from other victims?

Mum Of a Little Kitten

Darren said...

Keep us informed as I'm looking forward to hearing what will happen after the SM&B letters.

My client has just got the very first letter from Getty for an image which we sourced from a 'so called' royalty free website. So we plan to fight this and it'll be great to see what their future tactics will be.

Thanks guys.

Getty Sucks said...

I also got a letter from "GayTee" Images telling me that I have used one of their images on my blog. I just got it from Google Images, then right-click "Save As" and paste it to my blog which I'm going to talk about being bitten by my dog. The date of the letter was March 29 and they say that I need to pay them $1,000 (including VAT) within 14 days from this date. I got this "letter" yesterday (June 6, 2012), and it's understood that 14 days have passed...NOTHING HAPPENED! No way I'm gonna pay this, I'm going to ignore them for good.

At first me and my parents are in great fear. First, I took down my image immediately and all of the possible images that I got from Google Images (except my own screenshots and from my cam). Second, I researched very hard about Getty until I found this blog. I've finally calmed down for a bit and searched other sites that they claimed Getty Images are a scam company. They're only trying to bully and frighten me about paying them.

Why don't they warn us first before sending this shitty letter and invoice? For just one tiny image, are they crying for such damages we done?

Getty Sucks! May God help us take Getty down once and for all! Boycott them! Let these GayTee Images owners and employees scheduled to face Big Show or Kane in a steel cage match on Monday Night Raw!

Dee said...

Have just had a letter from Atradius Collections with the subheading GENERATING CASH which says it all ! saying that I haven't responded to a demand letter, various copyright gumpf and I should now make payment of the full outstanding amount (which it doesn't say how much) and their bank details.

I used ALL my own photos on my website and have no idea what this is all about, I phone these guys and was told a guy called Nathan Maidment was dealing with it and he would phone me back.

Think I will take advice from peeps on here and ignore it, totally looks like a scam or some kind of extortion racket !

Anonymous said...

Dee,

Atradius collections are well known.

The first thing to know is they are not a debt collection agency. They make their letters appear that they are collecting a debt but they are not authorised to collect debts. I have seen written confirmation from them confirming this. What they state is that they are simply pursuing copyright infringement on behalf of Getty.

Ironically, for a company that loves to quote the law on copyright they fail to mention that the only people who can pursue copyright infringement are the copyright holder (the photographer) or the exclusive licensee (getty supposedly). As Getty do not actually own the copyright they cannot assign the right to pursue copyright infringements to anybody else. Yet Atradius ask you to pay into their own bank account, not Getty's.

To summarise, Atradius have no legal right to pursue you for copyright infringement so you can tell them where to go.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I have to say the above comment from Anonymous is rubbish,

Atradius are correct, they are a Collections company which for the most part collects debt, however they can collect anything, infringements included. You can check this on their website.

Also any person has the right to instruct any other person to collect monies they think are due. I have appointed a solicitor to reclaim the money I have just paid to Atradius from my web designer. Point proved.

My advise is as follows, call Atradius to discuss, I did and after a bit of negotiation I got the settlement reduced by 75%, even though I was not happy with paying the amount, my solicitors agreed it was the best option given the way things are going with online copyright infringement.

As stated above I am now taking action against my web designer to recover the charge. We are confident he will pay me now and will also have to pay some costs for getting me into this mess.

The main point is Atradius will reduce the settlement by 75%. So if you are going to pay, make sure you get as much off as possible. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Here is a quote from Atradius themselves:

"First of all I wish to clarify that we are pursuing you for copyright infringement, we are requesting settlement for your infringement and not a debt, we do not need a licence for this."

"however they can collect anything, infringements included."

No they can't. Copyright law is quite specific over who can collect for copyright infringement. It's the copyright holder or the exclusive licensee. That is FACT which can be independently verified.

If the Atradius letter asked you to make payment to Getty that is fair enough, but they ask to make payment to their account which means one of two things:

1) The 'debt' has been passed to them to collect (which is not true as per their own statement)

2) They are attempting to collect for copyright infringement (which they cannot by law)

When somebody called them out on the fact they couldn't claim for copyright infringement on behalf of Getty here was their reply.

"As you have failed to deal with this matter in the correct manner and persist in wasting time asking for information which is irrelevant, we are not willing to discuss the matter with you any further."

How very reassuring.

I am confident of my position. If you can prove otherwise (other than some irrelevant statement that you were silly enough to pay them) then by all means show us the proof.

By the tone of your reply I wouldn't bet against you being an Atradius employee.

Mark Scott said...

Yes I had wondered if they were an employee as well.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Getty are struggling so they use a 3rd party. If you are in UK you should certainly not worry. Law isn't perfect but it does take a very dim view on extortion.

Anonymous said...

I received our first warning letter telling us to pay £1000 + VAT for an image and I ignored it. It had bad formatting and didnt look like it had come from a professional outfit like Getty. For example all the pound sounds were printed with incorrect wingdings. Next week another copy of same letter arrived but this time formatted properly.

I wrote to them appologising for oir mistake, confiming image removed and that we know all images should come from licensed source and that this was the only image on our site not legitamately purchased.

We dont know for sure where it came from but we know we have had it for years.

They e-mailed back offering a 25% discount if I pay in next 14 days.

We are a sall business losing money and have never tried to pull a fast one. My gut feel is the photographer would be mortified if they knew what was going on.

I have read loads of bloggs looking for advice - some say ignore and some say settle. What I desperately need is news of anyone that has actually been to court. Why is there so many people reporting they are being chased for money but they wont say what happended.

Come on anyone. This blog goes back years. Who has been to court on this and what happended?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

I have not heard of anybody being done, and that's 5 years since I got my letter and took interest.

Anonymous said...

I received last day an email from a Florida collector about a small thumb image using on our web site. They said they send sevral advices but we never received any advice in the past!?!? The web site was rebuild in april 2012 and since we don't use any more this image. And now they ask me to pay that... But they are negociable!?!?! We aree a very small company and we don't have any money, and time, to loose... This is pratically the price of a complete basic web site... If I remember, this thumb image was found in a free image package.

Is that someone was in court with them? If yes, what was the result?

GREATE BLOG!

Anonymous said...

Got a couples letters around April 2011 from Getty. Replied - took down images - they offered a 25% reduction. Found this site - followed advice on here - althought Offered to pay image value. After that no reply.

This month, Jan 2013 - Atradius sent letter - going to ignore. Such greed - if they simply took payment of image value, and perhaps a £10-50 "fine" - most people I imagine would pay up. They're taking the piss.

Anonymous said...

Atradius - http://www.atradius.co.uk/ have sent a letter to us, they should be ashamed of themselves associating with Getty Images and doing their dirty work.

They should manage their own risk if they hook up with Getty!

Anonymous said...

Following receipt of letters from Ghetty at the beginning of 2012, (which we ignored), we have now received two letters from Atradius demanding money be paid into a bank account, details of which were set out in their letter. We have been advised by them that they will advise their "client" (Ghetty Images) to put the matter into the hands of a lawyer if payment isnt made within 5 days!

My website designer, who is also a close longstanding friend, assures us that he obtained the photograph, which was of a table arrangement, from a free site which he uses on a regular basis.

Things are difficult enough for small businesses in this economic climate and being chased by "sharks" may be the last straw on the camel's back for some.

I intend to ignore all correspondence from either Ghetty Images or any of their representatives.

It would be interesting though to hear if anyone has taken them on in a legal battle and if so what the outcome was.

Anonymous said...

In regards to Atradius here is a response from the OFT to somebody making a complaint about them.

"Consumer Credit Act 1974 (the Act)
Complaint against: Atradius Collections Limited
Licence No: Unlicensed
Thank you for your email of 18 January 2013 in which you raise a complaint against the company above (Atradius), in respect of its debt collection practices. I understand that the company is pursuing you for a debt on behalf of Getty Images.
You report that on notifying Atradius that you do not owe the claimed debt, you were told that the debt could not be disputed.
Under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, if a business wishes to be involved in activities relating to consumer credit or hire, including debt collection and debt management, they must have a consumer credit licence. The Office of Fair Trading
(OFT) has duty to enforce the Act, along with local authority Trading Standards Services (TSS).
Upon checking the information provided in your email, it appears that this trader does not hold a consumer credit licence. I would therefore suggest that you also
forward to your local TSS, who may be able to provide further advice, or you may wish to consider seeking independent legal advice.
I hope you find this information useful."

If the OFT thinks what they are engaging in is debt collection then their activity is very much unlawful because they don't hold a license.

Anybody who receives any contact from Atradius should send them that reply from the OFT and tell them to back off.

Anonymous said...

They are getting more bold Getty Images and Atradius Collections Ltd, just got this email:

Re : Unauthorised Use of Getty Images’ Photograph
Dear Sirs,
We refer to our previous settlement demand letter to which we have not received a
reply.
You have been notified that unauthorised use of the image(s) consitutes copyright
infringement under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act of 1988. Copyright
legislation provides for strict liability, meaning that you can be found liable for
infringment regardless of your level of knowledge of the infringment or your intent.
You should now make payment of the full outstanding amount within 5 days of the date of
this letter, payment should be transferred into our bank account 70913529 SORT CODE 20-
18-15 SWIFT Code BARCGB22 BARCLAYS BANK PLC 121 QUEEN STREET CF10 2 CARDIFF, stating
our reference number.
We urge you to comply with our request, if you do not respond we will have little
alternative but to advise our clients to escalate this issue through a law firm. If
done so, costs incurred, if legally recoverable, could be charged to you.
If payment has already been made, or you believe you have received this letter in
error, please inform us immediately.
Yours faithfully,

- LOUISE JOHNSON -
Atradius Collections
Tel. : +44 (0) 29 2082 4571
Fax : +44 (0) 29 2082 4508
l.johnson.collect@atradius.com

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry about an email, most emails asking for money are scams so it would be justified if you deleted it without responding.

Make them send you any documentation in letter form by registered post. I'd bin anything else.

Anonymous said...

I was also trapped by Getty for 1200€! Thank God, managed to get a letter from my tax adviser saying that I´m not in a position to pay the amount - Case closed.

Anonymous said...

Hi I want to claim in the legal advice about them ( Getty Images and Atradius), but I don't know what reason law need to be, can please somebody help me, they threaten me constantly.

Richard Hnat said...

I am receiving emails now from JOHNSON.COLLECT@ATRADIUS collecting on behalf of Getty Images.
I told them that we paid a company to build our website and also send them the invoices. They now say that we still have to pay. HELP

getty images coupon code said...

Atradius - http://www.atradius.co.uk/ have sent a letter to us, they should be ashamed of themselves associating with Getty Images and doing their dirty work.

Anonymous said...

A simple question requiring a 'Yes' or 'No' answer

Has anybody been taken to court by Atradius or Getty?

Anonymous said...

Atradius cannot take you to court so no.

It's more complicated with Getty because before court action Getty would have to mediate. The legal advisors on both sides would strongly suggest a settlement and it would probably contain all kinds of gagging orders by Getty because they don't want anybody to know that the value they used for the image when sending their letter is far inflated from what it's actually worth. I would lean towards no but it's very difficult to be certain.

Anonymous said...

I ignored ALL the letters 4 years ago - I am in UK - NOTHING HAPPENED.

Anonymous said...

I notice the comments stop on 4th September 2013, a year ago. I know it's still going on. What's the latest news? I have recently been "Gettied" and they are following the usual Getty process of activity. Atradius Collections Limited now has Interim Permissions to operate from 3 Harbour Drive Cardiff CF10 4WZ but have "No right to canvass off trade premises" which means they can only send communications, not visit. Do they eventually give up perusing you??

Abbey Video Productions said...

Hi im ireland and got a mail from them 2 months ago i not bother responding got an other last week with them wanting to offer it at a lower price org was 800 e

but they can chase all they like