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:
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.
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.