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Author Topic: Getty lawyers back down with TV story on their tactics  (Read 5292 times)

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« on: February 18, 2014, 11:25 »
+3
It's not news that Getty aggressively goes after people it believes have infringed copyright and send out sternly worded demand letters.

On last night's news (King 5 in Seattle) there was a story by the consumer reporter about a local family travel agency buisness that had received a demand notice for $1,500+ from Getty for use of images on their web site.

They told Getty they obtained the images from the resort they were offering a tour with and that they had written permission from the resort to use the images. Getty wasn't impressed and so the company contacted King 5. I don't honestly know the rights and the wrongs of the situation in this case - it's possible the resort was giving permission to use photos they didn't take or pay for - however, when contacted by the King 5 reporter, Getty decided that in the light of "all the relevant information", they were withdrawing their claim.

http://www.king5.com/news/get-jesse/Small-Seattle-company-battles-large-firm-over-photos-245913071.html

I thought I'd do a search or two to see if I could find out more about this story and came upon this article from earlier this month about Getty filing lawsuits in a few cases because the word has gotten out that they threaten and don't sue so they're trying to pick a few cases to go to court over

http://www.ibtimes.com/getty-images-lawsuits-enforcement-or-trolling-fear-letters-dwindling-stock-photo-giant-hits-federal

Here are some examples of sites that tell recipients of the Getty demand letters how to handle things.

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/how-to-stop-gettys-employees-harassment/
http://onehourprofessor.com/getty-images-demand-letter-getty-images-lawsuit/
http://www.ryanhealy.com/can-i-ignore-the-getty-images-settlement-demand-letter/
http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/college-grad-with-getty-demand-for-an-image-used-in-a-school-project/

I guess my thoughts about Getty's approach are (a) that they might do better if they made more reasonable demands for payment instead of creating this cottage industry where people have every incentive to ignore them for as long as possible; and (b) that if the travel agency claim was valid, they shouldn't have just walked away when a TV reporter called - how is that protecting the photographer's copyright? - and if it wasn't, they should have done the right thing earlier without waiting for a reporter to intervene on the travel agency's behalf.

It seems as if this is just a little side business for Getty rather than a good faith effort to ensure that their contributors get paid what they are owed. And does anyone know what portion of any recovered money goes to the contributor versus Getty?


U11


« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2014, 11:47 »
0
My personal experience is:
Getty is not going after RF infringements, after RM infringements in Blogs/social media, after infringement in countries different from US and few others
They are going only after very straight forward cases promising big $. Think their costs & benefits

« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2014, 12:21 »
+4
I did a shoot in 2006 and I gave the business some of the images in return.  They were put RM on Getty.  Last year Getty contacted them with a big claim because they found those images on the business' website.  I had to call Getty and clear it up.

« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2014, 12:22 »
+2
@Jo Ann Snover

Getty should go after infringement fairly rigorously - even in such a way as it generates publicity. Also - I believe that companies have a fiduciary responsibility to defend copyrights and trademarks.

I have previously read forums and sites possibly including some of those you have linked to above and have found that the posters are often not only complaining about Getty - but about having to pay in general. And often congratulating each other on their determination to get away with not paying. FWIW they are not only whining about Getty either.

For example I read a long thread a while back which someone on my Twitter feed had linked to - in which people were arguing that they should not have to pay because they could get an image of the same thing for free at Flickr or almost for free at another site. I have also noticed that the people on those forums are often happy to to get lawyers to write letters for them. I wonder how the lawyers would react if their bills were not paid.

No respectable company accidentally steals content. I wonder how these same businesses would feel if we all started stealing from them - perhaps on the basis that we could get almost the same thing for much less somewhere else. Or we had no idea that we were supposed to pay.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 12:24 by bunhill »

EmberMike

« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2014, 12:53 »
+4
Getty should go after infringement fairly rigorously - even in such a way as it generates publicity. Also - I believe that companies have a fiduciary responsibility to defend copyrights and trademarks...

The issue here isn't that Getty is going after infringements. It's that they are firing off piles of these demand letters on pretty weak evidence in a lot of cases. They're not doing much of their own due diligence before sending out these letters, and they sure as heck don't care if someone is innocent of an infringements and pays up just to make the issue go away. In fact, I'd bet that's what they're hoping for. They don't want to spend the time/money to really look into these infringements and they'd rather someone else end up paying for their laziness.

In many cases I think this amounts to extortion. Someone could be completely innocent and are the victim of a lazy designer who didn't include the client as the licensee when they licensed the image from Getty (there's a box to fill in when you're making a purchase on behalf of a client). Let's say this is what happened to someone, and maybe that designer is no longer around, out of business, or just unwilling to help. Getty doesn't care. They may have been properly compensated for that image use, and through no fault of the end-user they now find themselves in a situation where they have to spend time and money to defend themselves, or just pay up to make the case go away.

This doesn't help photographers or Getty. Well, it helps Getty pad their bottom line, but this whole strategy turns possible future customers into people who advocate (sometimes publicly on TV news) for the avoidance of Getty because of their aggressive license enforcement tactics.

I'm all for companies protecting our work. But within reason. I don't think it's reasonable to set up a side business of having your lawyers blast out tons of these demand letters, indiscriminately rounding up guilty and innocent folks in the process and forcing some innocent people to pay up just because sometimes it's cheaper and easier than defending yourself.

« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2014, 13:21 »
+5
Yep. Robbing innocent people to compensate for theft doesn't make a lot of sense.

« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2014, 14:06 »
+3
@Jo Ann Snover

Getty should go after infringement fairly rigorously - even in such a way as it generates publicity. Also - I believe that companies have a fiduciary responsibility to defend copyrights and trademarks....

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear.

I don't have any issue with people pursuing payment for license violations of one sort or another. My issue was with what appears to be a truly idiotic methodology. Not to mention the immediate about face when a TV reporter gets involved which suggests lack of either backbone or a valid case.

Getty holds the copyright to only a portion of the images it licenses, and I have no clue what trademarks have to do with the issue in this topic.

mlwinphoto

« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2014, 14:20 »
+3
Getty seems to have a 'threaten first, get the facts straight later' policy.  There are photogs I know who have been with, or are with, Getty and have been caught in the middle of invalid Getty vs. user threats....similar to what Sean mentioned above.

« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2014, 14:49 »
+1
I have no clue what trademarks have to do with the issue in this topic.

Ugh. Trademarks have nothing to do with it specifically. Quite obviously. But the general principle is that companies have a fiduciary responsibility to defend copyrights and trademarks.

Companies can be sued for failing to rigorously defend intellectual property where possible.

I am sure there will be a few genuine cases which can be explained (just the same as with debt collection, unpaid bills etc in general). But when you read those forums it does seem to mostly be people who are trying to get out of having commercially used content which they had not bothered to license. Mostly shocked that they should have to pay so much when they can "buy" an image for $1 at some micro.

« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2014, 11:41 »
+2
What amazes me about Getty's extortion scams is that they threaten to sue because of copyright violations when. in fact, Getty does not own the copyright -- the photographer does. 

And i believe that threatening to sue under false pretenses is in fact illegal.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2014, 11:44 by oxman »

shudderstok

« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2014, 20:52 »
0
I did a shoot in 2006 and I gave the business some of the images in return.  They were put RM on Getty.  Last year Getty contacted them with a big claim because they found those images on the business' website.  I had to call Getty and clear it up.

it is standard business practice to notify GI and/or any other  RM agency on usage restrictions and/or rights granted to a third party if you submit an image as RM, that way this does not happen. did you do this? if you did this then there would be nothing to clear up.

« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2014, 21:39 »
+2
Let me know if you find such a field on the Getty submission page.

« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2014, 22:11 »
+1
I did a shoot in 2006 and I gave the business some of the images in return.  They were put RM on Getty.  Last year Getty contacted them with a big claim because they found those images on the business' website.  I had to call Getty and clear it up.

it is standard business practice to notify GI and/or any other  RM agency on usage restrictions and/or rights granted to a third party if you submit an image as RM, that way this does not happen. did you do this? if you did this then there would be nothing to clear up.e

Great news! Can you supply a screen-shot of where that 'standard business practice' is accommodated within Getty's TOS?

shudderstok

« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2014, 01:41 »
+2
Let me know if you find such a field on the Getty submission page.

sean - it's on the bottom of the page when you submit via the portal ++ additional information ++ and without perusing the GI contract i seem to recall they mention it in there as well.

gostwyck - i don't think there is a screenshot for 'standard business practice' but it is standard to let your agent know that there are restrictions in both usage rights, territory, and duration of usage placed on an image if you sell it as RM stock.

ie: sean shoots a hospital shot in alabama and allows them use it (as a gift for using said hospital as a location etc.) for all usages and/or unlimited usage to promote the said hospital in alabama, then your agent should know that particular image is more or less blocked for hospital usage in the state of alabama. that is what RM is. i don't think this is such an issue with RF, but with RM it definitely matters.

informing any RM agent of restrictions placed on any image accepted as RM potentially eliminates issues at a later date, similar to what sean experienced with his client.


shudderstok

« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2014, 02:07 »
+1
Let me know if you find such a field on the Getty submission page.

sean, i just did a double check on the GI contract and it clearly states in the 'standard terms and conditions' under 'section 1: rights to accept content' 1.2 restrictions - that is where is says to specify any usage and restrictions upon submission so they can advise buyers of such restrictions and usage of an image.

as mentioned, this is fairly standard business practice with all RM agencies, not just GI.


« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2014, 06:56 »
-3
sean - it's on the bottom of the page when you submit via the portal ++ additional information ++ and without perusing the GI contract i seem to recall they mention it in there as well.

I can't tell you whether the format was the same back in 06-07, when they were submitted, but "additional information" doesn't indicate anything to me.

shudderstok

« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2014, 08:09 »
+3
sean - it's on the bottom of the page when you submit via the portal ++ additional information ++ and without perusing the GI contract i seem to recall they mention it in there as well.

I can't tell you whether the format was the same back in 06-07, when they were submitted, but "additional information" doesn't indicate anything to me.

i don't recall the format back in 06-07 either, but it's been in their contract for the 17+ years i have been with them. "additional information" is a no brainer.

any way you want to slice it, it has been standard practice in the RM world for as long as i can remember.




« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 08:18 by shudderstok »


 

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