Getty Images files suit over single image

One of 2 things is happening, getty images has decided to make someone a poster child and set an example or Getty Images are making sweeping changes to the settlement demand letter program they have been running for years.

on April 5, 2013 Getty Images has filed suit over a single image infringement, the suit shows the law firm of Snell & Wilmer LLP, out of Phoenix Arizona, it is unknown at this time if the “Wilmer” in the name is in any way tied to Lisa Wilmer who is also a lawyer for Getty Images in Seattle.

Besides being for a single image, also noteworthy is the fact that Getty  first discovered the image in October 2012  and the image was registered on March 8th, 2013….this seemingly is the same with the other suit filed this month against Virtual Clinics.. So we have 2 suits within 1 month, and neither filed by Timothy B. McCormack, you’d think they would at least use his services for a single image infringment, but I guess Getty Timmy is best left to send threatening letters… Maybe there are changes coming, maybe Timmy is on his way out, and this new firm is stepping in??? time will tell, but be sure both of these new cases will be watched closely..

Read the Complaint Here

 

4 Comments

  1. What snide commentary – very one sided and biased – perhaps they actually infringed on someone’s original work without compensation towards the artist – perhaps you have no original work of value and have little regard for those who do

    • They very well may have infringed, actually they probably did, the real questions are whether or not it was willful? perhaps a tird party developed the site and used the image? I know “legally” that doesn’t matter, but I do believe a judge would consider this in the amount that may be awarded. I’ve said it many, many times in the past, I certainly respect copyright, and all artists, content creators deserve to be paid, it all comes down to how Getty and others handle it.

      For example it appears that the virtual clinic case may have been a willful infringement, the defendant didn’t even remove the images in question, IMHO they deserve what they get..

      a question for you…If I sent you an “invoice” for payment of some services, would you blindly pay it? or would you ask to see some proof, that I actually performed the services?

  2. I don’t think that the Wilmer mentioned is a relation to Lisa as the last names are spelled different. Great find on this though! I would not have thought it would have been worth their while to go after a single image. Perhaps this is so they can show that they do go after single images in there demand letters to try to scare more people into paying before they can research what is going on.

  3. Getty Images Extortion Letter – Copyright Trolls

    If you are reading this, you are just one of the thousands (if not millions) of individuals or owners of small businesses who have been receiving extortion letter for using an image off internet which a company called Getty Images claims is theirs. They are misusing (and misinterpreting) the copyright law to make large amounts of money (in millions of Dollars), by employing greedy attorneys and legally abusive collection tactics i.e. letters, phone calls, etc. A little search over internet will reveal thousands of other links which are complaining about such extortion practices of companies like Getty Images. It is surprising that neither the Government, nor Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken serious note of it to stop it. There is a pending legislation in the Congress against such copyright trolls and you are highly encouraged to speak to your local Congressman to pass it as soon as possible.

    Getty Images is an American Company (part of a Carlyl Group based in Seattle, Washington) operated by Mark Getty and Jonathan Kleinand. It owns hundreds of websites and operates with different names online i.e. Allsport, Word View, Liaison Agency, Newsmakers, Online USA, Hulton Press Library, Picture Post, Hulton Deutsch, Hulton Getty, Keystone Collection, EyeWire, Energy Film Library, Archive Photos of New York, Image Bank, Hulton Archive, Archive Photos, Pictorial Parade, Frederick Lewis Stock Photos, image.net, MediaVast, WireImage, FilmMagic, Contour Photos, Master Delegates, Isifa Image Service, Laura Ronchi, Jupitermedia, Jupiterimages, stock.xchng, StockXpert, Redferns Music Picture Library, PhotoDisc, Tony Stone Images, Hellman & Friedman (H&F), Flickr or iStockphoto. They deliberately populate the internet with their images, enticing people to get them off their websites for FREE by using keywords i.e. Royalty Free Images, Free photos, License free photos, etc. And then they use a software tool to spider all over internet, searching for their images, taking screenshots and sending them over to their attorneys who in turn combine all of that as “EVIDENCE” to scare and hound naive individuals and small business owners.

    The best rule of thumb is to IGNORE such a non-sense. If you will speak to an attorney, that’s how they make money and they will want you to take it seriously. No court of law will punish you for doing an innocent mistake and removing/replacing the image immediately. If you are really that much interested in giving Getty Images some hard time via “out-of-court” settlement which they are desperately seeking (since they live off such activities), here are some of the questions that you’d want to ask Getty Images or their attorneys. In response they will either deny your request for further information (which is a clear proof they can’t take you to the court) or will offer you a more negotiated settlement. In either case, you can simply issue a “CEASE AND DESIST” request from contacting you any further. If they don’t stop hounding you, then you can start collecting all of the relevant evidence of their illegal practices and take them to the local civil court (using the legal aid help from local bars). Irrespective of what other attorneys tell you or whatever you hear from internet forums, IGNORING is the best, easiest and the most effective rule in addition to talking to your local Congressman about it. So, here are the questions you need to ask Getty Images whenever you decide to respond (provided you really have to get it out of your system);

    1. How did you come to know about my website using your images specially things like;

    a) The time and date you found out
    b) The procedure you used to identify your images on my website
    c) The legal authority you used to track and take a snapshot of my website without my prior permission.

    2. The ownership of the images including but not limited to;

    a) Name, Address and other contact information of the photographer who originally sold it to you or has some sort of contract with you (the copy of the contract). Chain of title of the image.
    b) Your images hosting servers, data center and IP addresses host the servers where those images reside
    c) What sort of image copyright is displayed on your images which identify it as your own?
    d) The registration and certification of these images with US Government Patent or Trademark office or any other Government database
    e) Sales data of the owners and purchasers of these images along with their IP Addresses and website addresses, owners and their contact information.

    3. What is the average price of these images to host for an hour, a day, a month or indefinitely? And how did you calculate the price of $2,000 in my particular case? And since I never purchased any image from you or have any intention of ever doing so, how did you presume that I’d pay you ANY price or cost you will ask? If you have any fair market value of images statistics or comparison with other images providers, kindly present it along with your claim. Further, on what basis will you continue to raise the price next month or next year if I decide to not to give you a single dime?

    4. And finally, instead of sending me a simple and a respectful “cease and desist” request, how come you sent such presumptive demand letters that it was all an intentional damage caused to you? If the images are hosted on anybody’s website as FREE and you are unable to secure your own images via some sort of watermark or security measures, how come you fault the end users online who innocently downloaded online from websites who might be the actual culprits after whom you should pursue?

    If they don’t stop hounding you (which they NEVER ever will), here’s what you need to write to them and post it via certified mail;

    To Whom It May Concern,

    According to Title 17, §501, of the United States Copyright Office, concerning the prosecution of alleged damages from copyright infringement in section (b) defined below, I (we) reject your claim for damages.

    § 501. Infringement of copyright
    (b) The legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under a copyright is entitled, subject to the requirements of section 411, to institute an action for any infringement of that particular right committed while he or she is the owner of it. The court may require such owner to serve written notice of the action with a copy of the complaint upon any person shown, by the records of the Copyright Office or otherwise, to have or claim an interest in the copyright, and shall require that such notice be served upon any person whose interest is likely to be affected by a decision in the case. The court may require the joinder, and shall permit the intervention, of any person having or claiming an interest in the copyright.

    Getty Images has, to date, failed to produce an official notarized copy of the alleged Copyright Certificate issued by the United States Copyright Office, Washington D.C. for the image(s) appearing in your black and white photocopy which you have produced as so-called “evidence” of copyright ownership. A search of the United States Copyright Department Public Database shows no record that ether Getty Images or its agent(s), representative(s) or client(s) hold a valid Copyright for said photocopied image(s). Therefore, in accordance with Title 17, §501(b), you have no legal basis to file suit or seek legitimate damages for copyright infringement.

    You are hereby instructed to CEASE AND DESIST ALL HARASSMENT by your agent(s) and/or your representatives via written correspondence, E-mail, and/or attempted telephone contact. Should you continue to pursue any further attempts at extortion for payment of funds by misrepresenting yourself as a licensed attorney, or by using the term “copyright” when in fact, you nor your agent(s) hold any valid copyright certificate issued by the United States Copyright Office, we shall refer this matter to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office directing a formal Complaint to the attention of District Attorney Dan Satterberg. Should you continue to misrepresent that you have filed a Complaint in Seattle Superior Court by using terms such as, but not limited to, “Getty Images v. John Doe” or refer to your extortion attempt using the term “Case No:” containing a fictional Court Docket number, we will file a formal Complaint with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Washington State Bar Association. Should you continue to attempt to contact me (us) for the express purpose of fictitious debt collection, I (we) will immediately file a Complaint with the FTC for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Act.

    Govern yourself accordingly,

    Date:

    You will be surprised to know that there are many lawyers and a large number of legal assistants who are on the payroll of Getty Images, actively participating in the comments sections of Internet Forums or Discussion groups on the same topic. Unfortunately, there are those black sheep amongst the community of the attorneys who have started online help programs for such victims to make money off of these extortion letter by coming off as if helping the victims. Instead of helping them for free, they are charging them another $200 to $500 for merely writing a letter to the Getty Images. This is a clear war between the power of money Vs. the power of people. Let’s show them who is the winner!

    To avoid using any such copyright trolls’ websites, here are sources for FREE images. Pls. check each image’s license for a special word like “CC0” or Creative Commons 0 which pretty much means no rights reserved. On Google Images search , set ADVANCED SEARCH for FREE FOR COMMERCIAL USE. Other sites of free images include pixabay.com, freepixels.com (be careful of the sponsored images on top of the search results from shutterstock), imageafter.com (do not remove their copyright notice in the image which is too tiny for anyone to notice) and imagebase.net.

    If you need any further (and FREE) assistance, please contact your Congressman, local legal aid or chamber of commerce representatives for further assistance. Unless you will register your complaint with a Government-authorized representative (as mentioned above), the copyright trolls such as Getty Images will continue to not only hound you but many thousands of others and living off their abuse of the copyright law.

    And lastly, please don’t let these trolls stop you from doing what you love doing i.e. innovating, creating and succeeding. Even though there are sick minds i.e. Getty Images, there is more good in this world than Evil. And always remember, the strength of evil lies into scaring you from a hoax.

    Salam! (peace)

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