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Thread: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement

  1. #1
    Senior Member freelanceshots's Avatar
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    I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement




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    Here is the scenario:





    I built a basic website for a small to medium sized company here
    in Little Rock Arkansas over four years ago where I did all the
    photography and design work. The photography included shooting all
    their items in their inventory plus exterior shots of the building,
    trucks and their products out in the field. When I built the website
    I made a simple directions page that had a map that linked to yahoo
    maps plus I added two thumbnail images of simple road signs to add to the fact that this was a directions page. I
    ended up coping two straight forward road sign images from yahoo images. Both of these images where sized at approx
    180 pixel x 70 pixel and where at a strange 96dpi for the web.


    Just a few days ago this company received a letter from Getty Images. Getty Images is
    claiming that one of the road sign images is/was copyrighted by one of
    their photographers and that they are owed 600.00 no questions asked, paid right now.


    Today I talked to one of my contract job's project administrators
    that handles huge national photography projects and he said he
    thought if an image on the web was not noted with copyright info
    written on it or if it did not have copyright info in the meta data
    then the image was not protected and then open to be copied.


    With this said I would have never used an image that was
    copyrighted where I thought a thumbnail road sign image would not have been of such importance. I think Getty Images is just trying to push
    people around by scaring them since they are such a huge imaging
    company where they just think people will fold and pay them the
    money. As a working photographer in a tough market I personally would
    not flip my lid and try and charge someone 600 dollars for such a
    small, low quality and unimportant image. If someone was to use one
    of my images that I put on the web I make sure to upload them at a
    very small size where I wouldn't really care if someone used it
    because of this fact.


    Does anyone have any info/suggestions that they could give me from a
    professional point of few? We have since taken the image down and
    have given an apology where Getty Images is still going to pursue
    collecting the money. If the fee was lower and more reasonable I
    would just pay it since they are claiming that it was copyrighted but
    600 dollars for a thumbnail sized image for web use is outrageous. Remember I downloaded this image 4 to 5 years ago where since then the web has progressed in many ways and that includes copyright rules.

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    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    Based on my limited research in copyright laws, it's my understanding that a work does not need to be explicitly marked as "copyright" for it to be protected under US laws.


    The mere act of creating the work (i.e. a photograph) automatically gives it a copyright per a change in the copy right laws by the US congress sometime back in the 1970's, if my memory is correct.

  3. #3
    Senior Member freelanceshots's Avatar
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    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    Yea it looks pretty cut and dry at this point but the only thing that gets me is how small and unimportant the image is. I can walk outside my house and take a picture of a road sign. I just don't know what I was thinking at that time when I added it to the site. 600 dollars is way to much for this image and what it was used for. Talk about price gouging!

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    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    Geoff is correct.


    I would remove the image asap and ignore the demand for the $600. I'm sure other letters will follow but I doubt there will be any legal action taken.

  5. #5
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    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    Unfortunatly I have spent to much time with an attorney talking about company matters


    If I had done what you have done so far, our attorney would have chewed me out for sending an apology letter.


    Second, what you didn't say is, Have you verified that the picture does indeed belong to them. I would want to see that proof before I paid a thing.


    If you have done a search of internet about this I think you will find alot of people getting the same type of letter.

  6. #6
    Senior Member freelanceshots's Avatar
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    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    Once we received the letter I was told to remove the image immediately which I did and the warehouse business manager wrote a email back to the Getty company saying that the image had been removed and that they were not aware that the particular image was copyrighted . An apology was sent as well where Getty's wrote back no excuses and your still responsible to cover the fee. Yesterday I advised the local business that I built the site for to turn it over to their attorney and have him ask for paperwork to be sent to him to verify when the road sign image became property of the Getty's company. Getty Images states that this image is property of one of their photograpahers and that they are taking action because he works for them. I would think that most big organizations would be ok with you taking the image down and be done with it but Getty's seems to be willing to take legal action by the sound of their letters of course. The local business is scared because they have a lot more to loose then say me. I would have laughed at Getty's if they tried to contact me.

  7. #7
    Senior Member freelanceshots's Avatar
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    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    Here is the last response Getty sent:



    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]Thank you for your email. The image at issue in this
    settlement is a Getty Rights Managed (RM) image, exclusively available for
    license through <span style="border-bottom: 2px dotted #366388; cursor: pointer;" class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1281762485_5"]Getty Images and would have required the appropriate licensing
    prior to its use on your website. Getty Images has been unable to find the
    necessary licenses for this use.
    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]
    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]Despite the removal of the image from the <span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: 'sans-serif';"]http://www.________________
    <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]website, the prior unauthorized use of the image on the website resulted
    in the aesthetic enhancement of the website, which the law considers a benefit
    to ----------------------. Since <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1281762485_7"]copyright infringement already
    occurred, payment for that benefit is necessary. We are acting on behalf
    of our represented photographers who are entitled to compensation for the use
    of their intellectual property. Please understand we stand to protect our
    photographers from copyright infringement even if it was unintentional.
    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]
    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]Absent the appropriate licenses surrounding the specific use of
    the image in question &ndash; the settlement amount of $600.00 as presented,
    represents what Getty Images would expect to receive in a matter such as this
    for the unauthorized use of our represented photographer&rsquo;s image. Please
    understand that, as exclusive licensor of the image in question, Getty Images
    is seeking compensation for the unauthorized usage of our represented
    photographers work. Getty Images&rsquo; responsibility to its represented
    photographers is not only to appropriately license the use of their images to
    its customers, but to also protect its represented photographer&rsquo;s intellectual
    property from unauthorized use and to maintain the exclusive availability of
    the image through Getty Images. Getty Images needs to recover the lost
    licensing fees along with its substantial costs of enforcement (Actual
    Damages). Had the infringement not occurred, Getty Images would not have had to
    deploy the additional resources needed to pursue this matter with respect to
    the infringing website.
    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]
    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]I appreciate your time and attention to this matter. Please get
    back to me with your intentions, or with any further questions you may have, so
    that we may resolve this issue as quickly and as amicably as possible.
    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]
    <p class="yiv1862720908MsoNormal"]<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'sans-serif'; color: #1f497d;"]Best Regards,

  8. #8
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    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    With all due respect, why didn't you take pictures of the road signs while you were shooting all of their products?


    If I were handling it, I'd ask how much to license the images for the intended use. If it came in lower than $600, I'd have the attorneys settle for that amount. Otherwise, I'd suggest paying the $600 and moving onward. Your lawyers can burn that much long before the matter is settled.


    I'd also explore whether those pictures were unique enough to command a price or even to be able to determine that Getty's images match what you had copied.
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

  9. #9

    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    FYI, you should do a bit of digging on the web before even considering paying what they want. Getty is notorious for legal bullying and to my knowledge have never followed through on their legal threats.

  10. #10
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    Re: I need help with some questions answered about copyright infringement



    It always suprises me as to why someone would take a image that does not belong to them and use it to make money. It is plain theft, and stealing a small item versus a large one is still dishonest.


    The image likely has a signature recorded in the exif or code that identifies it. Getty and others have search engines that scour the web for unauthorized use of their images.


    Just pay up, and count it as a lesson learned.

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