Image Copyright 

Help! I've got a huge bill from Getty Images for a tiny image on my website!

Usually a copyright infringement would result in a cease and desist request from the copyright owner, and you would simply remove or acknowledge the copyright image.

But...

Getty Images are actively pursuing copyright infringements of their images, usually small and corporate type images that can be easily lifted from google images. They usually go after small businesses.

They use a scanner robot that detects their watermark on an image. They also trawl archived websites

Whilst A2A will try to ensure no copyrighted image is used on its clients websites, ultimately the responsability rests with the client.

It is in the clients interest to ensure images are not subject to copyright.

The following articles are very usefull and offers a good explanation of the situation.

You can't incur a debt unless you have consented to it. It makes them liable for damages, but it's not a debt." The amount, he says, "can only be quantified by agreement or by the judgement of a court".

continues below

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/nov/27/internet-photography

This is also usefull

http://internetmadness.blogspot.com/2007/06/getty-images-are-trying-to-getty-me.html

http://www.dynamicsmedia.co.uk/blog/post/2009/04/Getty-Corbis-Images-Scam.aspx

First letter example

Dear....

Without Prejudice

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 original request and took the image off the website immediately.

Having taken legal advice, we point out that, we have not used an image 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 that Damages will not be awarded against an "innocent" defendant, i.e. one who did not know and had no reason to know that the work was under copyright.

We believe a court would look favourably upon this, we would vigorously defend such action in our local small claims court. It is not up to you to demand a fee, it would be up to a court to award you damages, please advise the normal cost of the use of such image.

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,

Second Letter Example

Dear Sir,

Without Prejudice

We reiterate that 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 have apologised. We have ceased and dismissed by your original request and took the image off the website immediately.

Having taken legal advice, we point out that, we have not used an image 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 favorably upon this, we would vigorously defend such action in our local small claims court. It is not up to you to demand a fee, it would be up to a court to award you damages, please advise the normal cost of the use of such image.

Yours sincerely

Getty Reply to above

Dear Sir or Madam,
 
Thank you for your email.
 
Copyright exists upon the moment of creation. The mere existence of the imagery protects it under copyright law. Getty Images represents the photographer who owns the copyright in these images. Getty Images is bound by contract with its contributing photographers to obtain and share the royalties payable for the use of their images and to uphold and defend their copyright in their works. Rights Managed images, such as the ones at issue, are exclusive to Getty Images and available for license only through our website. Therefore, when copyright infringement occurs, Getty Images is entitled to legal redress.
 
As you may know, it is the responsibility of the end user to ensure that any content that is copied, publicly displayed and/or publicly distributed does not infringe any copyrights.  Regardless of your company’s intent, you are still liable for the unauthorized use of Getty Images represented content.
 
Although the removal of the image is appreciated, it has been visible through your commercial website.  Therefore, Getty Images and its represented photographers must still receive remuneration for the prior unauthorised use. During this difficult economic time, our photographers more than ever are depending on their royalties for their livelihood.
 
In order to settle the matter promptly and amicably, Getty Images is willing to offer you a 20% reduction on the original settlement demand and accept GBP1082.40 gross (including 23% IRL VAT as per 01/01/2012) or GBP880.00 net in settlement if payment is received by 14 May 2013.  If you are VAT registered, please inform us of your VAT number before paying the settlement amount so the VAT can be deducted.
 
Getty Images makes this offer without prejudice and reserves all rights and remedies available under copyright law. Getty Images shall keep the terms of this settlement confidential, except as required by law. 
 
Kind Regards