DoctorC - 4:42 am on Aug 20, 2011 (gmt 0)
They know what they own. But sometimes people buy packages, disks, have web developers buy the artwork and the site is not the purchaser, Etc. So now you have to porve it.
Weird thing is that they don't necessarily have a contract to bother the legal end user. They are asking to audit that picture and the legal user (not the web developer that paid for the image) is now usng their personal time to prove this.
You can refuse to cooperate and you can say "see you in court," but they can take some action to legally subpoena the evidence. All the while, you have a legal image, but they make it into a hassle. If I had proof I would make them get the subpoena just for spite and I would send them a faint, rough and questionable copy of the evidence so that they would want to go to court and then I would produce the fresh clean copies. I would fight every inch of the way just to hassle them for hassling me.
Best thing to do is to create a folio of all artwork with receipts, web developer license payment copies, an agreement that the web developer can buy the artwork for you, Etc. If you do web work, you could mockup the format (IN A PROTECTED DIRECTORY TO PREVENT THEIR BOTS FROM SEEING IMAGES) and then once it is approved you could insist that they purchase the artwork so that they retain the legal rights to the image and so that they can avoid copyright use issues in the future. Most clients would see that is a good idea and now they are on the hook to complete the project that you are working on.
I fully support legal licensed images. The Getty extortion letters are hitting people that don't know any better. Some people pay the bill because it is cheaper than paying a lawyer and they know that they took the image. But others have made the error of not asking if images are legal or they falsely believe the images to be legal for a variety of reasons.
Some of the images are never licensed and never copywritten with the US Copyrigth office, but then they get licensed to Getty Images. So now a website has a questionable image that is later licensed to Getty and the image becomes a Rights Managed license that is allegedly worth more than $2.00. Now Getty has 5,000 copies of the former questionable image listed as Rights managed and floating around the web from an image site like Google Images.
Lesson here. When in doubt, throw it out. The Royalty Free image market has hundreds of similar or better images for under $5.00 in most cases. I think they are worth it and they save me time. But what Getty is doing is wrong. They should issue a cease and desist order and give people 30 days to comply. A "shot across the bow" as they would say in the Navy.
Getty is sending a letter that says you took it so pay up $1,000.00 or we will sue you in Federal court. They can do that and they will win if they have a filed copyright and you will pay their legal costs if they have that filing. Bulk filings of many images at once are not so good for them and there is a good body of case law to support that. So they are blowing smoke in 99% of the cases.
BUT, If you knew you took the image pay them.
BUT, If you know they had a copyrigth pay them.
So DO ask for that copyrigth filing number and any other clarification that you need.
The problem is the people that did not take the image knowingly. If they have no copyright and you are not a guilty person, then fight them, boycott them, complain to authorities about them, take your business to other image sites and spread the message to the masses that Getty Image reelated images are a bad idea sue to legal hassles and they way that they treat others. You have choices and the Getty Image portfolio is a bad ethical choice. They could have done this in a nicer way and they deserve to be losers from their stupid actions.