BeeDeeDubbleU - 7:23 am on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)
Regarding provenance ...
Almost five years ago I was approached for a sum of £2,400 (almost $4K USD) because I had used a shopping cart icon on my own website. I was threatened with all sorts of stuff including much higher legal costs if I didn't pay. Without going into detail I didn't pay and I still haven't paid them a brass farthing.
The image in question had slipped through my net. I am still not sure where it came from. From memory I think I got it from an affiliate site but I had no record of this. I had to spend the next month going through all of my clients' websites to ensure that I could prove that I owned all of the images that had been used. I was fairly sure that I did but I could not afford to take any chances with my customers.
I found probably about half a dozen images during this exercise which were OK but whose whose source I was not sure of so they were promptly replaced. It was a valuable lesson to me and I now record the source of every image I use.
The bottom line is that I did not pay them. In general they will send you another couple of threatening letters but time and experience has shown that if you ignore them they will go away.
The legality of what they are doing has yet to be challenged in the UK and they are afraid to test it. If they do they will almost certainly have to stop issuing these claims and the revenue stream from the many people who pay without questioning it will stop.
One major problem with their process is that they always refuse to provide proof that they own the rights to the image. When challenged on this they say that they will only do so in court but it never goes this far.