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Looks like perhaps their first letter to me came back in Feb. But I don't open what I think is junk mail. This letter was very thick so I opened it.
Looking around the web it seems they have been sending out these letters for quite some time. Anyone else gotten one lately?
I suspect that anyone's best defense is to prove innocence - an absence of knowledge and intent. Your poster example struck me as a classic "It's not my fault! Really!". IF I was Getty's lawyer I would counsel them to be tenacious and aggressive, but not a mindless bully jerk. I'd protect the innocent so long as the innocent cooperated in pointing me to the potentially guilty - in order to confirm that they are not "in cohoots with the guilty".
The edge that Getty may have - emphasis on "may" - is that they may actually go to the trouble of formally copyrighting their images. That allows for statutory damages and attorney's fees, which in turn may allow them to build lawyer-client relationships where law firms are more willing to selectively take on cases without a retainer. Those "being selectively targeted" are likely individuals or businesses that appear subject to the collection of damages and fees.
Hope this helps illuminate things a little.
Anyone else gotten one lately?
A company I was in away connected to received a similar letter, but played 'we are not in the US' game (the company was registered in the US and one more European country independently but similar business) and removed the images from the sites in question. As far as I know, most of the pictures they used on their websites are 'collected from the internet' and copyright letters, I believe, will keep on knocking their doors.
But I don't believe they ever heard back from Getty again.
If it turns out that the agreement is not valid or is being violated in some way, the next step would be to contact the retailer.
But this is logical reasoning and not legal advice, which can sometimes be two different things.
The images are copyrighted. If they appear on your pages, you're liable. It is still worth getting legal advice, however, since a good lawyer may be able to negotiate a lower payment -- though whether that will justify the legal bill is a question you'll have to answer.
The advice from our lawyer to him was:
1. Take the images down immediately
2. Back up the site and keep a dated copy post changes (you never know)
3. Sit back and wait
If you're lucky, nothing will happen. Or, there will be more threatening letters until Getty's lawyer steps in. Then look for errors in procedure to see if you can get off the hook.
The route we took was to write to them explaining this was an accident with an employee no longer with us, and that we have purchased images from them in the past and look forward to purchasing more in the future.
You should take into account that in doing this, you are admitting guilt, so they can properly sue you. However, for one image...
At any rate since I know I have never stolen an image my first response was to call Getty, no need to drag in lawyers when I know I did nothing wrong.
I did receive a call back from Getty today and they said no problem, I am off the hook.