Getty Images Letter
Chances are you got here by searching for Getty Images Letter, which probably means you’ve been targeted by the Getty Images Letter scam (see an example of one at the bottom of this post, this one is to an Irish company, but Getty Images does this all over the world). Firstly, you’re probably terrified about the contents of this letter – but it’s not nearly as bad as it seems and you’ve probably done very little wrong, so relax a little and read on – you’ll be glad you did.
You are not, by a long way, the only person to have received one of these scam Getty Images Letters – they send out thousands of them every month. If you look closely, apart from your company name and address, it’s an extremely generic letter that Getty Images churns out in vast volumes. It’s quite the industry at Getty Images, in fact you could say they pretty much survive on the proceeds of this very dubious practice at this stage. Getty Images is a very large and successful corporate entity with an instantly recognisable name and it didn’t get to earn the billions it does by being nice to people. It recognised very early that individuals’ blogs and small company websites couldn’t afford to pay for images for their sites. With the ease of copying and pasting information on the web, people very often inadvertently use images that Getty Images claim are belong to it. Now there are people that dispute Getty Images’ claims on this, and even some who claim that Getty Images puts its own images on free websites just so that people will use them and fall foul of their threatening letters, but let’s ignore that for now, it’s an argument for another day.
Getty Images Letter – I’ve got one, what should I do?
First and foremost, don’t panic – you’re not in nearly as much trouble as Getty Images would like you to think. This issue is fairly easily solved by someone with the right Intellectual Property (IP)legal experience (don’t go to your own solicitor, unless they specialise in IP law they won’t have a clue what to do, but will still charge you handsomely for the privilege of the visit). It will cost something to sort out, but not nearly as much as Getty Images has looked for from you. Getty Images usually aim for sums from €800 to €2,500 and there is a good reason why. It’s enough to make the recipient think that they have a very large problem but not enough that they can justify hiring legal representation. Very clever and devious ploy on the part of Getty Images – most people just pay them because they are very abusive and the wording of the letters terrifies the recipients. This is just the reaction that Getty Images depends on to keep the Getty Images Letter scam lining its coffers. In fact, as soon as you contact Getty Images the first thing they will do is offer to reduce the amount they claim you owe them by 30% if you agree to pay them immediately. Don’t fall for this nefarious (and borderline illegal) offer. If you truly owed Getty Images what they claimed there is no way they should be able to offer you such a discount, so even if you did owe it, they were overcharging you in their initial threatening missive.
The first thing to do is to remove the image/s in question, if you can’t do this get your web designer to do so – and do it right away. This is pretty easily achieved. If you use blogging software such as WordPress, you should also remove the file from your Media uploads as Getty Images will also be able to find it there and claim that you’ve not removed it.
If Getty Images were operating within the law, as it is supposed to do, its first letter to you should have been what is termed a ‘Cease and Desist’ request, asking you to remove the image from your site. If you complied there’s little or nothing they could do to you. Unfortunately for Getty Images, this course of action makes no money for the corporate behemoth, hence the invention of their Copyright Trolling letters, which makes the company an awful lot of dubiously earned income.
Getty Images Letter – Contact Copyright Infringement
The next step in the process is to contact Copyright Infringement in the UK. This company specialises in drafting replies to the Getty Images Letter which are pretty much guaranteed to put a swift halt to Getty Images communications with you. The total cost of the service is a very reasonable £150 and covers any communication necessary with Getty Images (or their debt collection goons Atradius Credit Insurance and Risk Management). You can find a video of solicitor Liz Ward below, explaining some of what is involved. The company is very professional and everything it does is above board and legal – clients of ours have used their services very successfully in the past and we can highly recommend these services.
Basically, Copyright Infringement will draft a letter on your behalf and send it to Getty Images with a covering letter from its legal practice. Any further communication (if there is any, which there usually is not) is then with Copyright Infringement which is acting as your legal representative. This stops you receiving that incredibly distressing Getty Images Letter which, once initiated, will arrive on your doorstep every month unless you take steps to deal with it.
Copyright Infringement will send Getty Images a letter which outlines that you contest the debt in question. The letter requests that Getty Images sends proof of ownership of the images in question, asks for proof of the infringement that will stand up in court and also requests a breakdown of the image cost and how the amount they have looked for was calculated. All this is couched in legal language aimed squarely at informing Getty Images that it will get nowhere with its request should it ever reach a courtroom. It will never reach court, because that is the last thing that Getty Images wants, it doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on, but you still need to stand up to and respond to the threats to make Getty Images understand that you are aware of your legal rights and will not be bullied into enhancing the profit margins of its shareholders.
That’s it, job done.
If this post has helped you in any way please do feel free to share it and make sure that others with a similar problem with the very dubious actions of Getty Images get the help they need. There are sharing icons at the bottom of the post.
Update: This post has been on the site for several years with zero interaction or apparent interest from Getty Images. In early 2017 we got a very strange email. The text would suggest that Cabinet Bouchara Avocats (solicitors) did a lot of work and, when it came to getting paid, got their backsides handed to them on a plate by the slightly less than forthcoming Getty Images crew. Incidentally, the letter they refer to never arrived. See communication below:
“Whilst operating as Getty Images’ French legal advisor, we sent you a formal letter dated December 20th 2016, asking you to cease and desist perceived libelous activity on your site. Please disregard our previous letter, it was sent in error and accept our sincerest apologies.
Yours sincerely, Vanessa Bouchara, CABINET BOUCHARA – Avocats
Spécialiste en Droit de la Propriété Intellectuelle, 17, rue du Colisée – 75008 Paris. Tel : +33 (0)1 42 25 42 30 – Fax : +33 (0)1 42 25 42 31