Getty fined over copyright violation

For many years Getty has pursued website owners for copyright violation. And I don’t have a problem with this, image owners have a right to payment for their work. What has upset so many people is the amount Getty has been claiming in compensation, often thousands of dollars for an small image on a website seen by a handful of people. If Getty had made reasonable claims then royalties would have been paid to the image owners. Instead all it has done is cause heartache and worry to people who had no idea the images one their website needed a license.

The other issue is proof of ownership. Getty doesn’t provide any proof that they own the image license. Their letters are issued without any evidence that the image belongs to them. They offer a link to their licensing pages but that isn’t proof they hold and exclusive license.

But the tables have now turned on Getty – they have been fined $1.2 million over copyright violations. Photojournalist Daniel Morel took images after the Haiti earthquake and published them via his twitpic account.  The images were then re-tweeted by Lisandro Suero who claimed exclusivity. Agence France-Presse picked up the images and they eventually found their way to Getty Images. The rightful owner of the images, Morel, sued and won.


If you get a Getty letter there is plenty of help. First thing you must do is remove the image. You can then begin a dialogue with Getty. Some good advice here and here. I am not suggesting you don’t pay for the use of an image, what is in question is the amount being claimed by Getty.

It’s not just Getty

If you use anyone’s images without permission you can get found out and fined as Mr Mayoh found out:

Another one here regarding a big fine for use of a celeb picture taken by Jason Sheldon.

Here’s an excellent report on flagrant copyright misuse of an image taken from the webaviation website

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