First of all, our opinion, which we are fully entitled to: “The way that getty images go about scaring small businesses with legal emails and letters demanding £1,000’s of pounds of compensation is a total disgrace and a damning act to take on their behalf as they build up an army of ‘potential clients’ who now rebel their very existence.”
Please read on if you are now in a position that you have received the email from getty or that letter in the post and you see a large figure that is them cheekily scaring you in to paying. Do not accept this amount as we had £1,500+ thrown at us (though we in fact were not in the wrong and they had to admit their mistake) and we got that figure down to £284 as we played their slow, unprofessional, mind games.
Even if you say run a free blog and do so purely out of the love of the subject you write about or, if you have a blogging website that people share content for free on (ie you make no money from) then getty will still go after your blood – They even attack charities!! Here: getty bullying Church fund for new roof in to paying £6,000!
You may have a blogging website that clearly states that whoever shares content on it has to have full copyright of the content they upload – Still no good, getty do not care, they are after money and know that their size will intimidate many small businesses or individuals so it is a good earner for them. Sometimes people pay up the full amount, ie about £1,000 an image, or getty have to bite their lips and bring that price down (just like someone selling some dodgy stock in the local street market) and accept a couple of hundred instead.
Normal procedure from getty:
- They send an email & a letter a few days later containing screenshot of the photo you have used on your website. They give you a timescale to get back to them.
- You reply stating your innocence.
- They take their time to reply and offer a reduced rate by email (approximately half of their initial demands) and once again by letter (letters not registered so easy for you to say they never arrived). Though they get back to you when they want to, they now once again give you a timescale to get back to them by.
- You go back and show you have full copyright to an image(s) and working on the other image(s) copyright info.
- They take their time to get back to you and further reduce the amount they demand (no apology to say sorry that we tried to con you out of money for the other photo, ie you are guilty until you prove you are not situation they go by). They give you a time scale to reply and require that you accept that new offer from themselves and if not, more bullying, they say they will pass it on to a solicitor to deal with the case on their behalf and you will end up having to pay higher fines and legal fees.
- You now have a reduced bill to weigh up in your mind. We had £1,500 thrown at us initially and at this point, had £284 from getty which we paid.
Why did we pay? Well, one image we had to spend ages to speak to the company who posted it for free on our website and then find the photographer who took it who we spoke to (they are USA based) and they agreed we can have copyright to use it as our site is a free blog sharing website and has only good intentions and we made no money from the photograph – I think personally we should throw those costs we incurred getting this proof over to getty. The second image, from France, we are in the process still of getting past emails between photographer and the company who posted it on our website so know that when we get proof that we can use it we will get our money back from getty. MOST IMPORTANTLY, we have a large shop window on Twitter with over 60,000 small businesses in the UK following us that we can highlight the disgrace that is getty images and take great satisfaction that we are alerting and advising people re their bullying tactics so that £284 we paid to them will end up losing them £1,000’s as other people who they demand money from will hopefully never pay their initial amount and pay a smaller bill instead.
Were we in the wrong and this blog is just sour grapes? No, if we are in the wrong fully then we admit it, this happens in business and I know of no business, including our own, that has never had an issue that they were in the wrong fully. Copyright is important, especially on the internet, if someone uses your photo and makes money from it, changes the image to say it is theirs or blatantly uses other people’s content regularly then that is wrong. We have 1,000’s of images online ourselves and I have seen them being used, especially on social media – We simply contact the user, if they are on blogging sites similar to ours or being used for a similar topic on social media and we ask the company to credit us or preferably replace the image. I have seen our photos for sale and this required an email to ask them to remove our photos immediately (no bullying or fines and the company apologised for the mistake and removed the image). I have seen our photos edited, especially on Instagram, again a quick message sorts this out.
If you want to speak about getty images, if you are concerned and you are in the above situation then call me directly via 07917 434943 – Do not be shy, I am happy to advise you and at least help you in reducing the money they are demanding from you if like ourselves, using one of their images was a mere mistake or you believe you have copyright to use the image(s). If you are Press and want to get some content for me for a feature, once again call 07917 434943 and I have all the email correspondence, letters and telephone conversations had with getty to make for an interesting editorial.
The professional thing for getty to have done was to investigate each case, especially when it is highlighted by the person they are hoping to fine. Sometimes people learn a lot more and warm tremendously to a brand if a mistake has been made and they both work towards making sure it never happens again, getty advising us over fining us and causing a total hate relationship over a respectful one. If getty had done this with us, this blog would have been about ‘how to make sure the images you use are yours to do so‘ and how getty images work with businesses and people to make sure copyright is respected online and rightly fines when it is necessary to do so in order to protect people’s / businesses copyrights.
Other good blogs on getty images bullying people: