Before Caving to a Getty Images Demand Letter You May Want to Read This

August 23, 2016


If anyone hasn’t heard the latest uproar on the internet about the lasted and most egregious Getty flub to date in regards to Carol Highsmith and the photos that she so generously donated to the Library of Congress, I have included a few threads from over at my friends at ELI for you to read. They are packed with other commentary from other blogs.

Lawsuit Thread #1

Lawsuit Thread #2

Basically what happened here was that Getty once again pinched photographs (like 18,000 or so) from the public domain (again) and sent out extortion letters to people who were legally using the photographs. They even sent one to Carol Highsmith herself.

Whoops! This  isn’t the only time their sloppy tactics have caught them with their pants down.

Then people contacted her while they were being shaken down. Her act of generosity turned into a nightmare and her sterling reputation tarnished by Getty’s actions. This isn’t the only time that Getty or one of their other satellite companies has ripped off photos that photographers have given for public use in the public domain. They have also been known to continue to sell photographs and pursue for money even after a photographer had terminated an agreement with them ( like how Author Solutions treats authors) when they shouldn’t have. This hasn’t been the only time they have been caught with photos without permission and also have infringed on trademarks.

But somehow they always seem to sleaze their way out of it. Or, they get people into settling and with that comes with the caveat of a “nondisclosure clause”, so they are gagged from telling anyone.

They have “I am too big to fail” syndrome. They are going to try to sleaze their way out of this one, too. They don’t want to $1 billion dollars in statutory damages alone. Ms. Highsmith may not tacked on fraud, racketeering, and copyfraud among others (yet?).

How many  other photographers’ reputations has been marred by this company’s actions? I have already written about how Picscout operates and other things they do in earlier posts; I had my own scuffle with this jerk company over a derivative they didn’t own, and I was hotlinked to, which they left me alone. They try to collect on hotlinked images (which there is no copy which equals no infringement). The seed the internet and entrap people. It has been long suspected that they swap some of the royalty free images to the rights manage so they can demand a higher “settlement”.

It has also been long suspected that Getty et al had been collecting/trying to collect on images they didn’t have the right to. This, folks, is die-hard evidence that they do this crap and have gotten away with it for almost a decade. Their canned response is: “We will provide the proof of ownership when we sue you.” Don’t fall for it. Chances are very high that they don’t. For Carol Highsmith and other photographers’ photos they have ripped off out of the public domain or whereever, Getty never had the rights transferred to them. They DON’T own them. For any of these “settlements” or “enforcements” these photographers don’t see any of that money. Who knows if the photographers that contract do either?

This act of hypocrisy astounds me. They are doing the exact same thing that they accuse innocent (not everyone is innocent though) people by the thousands every year and frighten photographers about all the “evil people” out there who steal their livelihood, when they are the very people doing it?

I don’t care who you are stealing is stealing. They stole 18K+ photos from the public and got busted. As any artist would say (which I am one) you steal, you’ll eventually get caught. Let them have a taste of their own medicine. Let them pay up or be sued. Carol Highsmith transferred the rights to the LOC not to Getty Images. If they tell you they own them and you are using one of these photos of hers, then they are lying to you.

As far as I am concerned this whole company’s reputation is shot. I would never recommend them to anyone. I will never buy or use a photograph from Getty or any of its subsidiaries because they rip off photographers and treat them like crap, lie and cheat, and harm regular, hard working people who try to do things right.

If you are the proud owner *cough* of a settlement demand (extortion)) letter from Getty Images in regards to one of Carol Highsmith’s photos, please visit ELI and check out this thread by Oscar Michelen, an expert on copyright trolling and Getty Images and a real IP attorney. He has helped many people like me stand up to these bullies when they are in the wrong.

AK Taylor

About the Author

AK Taylor

AK Taylor is an award winning YA author who has been writing novels since age 16. Beekeeper, outdoor sportsman, avid adventurer, and animal lover. Taylor lives in the backwoods of Middle GA where she continues to write stories.

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