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Lahle Wolfe

Getty Image Settlement Demand Letter: Scam or For Real?

By August 23, 2011

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Consumer Warning to Blog and Website Owners: If you are using images from Getty Images without a license, or running on an expired license, you could find yourself among the thousands of unlucky recipients of one of their settlement demand letters.

This is not a hoax, but it is a scam.  Getty Images does send out (outrageous) settlement demand letters; if they are from Getty, they are for real, even if they are what many refer to as "legalized extortion letters."

Are Getty Images Business Practices Legalized Extortion?

Since at least the mid 2000s, Getty Images has been a bullying innocent copyright infringers; engaging in barely legal extortion tactics when it comes to asserting intellectual rights to images and material sold or licensed through their website.

Despite large public outcry and a lot of bad press, it's 2011 and the Getty campaign to pursue children, small-time blog owners, and the average Joe has only intensified. If you think you are safe because you paid for a license, think again. Licenses expire and when they do, rest assured Getty knows the date and may visit your website to collect.

How does Getty Find Copyright Infringers?

Getty uses automated robots that crawl the Internet looking for its images. Getty's tools are so sophisticated that if you use even a part of their images in a logo, banner, or button, they can recognize an unlicensed image. Their crawlers can locate images that have been altered, inverted, flipped or turned upside down, regardless of what you rename the image file.

When a Getty image is found, it is compared to their license database. If there is no match between the image and the site where it is found, they send a snap shot of the image(s) found on your site, the name of the image (as they sell it) and demand a huge sum of money for copyright infringement.

How can someone be "innocent" of copyright infringement if they are using an unlicensed image?

Simple. If you purchased a template online that has an unlicensed image in the design - even if you did not know about it, Getty will come after you -- not the template designer who initiated the infringement.

If you hire a web designer who does not obtain the right licenses, or that purchases a 1-year license and you let it expire - even if you did not know about it, Getty will come after you.

Another example of  "innocent infringement" may occur when you take a copy of your own website from one provider and create it on another host provider. You may have rights to use stock images found on the original host provider, but not when the site is moved.

August 25, 2011 at 7:42 am
(1) Amber says:

I’ve been a client for years and have a very close relationship w/ Getty. I know for a fact that they contact their clients before their licenses expire in order to renew it when necessary.

I also know that they do have a very powerful tool and they do send letters out because if they didn’t, what would stop people from illegally using their images or from any other stock photography company? The photographers work hard to produce the content, and it’s only fair they get their royalties for every time their images are used.

I also know that Getty is VERY flexible and each case is treated differently. If a person gets a letter and is innocent because a designer did the site or something similar, all that person has to do is explain the situation to Getty and Getty will go after the designer. They are very flexible!

Bottom line is, if people respect the copyright law, they won’t have to get a letter. =)

August 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm
(2) Steve Chesney says:

Getty is scamming people. First, they must prove intent. In 99% of the cases, they cannot. So they are relying on a numbers game. If they send out 10,000 demand letters, asking for $2,000 each, and only 100 pay, that’s $200,000. They must also prove damages, which will be VERY VERY difficult to do in court. Getty could be in violation of the Fair Debt Practices Act, which stipulates that under no circumstances can a debt collector threaten a lawsuit when they have no intention of filing one. To date, no one single lawsuit has been filed by these retards. My advice is to tell them to take their demand letter and shove it up their ass.

September 3, 2011 at 11:48 am
(3) Anonymous says:

I agree with Steve. We bought a template online, used it in good fath. Getty came after us two years later for a thumbnail sized image. They would NOT go after the designer and did not even care to know their name. They stated clearly US law specifically says if you were duped, sucks for you.

Getty “negotiated” the massive claim for a single image down by $80 providing I paid in full the remaining $1,000 in 48 hours.

“Janea” is rude, does not return calls and interrupts you constantly. I suspect Amber works for Getty or has never been on the wrong end of the stick with them.


September 3, 2011 at 11:55 am
(4) Glen Isheya says:

My experience was similar. We purchased a license through another company. Getty did not care. They said they had the rights. When I demanded proof, they refused and just said we could pay now or end up in court.

We were hounded and threatened constantly for months. We were told it would be reported to a collection agency if we did not pay.

Not one single time did Getty care about our side of the story and the company we bought a license from is still in business. Why should they fear Getty when they are actually making money for Getty?

I cannot wait for the day Getty gets sued for their extortion practices — I hope they have to pay the same level of outrageous damages they think is fair to charge the innocent.

Demanding you pay 100% in “damages” plus whatever other amount they seem fit to charge is ridiculous. Someone needs to start a class action lawsuit!

For a $3.00 image we used on a blog page, we ended up paying over $900.

September 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm
(5) GettyHater says:

Yeah, right. We never got a renewal notice. Just a big fat bill offer to settle for “stealing” their images — but Getty allowed the license to “expire” just over a year so they could ask for two years in fees and damages.

I have never dealt with a ruder woman than the one at Getty.

September 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm
(6) Robert says:

I just started a petition on the White House petitions site, We the People. This is in regards to the outrageous “Getty Extortion Letter” received by many webmasters who unintentionally use a copyright protected image often found of free image sites or purchased as part of a template. Getty is demanding thousands of dollars in penalties for an unintentional act.
Will you sign it? http://wh.gov/gd8

September 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm
(7) John says:

I just received a letter today from Getty Images. I purchase a website template years ago (YES I PAID for the template) and they are now asking me for the money.

This is just not right.

Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated.


September 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm
(8) Heidi says:

I received one of these letters from Getty yesterday. It’s outrageous what they are doing to innocent people. I run a small pet sitting business and had a picture on my site they said was theirs. I had no idea it was a copyrighted photograph.

I’ve been pretty sick to my stomach over the letter, but it felt good to sign the petition you started, Robert. Thank you for posting that. I will send the link to friends and family.

October 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm
(9) Toby K says:

Most people don’t steal photo’s. The web is made up of free and copy right photo’s. Just put a copy right logo next to it or use flash when you make your website. The flash option would allow nobody to grab your photo. Getty images are morons because they easily allow anyone to grab their photo. They are ( or at least it seems) a big enough company where they can use Flash and make it a little more obvious that when certain photo’s are used they have a copy right to them. It’s just a big dumb trap, that boosts part of their business. There is no secret here that they make money out of scaring innocent, unknowing people to pay them. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/boycott-getty-images/#sign_petition

October 27, 2011 at 9:07 am
(10) Debra says:

How much of this money that Getty sues for ever goes to the Photographer?

October 29, 2011 at 11:24 am
(11) Lahle Wolfe says:

My guess is very little as Getty demands and collects damages only for themselves and not on behalf of photographers.

November 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm
(12) Jenny says:

We used a photo from a photo-sharing site where the contributor claims to own the picture and the terms of the site state that members have permission for free use. Getty now say its one of their images. We checked and no metadata or watermark…hmmm

Am now beginning to believe Getty may be deliberately planting its images onto free photosharing sites (or getting someone else to do this for them) to illicit copyright infringement and enable them to demand loads of money (very illegal but much easier way of generating cash than selling pictures).

Either way in the UK they are only allowed to claim a max of twice the original license cost (IF they win in court) which is still loads less than their demand and they HAVE to produce a copy of the exclusive license (which we’ve not seen yet) I’m definitely not paying – gotta fight this kind of extortion!!!

November 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm
(13) Lahle Wolfe says:

So sorry to hear another Getty horror story. I do know some companies that offer free screen shot savers — the fine print license says you can only use the images on your personal computer background. The pictures are nice so people share them on the web — and then get hit with copyright demands.

It would not surprise me at all if other (Getty?) companies engaged in similar practices. Gotten to the point where I cringe putting images on client’s websites and even though we only purchase through what we believe to be legitimate sources, hate having to advise them that someday they could get a letter from Getty, AP or someone else. I wish the trial lawyers would get on top of this one!

December 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm
(14) Scott Roberts says:

So add me to your list of small businesses that are being hounded by Getty Images (and now their attorney) for use of one of their supposed licensed images. The image in question has been Photo-shopped to remove the logos from the engines & boat (I’m a boat dealer) where my image HAS the logos intact and is the one that appeared on my website. It will be a cold day in hell before I pay Getty one cent! I find their conduct appalling especially when most small businesses are just trying to stay afloat in today’s economy.

December 15, 2011 at 12:02 am
(15) Hank says:

I am dealing with Getty Images right now, i purchased 3 images and I missed the deadline about 2 months. Which is my fault I understand, I have never received an email saying that my license is expiring. Anyway, they sent me a letter for $4000 for 3, $39 images. I talked with them and lowered it to $2300 which is still outrageous, I am willing to pay the fee because of my mistake but this is a lot of money. So anyone has any idea what should be my next move?


December 15, 2011 at 11:14 am
(16) Lahle Wolfe says:

You might want to talk to an intellectual property rights attorney; most will give you a free initial consultation. Sounds like you could prove you purchased rights that simply lapsed. The burden on proof to show you were told about an expiring license is on Getty and one of the key components in getting damages in infringement lawsuits is proving willful infringement. If Getty did not send you proper notice, it is unlikely you would be seen as someone purposely “stealing” images.

Federal Law on Damages for Copyright Infringement – Although you could be required to pay a minimum of $750 if it went to court, you might be able to shoot Getty a copy of the law and offer them the minimum (saving you money) and Getty the hassle of suing you (they generally do not sue, but they will also not let this drop.)

I wish you the best of success in dealing with Getty. They are truly nasty.

December 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm
(17) Bill Rafter says:

Getty may not drop it, but I do, right in the garbage can!
Anybody that pays them a dime is an idiot.

January 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm
(18) JimmyDurandi says:

Getty should be wiped from the face of the planet with the $%^@oles that came up with the planning and those that profit from it and those that enforce it.

January 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm
(19) Florida guy says:

What a horrible company … They are scamming you and should not ever get a cent from anyone !

January 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm
(20) Jeanne says:

I had a small business run out of my home for approx 1 year. This website was shut down and the business officially went under Sept of last year. Today I get a letter from Getty Images. What a scam!! They want 1750.00 from a company that made a grand total of 20.00 last year. ugghhh. They should be ashamed of themselves.

January 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm
(21) Tim says:

Add me to the list. We received a letter today on a website template we purchased through a realestate website company. I called the company and they assured me they had the permission and license. Contacted Getty as per their instructions to give them the information.

Their response: We don’t care if they have a license we are dealing with you and your company and you do not have a license.

I have never had someone be so rude and condesending. I hope they use up thousands sending me letters – will go right in the recycle bin. It is ridiculous to believe that you pay for a service and still cannot be secure that what you have paid for is not going to bring you harrassment.

January 11, 2012 at 9:58 am
(22) Tennessee Derek says:

Getty is a joke. I am a photographer and I was about to start licensing my photos through Getty. Good thing they went after a web client of mine and showed their true colors. I had used an image that I confirmed was part of a free images repository and it turns out that Getty Images planted the image there just so they could go after people.

I will not pay. I will not let my client pay. I will collect the letters and use them to complete my daily bathroom duties.

They are a scam.

Here is the great part. IF they had been anywhere near friendly or reasonable in their letter(s) or had accepted my offer of 4 times the asking price for the image, I would have settled but because they are so rude and their price is so outrageous, I will never deal with them again on any level and will spend the rest of my life preaching against them.

January 11, 2012 at 9:58 am
(23) Tennessee Derek says:

Getty is a joke. I am a photographer and I was about to start licensing my photos through Getty. Good thing they went after a web client of mine and showed their true colors. I had used an image that I confirmed was part of a free images repository and it turns out that Getty Images planted the image there just so they could go after people.

I will not pay. I will not let my client pay. I will collect the letters and use them to complete my daily bathroom duties.

They are a scam.

Here is the great part. IF they had been anywhere near friendly or reasonable in their letter(s) or had accepted my offer of 4 times the asking price for the image, I would have settled but because they are so rude and their price is so outrageous, I will never deal with them again on any level and will spend the rest of my life preaching against them.

January 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm
(24) Abhishek Bali says:

Same story with me., They are harrasing one of my client for same., and that too for a small thumbnail. What a stupid company it is.


January 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm
(25) Jason says:

I got a letter the other day, and was astounded by the amount they wanted. I got my pictures from a free image directory. When items are posted on line, and they are copyrighted, you first need to purchase the photo to get a clear picture without a watermark or copyright name which makes the picture unusable. Let them take me to court, i’m not even calling them.

January 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm
(26) Sue says:

I got one almost three years ago. Went to the Getty Extortion Letter site and hired the attorney for $150 and never heard from Getty again. The statute of limitations runs out at three years, so soon it will be a moot point. The image in question was part of a template banner that a US website designer had paid for and incorporated in a site she designed for me. I had paid her for the site and had the receipt but I elected not to sic Getty on her. My solution was to take down the site and reshoot all my own photos for use on my site so I know where ownership lies. I think what is actually happening with Getty is not that they are “seeding” free sites with their photos, but instead that they are signing up photographers who license their entire portfolio including what they may have previously posted on free sites. Plus they have been buying other stock photo companies which again broadens their licensed photos. This is wrong and ultimately hurts the entire stock photo industry. I’ll never use stock photos again.

January 18, 2012 at 9:44 am
(27) Carolyn says:

I just got a letter from Getty this week demanding money for an unlicensed image. I am referring the matter to my website provider in the hope they can straighten this out. I’m on disability with a spinal cord injury and hope I don’t have to somehow come up with the money.

January 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm
(28) Megan says:

I got a letter yesterday too demanding money. I am a small home run business I can’t afford to dish out money that they demand! I got the photo from a free website 2 years ago! Another headache to deal with!

January 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm
(29) DDL says:

It’s comforting to read these letters and comments and feel better about ignoring these greedy people. We used one picture briefly not realizing it was copyrighted and immediately took it down when notified. The website was to get an in-home healing practice going…we have no money to pay them and the business isn’t making any. Our home is on the line and we have more to worry about than Getty. Thanks to all of you!

January 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm
(30) BamBam says:

I also received a Getty Letter. I hired the lawyer at ELI (extortionleterinfo.com) and a weight has been lifed off my shoulders. I refuse to pay them anything if they refuse to co-operate.

January 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm
(31) Mike says:

My client just got a letter. $950.00 Getty wants for 1 image. I have no idea where I got the image from, I think Google images . Really, really horrible thing Getty is doing. Where did they pull that price from? Yeah, I’ll pay what the image is worth but $950?? Come on?? Nope!

January 23, 2012 at 9:45 pm
(32) GetyPirate says:

Getty Images is Spamming innocent people, terrible! Robbers who trying to cover yourself by law? Terrible experience!!

January 26, 2012 at 9:36 am
(33) Jim says:

I received a demand letter from Getty Iames for an image that was included in a free website template from Intuit.com. I removed the image and contacted Intuit. Intuit claimed it was their problem and would handle the problem. Four months later I received another demand letter from Getty Images, I contacted Intuit again and was ignored, so I contacted the Washington Attorney General and filed a complaint. That ended my problem. I believe Getty is scamming people.

January 27, 2012 at 12:17 am
(34) Lawyer says:

From a very good article about copyright by Timothy McCormack on the Seattle PI Blog http://blog.seattlepi.com/timothymccormack/2012/01/26/copyright-infringement-letter-for-images-on-your-website/

“You’re Liable Even if you Didn’t Know you Infringed a Copyright.
Copyright law prohibits both accidental and willful copyright infringement. As stated by one federal court recently, “there is no need to prove anything about a defendant’s mental state; [copyright infringement] is a strict liability tort.” A strict liability tort is a legal wrong that does not require a “mental intent.” In other words, a copyright owner does not need to prove a defendant intentionally infringed the copyright in order for the defendant to be liable because it is a “strict liability” tort. If you copy a picture from the Internet without permission, for example, you can be liable for damages even if you did not know the picture was copyrighted. Further if you hire someone, such as an employee, an independent contractor, or a web designer, you are also liable for using the pictures that third party posed to your website even if you were unaware of what they did.

Thus, the business displaying the copyrighted work without permission on their website is liable as the end user of that image. In short, the old adage, “ignorance of the law is never an excuse” applies to copyright law because even if you did not know, you might still be liable for copyright infringement. Most legitimate business want to do the right the thing and get these claims settled. If the same thing happened to them, they would feel the same way.”

January 30, 2012 at 8:11 pm
(35) Lahle Wolfe says:

Excellent point, which I also make in some of my own articles — ignorance will not get you off the hook.

I do wish companies like Getty would send a cease and desist first, or, at least only ask for the actual price of images rather than huge “damage” amounts that people simply cannot afford to pay. Lawyers sometimes have a bad rap for being “lawsuit happy.” But people do not understand that sometimes lawsuits really are necessary to resolve complicated issues or when there is a dispute over a wrongdoing. However, in Getty’s case, they bypass the legal system entirely and just threaten folks. Getty’s practices are not about upholding justice — they have simply become a massive (nasty) collection agency. At least with a collection agency they did not decide what you owe, another creditor did based on a tangible debt and attempts to collect were previously ignored. Getty simply makes up amounts as it goes along based on nothing at all — not even accepting the minimum allowed by law if an infringer is found guilty in court. Worse — they do not go after websites and template owners offering Getty images for free — they let those folks stay in business and then go after the folks who download them and use them. Getty will never force down illegal sites pushing their images when they can make huge sums of money off the ignorant.

January 27, 2012 at 1:00 am
(36) steve says:

Revenge – after now having been sent these letters for over a year and probably having to pay up eventually – I took great delight on doing a google search for ROYALTY FREE IMAGES and then clicking the getty images ad knowing it must be costing them £0.80/click – up to 700 so far – takes a while but enjoyed every minute.

January 30, 2012 at 8:03 pm
(37) Lahle Wolfe says:

LOL — Clever way to protest peacefully — if you keep it up anything they get from you will be lost in PPC!

January 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm
(38) babadag says:

This is what happened to a lawyer who tried a similar stunt in the UK. Despite this Getty and the other imaging companies continue to send out these demands.


February 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm
(39) Ann says:

Got my letter Friday. I took the image down instantly. I wish they had the nerve to call instead of sending a letter. Anyone in Canada dealing with this? I am not paying but I want to know what could happen. Also they say they will charge you interest in the letters but don’t give a amount and I think legally they should but I dont know. One photo $850. There goes the money for my new air conditioner. But like I said I am looking into some law advice and I don’t want to pay this. Help!

February 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm
(40) raj says:

BamBam – could u pls let me know how to hire lawer from ELI (extortionleterinfo.com). do not find any contact for ELI.


February 9, 2012 at 11:29 am
(41) Nick says:

I received one several years ago, of course it freaked me out at the time, but then I did some searching around and found that it was nothing to worry about.

I know some people have spoken to them to try to reason with them, but I simply ignored it completely. After some follow-up letters and phone messages over a period of maybe 6-12 months, they seemed to give up and I have not heard anything for years.

So, based on my experience, that is what I would suggest doing, ignoring them.

Certainly, certainly, do not pay them anything. As some have said, if they have a genuine claim, they should provide proof of exclusive rights. They should also come with a reasonable claim once they have done so.

Remember, it seems that they have never, ever taken anyone to court over this. You are VERY unlikely to be the first (let’s face it, it is just not going to happen).

February 14, 2012 at 9:16 am
(42) koshu says:

I am based in Malaysia and I started getting demand letters and emails from Getty. The designer used these photos in my website in 1996! We were told they were paid for and belonged to the web designer. After reading your comments, I am going to wait and see!

February 18, 2012 at 9:54 am
(43) Natasha - UK says:

Hi just found your page and letters.

I received a threatening letter from Getty this morning about a tiny image a friend had sent me to use on my website. He knew nothing about it needing a licence and has used it himself (he has now removed it). He feels absolutely dreadful about all of this.

My business is about to go under and so to have a letter arrive on my door step asking for £1,000 was just about the last stroke.

Upoon receipt of the letter I immediately removed my website and cried – what is the point?

What a year this has been; my husband has a serious RTA last year and nearly died and last night asked for a divorce. I am the only one earning any money from my therapies. I am going to have to close my business and sign on the dole Monday. I am in a very bad financial state. My car has just failed its MOT. I can’t afford to even eat this week and now I receive this letter threatening hell and damn-nation.

I am on anti-depressants, suicidal and just about had enough.

This letter nearly was the last straw until I found you webpage.

I will not be paying them anything – I certainly don’t have anything to give them.

Monday I am going to see a solicitor, visit the Department of Fair Trading and if necessary the Police.

I will fight this – I am surprised that I have any fight left in me but after reading all your comments I feel stronger.

I really hope these B****DS get their comeuppence.

Perhaps God will settle this debt with them……..I would laugh to see GETTY go bust during these hard times —- I can dream!

February 20, 2012 at 8:25 am
(44) Graham says:

We had a run-in with getty once about this same issue; not knowing what to do, we contacted a solicitor who specializes in it. It cost about £300, but the sorted it all out, never heard another word from Getty. They can be contacted throughhttp://www.gettyletter.co.uk,

February 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm
(45) Eric says:

I am having the same trouble as everyone else. One of my clients was contacted over an image that I thought I had acquired legally. It was from a free stock site (surprise – owned by Getty) which we used because we thought that it was legitimate.

Now that my client has a $900 demand in their hands I have no way of proving where the image came from.

Here is the kicker though: ANYONE can upload an image to this free stock site and claim that they own it. For all I know, someone else (or even someone representing Getty) uploaded this image to the free stock site where loads of people downloaded it in good faith. Now that I need to prove this is where I got it, the image has been taken down (probably by Getty) and I have no way to prove that it was ever there.

This could be malicious and it could just be an accident, but either way, it’s a scam and Getty is making a mint on it.

PS. The stock site was – http://www.sxc.hu/ – DO NOT use this site under any circumstances.

February 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm
(46) Eric says:

Follow up thought on my last post:

Has anyone here actually been taken to small claims court by Getty? I want to know.

Here’s the thing, as a small-business owner, I’ve hired debt collection agencies before. If all Getty is doing is turning your case over to a collection agency, GREAT! Debt collection agencies send threatening letters and that is about it. After that you have to sign the debt over to the collection agency and then they send it to a department that determines whether or not to invest real human resources in collecting the debt. Unless you are in flagrant violation of a very explicit binding contract, and the debt isn’t worth at least five figures, they aren’t going to put any money into hunting it down.

So the only thing that remains is for them to submit it to a credit agency (which also costs money). Since it costs, the client has to pay the agency to do it, and so they normally don’t pay. Even then, it’s just a note on your record that says there was a dispute. Since it has never been arbitrated, that’s all it is. If it was anything more, I could send anyone I want an outrageous bill (a bill is just a claim that someone owes you money – it isn’t necessarily legitimate in any way), turn it over to a collection agency, and ruin your credit.

Please leave feedback! How many of you have paid Getty? How many people held out? Was anyone ever actually taken to small claims court?

February 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm
(47) seano says:

I received a letter today for a pic that was on a ‘free’ site. I have NO idea where I got it, when I got it… they want like $800 for it. I do remember them stating that it was a ‘free’ image. If I respond it would seem like I am guilty, if I pay them i have set a president and stated culpability.. no way.

I am not going to respond, they can take me to small claims if they like

I consider it a strong arm scam though and would not pay them. They can come to my office if they like, I will NOT talk to them on the phone, I will NOT respond to letters… I will NOT respond to emails. They must do this one in PERSON if they want any money from me.

Now there is even a ‘cottage industry’ of attorneys making money from people defending themselves from this crap. What a racket!

February 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm
(48) Mark says:

@ Toby K
Flash websites aren’t impervious to those wishing to copy / steal an image. A simple screenshot and crop is all that is required to obtain any images from websites designed in flash. Just thought I would be an arse and point that out!

February 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm
(49) Tom says:

I run a small website development business in the UK, and have purchased various images from sites and always do religiously making sure there is no copyright infringement.

In the past few years 2 of my clients have had letters from these Bully’s, In the first case my client had taken the images from sxc.hu which is part of the istockphoto group – which Getty images purchased a short while after my clients, this is a free image sharing site that cross sells with it’s paid counterpart. we worked out that Getty on buying the sxc.hu had all the best ‘free’ images in to there paid section and this resulted in our lovely letter.

I told my client to ignore the letters after reading sites like this, and after about 6 months the demand letters stopped….

on the 2nd occasion I have instructed my clients to do the same, and would advise anyone reading this to ignore the morons

like was said above if they actually intend to take you to court, they would not be sending you photocopied threat letters, and would need to prove that you were using the image for financial gain – like reselling it on an image site, also under UK law they can only ask for double the value of the original image

over the past 8 years my companies have spent over a million dollars with Getty images through our magazines and graphic design companies, and a $800 dollar demand letter has cost them dearly, as I have made it a company policy that we never spend another penny with them again, and we actively tell our clients and colleagues to avoid them like the plague.

February 28, 2012 at 8:25 am
(50) Tennessee Joe says:

I too received my first letter from Getty in June 2011 for displaying a scanned copy of a greeting card I had purchased from Posty Cards online retailer.
It did not matter to Getty that I had a box of greeting cards in my possession and I chose to upload the image to my website for decorations.
When I contacted Posty Cards, they offered no help and continue to sell these images without any disclosure of copyright warnings. I no longer purchase from Posty Cards.
The intitial demand paymen from Gettyt was for $900. I offered to pay $100.
I recieved another letter reducing the demand to $700. I did not reply to this letter.
Recently I received a 6 page document from an attorney representing Getty, demanding I pay $2,300!
I’m not responding to anything else from Getty or it’s blood sucking attorney. This is extortion in the first degree.
Maybe someone will file a class action lawsuit against Getty! This needs to be addressed in a court of law.

February 29, 2012 at 11:58 am
(51) Johnson says:

Oh people, people listen to me. This is a scam I know as “speculative invoicing”. Getty are sending demands knowing a fair percentage will be paid whilst the other more enlightened amongst us will refuse to pay. Of course they will not take anyone to court because they know the business model will be revealed for what it is i.e. a scam. Do some research and find out how often they have followed through on their threats. I can tell you we received one such demand and totally ignored them. Getty or more precisely it agents went away in no time at all and simply moved onto the next mug.
Now be very careful who you believe on this blog. I can see a number of Getty trolls contributing to it and doing their utmost to scare you without actually revealing themselves.
This post will be followed by anecdotal evidence telling you that Getty can and will hang, draw and quarter you if you don’t pay but as I said earlier, just do some research!

March 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm
(52) J says:

Received the letter today. We had no idea this was going on and had a prelim website for employees to check with filler photos. Looking forward to your anecdotal evidence Johnson.
Thanks to you all for contributing to this blog!

March 4, 2012 at 3:48 am
(53) Nick Bloomfield says:

I am a website designer in the UK and one of my clients received the Getty demand in 2009. They are a Travel Agent and I had used a couple of small illustrative images that I had found on Google Images.
They promptly passed the letter to me and I was aghast at the sum which was over £2,000.

Even if I wanted to pay I did not have the resources so I scoured the web and put together a reasonable letter. I heard no more until 2 years later when my clients received a demand letter from a UK based solicitor.

This time when I scoured the web I found copyrightinfringement.org.uk and contacted them as a solicitor was involved. I then went to meet them and got involved with the fight by working on their website and we have now produced a short video by the solicitor Liz Ward who is a specialist in the field.

The link is http://youtu.be/er2MkBu3q1g

My thoughts on the whole business are as follows;
1, The photographers who post -whether Getty clones or not – should realise that in this digital age their services are not worth the money they once received and I and my wife (Who is a graphic designer) do not get anything like these sort of payments for our work.

2, If the images are out there then presumably the photographers have been paid once and should be prepared to receive a nominal fee of say £100 to £200 for the infringement and have the images removed from the offending website. If they are on an image library then presumably the photographers were prepared to have much smaller ongoing amounts for their work in which case the same penalty should apply.

I, like many others, made a genuine mistake and whilst I would not mind paying a reasonable penalty for this, like the figures mentioned above, it seems that many photographers have no pity and equate the whole business to stealing with intent!

I am also a photographer and, in the event that one of my photos had been misused I would just ask them to take the photo down. If they refused then I would pursue them.

March 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm
(54) Dennis says:

So I’ve been trading emails with a representative from Getty for a few months… I told the rep off and how I thought this was ridiculous and didn’t hear from her for a month. Then out of the blue today I get a couple of emails from her… one of which was my “Bill” $675 for one month of use! All of the information on the invoice, except for my name, is wrong.

After reading this page I’m going to pretty much ignore it and see what happens.

Here’s a question for everyone… all of you talked about a “letter”… was this a hard copy snail mail letter or an email like in my case?

Has anyone ever tried to get the news or any consumer groups involved?

March 5, 2012 at 10:33 pm
(55) Anonymous says:

Dennis, I received a snail mail letter (after emails were ignored.) I say what have you got to lose by ignoring them?

March 5, 2012 at 11:28 pm
(56) distrbd63 says:

OK..SOOO, I got mine today..letter that is! DAMN, I thought I was special or something! LOL This could really be fun…How can we F with them?? I will CERTAINLY not be giving them a red cent of the $1560 dollars they are demanding ($780 per photo). Simply by adding school information on my real estate website, to help out families with children when purchasing a home, I have become indebted to Getty Images! NOT!!!

March 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm
(57) I says:

You do the crime you pay the price. Just a bunch of thieves you steel peoples work and then don’t want to pay up. Bunch of loosers I think you should all just stop crying and pay up. Nothing is free, if you use an image you need to pay for it. Long live Getty images.

March 13, 2012 at 10:57 am
(58) Stupid getty says:

If getty was acting fair by collecting extortion amount for a thumbnail photo or from most people whom deem to be unaware that they are using a licensed image, they should be shameful. Making use something rightous to extort money, that’s not trying to fight value for photographers and real work. They should be question of their ethical means of the way their business is run. Whoever that thinks getty is helping to prevent crime of stealing images by extorting money must be an idiot.

March 15, 2012 at 11:36 pm
(59) Terry says:

I received an actual letter in the mail from Getty on Feb 9th 2012 demanding money for a photo I downloaded from photobucket. There were several representations of it on photobucket from different posters, one with words embedded. I immediately removed it from my website, and requested they furnish me with the registration certificate for this “copywrite” so my attorney could pursue the matter. I received an email from them a couple of days ago refusing to give me any information, and that I had to ‘pay up’ by March 23rd. Nope. Won’t happen. I’m going to lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General.

March 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm
(60) WebEnterprise says:

We paid $329 about 10 years ago for a file containing many images that we use in our home-based web business. One of our customers got the letter 2 years ago, and her attorney-friend advised her to do nothing and see what happens. The image in question was removed. They sent a few letters but then stopped. The thing to remember is that they can only threaten you with letters – the letters mean nothing unless they file a lawsuit and get a judgement against you. There are many scams out there like this, MasterFile is a big one and they do sue people in Federal court. “I” is a joke – we are just regular folks who have these images in innocence – in our case we PAID for them as did many others here.

March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm
(61) Braj says:

Today I received claim letter from Washington lawyer on behalf of Getty images. I called the law firm and tried to ask why they did not send talk to me before sending the letter. I am going to complain to AG of Washington… I tried to call them again, but they never picked up the phone.
Here is my 1 cent…
1. Brave Heart : Ignore the letter
2. Thoughtful: Their is remote possiblity that they will sue you, but it’s better to lawyer than the getty people….

March 25, 2012 at 7:38 am
(62) Becky says:

I’ve never heard of a more ridiculous thing in my life. Right now Getty is sending us threatening letters, demanding we pay them $3,000 for three images that appeared on our site. They were not marked in any way. We did not know anything about Getty Images when we received the first letter. Now they’re really threatening us! we have enough problems without having to deal with this too! Either way, we don’t have the money to pay them. It’s making me sick to me stomach just thinking about this! How can they get away with this??? I don’t know what to do! Our business is barely stay afloat as it is… Why?!?

March 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm
(63) Joe says:

I just received a letter from Getty demanding $780.00 for an image that I cannot recall using. Its a picture for a different part of the county and I would never have used it anyway. Its not on my website and the screen capture they sent is not legible. Anyone know anything about how to deal with this. Can they randomly just do this and harass people?
I would think they would have to prove that I used the image. Anyone experience this..?

April 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm
(64) MaryJ says:

I received a demand letter from Getty for a thumbnail photo that we used briefly on our website. We get all our images from the tourist boards of each country that we sell, (we are a travel wholesaler), or we use hotel photos or our own photos. The photo in question has no watermarks or copyright images on it. Getty is demanding $780 for the use of this thumbnail. Just doing a brief search on the internet I found this photo on the tourism websites and on “free” image libraries. It’s a common photo of a tourism icon. I am not paying them anything. I will report them to the Washington State Attorny Generals office.

April 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm
(65) Joyce says:

I received a letter from Getty with a copy of an image I have never seen before, they say I am using it on my web site. I wont be contacting them but just wonder if this has happened to anyone else, from the posts it looks like most have stated they used an image but I have never seen the image they are stating I am using. Any advice? Just ignore the letter?

April 24, 2012 at 1:36 am
(66) Lahle Wolfe says:

Hi Joyce, sorry to hear you have become another recipient of a Getty letter.

If you purchased a template that came with images, or hired a web designer, it is possible that there is an image that was swapped out in the final version so does not show on your site, but is still somewhere on your server in a file

Getty’s policy seems to be if you have it in your possession on a server — even if you are not displaying it — you are guilty of copyright infringement. Be sure to ask them exactly where the found the image — they should have to provide you with a URL from where they took their screen shot.

I wish you good success in resolving your problems with them!

May 14, 2012 at 10:16 pm
(67) John says:

I got the getty letter today saying I am using one of their images on my website, which I got it from the opensource templates. The image that I have is the mirror image of theirs & the size is chopped. How can they claim that the image is their’s when it is not an exact size & image?. This is ridiculous & I am not paying a dime. I changed the image now but they have the screenshot. But I will sent to US government including washington if they come after me. What a scam, we all should sue them.

May 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm
(68) Rob says:

To: Getty’s Copyright Compliance Specialists:
Do not justify what you do because it pays well. Try to do something positive which contributes to society. Then hope that a company like Getty does not try to prey on you.

May 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm
(69) Vender says:

This is a Scam…let’s fight back!

Washington State Attorny Generals office – Complaint Form


May 23, 2012 at 10:43 am
(70) FightingMadBroad says:

I got a letter with an invoice for just over USD 1,000 for the supposed use of a commonplace palm tree contained in one of Getty’s clients photos. I was shocked to receive it, since I live in south Florida, where palm trees are abundant. I’m not sure where my web designers got the tree image from, since I thought they took it themselves, and since I made the mistake of hiring them while they were working in Miami, whereas their web designers were actually based in South America, I can’t find them now to determine what went on, since my site was designed six years ago. I did, however, write to Getty to tell them that I’m a retired senior citizen, who has been taking a business loss for the past 5 years, which stated simply meant that I would be unable and unwilling to pay their exorbitant fee. They actually lowered the fee to an amount that I could afford to pay if I wanted to, but I’m not sure that I want to, since my gut tells me that although both trees resemble each other considerably, that it’s likely that my tree (I have since changed it) and their client’s tree are not one and the same tree, figuring that there must certainly be at least two palm trees on the planet that look very much alike. I asked them for some kind of concrete proof that the image that was on my site and their client’s tree are identical, but they never did, and I don’t think they can or will. When I called the Attorney General’s Office, State of Washington, the lady I spoke with at the Complaint Department suggested that I also contact and file a complaint with the FBI, the FTC and the BBB. The more complaints on file the more likely these agenceies will be to explore this matter, and potentially file a class action suit on behalf of all of the injured parties who have filed complaints. If you are out there and reading this, I suggest that you do the same.

May 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm
(71) Lahle Wolfe says:

Intellectual property copyrights, including any rights Getty may have, are governed by federal law and rights holders have to file a claim within a certain amount of time called the “statute of limitations.”

Two important things to remember:

1. Copyright infringement claims are rights of the copyright owner (always ask Getty to PROVE they have copyrights) of the photograph.

2. There is a three-year statute of limitations from the date of the infringement.

Some courts interpret that as three years from when you had a reasonable chance to discover the infringement. Either way, six years is well beyond the statue of limitations — they have no claim against a 6-year-old photo use as far as I can tell. If they even had any claim it expired three years ago.

May 30, 2012 at 11:02 pm
(72) Major John says:

You can simply ignore them just because someone says you owe him the money doesn’t mean you owe them any thing. It is an extortion and scare tactic that is illegal. If you are scary kind of person, you can make arrangements to remove such image.

Only a court order makes any thing collectable, and it is not easy to get the order like that as there many hurdles to cross i) cost for them ii) uncertainty that they can ever collect from anyone iii) legality of their auto generated notices iv statues of limitation as they have to make a claim within a certain period from its first use v) proof that they indeed own the copyright with a letter signed by the photographer and the registration of images with the government vi) They took enough precaution to safeguard their property since they can water mark their images and they didn’t.

You can either ignore them or simply tell them to shove up their …. They can’t do any thing to you.

If you want to read copyright laws – you can read them allhere http://www.copyright.gov/title17/
have fun and tell Gtty image to shove it up their …

June 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm
(73) William Pennybanks says:


You are full of it.

June 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm
(74) Olivier Bruel says:

I just received one of these letters today.

5 years ago, I designed a website (ironically, for a lawyer office), using a purchased Getty photo. Being a freelance designer, I had a small size screenshot of the homepage on my personal portfolio, where a cropped verson of the original photo appears as small as 180×67 pixels (that is REALLY small).

And they want me to pay 1050$ for that. I will ask a local lawyer (I’m from Québec, Canada) what I should do.

June 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm
(75) Wally Mart says:

1) Don’t panic. It’s not good for your health.
2) Visit ExtortionLetterInfo.com

P.S. Questions for Amber:
What is your real name?
How long have you worked for Getty?

June 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm
(76) CanSayNoL8R says:

There are a number of issues here.

1) ENTRAPMENT: Getty Images intentionally distributes its images to the public worldwide to encouraging their use. Additionally, they intentionally omit watermarks and copyright identifiers (to protect the images) once again to encourage it usage.

By intentionally omitting identification it is impossible for the “End User” to know if the image if copyrighted or not. This is an essential element in their defrauding innocent victims, their intentionally not protecting their property.

2) EXTORTION: Getty Images then uses “robots” to scrub the internet and your property (webpages) looking for hidden “tags” in the images. You then receive the letter demanding inflated payment or the threat of litigation.

Questions have been raised by legal experts as to Getty Images entering into ones property (webpages) in search of their publicly distributed and intentionally unidentified images.

3) COPYRIGHT ACT: Unfortunately, our legislatures in congress sold the American people out once again to their contributors. A provision that is abused by Getty Images references the “End User” is responsible even if the image was provided by a “Third Party”. Naturally, Getty Images created or aligned with third parties to distribute the unidentified images to the public worldwide.

CONCLUSION: First and foremost, do not use copyrighted property. If you are an innocent victim of Getty Images, contact your congressional representative and let them know what Getty Images is doing, how they intentionally abuse the laws, intended to protect the legitimate, to extort monies from innocent Americans.

Simply, because the Copyright Laws are so unfair and unreasonable, it allows companies like Getty Images, who lack a moral compass, the opportunity to abuse Americans.

June 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm
(77) ExtortionVictim says:

I’m interested in meeting with people that have received a copyright extortion letter from anyone. I live in Seattle. If you are interested please email me at innocentinfringer at gmail dot com.

July 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm
(78) KayD says:

I received one of these letters today. What I find really funny is that I don’t have a website. I have a blog but its under a different name that what was on the letter and all pics on my blog are my own.
Another fun twist to this is that the image I infringed is a picture of a house, I’m a real estate agent so pretty sure I can take a picture of a house on my own, no need to steal one.
The last page that has all the information on my supposed company shows an address, phone number, email – none of which would connects to me in any way.

July 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm
(79) Better Business Bureau says:

I recieved one of these letters ~2 years ago. I immediately removed the picture I had obtained through my web designer and responded with a letter that I complied with their cease and desist order, but would not pay the ~$2,000 they were asking for. After a few letters and emails, they sent me to a collection agency in Florida.

Quickly after being contacted by the collection agency, I sent complaints to the Better Business Bureau for both Getty and the collection agency. The collection agency quickly dropped my case after the BBB stepped in. I have not heard from Getty since, it’s been almost 16 months.

I highly recommend using the BBB, they worked well for me.

Good luck to all dealing with this extortion, please spread the word that Getty is not a company anyone should do business with.

July 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm
(80) Ginni says:

they have 65 complaints on the BBB website. Getty should be put on national television. Let the people know what their intent is. To Scam people out of money. There should be an class action lawsuit placed against Getty Images. They are prying on people whom don’t know any better, that don’t know about copy right laws. If you don’t want any one to use your images don’t put them on the internet and most definitely not a free image websites, mine came from photobucket… Or stamp them with your logo, to prevent them from being copied from the internet. Just like a lot of photographers do to protect their copyrights. My daughter is a photographer and doesn’t put any photos on the internet that she doesn’t want to be copied, by others… If someone wants to purchase the photos they go to her website and purchase them. She doesn’t put them any place else besides her website.. with her company name stamped across her photos… to prevent people from copying them. What about miners that are copying and pasting for school projects. Mine was a student in high school that was in graphic and web design class and designed my website for extra credits to get into college.. She had taken the photo off of photobucket, as instucted by the teacher. i like the website and didn’t think about any copyrights. Because the school is getting all there images from the internet… Stop Getty from riping people off…

July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am
(81) Prissy says:

I guess I’m part of the grouyp now! I received my settlement demand yesterday. For $800.00. For one thumbnail image.

I was given this tiny mommy site by a friend who’s son commited suicide. She wanted to get rid of everything and move and start over. No way in Hell will I give up her name to them or accept responsibility for for such a small simple mistake she may or may NOT have made.

Seriously one image out of about 400 on her site? She was not the kind of person to scam anyone’s images, always above board and respectible. I’m not that kind of person either. I have a subscription with iStock. The site makes a whopping $12 a month. It costs me more to keep it up than I make.

I will NOT pay them and if they file with a collection agency I’ll go to the BBB and let you all know what happens.

July 20, 2012 at 4:22 am
(82) miriam says:

I recently had the same problem, I received a letter from Getty demanding money for an image I had used on my website. After a few weeks of worry and a bit of research I found a company who deals with this Getty scam and for only a minimal charge they took on my case. Do not pay Getty as I never did and the problem has now gone . Try them http://www.copyrightinfringement.org.uk

July 22, 2012 at 11:20 pm
(83) Lahle Wolfe says:

Thank you for sharing this valuable resource!

July 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm
(84) Wolf says:

Getty is full of it totally. Someone hacked a friends web site and put a picture on it. The picture was so out of the theme it was funny but the next day the company got a letter. The timing of the letter was less than 24 hours. My friend received a notice that something had changed on the web site found the picture and removed it. Still the letter was there the next day. Total BS . . .

July 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm
(85) Bob says:

I received “the letter” from Getty and here’s what I did. I looked up the US internet copyright rules at:


and click on “§ 512. Limitations on liability relating to material online” Go to about the 6th page of this document where it says:

(1) NO LIABILITY FOR TAKING DOWN GENERALLY. — Subject to paragraph (2), a service provider shall not be liable to any person for any claim based on the service provider’s good faith disabling of access to, or removal of, material or activity claimed to be infringing or based on facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent, regardless of whether the material or activity is ultimately determined to be infringing

I sent this to Getty with a cover letter telling them to read the friggin law and don’t contact me again. Haven’t heard from them. DON’T FALL FOR THIS EXTORTION !!!

July 30, 2012 at 9:53 am
(86) Lahle Wolfe says:

Excellent resource Bob. Thank you for sharing this information and for refusing to take bully tactics lying down!

August 1, 2012 at 11:45 pm
(87) Art says:

Well I just recieved my Getty letter, I have a small business where I provide promotional and marketing ideas to business and non profit organizations. As a small business owner I do business with a large promotional company and bucause I due business with them Getty is holding my business liable for an image that Getty claims was posted on their web site. Well I’m glad I came across this web page. I am not going to deal direct with Getty Im filing a complaint with the BBB and if Getty continues to pursue this matter I will start talking to many attorney friends of mine and to see if any of them will be interested in looking into this matter and start class action law suit. Oh did I forget to mention that my full time job is in the legal profession. I wil be signing that petition.

August 10, 2012 at 9:41 am
(88) Getty is a scam says:

We need to fight back these evil getty extortionist! Lets start using their pics and distribute on free pics site, so they can waste time sending those extortion letters that we usually ignore.

If anybody knows other ways of getting back at them please mention in these comments….

I hope getty will be sued by everyone until it goes bankrupt!!!!

August 10, 2012 at 10:06 am
(89) Gettyidiot says:

Take my advise….never pay for any settlement…fight this in court if it ever comes to it…

August 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm
(90) sell cell phones says:

Appreciate the recommendation. Let me try it out.

September 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm
(91) Marcia says:

Has anyone ever filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission? I received my first letter back April 14, 2011, then again on June 18, 2011 and never heard from them again until today, Sept. 10, 2012, I received the famous NCS IP SOLUTIONS, LLC letter. Anyone have any advice as to what to do? My credit is going to go down because of this NCS collection letter! We have a excellent credit standing! Any advice would be appreciated. I saw the link for the internet copyright right in the U.S. (where I reside) so I will print that out. I HATE THIS!! I had to deal with Fortune Learning System and now this!!! Which is in Federal court due to Federal Trade Commission taking them down. So, if anyone has filed with them, let me know so I can be on the list! If not, I may contact them myself and start something so we can all be included!

October 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm
(92) Michelle says:

Hello All !! Check out this website–> http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6558/125

Cdn Fed Court Says No Copyright Infringement For Linking, Posting Several Paragraphs from Article

Monday June 25, 2012

The Federal Court of Canada has issued an important decision involving copyright and posting content online. The case involves a lawsuit launched by Richard Warman and the National Post against Mark and Constance Fournier, who run the FreeDominion website. Warman and the National Post sued the site over the appearance of two articles and an inline link to photograph that appeared on the forum. The court dismissed all three claims.

While the first claim (Warman’s article) was dismissed on the basis that it took too long to file the lawsuit, the legal analysis on the National Post claim involving an article by Jonathan Kay assesses the copyright implications of posting several paragraphs from an article online. In this case, the article was 11 paragraphs long. The reproduction on the Free Dominion site included the headline, three complete paragraphs and part of a fourth. The court ruled that this amount of copying did not constitute a “substantial part” of the work and therefore there was no infringement. The court added that in the alternative, the reproduction of the work was covered by fair dealing, concluding that a large and liberal interpretation of news reporting would include posts to the discussion forum. The decision then includes an analysis of the six factor test and concludes that the use was fair.

November 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm
(93) Jimbo says:

I just had a similar issue but feel more comfortable after reading this thread. Getty are definitely using a SHARP PRACTICE here and the best way to hit back is:

1. Ignore their demands – they will soon stop.
2. Google Getty Images and ensure that you find the Google Ads Pay Per Click link and click on it – that’ll cost them!!!!

Imagine if a couple of hundred thousand people did that every day, they would soon wake up to reality and ethics!!

Get clicking

November 9, 2012 at 7:28 am
(94) david says:

I just got my third escalation from Getty. This is becoming a serious hassle 700 dollars for a tiny little picture that was on my website for about a month. That’s about 600 * the amount of money the site ever made me. Does anyone know if Getty has ever taken anyone to court? Or if they were going to take you to court would it be small claims for something else

December 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm
(95) Ann Harrison says:

I received a large envelope from Getty Images that held a printed screen shot of a blog post of mine which contained an image of a cocktail, and bill for $780.00 for the use of the image. Their letter stated, even though I may have used the image without realizing a cost, I still had to pay. I was shocked. Any time I use an image I search for “free on-line images” and use from that library.

I immediately went to my blog, removed the image, and called Getty Images about the situation. It was a Saturday so I left a message stating that I am a tiny, little “mom blog” and this demand was overwhelming. I told them I removed the image.

I sent messages out to my Twitter and Facebook followers and shared my experience on other social networks. (I was guided to this post on About.com many times.) The comments helped ease my anxiety but I was still nervous.

Five days after receiving the bill from Getty Images I received an e-mail from them with the bottom line of me not having to pay, the case was closed. They said this after basically chastising me for using an image without paying for it and stating that I should have known better, blah, blah, blah.

This stress was so unnecessary. It’s one thing to notify someone that they are using an image without permission, but to claim the only recourse is to pay for the image, not remove to avoid payment, shows that they have no idea of what’s going on with social media and how to handle themselves as a business. This could have been handled SO MUCH better.

December 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm
(96) Woman in Business says:

Yes, I got the letter too. Tried to explain to D. Bieker of GI (website developer, etc). And I asked him some questions. He simply referred me to GI’s website rather than waste his “valuable” time answering. I had the image removed and made an offer to settle it ($100) which he rejected. After all… he has expenses, I’m sure! So after adding several times to what I “owe” and giving me threatening, short deadlines (due to us in 2 weeks, etc), GI has now escalated to McCormack the attorney… who promptly doubled the amount I “owe”. I’m writing them a nice letter. But they will need to take me to court if they want one red cent. I have a nice paper trail to share with BBB and the State of Washington AG office first, though.

January 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm
(97) Getty Images LOL WHAT A SCAM says:

JUST DONT PAY. What are they going to do sue??? Who cares its a judgement which you never forced to pay because it on your LLC. When your done with your company just file bankruptcy / or dissolve the LLC and that’s it! HAVE A GREAT DAY GETTYIMAGES.COM LOL. Not to mention they have to hire a lawyer located in your state to file against your company.

January 18, 2013 at 1:12 am
(98) Lahle Wolfe says:

Be sure to read my update posted on my blog 01/17/2013.

Getty Images Sued Over Copyright Infringement And Loses, Big

Getty Images has been sued by a photographer who accused Getty of taking and using his photos without his permission. Getty lost, big time.

This proves what many have suspected — Getty, at least in this case, was asserting copyrights to images that they did not have rights to in the first place. They took the images from Twitter (posted by the photographer) and began using them for profit stating that because they found them on Twitter they were fair game.

Before you pay on a Getty claim demand they prove that they have rights to images.

January 26, 2013 at 7:43 am
(99) Go Get Getty says:

Recieved my letter over two years ago demanding £700, followed a month later with a so called final demand. I ignored both letters and considered the matter closed, however about a month ago I recieved another from a collection agency apparently working on getty’s behalf which I ignored, followed 2 weeks ago with another and finally yesterday 25th Jan 2013 I recieved a phone call which was quickly ended.
The fact of the matter is, these people are depending on the few being scared into paying. DO NOT PAY them a penny. The only time I will act on this issue is if a court summons is issued and will more than happily have my day in court.

Though getty will not take the issue to court as it costs. UP YOURS GETTY THIEVES.

January 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm
(100) Bonnie D. says:

What a pain. My situation started over a year ago. I’m a tiny company of ONE. I immediately removed the picture Getty claims I stole. My web guy found this web site which I must admit did calm my nerves a bit.
Then….I recently received a letter from McCormick law firm. Here we go again. This time the amount has gone from $965 to $1508.
I spoke to an attorney and he said to send them a letter requesting the copyright registration number for the image.
Yesterday I received a phone call from an attorney from the McCormick firm. He told me they would settle for $800 to be paid by THIS Friday. I told him I didn’t have $800. He said to put it on a credit card. I told him I didn’t have a credit card. He said yes you do…everyone has credit cards. He then said use a debit card. I told him I didn’t have $800. in my account.
Not knowing where to go with this….and not wanting to hurt my credit, etc…I started calling the BBB and the Consumer Protection Agency. No help there.
I started digging thru the web for any information. I found some interesting stuff. I want to share one of the sites with you.
http://www.stopgettyimages.com Check it out….. it was like reading my mail….right down to the example letters they show.
Not sure what I’m going to do….probably just wait for a court date. Do some homework folks. There are lots of us being harassed by Getty.
Good luck. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what to do.

January 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm
(101) Rich says:

We have been dealing with Getty Images for over 7 years for our clients. We purchase all images for our clients from photo sites, but every once in a while our programmers use public images.

Having dealt with Getty images on 7 or 8 cases, they are all the same. They send a few letters and if the amount is enough, they might even send a collection agency after you.

The fact of the matter is simple – THERE IS NO JUDGMENT AGAINST YOU. They have to go to court and PROVE that you violated a copyright. They they have to prove the amount in damages is equal to what they are asking. They have never gone to court, there are no judgments against anyone. We go so far as to write letters for our clients that we will represent them in court and pay any legal fees if this issue ever goes to court. On 8 occasions, nothing!

Just IGNORE the letters

January 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm
(102) Lahle Wolfe says:

Thank you Bonnie D. and Rich. I love the site http://www.stopgettyimages.com and promoted it (with a thanks to you, Bonnie) on my blog. The more people know, the less power Getty has.

Rich, you make a good point – no court date no judgment. Getty cannot even legally send you to a collection agency because it was not established you had a debt to them. If they do, take legal action against them right away.

January 31, 2013 at 2:10 pm
(103) kATHY says:

I think Getty is a big rip off!….. Just had to give them $811 for the use of a picture. This is BS, and I will NEVER USE GETTY for ANYTHING. It’s a shame there is such EVIL in the world…I have one word for you “Mr Getty” – KARMA will GET YOU!.

January 31, 2013 at 2:10 pm
(104) kATHY says:

I think Getty is a big rip off!….. Just had to give them $811 for the use of a picture. This is BS, and I will NEVER USE GETTY for ANYTHING. It’s a shame there is such EVIL in the world…I have one word for you “Mr Getty” – KARMA will GET YOU!.

February 1, 2013 at 4:10 am
(105) Duane Darling says:

I’m a professional photographer, copyright is a key foundation to my profession.  Without such protection people could simply take my work and use it without compensation. How would I pay my mortgage and the multitude of bills required to run my small business?

I have NEVER used an attorney or sent a demand letter, usually a simple phone call to the offending party is sufficient for them to realize the error of their ways and many like the images and are willing to pay my licensing fee for its use.

I would NEVER license my photography to ANY stock agency for a multitude of reasons, mainly due to the fact that they typically take anywhere from 60% – 80% of the sale leaving the photographer which has created the work only 40% – 20% of the sale.

HIRE a professional photographer DIRECTLY.

1) You will know for CERTAIN about the copyright status of the images you use
2) The images you use will be UNIQUE and will help you better differentiate yourself in the market place.
3) You will be supporting a small business owner in your community and keep money circulating in YOUR community.

In my experience and the experience of my clients it is well worth it to help your business thrive in the long term.  In an age of mediocrity and cheap stock photography your potential clients will see the difference and likely be more willing to do business with you.

February 1, 2013 at 9:56 am
(106) Lahle Wolfe says:


Great inside information into stock photos. I had no idea these companies took such a ridiculously large percentage for your work. I also like the idea of supporting local businesses.

My daughter is an amateur photographer and for a personal blog she does her own photos. For a professional blog, given the scam industry of stock photos it makes good sense to go with a professional. It may seem the more expensive route, but as most who have been targeted by Getty (and a host of other stock photo companies now sending settlement demand letters out) hiring a pro pays for itself if only to safeguard against the hassles and expense of potential copyright infringement.

I do think the laws should be adjusted in regards to stock photo companies. Right now if I purchase in good faith rights to use an image and it turns out the stock photo company never had the rights in the first place, I can still be held financially liable. So how do we know if we can trust a stock photo company? Guess the simple answer is, we really cannot.

Thanks for sharing your insights!


February 5, 2013 at 9:26 am
(107) Swede says:


I´m Marcus from Sweden. I just got a letter from Getty Images demanding 1200 $.

I´ve a very small business, and I dont have so much money.

What should I do? Ignore the letters? What can happen?

best regards

February 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm
(108) Tracey S. says:

I just received a letter from Gettyimages. When I first read the letter I was worry about and decided to search about “Gettyimages”. Know I’m calm and I ‘m more than sure this is a Scam. This website it is GREAT! http://www.stopgettyimages.com . Doesn’t make any sense, the letter shows the information which shows on the website, well they even don’t know my name ???
Well, I’m going to wait and see what happen. I’m more than ready to go to court.
Some people just don’t want to go to Work. it is easy to send a letter asking money. It is so many EVIL in this world. It is just sad. We are all trying to survive and someone send a letter asking for $900,00.
As it was easy to send money like that.

I’m going file a complain in all sources possible, BBB. well they are have 89 complains. Washington State Residents and others.

February 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm
(109) Guvna says:

Just got mine for a thumbnail used on my blog. They want $780 for an image that appears all over google images? There’s no watermark or any indication that its not free. Anyhow, Im glad I found this site. I will now ignore them. I took the image down, and practically any others on my blog. Assholes.

February 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm
(110) Bob says:

“Getty Images has been a bullying innocent copyright infringers…”

That’s a joke right? What’s next innocent murderers, innocent rapists, innocent terrorists?

February 25, 2013 at 11:54 am
(111) Lahle Wolfe says:

Point taken Bob. But the problem with companies like Getty is they often do not even have the rights in the first place. Innocent until proven guilty. Getty proves nothing. This scam was actually very popular in the 1980s when autoshops people never even set foot in would send people to collection agencies, even take them to small claims court, for repair bills that never happened. Thousands of people ended up paying these crooks when services were never even rendered. Getty does not provide proof of anything, they simply send threatening letters and being action without the formal “cease and desist” process. In their most recent trip to court, Getty lost. The judge found that Getty had stolen images and did not have the rights to them — but were guilty of doing exactly what they accuse others of doing — copyright infringement.

Don’t use images you are not permitted to use. Give proper credit with the author asks for specific credit. And be wary of stock image companies — some are legit, but many claim to have rights to the same images. You buy “rights” from one, and the other sues you. Stock image companies have also been found to see up sites that offer a free image in one place, but require payment in another. It is confusing to consumers at best. I began this series on Getty because I purchased rights to a stock image from one company that Getty later claimed was theirs. Getty would not show proof of ownership but kept calling my clients and sending threatening letters to them. To get Getty off my back (it was for a client) I coughed up $700. I will never make that mistake again. I will sooner pay a lawyer to fight back than another dime to Getty.

February 21, 2013 at 7:07 am
(112) Twisted Dolly says:

They are supposed to give you a 14 day period where they give you the chance to remove the said image. If you don’t after that period THEN and only THEN can they sue you.

February 22, 2013 at 10:27 pm
(113) Chris says:

I have also received this exact same scam bill of 1100 dollars!. with 14 days to pay or I will be sued. I had a tiny thumbnail image on my site that i got for free off the net. The image is found all over the net as i have done research now. Getty images clams to own it. even though other companies also claim to own it. you can purchase (Poster sizes ) of the same image from other companies for 29,99 where Getty claims the image is theirs and is worth 1100 dollars. Before doing research i feared the worse as there threatening email scared me to pay it right away or i would be sued! so i did and i removed the tiny thumb nail of scrambled eggs from my little site with in minutes. Big mistake! now after doing research i have discovered that this is a scam. I new even paying this something was not right. They even have a easy payment site to conveniently pay them to make this mater go away simple and easy. Its the perfect crime! I feel so angry for falling for it… and now I have got the police involved and the credit card company that are currently doing an investigation to hopefully help me out to return my money. PLEASE do not do what I did. as i fear they have won :( I hope someone will put a stop to them! this is not right! They purchase so much material even images that are free. They use these Spy-bots that surf the net day in and day out looking for image files that look like there material. Then with out any warning they come after anyone and i mean anyone with a bill of 600 to i read 5000 dollars claiming you own them for damages of not paying some license fee for their photographers under some fraud copy write law they claim to have on that image. They never even gave you a warning. That is not how this scam works and if your reading this that means you got scammed to. :( I hope you didn’t make the same mistake i did and pay them. I hope they get what is coming for them!

February 25, 2013 at 11:44 am
(114) Lahle Wolfe says:

Don’t pay unless they can prove — in writing — they have rights to the image. Getty lost a recent court battle and was found to have been reselling and using images it did NOT have the rights to in the first place.

February 25, 2013 at 10:36 am
(115) Jieranai Maier says:

I took so many, several 100+ pf digital pictures all over the world, over the years. I now saw that many of my photos are online being used by unauthorized web site/people.
I SHOULD hire a lawyer to go after them, better yet I should have a template and send out a letter asking for $350.00 per one year usage :) Good?

February 25, 2013 at 11:43 am
(116) Lahle Wolfe says:

Well, at $350 per use you will be undercutting Getty’s minimum demands by at least half! Copyright infringement is a serious offense, and it is unfortunate that others use your work without your permission. I frequently see my articles in their entirety reprinted on blogs and websites without even giving me credit. It is frustrating, but it is also time consuming for the average person to hunt down offenders, send out letters, and then followup to see if things are taken down. And if they are not taken down, what do you do? Go to court? I don’t, but a couple times I have contacted the website’s host company and reported the issue and let them deal with it — this works really well if you can prove your case to a host company because they will take the entire site down.

If I was a photographer trying to determine who was stealing my works, I would upload an image into Google Image Searcher which can easily find all instances of its use at a glance. I would first send out cease and desist letters, or a request for proper credit (getting inlinks and name recognition in itself can be gold to any business or professional.) But if your works are not registered before they are infringed, your legal rights are limited in terms of what you can collect. The Internet industry really needs better laws and legal remedies to help those who create works only to have them unfairly reused. The laws that apply to printed works just don’t really address the complexities of the Internet.

I do take infringement seriously — it is like shoplifting. But I do not support Getty’s practices at all. The fact that Getty recently lost in civil court speaks for itself. They stole images from the Internet and used them without the photographer’s permission — even the company was even trying to collect “damages” from others who used them without Getty’s permission. The photographer sued and won. So your best bet is to go after the source. Are your photos randomly being passed around? That is a really hard thing to police. But is there is some template company or stock image company that has taken them and is selling rights illegally, that you can find out. You’d be surprised how many stock image companies are doing that now and you may be seeing your works so frequently because someone out there has commercialized them on some “free” site or “$1 per image” site.

February 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm
(117) Mike says:

Got the letter dated Feb 19, 2013 demanding $780 for 1 photo; same as all the stuff on stopgettyimages.com.

I immediately removed the photo from my site.

Searched “United States Copyright Department Public Database” as is suggested at http://fs8.formsite.com/gettyimages/form1/index.html and did not see my image there.

Have an associate who went thru all of this 2 years ago – his Dad is an attorney and searched and found that Getty HAS SUED people – albeit, they were larger cases, involving multiple photos.

He wound up settling for $600 because he didn’t want to risk being sued for actual damages (even though Getty did not own copyright, they can still sue for damages).

So, I’ve this entire thread and considering what to do.

I’d like to hear from someone who has actually resolved this issue, someone who’s 2+ years down the road. What was your strategy, how did it work out, and how many photos?

My hunch is that for $780 and 1 photo, they likely wont sue me, but thats a big risk.

Some real case studies w/ experience/backup would be appreciated.


February 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm
(118) Home Business owner says:

We received a “settlement demand” letter in May and July of 2010. Totally ignored it and never heard from them again.

March 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm
(119) John says:

I agree with Mike. These complaints and stories are great – but I’d like to find out about a successful resolution without payment. Not just “never hearing from them”. I need to know what to say, and how to say it – exactly as it worked for a different party. I love the information on http://www.stopgettyimages.com/ but I’d like to hear more.

Hopefully someone will make it to the bottom of this post and respond.

March 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm
(120) Max says:

Successful resolution achieved. I got a letter on Saturday demanding payment for an image that had ended up on my hobby website that (in one section) displays designs of job-seeking designers. One of the designers sent in a piece that contained part of an image that they’d obviously pinched off Getty – this ended up on my site. I then got a Cease & Desist letter and an invoice for about £800 / $1200. My first instinct was to go on the offensive and get angry. Instead, I waited a couple of hours and wrote a hugely apologetic email, stating my case. This essentially stated that someone else had submitted the image which I had assumed was free of copyright issues. I apologised for the fact that my misinterpretation had led to the image appearing on my non-profit, non-corporate website. I then pleaded with them to withdraw their request for payment bearing in mind that I had not intentionally ‘stolen’ the image and that the entire portfolio section had been removed immediately after receiving their letter. I just got a reply reinforcing Getty’s right to protect the copyright, but waiving their claim in light of the nature of my website and the circumstances surrounding the appearance of the image. I was not expecting that, especially after all the bad press I’ve read.

March 13, 2013 at 12:38 am
(121) Amanda Lewis says:

I just received a letter from Getty saying that I stole 2 copyrighted images more than 3 months ago, and they want me to pay them almost $2,000.

I sent this information to my attorney and I am waiting to hear back from him. It’s about time to fight fire with fire- I will sue them for harassment if they contact me again.

I did as they asked in the letter and removed the images from my website’s blog and from my social media-even though the letter didn’t even target my social media. These guys are a joke. I will not be screwed over like this. I am a small business owner who has been in business for less than 2 years and it’s just me.

I am in shock.

PS: Can you guys please put the new comments up at the top instead of the old comments?

March 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm
(122) Mike says:

Hey John,

I sent Getty an email today. When/If I can close the issue, I’ll let you know how it turns out.


- feel free to drop by my site at mikemunter.com if you want to get in touch directly

March 15, 2013 at 1:56 am
(123) John says:

It might interest you to know that Getty has never actually sued anyone for being what is considered an “innocent infringer.”

I’ve also received the Getty extortion demand, and after careful research, composed a response letter. Hopefully it will be self-explanatory.

The following letter should be mailed to the sender within 10 days of receipt – and the dates changed to indicate the appropriate time frame – as well names, image(s) sizes, etc. Send it receipt requested and retain a copy for your records.

Since the max character count is 2000, this will be 2 posts.



January 1, 2013

City, State zip

Re: Case No. xxxxxx

city state zip

Dr. Mr/Mrs Smith,

Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. Please be advised I will need additional details from you regarding the alleged infringement. My webmaster who created the website on my behalf believed that the image was in the public domain. The image had no watermark or any indication of copyright. Still, to exercise caution, and without admitting any liability, the image in question has been deleted from my website and from our Web hosting server. Thus, any cease and desist demand should be fully satisfied now.

I regret that the image was ever used on my website; I never liked it anyway. And I am astonished at the demand of payment for $1,044.61 in your letter. To me, this amount of money seems very disproportionate to the alleged infringement (of a single, tiny image), especially in comparison to Getty’s potential, actual damages.

March 15, 2013 at 1:57 am
(124) John says:


To most observers, I could be considered an “innocent infringer” at best; and as I’m sure you know, such status would limit statutory damages to $200.00 per infringement. And further, as you know, you would only be able to obtain statutory damages if the photographer or Getty had actually registered the image with the US Copyright Office. I suspect Getty never registered this image; that is why I would like to see the registration.


While you have provided details purporting the image is in Getty’s catalog, I have not seen compelling proof beyond mere assertion that Getty owns and enforces the license to this specific image.

Before I can decide on a negotiated settlement, or even on what course of action to take, I will need explicit proof that Getty has an exclusive, legal claim to the image, or to the exclusive rights to the image. So if you will, please provide this proof to me at your earliest opportunity.

In closing, I will expect a response from you within 10 days of receipt of this letter, and no later than January 12, 2013. If you do not return the requested information as detailed above within this time frame, I will consider your aforementioned demand(s) fully satisfied and this alleged infringement matter settled.


your name

sign here

March 15, 2013 at 11:46 am
(125) dave says:

Received my letter yesterday. Called our attorney who immediately became enraged. Sent copies of the letter (mine did not suggest which image may be in violation). Will update as new information permits.

March 15, 2013 at 10:34 pm
(126) John says:

I might mention that the 2 part letter (above) I composed and sent to Getty required proof of exclusive rights within a 12 day time period. Getty of course could not provide this ‘small’ pesky detail. Instead, I received one more cookie-cutter demand asserting their right to sell the image (again with no proof of legal claim) and that was it. I’ve never heard from them again and it’s been about three months. The end.

March 21, 2013 at 10:57 am
(127) Jim says:

Received mine today 21st March 2013 replied similar to above asking for proof. I drew support from Mr. Coyle http://www.gettyletter.co.uk/statement.html who advises what to do in the first instance. I would suggest writing to your local MP / Senator asking them to ask a question in the House and highlight this scam hopefully forcing Getty to retreat.

March 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm
(128) Jack says:

We also received the letter from Getty and they ask $1000, we will do the same thing as most people will do, ask them to provide the ownership for that image we won’t pay them! Thanks for all the advise l

March 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm
(129) Dr. Ted Rothstein says:

March 22, 2013
I’m an orthodontist–Brooklyn,NY. I received my Getty demand/threatening letter for $1065 Mar. 17 for an “innocent infringement” of a single image of a burning Jewish oil lamp place on my website elucidating a video with an educational document relating to a Jewish ritual performed daily by orthodox Jews which contained the infringing image. I removed the image the same night and let them know by email to which they responded on the 19th with a “Settlement” offer of $850 (How generous of them). I was immediately devatated until I found this site and learned just how many of us have been sent the same letter. I consulted my attorney who counseled that I “do not repond”, but that I should save all subsequent emails from them. I called the Attorney General’s office (AG Bob Ferguson (Out-of-State 360 753 6200; in-state 800 551 4636). They were well aware of GettyImages and had a voluminous dossier of Gettyimage complaints using this “speculation billing” approach. The dossier is available on request–SEE REQUEST FORM: http://www.atg.wa.gov/OpenGovernment/RequestAGORecords.aspx
They said absolutely to file a complaint with the AG–I did!! SEE FORM: http://www.atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx#Online
The Attorney General Home Page: http://www.atg.wa.gov/ Finally they recommended filing a complaint with the AG NY State (Eric Schneiderman 800 771 7755): http://www.ag.ny.gov. I DID! QUESTION: IF THEY DID FILE A CLAIM (Small Claims Court) do they have to file the claim in a NYC court where I am a resident . Stout heart fellows and be proactive. Google search: “Getty image scam” Thank you to the author of this site. Ted Rothstein drted35@ol.com (PS: let me know if you would like to see the verbiage in my AG complaint letter.)

March 29, 2013 at 11:22 am
(130) Dr. Ted Rothstein says:

Last week I sent you a note relating my experience upon receiving “the demand letter” from Getty. In my letter I provided readers with links necessary to obtain the entire Gettyimages dossier from the Attorney General State of Washington, and how to file a complaint with the office of the ATG. I note here that the ATG staff immediately responded to my filing and ispresently completing an investigation pusuant to it. As a result all further notices from Getty have been stayed until the investigation is complete. I would be happy to provide others with info upon request in an email to me although it is available in the “Say It! I sent last week. Dr. Ted, Mar. 29, 2013.

March 30, 2013 at 9:53 am
(131) I hate douchebags says:

This will be in several posts due to length

I’ve been receiving letters from Getty for about 3 years now. About every 3 to 6 months. Upon receiving the first, I called the web site designer immediately, and per the case I’ve seen on this thread most often, he had selected the photo in question off of a stock site and the said photo had no discernible ownership attachment. With hundreds of billions of photos circulating on the Internet, how is someone to be reasonably expected to keep track of this issue when a multi million dollar company with the resources of Getty Images can add watermarks to its images…and doesn’t, but rather, in a sleazy way, sets up people for copyright infringement knowingly? Apparently this has been going on for years and makes them look like scoundrels. I’m assuming this is the image they want! 

In any case, over the last year I’ve received 3 letters from the McCormack law office of intellectual property in Seattle who has taken this case against us on behalf of their client Getty. Each letter cites the case number, and references the website on which the image was found. The image was removed within days of the first Getty letter years ago, and at no time have we responded in any way to the letters. In fact, the site itself was dismantled about 2-3 years ago. 

March 30, 2013 at 10:01 am
(132) I hate douchebags says:

Part 2

Perhaps McCormack is phishing for suckers that will pay as Getty does? The last letter from McCormack stated it was the last warning. We chose to ignore these letters on the basis that asking $1800 for a single photo is preposterous, and it’s no easy matter to bring someone into court for an amount that will likely be determined to be $200 from what I’m able to determine from the responses to this thread. Further, a friend had researched the matter and concluded Getty had never pursued action on anyone. Still further, I would never allow anyone handling our marketing efforts to pay more than $2-$3 for use of any single photo…it’s just not necessary. No photo Getty has is worth $40 let alone $1800. If it comes down to it, I’m confident any judge, federal or otherwise would see that Getty is a sleazy company and at best, allow them minimum damages for any questionable infringement (questionable based on their tactics of setting people up) of copyright. This is why they don’t want to go to court, the net is not worth it, and the judge, though he may have some precedent binding him to providing some settlement, is not necessarily bound in holding the defendant responsible for the plaintiffs attorneys fees…and that makes the effort a huge loss. 

March 30, 2013 at 10:05 am
(133) I hate douchebags says:

Part 3

One more thing, I believe the 3 year statutory limitation has passed since the photo was removed. If I get a certified letter (anyone seen one from a Getty attorney yet?) I will contact McCormack, get his e-mail, and request via e-mail a Copyright registration number for the image. One poster on this thread that did this was contacted by McCormack and without providing this request, continued to press for payment, at a reduced amount…what does that tell you? I smell a douche! 

I will also quote from comment 85 on this thread, and formally request they cease contacting me or it will be considered harassment and be handed to my attorney for legal action against them! If anything follows, I’ll keep you posted, if you don’t hear from me, nothing happened yet!

April 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm
(134) Dr. Ted Rothstein says:

Lahle : Thank you for posting my second “Say It ! However, in my opinion my first Say It contained information that that your readers would really appreciate and find useful as in “take action” useful. So I am posting it again. Please feel free to edit it appropriately for this column: March 22, 2013
I’m an orthodontist–Brooklyn, NY. I received my Getty demand/threatening letter for $1065 Mar. 17 for an “innocent infringement” of a single image of a burning Jewish oil lamp place on my website elucidating a video with an educational document relating to a Jewish ritual performed daily by orthodox Jews which contained the infringing image. I removed the image the same night and let them know by email to which they responded on the 19th with a “Settlement” offer of $850 (How generous of them). I was immediately devastated until I found this site and learned just how many of us have been victimized by the same letter. I consulted my attorney who counseled that I “do not respond”, and that I should “save all subsequent emails” from them. I called the Attorney General’s office (AG Bob Ferguson (Out-of-State 360 753 6200; in-state 800 551 4636). They were well aware of GettyImages and had a voluminous dossier of Gettyimage complaints using this “speculation billing” approach. The dossier is available on request–SEE REQUEST FORM: http://www.atg.wa.gov/OpenGovernment/RequestAGORecords.aspx
They said absolutely to file a complaint with the AG–I did!! SEE FORM: http://www.atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx#Online
The Attorney General Home Page: http://www.atg.wa.gov/ Finally they recommended filing a complaint with the AG NY State (Eric Schneiderman 800 771 7755): http://www.ag.ny.gov. I DID! QUESTION: IF THEY DID FILE A CLAIM (Small Claims Court) do they have to file the claim in a NYC court where I am a resident . Stout heart fellows and be proactive

April 25, 2013 at 6:16 am
(135) Joe says:

Is there a way to find out if I am using an image that is owned by Getty?

April 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm
(136) Chris says:

Getty is 100% in the wrong. They are extortion specialists. Recently they contacted a client of ours because the 2 year usage expired on an image used on their website. There was NO warning or contact from Getty prior to their threatening extortion letter. Our client paid them right away, but the whole situation was embarrassing. I work for a small design firm and quite honestly, we do not have the manpower to keep track of licenses. Although they may be a conglomerate, there are other, better stock houses out there. It may be a difficult task, I have instructed our staff to NEVER EVER use Getty or any Getty-owned companies again. Over the years we have paid Getty over $50,0000 legally using their images. We have never knowingly tried to rip off any images, but mistakes do happen. As far as I’m concerned their extortion tactics should be illegal. And their defense that their extortion letters are intended to protect their photographers is a load of crap. They just want to line their own pockets and squash small businesses. We will use Shutterstock (Not iStock or Jupiter Images). We will use Corbis and any stock house NOT owned by Carlyle Group. Goodbye Getty!!!!

May 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm
(137) Jack says:

We sent them the letter and ask them to provide the evidence of owner they said they were unable to find the license of the image but they have right to collect the money they reduce the price from $900 to $450

So we send other letter to ask them to provide the proof the ownership of the owner and also the authorization from that owner, both of them must be notarized

If they cannot proof the ownership why we pay them, or maybe one day there is other company come to my door say that image is theirs and do we need to them too?

Guys don’t pay them!!!!!

May 7, 2013 at 7:09 am
(138) Twisted Dolly says:

I’ve commented before but just wanted to add – legally, what can they actually do if they don’t have your actual name? All my letters have been addressed to the company (I’m a sole trader) and there’s been no mention of my name.

May 7, 2013 at 10:28 am
(139) Lahle Wolfe says:

It depends. In the U.S. a sole proprietorship is the same thing as the individual — regardless of which name is being addressed in the demand.

May 16, 2013 at 8:01 am
(140) web hosting says:

Hanging out to get a weblog internet website is truly helpfull, Waiting the following posts.

May 22, 2013 at 10:55 am
(141) ET says:

Dont be scared with the Scam.

They dont have lawyers and their so called legal letters are completely false and illegal. Challenge Them In Court Because It will Never Reach Court. Their So Called Legal Fees Will Outway Any Costs They Hope To Achieve.

Check out Protection From Harassment Act 1977

Check out Section 97 Copy, Design and Patents Act 1988

Check Out The Money Laundering Act

Check out The Companies Act 2008

Check Out The VAT Act

May 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm
(142) ToMuchFraud says:

Glad to have run upon this site as I help research for a friend whom recently received such a letter. I have noticed that the site stopgettyimages .com has been taken down. This may be due to the recent lawsuit filed by Getty Images against Viral Images (hope I put in the link correctly, otherwise copy paste in browser).
This article was posted by the attny mentioned in several other posts. He, I am sure, is wanting it known that they (GettyImages) are indeed pursuing lawsuits. Reading this petition I was amazed at what details this attny used to discredit the defendants in the initial petition.

Stay tuned for part 2

May 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm
(143) ToMuchFraud says:

lad to have run upon this site as I help research for a friend whom recently received such a letter. I have noticed that the site stopgettyimages .com has been taken down. This may be due to the recent lawsuit filed by Getty Images against Viral Images (hope I put in the link correctly, otherwise copy paste in browser).
This article was posted by the attny mentioned in several other posts. He, I am sure, is wanting it known that they (GettyImages) are indeed pursuing lawsuits. Reading this petition I was amazed at what details this attny used to discredit the defendants in the initial petition.
It seems (at least by reading the petition) that the defendants ALLEGEDLY used the images (i believe I counted 8) repeatedly on several websites they designed and even after being issued the 1st letter continued use. And they also ALLEGEDLY were the creators of the stopgettyimages site as well as a site to dis the Getty attny.
So, this seems to have twisted the knife so deep that Getty feels they have a case. In skimming the attachments, of the 12 (correcting the # from above) images, only 2 have official copy-write docs – one from ’06 and the other in ’10. The other 10 have been applied for but not until March of this year or after – all AFTER the alleged use by the defendant and prior to filing this petition.
See part 2 below

May 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm
(144) ToMuchFraud says:

Part 2
So, this seems to have twisted the knife so deep that Getty feels they have a case. In skimming the attachments, of the 12 (correcting the # from above) images, only 2 have official copy-write docs – one from ’06 and the other in ’10. The other 10 have been applied for but not until March of this year or after – all AFTER the alleged use by the defendant and prior to filing this petition.
Of course, there are 2 that appear to be properly licensed enough to possibly get an award. They chose this one due to the local of the defendant which is in CA but did business in WA where the vet offices are located. Thus Getty was able to file in WA.
This will be a case to watch as it will set precedent for future possible lawsuits of this kind. If the court awards damages for the images with ‘applied’ copy-write, GI will then have grounds to really go after the millions of users using images that ‘do not belong to them’ as all GI has to do is apply.
SICKENED at the thought, wish I had more faith in the judicial system of this country but I do not. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that this court is fair and reads the laws. Hope this defendant can afford an attorney with knowledge of the law. This may be a great time for such an attorney willing to do this case pro bono in hopes to then start a class action. – A possible name maker!

June 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm
(145) Ernie says:

I received a letter similar to the Getty Images letters, but this one is from StockFood America. Has anyone received an extortion scam letter from them?

June 12, 2013 at 9:17 am
(146) Laura says:

Yesterday (6/11/13) I received my SECOND demand letter from McCormack IPL. The first letter from them was almost a year ago on 8/1/12. Cut back to March 1, 2012 – Received first of 3 letter from Getty Images, several pages long including “snapshots” of the images that they found on my website. The 2 images were of standard Chicago landmarks that anyone could have taken. I was not provided any “proof” of the legitamacy of this claim. I IMMEDIATELY removed the images from my site THAT DAY, and I just let things go….. Seemed as I would receive the next 2 from Getty roughly 3 mos apart from one another. Then, the BIG ONE..from McCormack Intellectual Property Law! At this time, I called that office and spoke with someone there and told them I am a small-time realtor making about 9K net annually, and I have absolutely no means to pay them as I live alone and a roof over my head is my only priority right now! I thought that was the end, until receiving letter #2 from McCormack yesterday. Shaking my head right now, I am debating what to do with this, as my financial situation has not improved much, most certainly not anywhere near where I can pay them $2200 & change! (up from the original demand of $1560 from Getty). This is truly horsesh*t as to why they harass the “little guy”. You can’t squeeze blood out of a rock! Any feedback would be appreciated as to how I should proceed with this, as I just want these people to GO AWAY, yet I do NOT have the financial resources to do so!! Thanks~

June 14, 2013 at 10:20 pm
(147) Henrie Timmers says:

I’m seriously loving this!
One of my clients received a demand for payment for a single image to the tune of $1800 CAN.
I am NOT paying one red cent! When I create a site that needs a generic image – not a photograph, I do a Google Image search for Royalty Free images. Some legitimate companies do place images there with a link to purchase the image for $2 – $4.00 dollars. If the image is good enough I buy it. It is unlimited in time. Look at 123RF . com for cheap solutions.
What Getty is doing is hoping that the fear they put in their letters gets some people to pay. If only 10% do pay, they are making a good living at extortion!
I know there are Getty reps posting on this site – you can tell by the pro Getty and pro royalty fee posts. I’ve been a professionally published photographer for over 40 years and have NEVER gotten the kind of money for a picture they are trying to extort.
Getty does NOT want to spend the money on a lawyer to have this case tried in Canada. (even they claim to have a Toronto office)
The demand for payment wasn’t even sent via registered mail!
They post their images on free sites and then go with the bait and switch. (meaning they remove the free image and repost it with a big copyright logo.)
Hey, Getty! If you are listening (and we know you are), bring it on!
This is a public challenge to end your BS tactics!
I’m retired and have been writing code since 1970. I will represent myself and laugh every day you have to pay for a lawyer and the damages I will seek for my client and myself as I nail you on extortion! You bring the civil charge and I will turn it into a criminal charge faster than you can blink!
I sent you all my personal information when I replied to you regarding my client..

June 18, 2013 at 4:22 am
(148) Angie says:

I got my first letter in March of 2012. The image was of an obscure leaf that I used in the background of a webpage. I had used the image for just 1 week several months earlier, during the Summer of 2011. I know this for a fact, because I had been changing this page’s design weekly and since the Getty letter included a screen shot of the full page, I can pin point the week that they took it. I don’t know why they waited so long before sending the letter…..I guess to claim that I had used it for all of these months. The demand amount was for $1,175. I ignored the letter.
Several months later, I got another letter. I have now misplaced this letter, so I can’t tell you what the date was. But I’m going to say it was roughly 6 to 9 months later. It was basically the same as the first several page letter. I ignored this letter also.
February 15, 2013, I received a letter from Timothy McCormack, attorney at law. Letterhead “McCormack Intellectual Property Law, Business Law PS” This letter states that McCormack has been retained as legal counsel for Getty Images, and is now demanding $1,760. And of course, in bold and underlined type “by remitting payment, we can end this matter immediately.” From reading online, this is a very common tactic of Getty, so I also ignored this. (still crossing my fingers that this all will just go away)

June 18, 2013 at 4:23 am
(149) Angie says:

On April 20, I get an EMAIL from a paralegal at McCormack office, going on about infringement law, how I’m liable, etc. and that with only an administrative fee of $300, that they can put me on a payment plan to pay off the increased fee of $1,760. So that now puts me at $2,060. The email states that I have until April 30 to reply. They did not state “or else” demands. I ignored the email, but frantically scoured the internet for similar Getty emails. To date, I haven’t heard of anyone else being contacted by the paralegal.
I get the feeling that if I had my phone number posted on my site, that I would also be getting CALLS! Yikes!
I have a small personal website. It’s a website for my DOGS for goodness sakes. I like to show pictures of my dogs and fellow breed lovers like to see them. I am not a big business. I’m a stay at home mom that has a little hobby website, showing off my dogs. Now, Getty or Getty’s representative, is going after me for $2,000 for 1 out of focus 2 inch photo that I used for less than a week. Since they waited so long to send the first letter, I honestly couldn’t remember where I got the photo, but I know it wasn’t malicious. I always try to find royalty free photos. Now I know that just because they claim to be royalty free, that’s not always the case. But there was no copyright proof given by Getty either, in the letters.
As of June 18, 2013, I haven’t heard from any of them, but it’s only been a few months since the paralegal email.

June 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm
(150) Tudo says:

I received a letter from getty today and when I called they were very matter of factly going to collect $875.00 for that picture or take legal action. Amber are you a plant from getty images because what you said just wasn’t true here. I explained that there’s thousands of pages on my website and if by some chance one slipped thru the cracks I will have it removed, say I’m sorry and that’s it. But the man I spoke to said that’s not good enough.
I shall leave no legal stone unturned in exposing this company for what they are trying to do and that includes writing letters to the governor and every other governmental office that’s supposed to protect us from predators like getty images.

June 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm
(151) Henrie Timmers says:

Hey people! There is more than one plant in here!
(*sigh,* spies among us) :)
Okay on the 14th of June I posted my position on this in post number 147. You can read it there if you like.
My follow up… I received an email from Getty exactly ten days after that post, stating that they were now willing to settle for $900 if I pay by July 5, 2013.
If not, the gates of hell will be opened and I will be eaten and beaten by a pack of rabid lawyers. Or something like that.
My advice to them is – “Don’t hold your breath!”
I have never in my life as a programmer, (43 years now) stolen an image that was copyrighted.
I only use Royalty Free images or make my own.
I’m rather old and cranky and love a good fight. So a word of warning to the spies in here… The minute I get a letter from a lawyer demanding payment, I’m filing criminal charges for extortion!
It’s amazing to me how many websites and blogs are dedicated to people scared by Getty. Just do a search for Getty and lawsuits.

Oh. Damn… I violated their wishes when I said they offered to settle for $900. That’s supposed to be confidential.
Open up those gates boys, I’m comin’ through! :)

July 18, 2013 at 12:13 am
(152) kim says:

I had received my first letter about 6 months ago. I had got a call from my client who I had built a website for informing me about the letter. I drove straight to their business after work to pick up the letter. I had removed both thumbnails(that were obtained through a royalty-free site n had no watermarks of any sort)that they claimed they owned,the same day I got the letter. I looked at a govt copyright database and found out that the supposed copy written pics had no copywrite. So I ignored it. Today we received our second letter. I plan on contacting BBB and technically, can’t we sue Getty for slander and harming our businesses? This is completely embarrassing for any web designer/owner. They did not send a cease and desist and so I am thinking of sending them a picture of my butt(gonna add a watermark so they know they can’t legally use it) as my only response.

July 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm
(153) kissmya$$getty says:

We received out letter today from Getty and say we stolen the picture, well hard to steal it when it was on a website we purchased, so if they want to go after someone go after the people that sell the templates and get them for stealing your pictures. I am not going to pay 1 cent to them and I do have 4 attorney’s that would love to go to court with them and after we are done with them we will make sure they are out a couple 100k for their slander and extortions they use against hard working people. If the pictures are suppose to be copy righted then make sure you have water marks on them and sell them the right way, I know that a lot of people will just browse Google and grab a picture and use it, but then shouldn’t Google be liable for allowing pictures to be searched and used……come on people they are scammers do never pay a cent and it has to go to court for them to collect money against you, they cannot just sick an credit collection company on you with out being award through the courts.

July 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm
(154) Mike Judkins says:

These Getty letters are a scam. I got several and had never used any pictures other than my own on our web site.

July 23, 2013 at 10:25 am
(155) Ray says:

Simply hand the letter to a lawyer and let them take over. Getty will give up after 2 rounds of going back and forth. It’s simply not worth the legal fees to them.

July 24, 2013 at 9:15 pm
(156) jontu1996 says:

Has anyone had any experiences with http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/?They want $195 to send a letter to Getty and a second one, if necessary.

July 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm
(157) Chris says:

We have just started offering a new service to allow people to send a quick response letter to Getty. Please tell your friends and other business owners about it:



August 6, 2013 at 2:01 am
(158) Amanda Lewis says:

I left comment number 121. I figured that I would provide an update to the situation.. I have now received another letter about this Getty nonsense, this time from the “Tim McCormack” attorney who is being bashed on all of these different websites. I really need advice about this. Even though there is so much negative information about Getty and this Tim McCormack, it’s still a scary thing to deal with as a small business owner.


August 23, 2013 at 8:35 am
(159) GettyCanSuckMyDck says:

Getty totally extorted me… They found an image on one of my clients website I made for them. It so happened I was sold an image that was rights managed and they demanded $1900. Gave NO TIME to pay and said if I refuse they will just go after my client who would likely pay and i would lose as a client. I paid them. Karma is a bitch Getty.

September 3, 2013 at 7:04 pm
(160) photographer says:

I’m amazed at all you people crying because you got caught. I work for a living taking pictures. I’m not rich and work hard for my family. People stealing my pictures directly impacts my ability to make a living.

How would you like it if I came into your store and stole say something valued at $50. Would you let me walk out? sue me? do whatever it took.

Why then would you steal from me?

September 4, 2013 at 10:56 am
(161) Nate says:

photographer – you’re missing the point. I’m a photographer, too, so I see exactly where you’re coming from. However, most of these folks (including myself) gathered these images from sites that claim ownership and royalty-free usage. The rest used an image they believed to be freely usable based on other circumstances.

To your point – if you came into my store and took a brochure that you thought was free, but actually wasn’t, would I threaten to sue you? Would I expect you to pay 500% of the original cost of the brochure? Of course not. I would ask you to put it back or pay for it. Pretty simple.

Getty is probably standing on solid legal ground (just like I could threaten to fine you and send you to jail for stealing what you thought was a free brochure), but their tactics are poor, their letters are misleading, and they are using the same extortion techniques often employed by serial scam artists.

September 4, 2013 at 11:49 am
(162) About Legal Department says:

photographer – I am writing to inform you that posting comments on this Web site is a chargeable event. You should have paid before you posted, but since you didn’t, you will incur an additional fee to compensate us for our trouble.

Please remit $1,200 USD within the next 14 business days to avoid further legal action.

What? You didn’t know posting would incur a charge? That’s not our problem. It is your responsibility to make sure your actions fully comply with all rules, laws, and ordinances.

Thank you for your cooperation in this manner as we attempt to resolve it amicably and efficiently.

September 5, 2013 at 1:19 am
(163) Lahle Wolfe says:

Photographer – no one should purposely or knowingly steal other peoples intellectual property. The problem with Getty is that they send robots to crawl inside websites searching for images — even seeking access to directories where images may reside — even if they are not being used on the site. For example, templates that come with stock images. You swap them out but they stay a part of the template and even though you are not using them you get hit with a settlement demand letter for being in possession of images.

Note: Getty does not ever go after these template companies to get them to stop using their images. They go after novice web designers who do not know enough to purge images completely.

When Getty finds an offender, they do not send a cease and desist letter, but instead use what many attorneys are calling extortion to go after even those who are innocent. They are acting as judge and jury.

Getty was sued, and lost, for demanding payment for images they claimed to have rights to, but did not. Even if someone can prove that they paid for rights through another stock company in good faith, they go after the duped buyer and never, ever go after the companies illegally marketing their images. Why kill the cash cow?

No one is arguing here that photographer’s rights should not be protected. No one here is arguing that people should ever use Getty images without obtaining the proper rights. They are complaining about unfair practices that break businesses for no reason other than because they can.

September 9, 2013 at 10:48 pm
(164) Monike says:

The company Gettyimages, located on 605 5th. Ave. S. Suite 400, Seattle, WA 98104 USA has been scamming business with websites online since 1999, according to the BBB records. They are sending letters to the contact information appearing in the websites, accusing the business of “unauthorized use” of images property of them.

According with the information in the BBB, looks as they have a pre-formatted letter, because in there are carbon copies of the same I just received, including the supposed “fee” required for the “illegal” use of the pictures, which goes from $780.00 (mine) to $1225.00. In the last 3 years, BBB has 135 complaints for this issue.

The fact is that I tried to find in their website (www.gettyimages.com) the image # they mention in the letter sent to me, and the search result obtained literally said: “We found (0) Creative and Editorial image search results for: ” image # 872843-002 ” (http://www.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx?contractUrl=2&language=en-US&assetType=image&mt=photography&excludenudity=false&p=image+%23+872843-002). Even there is no proof that they hold a valid copyright for the images which property they claim to have.

With this black-hat strategy, they have been stolen money from honest small business owners for years, and I think that it is time to stop it.

September 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm
(165) Larry A says:

I’m a web developer, twenty years in business. Two clients previously received those letter, back in 2004-5 ish. They ignored them an nothing became of it.

Today, another client has received one. I explained it was my position and opinion to: (choose one)

1.) Ingore
2.) Write a polite apologetic letter, request more info, especially the copyright registration number, then ignore.

September 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm
(166) Harborcat says:

It would be appropriate to charge money if after finding said images, people did not immediately remove them.

Most of us used these pictures we believed to be “free” to use. As soon as someone says it wasn’t ok to use, good people remove them.

I got my letter and within two minutes, replaced the thing with another one. Big whoop. I still doubt it wasn’t free because the site I got it from seem more real than getty.

Getty (if legit) should shut the heck up and leave people alone IF they remove the image within a reasonable amount of time.

I must believe that any decent corporation would allow that to take place without all the empty threats. They should burn in hell for scamming innocent people.

September 16, 2013 at 12:26 am
(167) Kevin says:

Did you get a Getty letter?

Step 1. take a deep breath. Don’t panic. calm calm calm.
Step 2. Calmly, do a bit of on line research
Step 3. Ignore, or call an atty if you really want. BUT Do NOT pay them a penny. DO not waste your time and energy writing them, calling them , negotiating with them either, or explaining your situation. Ignore them and in 3 yrs the statute of limitation with expire.

They will threaten. Their attorney will huff an puff with some generic threat letters asking for ridiculous settlements. Stay calm. They are not allowed to send you to collections. And they do not actually sue. They never have.
Why? because they would very likely lose( or receive a puny settlement , thereby, setting precedent. A single precedent would destroy all their leverage in extorting money from small business owners.

Ignore. ignore. ignore and DO NOT PAY

September 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm
(168) Kevin says:

Quick follow up to my message above:

One good strategy I have read is sending Getty and eventually their attny a polite letter with these three points (from extortionletterinfo):

1) demanded proof of their ownership of the image;

2) informed them that, since there had not been a judgement or legitimate bill, they could not turn us over to a collection agency;

3) and, notified them that if they submitted valid proof of copyright ownership to us, we would be willing to settle for ___$.
___$ would be a fair reasonable value for the image. You decide. If it is a $15 image (for which they ask $1200!!!!), I would offer them $15-100 (for their troubles.) $200 at most which is what the judge would likely grant them in court for innocent error.

Of course your counter offer will not make them stop. They will ignore it or reject it. But, in the most extremely unlikely event they take you to court, you could show the judge that you tried to reason and work with them.

My situation: . I am about 1 1/2 yr into it with Getty. And above has been the info i have gathered so far. I have so far received 2 letters from getty and a more recent one from their attny Mccormick. I have decided to ignore them. No emails, or calls. When I get a 2nd (or may be 3rd) letter from the attorney, I may decide to write them the letter with the 3 requests above.

November 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm
(169) Tom says:

First, I wish this website would post the MOST RECENT responses at the top. Comments from 2 years ago are sometimes irrelevant. Second, our Association used 3 small photos that were given to a web designer years ago. They apparently were copyrighted. We got sued in federal court in New York City, although we’re located in the South. We were “covered” by this lawsuit by our insurance carrier because it was deemed an “advertising mishap.” The insurance company settled the $50,000 lawsuit (yes, $50K!) for $25,000 and paid the $14,000 attorney fee on our end as well. So don’t expect that if you get sued by Getty that they’ll file it in your hometown. They’ll make it so difficult that you’ll be forced to settle. I’ve been there. Now, unfortunately, no insurance company wants to cover our national association.

November 4, 2013 at 7:07 pm
(170) Lahle Wolfe says:

I am so sorry to hear about this! And, since so many have been asking if Getty has ever sued, this is valuable information to have. Thank you for sharing this horrible experience. I also agree with you — most recent posts should appear first. I will pass your suggestion along to the About.com tech team.

November 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm
(171) Fat Getty Rep on a Bike says:

Guys and girls, the answer is: IGNORE. Simple. Take down the alleged image, and IGNORE. You can sue them for criminal extortion because you have all the proof in front of you. As soon as they send you that letter, the burden of proof is on them, and they won’t provide it because they don’t have it so stop worrying. It’s a numbers game for them. Send out 5000 letters a month of $1000 fee, 500 people pay, they just made $50,000. Pretty good business model.

Don’t be stupid or fall for their tricks. I’m in Canada by the way and I could care less if they keep sending me letters. I simply recycle it for the environment and continue on with my day.

For those of you who paid immediately, it’s called Google, Research and Emotional control. Stop being little girls and caving into your emotions. Just do your research and you’ll see they got sued for the exact same thing.

Also if they aren’t suing Facebook for thousands of their images being stolen and uploaded on Facebook by users, then don’t worry.

Good luck!

November 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm
(172) Designer says:

The Government of Canada is choosing to ignore these threats. If you’re a Canadian, ignore them. If they take you to a collection agency, get a lawyer and open a law suit against them.

It really is extortion. In one case a small rural school used an image in a news article that only appeared for a couple of days and Getty came after them for almost $1000.00. Is that reasonable? Nope. It’s almost like loan sharking. The silly part was that the image was very poor quality — not typical of a high quality stock website.

The fact of the matter is, if the image didn’t carry a copyright notice on it and you used it unknowingly, they have no case.

November 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm
(173) Jonathan Winters says:

I am a trial lawyer here in California, specializing in civil litigation with experience in class action work.

I recently received myself an email from counsel for Ghetty Images demanding that I pay them money for “alleged copyright infringement”

I am disputing their claim and strongly considering filing a class action against them and all involved for potential violations of The Federal Rico Statute. 18 U.S.C. § 1961, violation of The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practice Act as well as California Fair Debt Collection Practice Act and other laws.

Anyone who wishes to join me or needs representation may contact me at my law office at:

Law Offices Jonathan D. Winters
2750 Bellflower Blvd., Suite 101
Long Beach, CA 90815
Phone: 562-497-0472
Fax: 562-497-0474

This is advertising Material.

February 9, 2014 at 12:08 am
(174) Sheepish says:

With billions of images offered for sale or use by millions of sites, image copyright holders should have a positive duty to place notices on those images.
Editor and Publisher reported on a new FREE technology available from a group in San Francisco that embeds information in the digital file – which anyone can then pull up – and the notice cannot be removed from the image digital file.
Getty should either put an easily readable (C) notice on the image itself or use that new technology.
Getty sold an image late 2013 to the Washington Post – which image Getty represented to the Post that it was a Getty copyrighted image.
Turns out it WASN’T – Getty had infringed on the photograper’s copyright, and did so for profit.
Let’s see how that turns out!

It is time for both a class action suit against Getty for unfair and fraudulent practicies, and for pressing Congress to prohibit such practices – allowing infringement claims ONLY if the copyright owner had placed the (C) notice on the image and ONLY after a cease and desist was ignored.

February 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm
(175) TW says:

They do this for even fair use photos. It happened to me. I downloaded a photo that had fair use with credit guidelines and bam, got a letter. I knew that I had done nothing wrong. So, I ignored the letter based on reading what has happened to other people on other sites. I ignored the 2nd letter. I ignored the 3rd letter. And then it all disappeared. If you know you haven’t done anything wrong, then ignore it folks! This is extortion. The moment you respond, that triggers a flag at Getty that they can get something from you. They should be sued for extortion.

February 23, 2014 at 10:27 pm
(176) internet-dude says:

I got one of these demand letters back in Jan/2011. The long and short of it was I just paid the $600. I did consult the big getty extortion info site and a lawyer and decided I’d just pay it and move on with life. I had no idea where I got the image from because it was up there for about 6 years (I’m sure I didn’t have a license) so I really had no defense. And, the amount was less than many other amounts that I was reading about at the time.

Now my business is incorporated which gives me better legal protection, I would probably ignore future letters from them. The company is total scum.

February 28, 2014 at 1:48 pm
(177) Novice says:

Same boat, received a letter Feb 24, 2014 from Getty images that we used their image. One of the letters developed overseas on a small business website has a picture which was taken from amazon.uk website. Until we got the letter from Getty we were not aware that the picture exists. Getty charging 475 for a month use on website letter Approached the Overseas company and they said it’s a open source image. Please advise.

March 2, 2014 at 10:13 pm
(178) http://overpassesforamerica.com/ says:

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March 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm
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(180) websites says:

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March 17, 2014 at 4:42 pm
(181) Jim says:

Talk to an attorney , my clients get these stupid notices all the time. just ignore them they will go away! out of the 20 people i know got these notices , just dont respond none of them were contacted again! ITS THE GETTY IMAGES SCAM ! THEY GET STUPID PEOPLE TO SEND IN A CHECK!!!! SCAMMERS SCAMMERS SCAMMERS! SOMEONE SHOULD REPORT THEM!!!! LOSERS, GET A REAL COMPANY!

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May 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm
(184) RA-FL says:

I love comment the comment about the “really informative” blog post from Timothy McCormack. He is the SOB that is working for Getty and sending these collection letters. I’m not sure what to believe anymore but I know one thing, it seems awfully strange that a party representing Getty Images is offering free legal advice on the internet. Talk about self-serving.

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May 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm
(189) RJD says:

Just received my Getty demand yesterday and admittedly lost some sleep over it. Just found this site and it seems to have some good information but not a lot of proven results associated with the correspondence unless I missed it.

In doing a Google search I found a May 5, 2014, article advising Getty just made its pictures free to use betting on its business on embeddable photos. URL follows:


I am not a legal professional but it seems to me that this may effect the demands that Getty imposes.

Our demand is for $1,369.77 in settlement if payment in full is received by May 16, 2014. We believe we obtained the photo off a free stock photo site. Our practice is to use our own or free stock photos and this is our policy as we believe in copyright laws but this is outside ethical business practices. There is little or no information other than their photo ID number on the website.

They claim they sent a email asking us to remove the image. I didn’t receive any such email. I responded as follows:

Dear Ms. Riley:

This is the first correspondence we have received on this subject so we do not have any screen shots or information on this subject.

We are very careful about what images we use, typically we take our own photo or use stock photos that are licensed free. We have very few photos that we use associated with a royalty fee and those we do have, we have the agreement on file.

You will need to provide us with the information that you have that alleges a copyright infringement. Thanks!

Informed advice/help would be appreciated. Thanks

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May 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm
(191) Anonymoose says:

Glad I found this site, I was pretty upset, this helped calm me down.

Just got my letter today. Said it was the second notice. Never got anything before. Letter had links to go to log in and see what images were supposedly poached.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to log in, don’t need to leave them with my IP address, or confirm I received their letter.

They’re asking for about $50. No specific deadline given.

My question is, if they send a letter now for one image and people pay, what’s to stop them from sending another letter for another image, and so on. ?

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