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Lahle Wolfe

The Most Talked About Subject on Women in Business

By May 25, 2012

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Out of the thousands of posts and articles I have published on this site over the past four years, one topic consistently continues to be the most talked about:  The Getty Images Scam series I wrote exposing their unfair, or, at least, highly unethical, business practices.

Now, Matthew Chan, www.extortionletterinfo.com, has made it his personal mission to expose Getty's "legal extortion" campaign by freely sharing information about the budding industry of intimidating people into paying on copyright settlement demands.  His website is devoted to sharing information about how Getty preys on people and what victims can do about it.  But Chan does not stop with Getty, he also reports on other stock photo companies, businesses, and even attorneys who practice the "art" of barely legal scare tactics.

Getty is unreasonable when it comes to calculating it's demand "tort" values (tort in quotes because that implies there was a wrongdoing, and in most cases involving Getty there was no tort), but another far more disturbing (and ridiculous) instance highlighted on Chan's website involves a settlement demand sent to a website owner who used an image obtained from Flickr to promote the Lincoln Nebraska marathon.   The settlement demand price for grabbing an amateur Flickr image and its single use?  $9,000.00.

The reason I find it so disturbing is that the letter was not sent from some uncaring corporate stock image house that retains dozens of sometimes paralegals, sometimes not (but never actual attorneys) to do their dirty work in masses, it came from a solo practitioner.  If individual attorneys start jumping in on the scam cash wagon we should all start trembling because if you think Getty is tough with their in-house trained, collection-agency style worker bees, wait until you have to deal with an actual lawyer.

So please, do keep talking and sharing your horror stories on my site.  The input my readers have generously taken time to already share has helped others avoid costly mistakes and keeps the pressure on Getty.  But when you are done, trip over the Chan's site:  ExtortionLetterInfo.com. It's fun and informative.  In a scary kind of way, that is.

Cease and Desist Orders and Settlement Demand Letters

If you received a cease and desist order, take it seriously. If you are thinking of sending one, you might want to talk with an attorney first. Here's why:

Getty Images Cease & Desist and Settlement Demand Letters

Has Getty demanded an unreasonable amount of money for using an image without rights? What if the image was in a template you bought from someone else? Learn more about the dreaded Getty Images Settlement Demand Letter:

FAQs About Copyright Laws

Think you know all about copyright laws? If someone posts an unlicensed image on your Facebook page are you violating copyright laws?

May 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm
(1) JJL says:

I had this happen with Corbis images a few years ago. They sent me a demand for thousands of dollars for using one of “their” images on a website. Actually, what had happened was I scanned the image from a book published in the United States in the 1870s, a book and image well out of copyright. Yes, they also had a copy in their collection, a slightly different version — still, a public domain image! I sent back a rather angry letter to the highest management email address I could track down, and demanded an apology as well as written retraction. I got sort of an apology — typical “we’re sorry, it was an intern and didn’t follow instructions” — but I did get a written retraction of the bill sent. I’ve often wondered if they continued to do such intimidation; I hadn’t realized until I read your article that they were not alone.

June 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm
(2) Lahle Wolfe says:

Thank you for sharing your own horror story. I am glad to hear that you were able to get it resolved.

There is little doubt in my mind that Getty asserts rights that they may not have at times. People do make mistakes so your story is a perfect example of why it is important the people who get settlement demand letters ask for proof that the business asking for restitution actually has the rights to the image in the first place.

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