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Web Image and Copyright Issue

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by fsvandewall, Sep 16, 2008.

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  1. fsvandewall

    fsvandewall Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Stoughton, WI

    We received notification from Geddy Images that we were using an unauthorized image on our website, and after removing it from our site they are seeking $900.00 in compensation.

    At no point did we intend to defraud Geddy Images or use this image to make money, in fact up to this point we didn't even know the image was on their website and all other images we used were paid for. A very hard lesson has been learned about using free images.

    The original image came from e-webtemplates.com, where after reading their terms of use, we felt we had covered our bases.

    After contacting Geddy to inform them that we received the graphic as part of the template from the other site, they stated:

    As the end user of Getty Images' imagery, you are ultimately responsible for insuring that you have obtained the appropriate rights to use the imagery. That means that if you acquire imagery from a web template provider or other such company, you are still liable for copyright infringement if that provider or other such company did not properly license the imagery for your use. We encourage you to contact the template company to address the issue directly.

    Are we better off just paying $900 to be done with this, or is this something that we have the ability to avoid?
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    You should contact the template company to address the issue directly. Why not do that first?

    This is disturbing. This is at least the 10th time I've heard about "grandmothers" getting bullied by lawyers for thousands of dollars for an innocent infringement that was result of being sold a license for that which an ostensibly bona-fide seller evidently didn't own. Copyright infringement is a huge problem but this kind of policing isn't exactly a solution and is more an issue of opportunism. If I have time I'll investigate this.
     
  3. WebJunkie

    WebJunkie New Member

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    Completely agreed.

    While legally I would guess from Getty to the OP, Getty could get a judgment for whatever they wanted (under the statutory copyright limits, of course), the OP would then have recourse against where the OP purchased the template.

    It's frustrating, but from what I know, I liken it to purchasing a stolen car and not knowing it. The real owner can get their property handled how they wish, but the purchaser then has recourse against whom they bought from.
     
  4. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    That's generous. Here's my example. When the real owner locates the car, they not only confiscate the car (and the purchaser is out the outlay money) but they also punish the innocent purchaser requiring him/her to pay an additional hefty fine on top of that for buying a stolen car that it would be next to impossible to certify was owned prior by another person. If I have additional time I would love to investigate this matter.
     
  5. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Interestingly enough, I found this web site about a New York Law School Professor taking on Getty Images - I served as a judge for a moot court competition there and will reach out to him. In short, I agree with what is written - Getty will very likely not take you to court and is simply looking to intimidate people to obtain settlement offers for innocent infringement, kicking the innocent victim (out their money for the purchase) in the teeth with a punitive damage. I'll let you know what happens and perhaps write an article in our new journal, coming in October. :D

    Here is another interesting article on the UK Law, which apparently states that British law requires some knowledge of infringing materials by the alleged infringer. Absent that knowledge/bad faith requirement, punitive damages are not awarded. I haven't looked into the veracity of this article but, on the surface, it appears the authors work is comprehensive and honest.

    Most important is that from my reading, to date, there are no known cases where Getty Images actually sued an alleged infringer but a very high bounty may have been awarded to a company called "Picscout" to locate these pictures which eventually obtain money through intimidating letters.
     
  6. WebJunkie

    WebJunkie New Member

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    Yeah, okay, you got me there. I did miss out on that added bit. Very to the point.

    On your last post, very cool. Glad to hear they've not yet gone RIAA with things, but still ridiculous that they take the route they do. Perhaps they've just found people respond quicker to the takedown notices when there is a bill attached. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall of the office of those in charge of that decision.

    Fortunately for me, I'm a developer, not a designer, so I'll not have that /particular/ problem to deal with on the business side. But it sure makes me worry a bit more when I have to get templates for clients. :)
     
  7. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    The whole situation isn't palatable. This is why it is VERY important to make sure that when you set up your business, you call a good attorney to set you up properly. ;) Best of luck and glad we're all educated better on this important issue - thanks for raising it.
     
  8. fsvandewall

    fsvandewall Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you very much for the insight. I should have mentioned that we did attempt to contact the website directly. It was no surprise that they never responded via email, and had no phone number listed on their site.

    Using WhoIs, I was able to find that they registered their domain through GoDaddy.com, and called the phone number listed in the registrar. No surprise that there was no returned call.

    We shared this information with Geddy, and their position was still that it was our fault, and we were ultimately responsible. From a legal standpoint I agree. Although one would hope common sense had some place in this fight. We did not make a profit from the image, we removed the image when notified, and yet we're pretty much stuck with having to ignore Geddy then have an amicable resolution.
     

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