I will never deal with Getty Images or any of their other sites, ever. Not that I dealt with them before, really. I take very good pictures and usually use my own images for anything I post on my professional virtual assistant website.
Almost two years ago, I used a tiny thumbnail photo to accompany a blog post on a secondary page of my website. This page gets very little traffic. The photo was found via a web search for copyright free photos, was very low quality and I ultimately left it up for less than two weeks because I didn’t like how it looked on screen.
Last November, I received a letter that I thought was junk mail, was delivered via general mail, not even addressed to my name (only to my company name) and looked like a bad photocopy. Long story short, I was shocked to see that Getty Images was demanding that I pay them $850 USD for the unauthorized use of a copyright protected image that they apparently owned. Attached to this junk mail type letter was a very poor quality copy of a screen shot of my blog with the photo in question. No writing could be clearly made out, there was no date for this screen shot, and the photo itself was blurry and nondescript.
At first I could not even remember the photo, and then I was disgusted and surprised that Getty was demanding such an outrageous amount of money without even sending a cease and desist notice.
Their junk mail type letter mentioned that they had attempted to contact me several times without success, but I received no messages from them, no other mail and they did not try to contact me by telephone. I have caller ID and voice mail; therefore I know this for a fact. They lied in their letter.
It was all so ridiculous that I forgot about the letter for several months and did not hear from them during this time; until they started to have different people from NSCIP Solutions in Florida e-mail me constantly. These people only used their first names which I found quite bizarre and unprofessional. Their e-mails demanded that I pay $850 USD to “settle the matter”.
I sought out legal advice through a lawyer friend in Florida who found an IP law specialist near me who was kind enough to look into the situation and give me advice. At first, the recommendation was to ignore them unless they kept writing to me, demanding money. So when they continued their harassment, I went on the Getty Images website and determined that the cost of the image, in high resolution and for at least 2 months of use was $350 USD, which is nowhere near the amount they were demanding. I wrote to them with this information and received many e-mails from different people at NSCIP who did not appear to be talking to each other about my case, as none of them had a clue what the other had written or said. It was simply burlesque to see them trip over themselves, and very unprofessional!
I have recently started to receive offers – oh I’m sorry, I mean DEMANDS – to settle for lower amounts, starting at $659 USD, then $450 USD, and now they’re throwing around demands for $300 USD.
I keep asking them to stop harassing me and get their stories straight as one day I would receive an offer to settle for one amount, and a few days later a different person would re-send me the $850 USD demand.
This company’s bullying techniques are despicable and make me sick. I had no intention of infringing on any copyright laws and am sympathetic to photographers who need to be paid to earn a living. I am a freelance worker myself. However, I doubt that Getty owns most of the images in question (they flat out refuse to offer up any proof of ownership when asked) or that they give any of this extortion money to the photographers.
I have offered to settle for $150 USD which is more than generous in my opinion and is really only to get these assholes off my back and out of my e-mail inbox.
I know that Getty has been called out on this and is highly discussed online, but I doubt that they care. I think that the employees of NSCIP should be ashamed to work for Getty.
Avoid Getty Images at all cost! I know my colleagues and I will be avoiding them from now on.