Re: Unauthorized Use of Getty Images’ Photograph – No Cease and Desist Letter?

June 17th, 2008 | Posted by i.nconspicuo.us in Finance/Investment | Random Stuff


Isn’t it a requirement to first send a Cease & Desist letter if someone is infringing on your copyrighted work or material? Getty Images seems to have just gone right past this step in sending out settlement demands to any company or person who has an image from the Getty Images library displayed on their website.

In my case, and I’m assuming that this is the case with many others, we hired a 3rd party designer to create our website. How on earth are we supposed to know if an image provided in that design is copyrighted? We certainly don’t have the time to scour through every image in the Getty Images library to compare our site.

How does Getty Images find their images on other sites anyway?
Getty uses a 3rd party service from an Israeli company called PicScout, Inc. PicScout searches for image matches by creating digital fingerprints of images in a catalog. It then sends webcrawlers out across the internet comparing images on websites against the Getty Images catalog. The PicScout engine will find images regardless of whether the name has been changed, the color has been altered, the image has been cropped, and probably more.

If you received a a letter from Getty Images – Re: Unauthorized Use of Getty Images’ Photograph what are your options?

  1. Pay the listed amount and let it be done?
  2. Ignore the letter?
  3. Hire an attorney and see what he/she can do to get you out of it?

Has anyone else dealt with this problem? Did anyone take actions via any of the 3 courses listed above? I’d like to make a post about each of the options so that people who have this same problem can use this as a reference to find out which option will best suit them.

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158 Responses

  • Chris says:

    I bought a domain to set up! No. Inconspicuous… I called them. They say any image is only licensed for a certain amount of time. We have had the image on the site for several years. So, we were only authorized by Getty to use it for a maximum of 5 years. Also, the person responsible for the images is the owner, regardless of third parties, etc. I believe this has become a money maker for them.

  • Thomas says:

    Hi Christopher, you’re in a tricky position. Most of us, including myself, recommend completely ignoring Getty. But you mentioned that you did purchase images from Getty. The tricky part here, is that if you do have proof of purchase, and you purchased those images in order to use them on the site in question (and/or the license doesn’t prohibit your use) then by all means, you have enough proof to close this issue completely. Tell them the order number and email address used to buy the licenses, and that should end all annoyances from them.

  • aniko says:

    I would be careful about getting in touch with them – I did that as I had paid for my images and had proof – they then started saying the images had not been used correctly, for the purpose intended, the website had a broader usage etc etc. basically twisting it around. I then took the advice from this site and never contacted them again and ignore all the letters.

  • meh says:

    I originally posted a message in Aug 2011, I thought I’d update my story as not many people appear to do.

    I recieved 2, maybe 3 more reminder letters. Ignored them all. Its now almost June 2012 and I’ve not heard a peep.

    Let’s see what happens in another 6 months or so, but so far so good.

    Thanks all

  • TK says:

    Technically getty is illegally crawling your website to pull all the (non-getty) legitimate images you have on there into their database. That’s worth the fight in gold right there.

  • alexis says:

    After receiving several demand letters from Getty for a photo I had on my (small) business site for about 2 months I replied to them noting I had not received a cease and desist notice and that I had taken the photo down. Last correspondence was early June 2012. Thought we were done. Oct. 12, 2012 I receive demand letter from McCormack (lawyer) with increased amount of demand due. Any experience out there that can help me deal with this?

  • Gettyhater says:

    Ignore this letter also. Do not reply in any way to it. This is just another tactic they are using.

    They will eventually stop communicating with you because they already know that they do not have a leg to stand on and if it did go to a court the maximum amount they can be awarded it the original cost of the picture and nothing more.

  • G says:

    Received my notice for an image that was put on my site 7 years ago… I am interested in speaking with anyone who is looking to go after a class action lawsuit.



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