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

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.

How To: Pay Off Your Mortgage Years Early by Blogging

This is a guest post by The Mortgage Blogger

Over the past few years, I’ve started many blogs, all of which I have chosen to monetize through advertisements, affiliates, etc. Recently, I’ve started a project (a new blog) where I’ll be monetizing my blog and using all proceeds to apply additional payments to my mortgage. My goal with the blog? To cut my loan repayment time in half (see Pay Off Your Mortgage in Half the Time). Why did I set my goal to half the time? Why not 1/3 the time, why not in 5 years? Here’s why:

  1. Choose timeframe – Cut loan time in half
    I currently have a 30 year loan at an interest rate of 6.375%. Of my $1,500/month payment, only about 15% goes to principal – this is the primary reason that I am aiming to pay off my loan in half the time.
  2. Choose method – Double Principal Payments
    To do this, I need to make double principal payments each month. Since payments to principal start out very small at the start of the loan, it will be more feasible to match each principal payment at the start.
  3. Generate revenue – Make Double Principal Payments
    As my blog grows, and hopefully begins making more money, my mortgage payments will require me make larger payments to principal – as the balance gets paid down, a larger percentage of each payment will go to principal and a smaller percentage will go to interest, thus requiring me to make a larger additional payment – hopefully I’ll be able to fund this through my blog income.

Please comment and let us know if any of you have experimented with accelerated mortgage payments. And keep an eye out for links to my new site (I don’t want to release any links to the site until I have some decent content up on the page).

-The Mortgage Blogger

Double Principal Payments – Mortgage Acceleration – Pay Off Your Mortgage in Half the Time

I’ve been asked by quite a few users about the benefits of adding additional principal payments to the loan with each month’s payment. Logically, since you will be paying double the amount of principal each month, you will, in the end, pay off your mortgage in half the time.

As you get further into the term of your loan, your additional principal payments will become larger each month. The reason for this is that during the first few years of your loan, a majority of each payment goes toward interest, leaving just a small percentage going toward the principal. This switches as you get deeper into your loan term, payments to principal become larger and payments to interest become smaller.

In the end, making double principal payments to accelerate your mortgage loan payment basically serve to make your principal amount (and the resulting interest payments) decrease much more rapidly than with standard monthly mortgage payments.

Mortgage Accelerator Programs – Pay Off Your Mortgage in Less Time with a Bi-Weekly Payment Program

Many banks and mortgage companies have presented mortgage accelerators in the past by offering bi-weekly payments and calling it a mortgage accelerator. The idea behind the bi-weekly mortgage program is basically this: With a typical monthly payment program, you make 12 payments (one for each month), if you were to simply double this, you’d make 24 payments, right? Right. But the trick with most of the bi-weekly mortgage acceleration programs out there is that they are truly bi-weekly, meaning that a payment is made every other week. What’s my point you ask? Here’s my point, there are 52 weeks in the year, divide that by 2 since you’ll be making a payment every other week and that is 26 total payments. Since these payments are half of a normal payment, this can be equated to making 13 standard full payments per year. So using a bi-weekly mortgage program basically just gives you an extra payment every year. It is this extra full payment that enables you to accelerate your loan payment, and some say that doing this will help you pay off your loan 6+ years early.

Stay tuned for my reviews of other mortgage acceleration options, and the techniques that I use to pay down my mortgage ahead of schedule.

US Post Office Wants Netflix to Pay More for Shipping Services

The USPS wants to increase the rate that they currently charge Netflix by 17% – this will drastically decrease Netflix profitability. Netflix will obviously try to offset this postage hike by passing on the rate increase to it customers, but that could result in a loss of customers. At the time of this writing, Netflix stock is pretty much unchanged, but I bet in the days to come, you’ll see the stock price start to fall, and once the rate increase is actually put into effect, the stock price will undoubtedly fall even more.

At the time of this writing, Netflix (NFLX)stock had closed at 23.49… watch for it to fall below 20 as the news of the USPS rate hike spreads.

USPS says that the rate hike will go to generate approximately $61.5 million over the next 2 years and will help cover the increasing processing costs. After an audit, the USPS concluded that 70% of the mailers “sustain damage, jam equipment and cause mis-sorts during automated processing”.

I haven’t seen any news about the US Post Office increasing rates for Blockbuster DVD mailers… I wonder if now is a good time to invest in Blockbuster???

Apple (AAPL) Ups and Downs – Which Way Will it Go Tomorrow?

I’ve always been a huge supporter of Apple (AAPL) products, and their stock since I bought it at the announcement of the iPhone a few months back, but recently (when I say recently, I mean the past 4 business days) Apple (AAPL) stock has been completely unpredictable. I’m wondering now if I should have bought more shares when it had fallen to $155. At the close of the market today, when Apple (AAPL) finished up over 10%, I was kicking myself for not making that little investment this morning.

What is with these huge spikes and drops in the stock market right now? It doesn’t seem to just be tech stocks… yesterday, E Trade lost half of its value, a couple weeks back, Countrywide Financial fell to record lows. Is there a problem with the market? Are investors getting worried and cashing out? What can we expect from Apple (AAPL) and other stocks for the remainder of 2007?

Apple (AAPL) With the Dive of the Decade

I invested in Apple (AAPL) awhile back when they originally announced the iPhone. I was lucky enough to purchase some shares at about $90 each. Today, apple was up big, pushing the $170 mark for a majority of the day, then out of nowhere, around 11:30am PST (2:30pm EST) Apple (AAPL) plunged by nearly $10/share.

I’m wondering if there is some insider information that has yet to be released to the public, I’ve never seen such a sharp drop, especially in a stock that has been so hot over the past few months.

On a brighter note, Goldman Sachs has upgraded the stock rating and has increased the price target to $190/share. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple (AAPL) surpass the $200 mark by the end of the year. I’m sure they’ve got some new products in the works that they release prior to the holiday season.

Can You Say Reward Points? Pay Your Mortgage With Your American Express Credit Card

American Express has just decided to let cardholders with prime loans at select lenders charge their monthly mortgage payment with their credit card, and obviously, earn rewards, points and/or cash back for using the plastic. Just imagine… never having to worry about paying your mortgage late… and imagine all of the points that you could earn by having a recurring $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 or more monthly charge on your American Express Card. If you ask me, American Express has the right idea – they’re the first credit card company to offer a program like this, and I’m sure that many others will follow. To start, the credit card mortgage payment program will only work with one lender – American Home Mortgage (AHM), but mark my words – there will be more lenders following… and likely many more credit card companies too.

Here is the full release from American Express:
Continue reading Can You Say Reward Points? Pay Your Mortgage With Your American Express Credit Card

Apple Stock Soars – Target Price Raised for Apple Stock (AAPL)

Apple had some big announcements over the past couple days, and in turn the target price for Apple stock (AAPL) has been raised from $115/share to $125/share – details. Apple will now bring YouTube videos to AppleTV and this has caused both Apple and Google stock to move upward on the day – Apple closed at $118.77 (up 4.42) and Google closed at $498.60 (up 11.49).

Other factors also affecting the increase in Apple stock are possibly the new DRM-Free iTunes Plus and iTunes U featuring free content such as course lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports highlights and campus tours provided by top US colleges and universities including Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Duke University and MIT. Apple has established a very strong (and growing) position in the market and I can only imagine that it will continue to grow as the iPhone release approaches.

Home Loans and Mortgages – Are Rates on the Rise?

When I bought my first house 3 years ago, rates were historically low, and not knowing much about mortgages, I decided to go with an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) which was at 3.75% at the time. After 3 years it adjusted and forced me to rethink my loan strategy. I ended up with a Remortgage at a much higher, but still decent rate of 6.275% which isn’t bad by any means, but definitely isn’t as low as I could have got if I would have gone with a fixed rate mortgage in the first place. I’ve learned my lesson now – If you’re buying a place that you think you’ll be in for the long haul, definitely go with a fixed, but if you’re just looking to do something temporary, go ahead and lock in a low rate 3-5 year ARM. Either way, there are typically plenty of secured loans programs that will be right for you.