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Are you a website designer affected by the Getty problem?

Has one of your clients been sent a threatening letter by Getty or their solicitors?

I am a website designer who has joined PTC in their fight against Getty.

My story is that in May 2009 one of my clients was sent the usual threatening letter from Getty. They obviously contacted me straight away and after the shock had worn off a bit I started searching the web for more information.

Principally, my websites are for bed and breakfasts and self catering properties. I was accustomed to designing an 'area page' to provide local information about tourist attractions. I used to go to 'google images', right click and download small photos of some of these attractions. I did not think that I was doing anything wrong, in fact, I thought I was helping to promote them.

A travel agency was referred to me and I designed a site for them using small images (from google images) to illustrate the countries that they specialised in. I also used a shaking hands image as an icon under their business link.

I know now that if you click on a google image then there is a statement about the copyright issue but I never did this as I was only interested in the small low quality image.

Anyway, for the two images mentioned they were asking nearly £2,000 which seemed an awful lot and my web search revealed that there were a lot of people in the same boat! I immediately removed the images.

Am I guilty of copyright infringement - yes. Did I do it deliberately - no! I know that ignorance of the law is no excuse but there has to be an area of common sense. I do not have £2,000 and if Getty had asked for a reasonable sum like £200 I would have accepted it and deserved my punishment.

I joined istockphoto and replaced the images at about £1 each - a bit less that Gettys valuation! What is even more annoying is that I was only paid £600 for the website which included a logo design, photography and took me three weeks to design.

I wrote back to Getty taking full responsibility for my 'crime' and stating that if they answered some questions I had that I would be prepared to pay them a reasonable amount back.

I received no reply and thought that I had heard the end of it. In June 2011 my clients received a letter from Mason Pincents Solicitors and it all started again.

Taking Responsibility.

When my clients informed me that the 'Getty' situation had flared up again I immediately wrote to Masons taking responsibility and asking them why they had not referred to my previous correspondence?
They replied saying that they were not prepared to deal with me and that they would be pursuing my clients.
In desperation I returned to searching the web and saw many of the old blogs with people thinking, as they had not heard anything for several months, that everything would be ok. Not true as my particular case demonstrates.
My first priority was to protect my clients from Getty and their solicitors. I searched the web again and eventually found Copyrightinfringement.org.uk.
I spoke to Liz Ward at the solicitors and to Copyright Infringement. I was immediately impressed and fully prepared to pay the money if it would help. I had spoken to one or two specialist solicitors who told me that it would cost between £500 to £1,500 to get Getty off my back and no guarantees!
I have since sent the letter in but obviously it is too early to see what might happen although I am prepared to go all the way with this issue as Getty have frightened and bullied people who have often been of the opinion that they did have licence to use the relevant images.

Update November 2012 - I have had no further communications as of this date although nothing is final! I know that both Copyright Infringement and Liz Ward are behind me which allows me to feel much easier about the situation!

Gettys Attitude

Getty claim that they are only protecting their photographers and their rights but this does not really add up. They are currently owned by a private equity firm who are only interested in the bottom line profits. Likewise, Getty have, for the last few years been acquiring image companies by the handful.

It is a well known fact that Getty's traditional market which is media publishing has been hit by the recession so has really gone downhill.


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