The Getty Images Demand Letter

During our SEO Coaching Session last week a member revealed that they had received “the letter” from Getty Images notifying him that their e-commerce site was infringing on their copyrights, demanding that they produce a valid license for the image(s) within the next 14 days or remove the image along with paying Getty $700 for using the image without permission.

Our member was shocked to say the least since he had outsourced development of the website to a US based web developer who he paid several thousands of dollars to.

When he followed up with them after receiving “the letter” the developer’s response was “yeah, we been getting a lot of calls about this” and basically related that our member was on his own in negotiating with Getty as the developer never obtained the proper licensing for any of the images on the website.

We have heard from several others that have also received “the letter” which in some cases demanding up to $6000 in payment for license fees!

In one case a company download a free WordPress theme for their website that contained several images that Getty claimed owning the licensing for.

What Should I Do if I Get “The Letter

First off let me cover my bases by making it clear that I am not an attorney therefore I am unable to provide you with any legal council at all.

However, both Sitepoint and WebProWorld have very comprehensive, but somewhat dated, threads from other site owners who have all received “the letter”. Both discuss some of the strategies that have been used.

Here is what they both recommend:

  1. Immediately remove the images from your website
  2. Block bot in your robots.txt file from accessing your website (and thus remove your site from the index)
  3. Dispute the invoice & send them a letter
  4. Ignore all future phone calls and letters (do not respond) [unless they are from the courts]
  5. If anyone does call you, it is recommended that you “Strongly dispute the invoice and want all further communication in writing”
  6. Do not worry; they are trying to scare you into paying.

How to Avoid Getting “The Letter

The best way to avoid getting “The Letter” is to avoid using any images from Getty on your website, however if you outsource your web development or have purchased a theme for your website, it is often difficult to know where the designer is obtaining the images and if they are properly licensed.

Therefore when subcontracting with web developers I would recommend that you make it clear to the designer that they can recommend the images for your site, however that you will be responsible for purchasing any and all stock photography and that you will be supplying the final images.

And when you do obtain images for your site consider using other stock photo sites such as iStockPhoto where you would pay as little as a dollar for each image or DepositPhotos who have a vast library of royalty free stock images.

Did You Get “The Letter”?

Have you gotten one of Getty’s demand letters?

If so would love if you comment in the area below as to what steps you have taken.

Certified Master SEO Instructor by the Search Engine Academy and CEO and founder of SEO Training SW.
Roy Reyer
Roy Reyer
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6th September 2011 54 Comments

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