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Digital image copyright - Demand for payment

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by Krnl, Oct 14, 2008.

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  1. #1
    I believe that I've seen this discussed in this forum before, but now I'm actually faced with it. I have an image on my site (which has been removed/deleted)...I got a letter via FedEx today from the copyright office at superstock.com. They are demanding that I pay them $3,950.00 for use of their image. What should I do?!
    SEMrush
     
    Krnl, Oct 14, 2008 IP
    SEMrush
  2. jonathon

    jonathon Active Member

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    #2
    if you deleted the image from your website, just lie and tell them you never hosted the image on your website, most of them are just con-artist looking for a quick buck, they can't prove the image was not your as they use a bot to search the internet for images, just tell them to stick there bill where the sun don't shine.
     
    jonathon, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  3. effektz

    effektz Active Member

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    #3
    Did the picture have a copyright notice on it? If not, (and you didn't get it from the author's website), I believe it's considered Public Domain.
     
    effektz, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  4. Krnl

    Krnl Peon

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    #4
    They sent me a screenshot of my site with the image flagged with little sticky flags along with their threatening letter. The letter is attached below... :eek:
     
    Krnl, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  5. RRWH

    RRWH Active Member

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    #5
    Well, you have admitted here that you took the image - without attempting to even find out who the copyright holder was. You then made a derivative work from that image. Sorry, Yes you are a thief here.

    The only "wiggle room" you might have is this - get them to send you a link to the actual photo in their catalogue and look up the licence conditions it is presented under. If it is a Rights Managed image, then consied the $4K to be cheap. If it is a Royalty free image then you potentially have some wiggle room. I took a look at a RF image on their site and they are only a few hundred $. You will need to read and fully understand their licence conditions and if you can prove that you only used the image for a specific amount of time then and only then you might have a slight chance of getting it reduced.

    I can say as a part time pro photographer I applaud my Agents when they go after anyone who rips off an image - such as you have done.

    You can be thankful that the image you choose to steal was not with one of the bigger agencies or that bill just might have been $10-50K.

    This should be seen as a warning to everyone who just grabs any random image for their website - especially when there are several places you can go and pay from $1 to $5 per image and get a guarantee that you can legally use them on your site without any chance of getting a letter such as this. Even then, It is a great Idea to record all details about all images on your site - especially whom and where you got them from including any associated accounts that you had to buy them with. This way, in the event of getting a letter such as this you simply look up your records, provide the evidence that you have full legal usage of the image and forget about it.

    EDIT -- I just looked at the letter and looked up the image on their website. It is a RM or Rights Managed Image - and the $$3k they are asking is very generous for your usage.

    That is bull*hit - it is still theft! That is like saying, Just because I found an MP3 of a song on a random website and took it, that there was no creator or copyright holder of the item!
     
    RRWH, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  6. Krnl

    Krnl Peon

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    #6
    well, I think it's all a bunch of bull***t. These people have no way to prove that the image actually belongs to them...regardless of whether or not it's in their catalog - which it is...as a rights managed image.. What's to keep me from building a huge catalog of images and calling them "Copyrighted by me, now pay up $4,000 or we'll sue and take you to court!"

    I don't have time for this BS. I have a business to run. If they had sent me a simple letter that said "Hey, we see that you have used our copyrighted image - please pay us $200.00 for the trouble", I would likely pay... but $4,000? F(orget). Them.

    Image rights differ quite a lot from an MP3 on the internet. It's pretty easy to tell who created an MP3. If they don't want their images "stolen" why not watermark them? I'll tell you why...because then they wouldn't be able to scam suckers like me!

    I just don't know what to do...I can't afford to pay this, and I can't afford to go to court.
     
    Krnl, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  7. RRWH

    RRWH Active Member

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    #7
    Well, I am sorry for you. you have admitted that you stole the image in this thread, you are now crying that you were found out.

    I can assure you that they do not own the copyright to the photo you stole, but the person whom they represent does. They are an agency who represents a lot of photographers and just one of the things that an agency does is to follow up on all copyright breaches.

    They are most certainly not a scam - they are simply doing the right thing by their client - which is to pursue anyone who steals their clients IP. You are really lucky here. I read up on a similar case to yours and the photographer was awarded 19,500 in the courts.

    It is in your own best interest to settle this - and a quick settlement will mean you will only have to pay this amount. If it goes to court you will be also hit with all of their costs as well.
     
    RRWH, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  8. Krnl

    Krnl Peon

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    #8
    grrrrrrrrrrrrr
     
    Krnl, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  9. Scar

    Scar Peon

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    #9
    Personally, I'd use the letter to line my kitten's litter box.
     
    Scar, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  10. dpsubi1

    dpsubi1 Notable Member

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    #10
    howcome they found that you are using their copyrighted image ?
     
    dpsubi1, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  11. jonathon

    jonathon Active Member

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    #11
    Where are your sites hosted? which country
     
    jonathon, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  12. flock09

    flock09 Active Member

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    #12
    The problem is they know you and where you are. If you took it directly from their website then it's really your problem. However, if it's that you have a website where it distributes the images for free ,then you may redirect them to the source.
     
    flock09, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  13. kye172

    kye172 Peon

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    #13
    Image rights don't differ in any way shape or form. Fact is someone made/owns that image and they hold the copyright, just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's free


    All you can do is show them that it's been removed, POLITELY explain you couldn't trace the original copyright owner and hope for mercy. Ignoring the letter is possibly the worse thing you can do, since court proceedings can take place without you and if you're not there then it's an automatic win for the prosecutor
     
    kye172, Oct 14, 2008 IP
  14. Krnl

    Krnl Peon

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    #14
    My site is hosted in the US. I did *not* take the image straight from them. I don't recall where it came from. They must have people doing web searches and then comparing people's images to their own image catalog...The "banner ad" that I created from the image last year can't be discernible from a bit-and-bytes standpoint...it would have taken human eyes to see the resemblance between their image and my "derivative work".
     
    Krnl, Oct 15, 2008 IP
  15. webdesigners

    webdesigners Banned

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    #15
    if you have deleted your image than why they are not leaving you?
     
    webdesigners, Oct 15, 2008 IP
  16. RRWH

    RRWH Active Member

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    #16
    You still don't get it do you - you admit to taking and using the image, you are still crying when presented with evidence you stole it and they want payment.

    So, I'll spell it out again for you.

    Someone took a photo and asked the agency to represent them, not to sell it but to licence the usage of that image. The agency takes a % of the licence fee every time it is sold. They licence the image under a Rights managed model. This means that the agency is keeping track of every usage of the said image and when licenced to a particular industry sector ensures that nobody else within that sector uses the same image during the licence period.

    You, going out and stealing the image now puts the whole rights-managed part into jeopardy - the image is being used in an unknown way and it has now lost it's original value because the usage is no longer managed. Subsequent purchasers now have no guarantee that they have exclusive use of the image within their industry sector.

    So, as the image and future earnings of this image have been de-valued by your actions the agency has sent you a licence fee for the usage you have already made of the image. Taking it down after the fact does not matter one little bit - you had already been using the image for a period of time, and the Invoice you got was nothing more than asking you to pay for the usage you had already made of the photo.

    Yes, agencies do search the internet for usage of their clients images and yes, if you do use stolen images then you should expect that you might be found out and cop a massive bill for the usage you have made of any unlicenced images.

    This is exactly why you should ensure every image on your website is licenced and you have the source of every image documented. Lets face it, there are several Micr stock agencies where you can pay from $1-$5 per photo for Royalty Free usage on your website and be 100% safe from having something like this happen to you. For me, If I cannot take a photo myself for a site I have no hesitation in paying for it.

    Your website is probably set up to make money in some way, and you tried to steal someone elses property to make money with - pretty unethical is all I can say.
     
    RRWH, Oct 15, 2008 IP
  17. effektz

    effektz Active Member

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    #17
    Let's talk about the money aspect. $3,900 seems a little over the top unless you profited A LOT from using their image. Meanwhile there are stock photography websites that charge like $10 for use of images and such, so did they just pull the $3,900 out of their ass hoping to get lots of cash or what?

    Any comment from somebody who knows something about this would be great
     
    effektz, Oct 15, 2008 IP
  18. Krnl

    Krnl Peon

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    #18
    Look here RRWH. You can take your condescending tone and stick it in your @$$ right next to your head. I didn't come here to be scorned or ridiculed. I came here for some useful advice and to learn something about the issue with which I find myself confronted.

    I had no clue about these issues up until now and I had certainly never heard of a "Stock image" before now. The letter that these people sent to me is way out of line and is very similar to the recent "Getty images extortion letter". A simple notification from these people would have sufficed.

    Here's a link to the Getty images issue:
    http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/
     
    Krnl, Oct 15, 2008 IP
  19. Krnl

    Krnl Peon

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    #19
    This issue has introduced me to stock images. I will be using them in the future for sure. Here are a couple of links that others have provided to me in the past couple of days:

    http://istockphoto.com
    http://www.bigstockphoto.com
     
    Krnl, Oct 15, 2008 IP
  20. RRWH

    RRWH Active Member

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    #20
    $3,900 is not a lot -it is chickenfeed!

    I know photographers that regularly get comissioned to produce photos and a typicaly high end shoot for them is in the order of $250,000 to produce 4 or 5 images for national advertising campaigns.

    For the usage - worldwide web usage for 1 year, then $3,900 is not a lot at all.

    Just because you can pay $1-5 for some images does not make all image only worth this amount. Just think about this for a moment, go and look at the actual image that was used. Now, in order to re-produce this particular image it would cost you several thousand $. It is of a Marlin (or similar pelagic fish) jumping out of the water with a boat in the distance. Fist off, you need a boat to get you out on the water where this is going to happen. Next you need to be in the right place at the right time in order to capture the shot. This alone could take 10 or even 20 days. Then you need the Camera that is suitable to actually make the shot.

    The shot is valuable simply because it is difficult to get and difficult to re-produce.

    Even if the charter of the boat for you to take the photo's from is only $1,000 a day, then this photo alone could have cost as much as $10,000 in direct costs, plus the 10 days of time, plus the wear and tear on at least 15K worth of Camera equipment. If the photographer was commissioned to take exactly this photo he would have probably charged at least $150,000 for it.

    This image might be licenced 1 or 2 times a year and take a long time before the photographer actually makes a profit.

    Now, go back to your $1-5 photos. These type of images are usually fairly easy to set up - production costs are typically less than $10. These images are licenced 10's or even 100's of times per year.

    So, once again as someone who makes some of my income from photography and understands this the $3,900 was not a number plucked out of thin air, but a realistic number based on the fact that the future potential of this image is no longer as valuable as it was and the agency is just seeking fair compensation for the actions that were taken. Saying the number was just plucked from thin air shows ignorance and arrogance. I have gone to the trouble of explaining how and why the number is fair and just - please at least justify why it should be less as at the moment I cannot see any arguments that convince me that it is not.

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse - and that is what happened here.


    Krnl -> I don't care what you think of me, but what I am really pleased about is that now you understand the consequences and have taken a positive step to educate yourself as to how to go about avoiding such an event in the future. Hopefully, a lot of other people reading this thread have also learnt and will pay a few $ and be safeguarded against similar actions that you are now facing. No, I was not scorning or ridiculing you in any way, just calling it like it is in the real world.
     
    RRWH, Oct 15, 2008 IP
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