Getty Images Warning

January 8, 2012

In this age of Google Images the way that people can find images is easier then ever. However that doesn’t mean they are there for the taking and too many people search and take what they need for everything from homework assignments to websites and advertising. As a website designer I am here to provide a warning to other website designers.

Getty images a leading stock photography company is on the warpath cracking down on people who have illegally used their images on a website. They have some sort of robot that is looking at every image on websites and fining people thousands of dollars for the usage of just one image.

Twice this year while redesigning clients websites we took the images they already had from the original website and added them to the new design and then bought stock images for the rest of the new pages. It was stupid to not have demanded that my clients show me proof that they owned the images before I let them go on the new website. The clients both assumed that the last designer who built the first site had in fact bought the images, but since ties were cut for the redesign they had no proof they owned them. Getty Images using this robot found images on their sites and they were both sent certified letters demanding the images be removed and the legal letter demands a crazy fee of $1500-$1800 to be paid. At this point we have tried to settle the fee but have not heard back from Getty yet. I encourage people who get these extortion letters to contact Getty – do not ignore them it is the law and it is their right to be compensated for the use of the owned stock photos.

My only wish is that Getty was a bit more fair in how they demand payment. In both cases the websites did not cost as much as they are trying to get for one image. If these types of cases were brought to court we would be given a change to tell our story and it seems in this case we have no recourse. Since this is all rather new territory I can only hope that the law catches up in protecting the photographer as well as the website designer.

My warning is this web designers – NEVER assume your clients own the images and suggest they buy stock photos to replace all old images unless they can prove they bought them or took them. It is just not worth them getting pinged or you having any responsibility for this very expensive cost.

Stock images on some of my favorite stock photo websites are;

They all have a great selection and the cost starts as low as $2.00 an image. Consider getting a legal contract drawn up to protect you against this kind of action and protecting you as a designer.

As a photographer myself it was never my intention to steal an image from Getty Images and I understand all too well the copyright laws, but as a web designer we must protect ourselves and our clients from this sort of high price fees being charged by Getty. Other stock image companies are now following the way of Getty so beware this is not going to go away. The Google image bank is out there and we can search anything but beware and do not use them on a website.