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Getty Images Copyright Extortion


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#21 decosnapper

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 04:24 AM

 

I'm sure you'd consider it inappropriate if your plumber demanded 10x more than his fee for an unpaid bill, particularly when it was an oversight and you immediately agreed to pay the normal rate.

 

If the plumber had to engage debt recovery services, or suffered consequential losses  - bank charges, for example, due to my non-arrival of payment - then said plumber would be entitled to recover said losses*. Furthermore, we have something called the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interests) Act that allows businesses to charge statutory fees and interest over and above the base rate for late payment.

 

So I would not be surprised if a plumber charged me more if, for any reason, my payment was missed. And it would not take too long for these costs to escalate, particularly with bank charges, or losses to others such as missed salary payments to employees. I feel these charges would not be seen as extortion, or illegal, but US law might be different.

 

Would I pay 10x the rate? If the plumber could demonstrate the fees were reasonable (a prerequisite of Pre-Action Conduct* (AKA taking someone to court)) then I think payment would be the cheaper option. Again, this is not crookery or scamming. Its seeking legal redress for losses of what the claimant thinks their image is worth.

 

As soon as legal counsel receive instruction and prepare a case costs can spiral dramatically, so if said plumber shows 10x is reasonable then yes I would pay and stay out of court and avoid losing legal costs. As in the case of Getty and the theoretical plumber, it all depends on what evidence each side must disclose* and how strong they feel the case is, if there are any precedents and if they wish to use this case to apply the precedent in future to others.

 

If you want to test if Getty's fees are reasonable, then I wish you luck.

 

*Relevant in the UK. Unknown elsewhere.


Edited by decosnapper, 15 August 2013 - 04:28 AM.

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#22 Paul Kay

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 07:56 AM

 If the photographer could demonstrate the fees were reasonable (a prerequisite of Pre-Action Conduct* (AKA taking someone to court)) then I think payment would be the cheaper option. Again, this is not crookery or scamming. Its seeking legal redress for losses of what the claimant thinks their image is worth.

 

*Relevant in the UK. Unknown elsewhere.

I believe that in the UK courts will rarely support 'punitive' fees which are what Getty are suggesting here IMHO. I very much doubt whether such fees would be awarded by a court in the UK. Perhaps it is different elsewhere but my suspicion is that the high figures are intended to provoke a response and settlement which is higher than the fees which would normally have been charged for the usage. The problem with this is that it requires an admission of responsibility at which point the whole business enters a difficult area. I am not a fan of this approach as it smacks of real heavy handedness which can be very counterproductive.


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#23 decosnapper

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 11:06 AM

 

I very much doubt whether such fees would be awarded by a court in the UK

 

Paul et al - have a read of this:- Stolen Photos - what to do?

 

Its written by a lawyer-turned-photographer who has taken the legal view on what to do. The courts can and do award damages, but the trouble is most cases settle on the steps of the courthouse and judgement/case law is lacking on this point so both parties have precious little examples of what judges actually think and award. What is perhaps most interesting in the article are aspects of law often overlooked that would readily apply.

 

 

If the photographer could demonstrate the fees were reasonable...

 

Most photographers are micro business, operating in their own way and under individual terms. One will have a trail of paid invoices that will show 3,4 or perhaps 5 times the base fee is reasonable and some will have no such evidence. What one will think is reasonable - be it related to contract terms, licensing or even when to get out of bed and ring a client - will be different.

 

Getty think 10x is reasonable and named their price. Like others, I will negotiate if I think the other party is treating me fairly and - crucially - are not ignoring me. The point at which I dig my heels in is when I am ignored. Its impossible to negotiate with a unresponsive party and reach a settlement, so at that point I am left with two choices; forgetting it or taking up a case. Neither are attractive, but one does result in cashflow for the business.

 

 

I am not a fan of this approach as it smacks of real heavy handedness which can be very counterproductive

 

Each infringement will be unique and in an ideal world needs to be assessed on its own merits. Like you Paul I can't say I'm a fan on the bulk one-size-fits-all Getty approach and its one I would hesitate to use.

 

But as I have already stated, Getty must be faced with millions, perhaps tens or hundreds of millions of potential cases and trying to assess each one on an individual basis would be I suspect very, very difficult. And for difficult, read expensive. Its not unreasonable to pay more to receive a personal/individual  service and the overhead to business would need to be recovered from somewhere. Considering how unpopular it is to pay at the current rate, any adjustment  to take into account an individual service to the fees claimed would probably be most unwelcome. 

 

Just to reiterate; I do not think a one-size-fits all approach is helpful or the preferred solution. I am simply explaining what may be the business issues Getty face and why things are the way they are. I honestly do not know what solution or alternative is available?


Edited by decosnapper, 15 August 2013 - 10:12 PM.

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#24 decosnapper

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 12:23 AM

At risk of inflaming what has become a quiet thread, I will add another step - more overhead of time when I could be diving/photographing/contacting a legitimate client - to the already long-winded process of setting with someone who does not want to pay:-

 

 

1. Find the infringing use.

2. Document and record the use

3. Contact the infringer detailing the use, required payment etc

4. Be ignored, send a follow -up letter

5. Respond to their solicitor's letter denying liability

6. Respond to their solicitor's letter offering a paltry fee

7. Repeat steps 6 and 7 as required

8. Prepare court papers

9. Serve papers on infringer, add costs such as court fees, paperwork etc

10. Be paid just before the case is heard

11. Prepare, sign and send to infringer (for their signature) a consent order* before submitting said order to the court for the judge to review before closing the case.

 

*Basically a letter that says you both agree with the settlement

 

I wasn't aware of this step until my first case has (nearly) completed. 

 

The infringer could have caused a lot less hassle for everyone - the courts, the photographer and themselves - had they not published without prior consent, or settled quickly when first contacted.

 

Eleven steps just to get paid. Is it any wonder not doing the right thing is more expensive?


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