This question is often asked. Read those questions and responses [ http://www.avvo.com/free-legal-advice/getty ] and if you have any follow-up questions then ask them.
The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
Or call Michael Brown, Esq., in Livingston, New Jersey. He is also on Avvo, and he is great and local.
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You are asking a question that has been asked and answered several times. Please search for the previous answers.
You state "your client," if you are not a IP lawyer, you may want to pass this case on to an IP lawyer as there are several pitfalls in this area.
I am an attorney licensed to practice in Texas, Louisiana and before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and the above may not be an accurate assessment of the laws for your area. The above should be taken as general guidance and not specific legal advice. For specific legal advice you should seek a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction practicing in the area specific to your issue. The above does not constitute or establish an attorney client relationship. If you wish to receive specific advice about your legal issue, then contact my office to schedule a personal consultation.
These matters are fairly straight forward - images used without permission. Please pay. I always recommend, however, getting getting a knowledgeable attorney.
This blog provides is not intended to give legal advice and is not a substitute for the same; if the reader has a concern they should contact a knowledgeable attorney.
There is a lot of misinformation going around about claims such as this. There are several "anti copyright troll" web-sites that advise people who receive letters like this to do nothing. This is very bad advice. Getty Images and the law firms that represent it are very aggressive in enforcing claims against persons who use images without a license. The fact that you used an off-shore free lance company to build your web-site is irrelevant. Copyright infringement is a strict liability offense----if your web-site contained images protected by copyrights owned or administered by Getty Images, you are an infringer. Further, the amount requested is not outrageous. Under copyright law, the owner of a copyrighted work who pursues infringement claims is entitled to statutory damages and attorneys fees. Statutory damages range from no less than $750 per infringing work (photograph) to up to $30,000 per infringing photograph. And if your infringement was found to be "willful", you can be liable for up to $150,000 in damages for each photograph. Further, attorneys are not cheap, and the cost of pursuing copyright claims in cases such as this can involve attorneys fees in six figures.
How do you defend yourself? You retain counsel to attempt to negotiate a settlement. Perhaps your counsel can negotiate a reduction in the amount demanded (but don't expect miracles). And perhaps your counsel can find some defense which would get you off the hook. But one thing is clear---you should take this letter seriously and retain counsel to defend you. It will cost you money to clear up this mess because you engaged in infringement---and Congress has determined to allow copyright owners to enforce claims against people who engage in this type of conduct.