While trying to research the situation and trying to find help on the Internet I came across a website calledextortionletterinfo.com. This website has close to 1000 members all of which have received these lettersfrom stock image companies asking for outrageous settlement demands, with Getty's recipients being themost numerous. This site is owned and run by a gentleman named Matthew Chan who like me, hadreceived a letter from Getty although his was four years ago. He started the site to provide information tohelp others receiving letters like this. I found the site to be full of valuable information and soon realizedthat what Getty Images was doing was not truly trying to enforce copyrights and protect their artist butrather has turned this into a business model based on profit and greed. Getty Images and Mr. Bieker useartificial deadlines and the fear of eminent legal action to extort monies from innocent infringers far inexcess of their fair market value.As I had mentioned in my response above to Mr. Bieker's letter of April 16, 2012 I had requested proof that Getty Images had exclusive rights to the image as Mr. Bieker had claimed he had in his letter. Mr.Bieker responded to my letter on May 1 of 2012 stating that he would not provide the proof requestedexcept through means of discovery, in other words the reasonable request for proof would only beprovided to me when Getty Images sued me and took me to court. Since I'm being presented with thedemand for $875 and have provided Getty with proof that this is at worst a de minimis and non-willfulinfringement I feel that the information requested be provided me is more than fair and reasonable. As abusinessman myself I could never get away with telling a client requesting an explanation of how Iarrived at the amount on my invoice by telling them I will only show you when I sue you, now pay me.Yet this is how Mr. Bieker and Getty Images chooses to conduct business on a daily basis.My case is not the only one nor am I the only one in this situation, the Getty Images forum onextortionletterinfo.com is filled with person after person after person making the same claims and notknowing what to do. They have all received a letter almost identical to mine in which is installed the fearof an eminent lawsuit and all requests for information regarding the images are denied, yet they are toldthey must pay within 14 days or risk escalation to their legal department. I also believe the reason that Mr.Bieker and Getty Images refuses to provide any information requested is that they cannot. One of themembers of the Getty demand letter forum on extortionletterinfo.com posted a reply received from Gettyto their request for information, the reply was from Getty Copyright Compliance Team member NancyMonson, in which she states:
Getty Images has contracts with its contributing photographers who are the copyright holders and theowners of the images. The contributor agreement contains representations and warranties that thecontributor is the sole copyright owner.
Consequently, Getty Images does not require the contributors to provide Getty Images with certificates of registration and leaves the option of copyright registration to the individual photographer.
Here Ms. Monson is stating that they do not even know if these images that they are asking $875 andmore for are even registered! Furthermore, while researching Getty's business practices online I foundthat they had recently sued in advertising company called Advernet for $24,275 over the use of 35 imageson their website(s), the case is listed as
Getty V. Advernet 09CV1895.
This is a very interesting case asGetty actually won this case by default. Even though Getty won this case by default the court ruled thatthey would receive none of the monies they had requested, the court ruled that for every image Getty was