Getty Images today notified contributors that on June 8th, 2016 it filed a lawsuit against Walter A. Kowalczuk because they allege he «downloaded thousands of images without authorization from Getty Images and profited from those downloads. In addition, Getty Images believes that Mr. Kowalczuk was not acting alone, and the company is actively pursuing other possible infringers.»
Getty Images has been the subject of many criticisms online for their aggressive handling of copyright infringement claims, and just two days ago Geekwire published «Getty Images rights claim against Seattle startup raises ‘phishing scam’ concerns«, however, the article notes that the infringer (Aaron Bird) in this case «…will end up paying the settlement fee…»because, well, he infringed. Bird’s concern centered around the question of a phishing scam and not whether or not he actually infringed on the work.
It is obvious that, with a reported 80,000,000 images in their archives, even a one-tenth-of-one-percent (.01%) number of infringements in a year that’s still 8,000 copyright infringement cases. As such there has to be a system to handle that many infringements. In 2013, in an effort to resolve what was likely massive infringement issues with Pinterest, Getty entered a deal with Pinterest, which PBN reported on here — Deception? Getty Images & The Pinterest Deal (12/13/13) and again PBN reported here — Monetizing Getty’s 35M Image Archive via FREE Editorial Uses — about Getty offering a solution to reduce infringements through free use of the work they represent. While PBN wrote critically about both undertakings, and questions remain about the success of each, the question remains as to whether or not Getty Images contributors are receiving a portion of the revenue from these efforts, however, Getty is trying to find ways to reduce infringement and monetize the content they represent.
Getty Images should continue to aggressively pursue any theft of the intellectual property that they own wholly, or which they are charged with protecting on behalf of their contributors.
The Getty 2011 Contributor Agreement specifies:
1.11 Right to Control Claims. Getty Images shall have the right to determine, using its best commercial judgment, whether and to what extent to proceed against any third party for any unauthorized use of Accepted Content. You authorize Getty Images and Distributors at their expense the exclusive right to make, control, settle and defend any claims related to infringement of copyright in the Accepted Content and any associated intellectual property rights (“Claims”). You agree to provide reasonable cooperation to Getty Images and Distributors and not to unreasonably withhold or delay your cooperation in these Claims. Getty Images will not enter into any settlement that will compromise your ownership of the copyright in Accepted Content or that prohibits your future conduct with respect to Accepted Content without your prior written consent. Getty Images will pay you Royalties on any settlements it receives from Claims. If Getty Images elects not to pursue a Claim, you will have the right to pursue it.
In August of 2009, PBN published a post titled Obama Image Copyright Infringement Issues where Getty was also pursing the infringer of works Getty was representing.
The case is not currently listed in the online records database, which can sometimes take several days to update. When it does, we will update the story with the case number and formal «plaintiff v. defendant» title.
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