Can You Trust Getty Images?
How many times have website owners been faced with money demand notices from Getty Images where they claimed ownership and copyright on images? Well, turns out Getty Images took pictures it had no rights to and sold them to websites, publishers, news outlets and more.
It all started with AFP, a global news agency, when they filed suit against a photographer who was stupid enough to post pictures to his Twitter account. This idiot thought that as long as a Twitter user posted the pictures they were his to use for a commercial enterprise, and they used them and passed the right, which they did not have, to Getty Images. Getty Images then resold them many time over pocketing the revenue. The photographer, Daniel Morel, had taken the pictures showing the earthquake aftermath in his homeland, Haiti, and posted them to his Twitter account.
Getty is nobody’s fool but that did not stop them from taking the photos and placing them in the marketplace without compensation to the originator. The issue is commercial use of images and not about sharing. Getty shares with no one and tries to intimidate websites to pay for images, even if they are not Getty’s.
While the International companies involved in the theft tried to argue that Twitters terms of service permitted use of photos, they were reminded that no one is granted commercial use. They could of re-tweeted or posted them to their account (with credits) but selling them off? Come on guys! You not only know better you spend millions a year intimidating website owners for the same and they are not the money machines you are.
So, for the moment Mr. Morel becomes the highest paid news photographer in history because of the underhanded techniques at Getty Images.
The case reference if you want to verify or read it is:
Agence France-Presse v. Morel, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-02730.