Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer
Hello there --
How long were you using the image / link?
Hello again --
Your best chance of avoiding paying them anything is to claim that you found the image on the internet and the limited amount of use that you put the image to amounted to what is called "Fair Use" under the US Copyright Act. (Fair use is a doctrine that lets the average consumer use an image or artwork, etc of another person for a short period of time for a limited purpose without explicit permission from the author of the work). My suggestion is that you write them a letter and tell them that you were unaware that it was a copyrighted work and even if you had been aware of it, the amount of use that you put the image to amounted to Fair Use under the US Copyright Act and while you will certainly STOP using the image now that you know there is a legitimate author claiming authorship of that work, you are not paying anything for the small amount of time that you used the image without knowledge that it was not in the public domain for widespread use.
While I cannot promise you that this will work, you may be able to get them to come down from the 3K mark to about 500 for using the image. They will have to pay legal fees to pursue you and they may not be too inclined to do that and so pushing back at them will be your best position here. Do not admit to using it for a year -- be vague about the amount of time if you can and that may also help. I wish I could point you to something in the Copyright law that will definitively get them to go away and leave you alone, but there is nothing there to do that with and these types of claims and letters are becoming more and more common as the internet grows and progresses.
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