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Shaie Zindel
Shaie Zindel, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 1246
Experience:  All areas of commercial and contract Law - specialist in property advice.
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Hi I have created a website template which Ive provided to

Customer Question

Hi I have created a website template which I've provided to quite a few people. It sells products and I have been hosting it for about 15 years so it was created a long time ago. 3 of the people using my website have received an 'Unauthorised use of an image' letter at the same time - for a small thumbnail image that I'm not sure where I got. I usually went onto 'Free stock images' sites to get images. So I don't have proof that the image is owned by us. They want to charge each website owner R1140 for the unauthorised use of the image. The company is 'Getty Images' and if you google 'Getty images scams' you'll see that there are loads of complaints about this - they obviously make their real money from getting large fines from small businesses.
I have emailed them asking them to show us proof that the image belongs to them but no reply yet. What is our position - we are happy to pay the fine but we are worried that they will continue to harass our website clients for payment too.
I have found this law for UK but our clients are in South africa.
Provisions as to damages in infringement action.

(1)Where in an action for infringement of copyright it is shown that at the time of the infringement the defendant did not know, and had no reason to believe, that copyright subsisted in the work to which the action relates, the plaintiff is not entitled to damages against him, but without prejudice to any other remedy.
(2)The court may in an action for infringement of copyright having regard to all the circumstances, and in particular to—
(a)the flagrancy of the infringement, and
(b)any benefit accruing to the defendant by reason of the infringement,award such additional damages as the justice of the case may require.
Please advise what we should do.
thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: South Africa Law
Expert:  Shaie Zindel replied 2 years ago.
Hi There - it actually does sound like a scam similar to the old domain name objection scam running out of Asia and Russia a few years ago. This is what I would do - tell them to bugger off and if they are really interested in pursuing you, you will see them in Court in SA in 5 years time. As for your client's let them know you believe its a scam trying to fleece innocent people and that none of the images you have ever used came from any source other than free open online source. I really wouldn't worry too much about this. I hope I have answered your questions and wish you good luck. Please remember to rate my service so far. Regards
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX did also use other webdesigners who might have used copyrighted images online that we were unaware of. If they do show proof that the image does belong to them then do you think a once off payment would suffice to cover the 3 (or more) websites we have created with the same image?
I would like to reassure our clients a little more as I know (through reading other people experiences) that the company send quite a few threatening letters & this could make them very nervous. I was hoping that a lawyers answer would reassure as they are going to have to feel strong in their position in order to confidently ignore the threatening emails, but not sure that this will. Is there anything else you can add?

Expert:  Shaie Zindel replied 2 years ago.
Ok - if you're concerned there may be a legitimate complaint then engage with them. Let them prove you have contravened their IP rights and then conclude an all in settlement to hover you and any subelsequent user you have contracted with. It really sounds petty and lacks that vindictive sting where you were exploiting their IP for pure commercial gain. Once you've engaged Getty and resolved then do a nice email to affected clients letting them know that the stink in Denmark doesn't exist. That's what I would do - just make sure whatever you agree with them is in writing covers all parties concerned and operates in full and final settlement of any and all claims howsoever arising!
Shaie Zindel, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 1246
Experience: All areas of commercial and contract Law - specialist in property advice.
Shaie Zindel and other South Africa Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi again


Getty Images have sent through a link showing that they do have the copyright for the image in question. As it looks like I may have infringed their copyright I felt we needed to pay. I sent them an email saying:


We are willing to pay the fine of R1140 as long as you confirm that you will stop sending emails to our clients who have used our template that had this image on it. Rose Goosen, Myante Pool, Cornie van der Merwe, Alet Botha, Jan Booyse & any other ones you sent it to.

Can you confirm that this fine will be in full and final settlement for this image for all websites using the single template that we put the image on?

They replied with a bill for R4275 for all 5 websites saying:

As the image appears on 5 different platforms a 25% discount has been given.

Please bear in mind that there is no penalty fee included/involved as the settlement demand is for the licenses of the unauthorized images used on the various websites.

Notes: The payment of this settlement demand together with your immediate cessation of use of the image (unless you have separately licensed this image for future use), including uses by your owners, directors, employees, agents, clients and/or licensees, in any and all media, will release you from any legal claims by Gallo Images and Getty Images relating solely to this identified past infringement.

I've read this loads but don't understand what they mean. Do they mean that if we pay this it will cover all websites that used the template that the image was on?

I'm willing to pay this but as I have loads more websites that had this image on it (that I removed straight away) I'm worried how many more will come out the woodwork. ie that they have kept to hammer me with once they've found the person willing to pay.


What do you think? So what should I say to them now - before paying - should I ask them... Can you confirm that if I pay Getty this settlement demand, you will send no further emails to any of our other clients who may have used the same template we provided with that image in it in the the past. Or are we at risk of having more claims coming through.


Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi there, did you see my new question. I haven't heard back from you yet. I might try a new lawyer shortly as I'm eager to get an answer soon.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Other.
I think the current lawyer may be offline at the moment.
Expert:  Shaie Zindel replied 2 years ago.
Hi Sorry for the delay! As I understand them if you pay and no one uses the images again then it's case closed. If anyone uses the images again then they an reopen the complaint. Do you understand it this way? I would write to them for clarity on what the settlement will mean. Use the words : it will operate in full and final settlement f any and all claims howsoever arising.

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