Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer
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I am sorry to hear about your situation but this is most likely "real" and they are correct--if this is indeed their image, and you posed it on your site, you as the user are liable. You need to know that under the U.S. Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. 504), Getty can obtain damages of $750 per copyright for a willful violation, and $200 for an unknowing violation -- or, actual damages, plus attorney's fees and costs of suit -- at the election of the plaintiff/owner. So, you could offer them a settlement, send them a letter, saying that you don't admit to any infringement, whatsoever, and further you have had no sales through this website, nor any significant assets. You have yet to make a profit on this business anyway, and any litigation against you would absolutely wipe you out and force bankruptcy. But to close this matter you are offering $10 or $20, for them to completely and totally drop any and all claims against you. Include the check with the letter, and in the letter state that if they want to accept this offer, to cash the check. Expressly state that it is a counter offer to their settlement offer sent on MM/DD/YYYY, and the terms will remain the same...This is actually indicative of a changing strategy in IP law... That is, a move away from C&D (cease and desist) letters towards settlement letters. The reason is because C&D letters are not "income producing". But as a practical matter, enforcement of IP rights boils down to money... That is, a letter (C&D or settlement) is MUCH cheaper to send than to actually file a lawsuit, serve the person, have hearings, discovery, trial, etc... A simple copyright lawsuit that is contested could easily cost $10,000. And as a practical matter, if there's no loss to the IP holder and no gain to the infringer, these cases almost NEVER go to that stage. The costs and time involved are prohibitive, and unless you are sitting on a mountain of money to pay their attorneys fees and damages, the likelihood that they'll actually collect a judgment is slim.But even if they don't take your counteroffer (which means they retain the right to sue), that doesn't mean that they will actually sue. Again, it's all about money, and they're going to focus on the lawsuits that will bring them the most money for the least trouble. That means they're going to go after the big infringers, that have assets, rather than the small ones. ...that might declare bankruptcy at the end, meaning they get nothing, and spend much more than they'd ever recoup). In the end, this is a business, and they're not going to focus on the things that bring in pennies when they want thousands of dollars...Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!
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thank you so much!! i am going to send them a letter with a check and see what happens - thank you so much for responding!
so, they returned the letter and check...said they will not accept my offer and that if i do not pay in the next week or so my account will go to a third party.
At this point should I pay the $200 for an "unknowing violation" or let it go to a third party and offer $20 or something? I dont want this to ruin my credit - I have really good credit.
Thanks for your help (again) :)Nicki
sweet. thank you.
So - would your advice to be to just let it be?
On a side note, I no longer even have the website/business anymore. I wasn't generating any revenue from it, so I took it down.
I appreciate your help!
great - thankyou!
Have a really good day.