Getty Makes Nonsensical Statement On Photographer Carol Highsmith's Lawsuit For Falsely Claiming Copyright
from the say-what-now? dept
As you may recall, we just recently wrote about photographer Carol Highsmith’s copyright lawsuit against Getty Images, for falsely claiming copyright in her images (and demanding she pay to use her own images…) which she had purposely donated to the Library of Congress to make them available for the public to use, royalty-free. A PR person from Getty has reached out to us and pointed us to Getty’s completely nonsensical “statement” on the lawsuit (and, actually, the email pointed us to the wrong URL, but we found it anyway).
We are reviewing the complaint. We believe it is based on a number of misconceptions, which we hope to rectify with the plaintiff as soon as possible. If that is not possible, we will defend ourselves vigorously.
The content in question has been part of the public domain for many years. It is standard practice for image libraries to distribute and provide access to public domain content, and it is important to note that distributing and providing access to public domain content is different to asserting copyright ownership of it.
LCS works on behalf of content creators and distributors to protect them against the unauthorized use of their work. In this instance, LCS pursued an infringement on behalf of its customer, Alamy. Any enquiries regarding that matter should be directed to Alamy; however, as soon as the plaintiff contacted LCS, LCS acted swiftly to cease its pursuit with respect to the image provided by Alamy and notified Alamy it would not pursue this content.
First of all, huh? “The content in question has been part of the public domain for many years”? Actually, it has not. As Highsmith noted, she retained the copyright to her images, but rather did a deal with the Library of Congress to make the works available royalty free. It was basically a Creative Commons attribution license before Creative Commons existed. She still retains the copyright. So the images are not public domain.
And, uh, even if they were, what a weird claim for Getty to make, because it was a Getty subsidiary that then threatened Highsmith for posting her own images. If Getty now claims it believes the images were in the public domain, why was it shaking her down for money? This makes no sense at all.
Finally, trying to pawn blame off on Alamy is ridiculous. Alamy is a co-defendant in the lawsuit, but LCS and Piscount are both subsidiaries of Getty, and both sent Highsmith letters demanding payment. It’s almost as if Getty’s PR people have absolutely no clue what they’re talking about.