Getty Shows True Colors with DMCA Take Down Notice

Hello there,

I hope this blog finds you well.

After writing about the positive side of copyright notices, its back to reality and I find myself writing about the latest developments in the Google / Getty /iStock deal that has gone haywire. I have a few updates for you and they are quite intriguing.

Over the last week iStock contributors and photographers have been committing to Deactivation Day on the 2nd of February. Also many of them have already been deactivating and deleting their images from iStock. Some of them even have gone as far as deleting their entire portfolio. These drastic measures are to protect their intellectual property from being rendered worthless, when they are added to the Google Drive free library. As soon as this deal came to light, two camps have formed. One side is upset and wants to get out of this deal and are taking action. The other side, a bit short sighted in my opinion, says that deleting a few thousand images are not going to do take iStock out of business. Surely they are missing the point.

It has been made pretty clear this is not about taking down iStock or Getty for that matter, its about protecting photographer’s intellectual property (IP) from being given away to millions of Google Drive users. Its also about protecting the good people that had their photographs taken, signed a model release, and trusting that these images would be only sold through the worlds leading stock photo agency. So be it that Google Drive now has model released images, free to use, without any clear restrictions on usage. Its a disaster for those photographers who are affected by this, and potentially for the entire stock industry. Images available for free, and models stop agreeing to the sales of their images because their images now potentially could end up being used in compromising ads or campaigns.

So the photographers are determined and the tally for Deactivation Day added up to over 40.000 images already. Lawyers are getting involved. Portfolios being deleted. And bloggers and news writers all over the internet are getting word out. I am not linking to all the sources individually, you can read all about the movement here on Basically that forum has been the backbone ever since this deal was reported by Sean Locke, and made the union of photographers possible. A union that is unique to a business that basically exists out of individuals. Such union and likemindedness has never been seen before in the stock photography business. If one thing is on their mind, about this Getty deal, this image might illustrate it best:

Young woman showing middle finger

So, what about these Getty colors? Well, it seems that Getty has countered after the photographers hit back at Getty’s first punch. In a considered ruthless and hypocrite move, they have submitted a DMCA take down notice to this website that was collecting stats directly from Google Drive by deep linking the images to that website. Deep linking is considered to be legal, as its basically the way Google displays the images in their search with a back link as well. Flickr allows linking to the images in their library.


Having or showing no pity or compassion for others: “a ruthless manipulator”.

Little history; one savvy photographer also happened to have some nice coding skills and wrote a code to pull stats and and thumbnails from Google Drive. The site was created to keep track of the images that were added to the deal so that photographer could easily find their photos and take action. Over the course of this week the number of photos added to this deal added up to a staggering 12.000 free images. The website was very helpful, but unfortunately Getty got wind and, iStock counsel Ron Lotook action.

Corporate Counsel at iStockphoto, Ronald Lo, issued a DMCA takedown notice (Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 6:17 AM PST). I respectfully obliged (Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 10:11 AM PST).
As I mentioned before, deep linking is considered legal, and photographers are just baffled over this DMCA take down notice. Sean Locke, talented photographer and experienced Googler, took a ‘deep dive’ on the internet and found  information explaining more on deep linking and its legality. So considering deep linking is legal, the DMCA take down notice from Getty seems to be bogus. And if that’s the case, Getty has another thing coming.

According to Google, more than half of the DMCA complaints it receives involve businesses targeting competition. Here’s the key stat: 37% of the claims were bogus. In other words, just because someone claims you’re violating the DMCA doesn’t necessarily mean that you actually are. So there’s no need to panic if you receive a DMCA complaint.

In consultation with your attorney, consider suing for the false claims made. Under the DMCA, you may be entitled to damages, attorney fees, and costs for dealing with a bogus DMCA complaint. Note that you may have other claims too. For example, if your hosting company decides not to continue hosting your website because of one or more bogus DMCA claims, you may be able to seek damages for tortious interference with business relationships. In addition, some obtain injunctions to prevent future harassment.

Photographers are not impressed by Getty’s latest move, and it surely added more oil on the fire. A tweet is now circulating on Twitter with the following message:
#iStock issues DMCA takedown for image thumbs in the scummy #Getty/#Google deal-so we can’t track them

If you feel the need to support this cause, you can C/P that tweet and get the word out. Loads of small things, can make a big impact. Bloggers, photographers and news writers need to unite and use all available media to inform people that we cannot be played with. Its people livelihoods we are dealing with here.

Thanking you in advance for your support!


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