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    Help with legal issues of using images


    Hi there, we are a website design business and recently had a client approach us in relation to a bill they received from a stock image gallery website.

    The stock image gallery website sent a bill to our client for almost $10,000 for use of 20 images that must have come from their website almost 6 years ago.

    The owner of the website says that the people that designed the website for them and chose all the images are no longer in business.

    So our client dosent know where the images came from and if the were or wernt purchased.

    Any advice?
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    I am moving this to the business help forums,
    think you may get more help there on this subject.

    Good luck.

    Cheers,
    Jamie

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    The best advice I can give is to talk to a lawyer in your (or your clients) area.

    Aside from that, copyright infringement is serious and not something you (or they) want to be involved in.... Talk to a lawyer.

    The client had the website developd by you guys? Or is this a client that came over to you from another business? (Sorry, didn't quite make out that info from the post.)

    If it was developed by someone for your business, then you guys would be responsible if the person that developed it was an employee. If it was an independent contractor, then it would depend on what sort of contract (or NDA) was signed by you and the contractor. Talk to a lawyer.

    Not sure if you read between the lines, but I would seriously recommend talking to a lawyer...
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    I'm a lawyer, although not an intellectual property lawyer, but it seems to me this is a case of bullying. The measure of damages for those 20 images would likely be closely related to the initial value of the images. Google "copyright infringement" and "measure of damages".
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    I think this is what happened:
    You have a client ("Client") who has a website developed by a third party web development company ("Developers"). Client is now being hosted by you in some way, and is receiving a bill from an image hosting company ("ImageHost") for $10,000 for illegally using their images.

    Now, that being said, Magman has a good point. The images probably aren't worth that much. However, the cost of the legal battle may quickly go over $10,000 if ImageHost has good enough lawyers. Since Developers is now out of business, Client has no one to sue for damages, so it falls to them to have ensured all the materials for the website were legally obtained.

    While it's true that this is bullying, and the images aren't worth very much, the RIAA has survived the last 10 years almost solely on settling out of court based on the threat of extended legal proceedings involving copyright infringement.

    Since this post is old, I assume you resolved it in some manner, if you could tell us what happened that would be great.

    Personally, I would tell Client "You appear to be on your own, it may cost more than $10,000 to fight this legal battle unless the images are completely generic and unimportant, or ImageHost is a tiny company without the funds to mount a huge legal battle."

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    I don't think it's bullying. It's a company that makes a business of selling stock photos. Typically, these can cost around $500 each. I know, I wanted to license some myself and looked into this. This is about what it would have cost for me to use the photos I wanted. (I never did this).

    So 20 images x $500 = $10,000. So far I don't see anything excessive about this bill.

    The company has realized that your client's site is using these images and they do not have a record of your client having licensed these photos.

    They have sent your client a bill for the licensing.

    It's all pretty legit. It's not bullying. They want the money they are owed. As for whether it's your client's responsibility or a responsibility that should lie with the original site developers you really should refer your client to a qualified intellectual property attorney for a consultation on their obligations and rights. I wouldn't screw around. The contract with the original developer, even if said developer can no longer be contacted, is an important document you should try to find.
    Last edited by medialint; February 3rd, 2009 at 04:32 PM.
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    I thought the bill was $10,000 per image. If it's $10,000 total, then medialint is absolutely right, that's just plain how much they cost.

    I doubt the OP even visits here anymore, so we can probably just leave it at that.

    -Dan

    Comments on this post

    • medialint agrees : Didn't notice myself this time it was an old post. Not years old ... but yeah.
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    A local seller here used to sell stock photos with price tags ranging from 30 - 150 €. 500 $ each seems high to me, but I guess medialint knows what he is talking about. When we use stock photos, we usually put that on top of the bill as media expenses. And we as developers are responsible for the photos to be legally available for the site. In your case that depends on what is written on the contract (if one exists).
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