Stefan Tilkov's Random Stuff

Harassed by Getty Images

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Ah, the joys of “Intellectual Property”. I’ve been a long-time fan of the wonderful demotivational posters offered by despair.com. From time to time, I point people to them, e.g. by tweeting about it. In the past, when there was no Twitter (yes, that time existed), I used this blog to do so – on one occasion not only using a plain <a>, but an <img> element as well, embedding one of their images on this site (this is the post minus the image). After all, why not send a little traffic to these fine folks?

But obviously Despair uses stock photos – a perfect use case if there ever was one –, and the rights to the particularly cheesy one used in this poster apparently belong to Getty images (see? I did it again. Sue me.). Now I’ve received a letter, first from their internal legal department, and – after explaining the misunderstanding on their part – now from their lawyer. In both cases, they insist that we need to license the image to use it.

As I didn’t copy the image of the poster, but only link to it, this seems entirely absurd to me – particularly if Despair properly licensed the image, which I’m quite sure of. (If at all, Despair might have more reason, but I can’t believe they’d be that unreasonable, purely out of their own interest.) But my guess is the legal trolls at Getty believe it won’t be worth the hassle to me. They’re wrong – I don’t believe they deserve a single cent of my (or the company’s) money. If you have any advice, or want to share some of your own experience with these people, please leave a comment.

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