Thursday, September 25, 2014

Getty and Watermarks

Dear Rich: I have completed a "rough cut" of my documentary. I have hundreds of photos, some claimed by Getty. If I use a similar photo without Getty's watermark can they still legally claim rights? If Getty owns rights to the photos used in your documentary, then you'll need to pay for a license regardless of whether the watermark is visible. By the way, removing digital watermarks, copyright notices or other copyright rights management may be a separate violation of copyright law.
Although Getty has adopted a "sharing" approach to use of its photos online, it's unlikely that the stock photo company will tolerate unlicensed uses in a documentary. Should the company learn of your use; they may send you one of their infamous settlement demand letters. (The company also offers guidance for recipients.) If you're using photos that are similar to Getty pictures but not owned by Getty, then you'll need permission from whoever owns the copyright to that imagery, as well.
Fair use questions? Perhaps the information we've posted here can help. And please see the informative comment provided below.

1 comment:

Britt Reid said...

If they're old pix, Getty might not own the rights to other versions of the pix,only their retouched/modified versions.
Both Getty and Corbis (the two biggest stock houses) began their busienesses by taking PD material from archives and books, cleaning it up, and offering it to publishers and advertisers. (and this was pre-digital, when it was a real pain to do so).
You're also paying for the convenience of one-stop shopping instead of doing potentially hours or days of research (depending on how obscure the material is).
I worked for Corbis as a researcher/keyworder for almost a year, and was astonished to see the PD stuff they were offering.
If the pix are pre-1960s, see if they are also on the Library of Congress (or other government) websites, where Getty probably got them from.
If they're pre-1923 and you can find them elsewhere (probably not as clean as the Getty versions), it should be safe.
Getty, in fact, claimed copyright over images in the National Archives.
And here's an article about the matter...