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.