Could This Lawsuit Change Photo History? A Photographer is Suing Getty for $1 Billion


When did it become normal in journalism to spend a third of the article giving me a gloss on another article's comments thread? That would be like a mid-20th century "New York Times" reporter not only telling me about something "The Washington Post" reported, but then also doing a fireside chat number about the subsequent Letters to the Editor down in DC. This is a consequence of the Internet erasing personal & professional boundaries that were there for a reason.
Somebody hasn't read the Times recently.

It isn't just donating photos that makes it hard for photographers to make a living. Donating anything puts people out of work. That Shakespeare in the park. Or letting a guy crash on your couch. Feeding the hungry. All that generosity, like, saps man's vital essence. Or something. I forgot the word Any Rand used for but I think she wrote a whole book about how you should be a selfish greedy asshole because reasons and stuff.
@Dunno: I'm genuinely curious. Would you have seen the Hyperallergic story if I hadn't posted this?

Or is your point more that I should have quoted less and just straight-linked with a brief mention that there's great action in the comments?

The one thing I'd disagree with you on is that there's a right way to do online journalism, and we all know what it is. When you get that memo, send it around. I am always trying to figure it out. I think many of us are.

Thanks for reading and for commenting.

There's no money to be made in feeding kids for free.
How on Earth did Getty images acquire these images for their catalog in the first place? Whatever the answer could lead to quite a few more artists' work licensed either illegally or inappropriately.

The verdict (or settlement) will be interesting for a case in which the artist can't prove damages, but clearly, the spirit of the law was violated.
@2, I'm pretty sure it's a philosophy invented by greedy selfish assholes to justify their greedy selfishness. I mean, if some people are not going to be greedy assholes, it robs the greedy assholes of stuff they feel justified in grabbing.

@5, they just went to the Library of Congress website, probably, and downloaded them. Then they pretended that they owned them. Which would work up until the time you accidently sue the person who created the pictures and uploaded them into the public domain (OOOOPS!!!).
Having a business just based on collecting royalties & threatening people is parasitic bullshit. I wish this photographer every success. Forget about $1 billion, but a few million are definitely in order. Fuck these pigs.
We've got to start suing for something other than $$. Although it sounds like Getty is atrocious, the public would lose. Can't we sue and ask for other reparations? i.e., the Getty must spend a billion $$ on providing arts and history to the public?
Hi Jen,

I actually AM glad you posted this story; I wouldn't have known about it otherwise -- well, at least, not until this case hit the mainstream. And I'll surprise you by adding that I'm an amateur photographer, and I've been working on a project (with an eye toward self-publication) that pairs urban pictures I took with old ones of the same sites. For the latter, I've been working with the State Archive office to try and find what I'm looking for among their public domain collection. Last week, there was one they didn't have, but they linked me to an image at the Washington State Historical Society. After learning how to jump through that places hoops, I now have that image and the right to use it in a short-run printing -- for a small fee. I was confused because the people at WSHS have emails that end in .gov and their images ARE public domain, but because they are not fully funded by the state the way the Archives are, they charge to help pay for their curating those images (I guess). So, yeah, the topic of your piece actually might have been of more interest to me than to most Stranger readers.

However, I stand by my feeling taken aback by the format of your story. Again, imagine a time when newspapers came out a couple times a day, and in an evening edition the "NYT" publishes a story about a story the "WA PO" published the day before, as well as folding in reader feedback from the Letters to the Editor in that day's morning edition. I don't think that ever would have been done. While such a story might have contained some interesting information, I doubt it would have been called "journalism" per se back then. I'm sorry, but I've been noticing this "Readers Digest"-type regurgitation more and more with "The Stranger." ("Hey, guys, look what they just posted over at blah blah blah!") I'm also sorry I don't have an "online journalism memo" to pass onto you, because that would certainly solve a lot of problems. But I believe my point is valid that the blurring of old-school boundaries (what are reporters doing differently than they used to? And editors? How are readers' voices being factored in differently? And the voices of third party publications? And so on) -- well, whether we agree about the pros and cons of this era, I bet we'd agree that there have been consequences.
@7......In addition, lawyers who engage in this activity should be permanently disbarred.
Does she have any ghost of a case for copyright infringement, if she did entirely relinquish her copyright rights as it sounds like she intended to? Did she not actually do that? IP lawyer want to jump in?

The victims of Getty's copyright trolling should have a case, I hope; it may depend on how carefully Getty worded their letter to cover themselves. ("after which we will exercise all available legal rights in full", not mentioning those are in some cases zero rights available?) I hope it's illegal somehow. Not sure copyright enforcement is the way though.

For what it's worth, I appreciate the article and I am all in favor of journalists summarizing and fact-checking a well-informed comment thread somewhere else.
I have seen plenty of web forum threads that were way more informative about a news story than the Seattle Times article about it was. How is quoting that not as good as quoting a person whose phone number you got once at a party with cheese cubes on toothpicks fit journalists?
Mtn. Beaver, what you say @12 may be true sometimes, but that neither justifies that sorry state of things nor invalidates my point about the slow, casual absorption in journalism of entities that previously had been kept at arm's length -- an absorption that's happened in dribs and drabs and thus has led to the point where to it's so normalized that to point it out is seen as odd. It's true that I often get more information about my city from Nextdoor than I do from the actual paper, but that doesn't mean that's a good system -- to say nothing of the fact that we've unquestioningly come to "trust our gut" on the word of often anonymous laypeople while in the next breath slagging off on actual professional journalists (the second most frequent mean turn I see Internet posters take, after attacking someone's politics).
I really think that Getty is conducting a con game by trying to trick people into thinking that they owe money because they are in violation of copywriter laws. Send them a bill and see if they'll pay it. In the early 20th century when industrial corporatism was coming into being it was not uncommon for the accounting departments of large companies to receive bogus bills for materials or services that were never received and sometimes they were paid. It's really a scam and I hope that Getty pays big time; as earlier mentioned, the lawyer too.
@6 I suppose that is the simplest answer, it's just so.... fucked.
@15, Indeed.