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Copyright Infringement of Stock Photos

If you received a cease and desist demand or demand for payment for alleged copyright infringement for alleged use of stock photos or stock images on your website, or blog, it should be taken seriously. You may find advice on the Internet that refers to demands by photo image owners as being extortion-like and recommends that you simply ignore the demand. We do not believe that to be an appropriate course of action. The demand letter will likely include a threat that if you do not remove the stock photos or stock images from your website or blog, you may be subject to a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This too, should not be taken lightly. Copyright infringement of stock photos and stock images is a serious matter and ignoring a demand for settlement could lead to costly future litigation. However, the chance of litigation may be minimized if you take proper legal action to defend against such allegations.


Copyright infringement demand letters are used to inform the recipient that they have alleged to have committed copyright infringement for using stock photos that subject the website owner or blogger to liability for damages to the copyright owner. Often these letters are sent by owners of huge photography catalogs, such as Getty Images, Corbis, and Masterfile. Other times these demand letters are sent by so-called “copyright trolls," as part of an alleged scheme to monetize intellectual property ownership. The purveyors of such demands may allege the stock photography or stock image owner’s right to claim up to $150,000 in statutory damages for willful infringement, followed by an offer to settle for $500 per photo. The proposed settlement offers are purposefully targeted to be a little more than what the website owner, website designer or blogger would pay an attorney to defend against the infringement claim. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THIS TACTIC. There are many good copyright lawyers who defend against cease and desist demand letters and DMCA takedown notices for a reduced fee.


The copyright trolls’ demand letters tend to invoke the recipient's fear of future legal proceedings. While your actions may technically constitute copyright infringement of stock photography or stock images, not every use of copyright protected material is subject to a lawsuit. We recommend that you consult with an attorney of your choice to guide you through this legal process and not rely solely on your Internet research. Copyright law is complex. Further, most lawyers are also trained negotiators. In the event you chose to settle, it is likely that the attorney will negotiate a better settlement on your behalf than you would on your own. A competent lawyer may save you more money than it costs you in attorney's fees. THAT IS OUR GOAL AT WILLIAM R. WOHLSIFER, PA.


Our attorney fees for stock photos and stock images defense cases are much lower than they ordinarily would be for cases of this kind. The reduced fee is available for two reasons: First, it is based on the actual perceived amount in controversy; second, in some instances we are able to work with existing work product, which offsets our expense by representing similarly situated unrelated individuals.



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