Small Seattle company battles large firm over photos

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by JESSE JONES / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @getjesse

KING5.com

Posted on February 18, 2014 at 12:13 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 18 at 7:12 PM

Dan Michael and his parents are small business owners who are in a fight with a giant.

“I feel like we're being bullied,” said Dan.

The Michaels own the online travel agency called Tropicaltravel.net.  Their issue is with Getty Images, who claims the business is in violation of a copyright law.  It’s tied to two images the Michaels used to promote resorts with which they partner.  Getty wanted $1,600 for the violation and the pictures removed.

“It's hard for us to swallow because we are such a small company,” said Dan.

This isn't the first time the Michaels have been in this situation.  Getty uses image recognition software to scan the internet for people using their copyrighted pictures.  Twice before, Tropical Travel was found to be in violation.

“We don't like problems so we just paid them.  But the third time was like, okay.  No more,” said Annette Michael.

This time was different because Tropical Travel had written permission from the resorts to use their images.  They sent the information to Getty, but the company wouldn't budge.

“They didn't care.  They continued to move forward with the legal case and continued to say that we had to pay them by this date or else,” said Dan.

After months with no resolution, the Michaels contacted me.  I got in touch with Getty and a couple of weeks later Getty made a decision.

“We received a letter saying they were dropping the case,” said Annette.

Getty isn't saying much but tells me it dropped the case after it received all relevant information.  Bottom line: Always get written permission before using someone’s work. And avoid using images you find online because what appears free may come with a big cost.
 

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