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Alamy's 'Unlicensed Usage Agency' - Got it VERY Wrong!


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A good and regular photography client of mine has been sent a letter from 'Visual Rights Group Ltd' ('an agency appointed by Alamy to check on unlicensed image use') demanding payment of $390, for use of an image (of mine) found on my client's website.

This image is of products owned by the client, it was photographed on the client's premises and taken at the client's request for use on their website (and I was paid for the shoot). The copyright is mine, and I had permission to submit the image to Alamy, for secondary use. The client was, not surprisingly, very upset by this demand letter and I certainly feel some responsibility for their distress.

I recently received the princely sum of $1.36 (before commission) for a recent photo of mine, which could have earned $1000 a few years ago. So, perhaps it might be better for Alamy to spend more time trying to increase contributor fees, rather than sending out their attack dogs to harass innocent people. Apart from anything else, given my almost zero income from stock currently, I need to retain goodwill with my direct clients.

 

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8 minutes ago, Steve Valentia said:

A good and regular photography client of mine has been sent a letter from 'Visual Rights Group Ltd' ('an agency appointed by Alamy to check on unlicensed image use') demanding payment of $390, for use of an image (of mine) found on my client's website.

This image is of products owned by the client, it was photographed on the client's premises and taken at the client's request for use on their website (and I was paid for the shoot). The copyright is mine, and I had permission to submit the image to Alamy, for secondary use. The client was, not surprisingly, very upset by this demand letter and I certainly feel some responsibility for their distress.

I recently received the princely sum of $1.36 (before commission) for a recent photo of mine, which could have earned $1000 a few years ago. So, perhaps it might be better for Alamy to spend more time trying to increase contributor fees, rather than sending out their attack dogs to harass innocent people. Apart from anything else, given my almost zero income from stock currently, I need to retain goodwill with my direct clients.

 

What happened to Alamy's assertion that they would check with contributors before taking this kind of action? 

Have you asked them?

Phil

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1 minute ago, Phil Crean said:

What happened to Alamy's assertion that they would check with contributors before taking this kind of action? 

Have you asked them?

Phil


Hi Phil, I have emailed them, and also copied them into the email sent to 'Visual Rights Group', but no reply yet. Interestingly, I wasn't aware of the assertion you mentioned. This will be something I can raise if/when Alamy come back to me. Thanks for the info.

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UPDATE: I just got this from 'Visual Rights Group'...
 

Dear Stephan,

Thank you for your email. 

We are very sorry that we have been authorised to contact one of your clients and do not wish to cause any difficult situations. It is likely that Alamy did not know about the agreement in place with your client and as they had no records of a license sold under Valentia Island Farmhouse Dairy’s website, this case was passed to us.

 

We can confirm that this case has now been cancelled and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.



Too little too late, in my view, the damage is done. It would have been nice if they had got my name right, too!

 

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28 minutes ago, Steve Valentia said:


Hi Phil, I have emailed them, and also copied them into the email sent to 'Visual Rights Group', but no reply yet. Interestingly, I wasn't aware of the assertion you mentioned. This will be something I can raise if/when Alamy come back to me. Thanks for the info.

 

 

It's in the Contributor Agreement, section 16.7, Alamy is responsible to Promptly inform you that they suspect infringement.   

 

 

"Each party will promptly inform the other party of any actual or suspected third party infringement of copyright or any other intellectual property right or third party right,"

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Hi Steve,

Sorry to hear that happened, very annoying. Was the image marked / not marked as 'exclusive to Alamy' on the optional tab in AIM?

Steve

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43 minutes ago, Steve F said:

Hi Steve,

Sorry to hear that happened, very annoying. Was the image marked / not marked as 'exclusive to Alamy' on the optional tab in AIM?

Steve

 

 

This should be irrelevant.  Exclusive does not mean never offered in any other fashion, there is also the timing issue where Alamy mismatches verb tenses in the definition (not "which is not and has never been" available) and fact the definition has been modified extra contractually in posts on forum- for example a picture of a piece of art which I do not offer anywhere else would meet the Contract definition, but Alamy once posted it didn't. 

 

""Exclusive"
means any item of Content that you have only made available to Alamy which is not also available via any third party licensing, sales or distribution channel, including without limitation via any other stock agency or image site, but excluding the Contributor’s personal website and print sales."

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33 minutes ago, meanderingemu said:

 

 

This should be irrelevant.  Exclusive does not mean never offered in any other fashion, there is also the timing issue where Alamy mismatches verb tenses in the definition (not "which is not and has never been" available) and fact the definition has been modified extra contractually in posts on forum- for example a picture of a piece of art which I do not offer anywhere else would meet the Contract definition, but Alamy once posted it didn't. 

 

""Exclusive"
means any item of Content that you have only made available to Alamy which is not also available via any third party licensing, sales or distribution channel, including without limitation via any other stock agency or image site, but excluding the Contributor’s personal website and print sales."

 

I'm trying to remember what Alamy said when they introduced this. Did they say that they would check with Distributors first before pursuing claims if an image was marked as exclusive to Alamy?

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12 minutes ago, Steve F said:

 

I'm trying to remember what Alamy said when they introduced this. Did they say that they would check with Distributors first before pursuing claims if an image was marked as exclusive to Alamy?

 

Regardless what they said, the Agreement states that they have to promptly contact the contributor as soon as they "suspect infringement".  Pretty sure having their agent send a letter to someone requesting payment qualifies as "suspecting infringement", and therefore this is in essence in breach of the agreement, regardless what else they said

yes they did say it, if fact the agreement is contradictory as they even say they will do it (subsection 2.10), but that doesn't remove the breach of their responsibility under 16.7 

 

Edited by meanderingemu
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1 minute ago, meanderingemu said:

 

Regardless what they said, the Agreement states that they have to promptly contact the contributor as soon as they "suspect infringement".  Pretty sure having their agent send a letter to someone requesting payment qualifies as "suspecting infringement", and therefore this is in essence in breach of the agreement, regardless what else they said

yes they did say it, if fact the agreement is contradictory as they even say they will do it (subsection 2.10), but that doesn't remove the breach of their responsibility under 16.7 

 

Thanks 👍

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3 hours ago, Steve Valentia said:

A good and regular photography client of mine has been sent a letter from 'Visual Rights Group Ltd' ('an agency appointed by Alamy to check on unlicensed image use') demanding payment of $390, for use of an image (of mine) found on my client's website.

This image is of products owned by the client, it was photographed on the client's premises and taken at the client's request for use on their website (and I was paid for the shoot). The copyright is mine, and I had permission to submit the image to Alamy, for secondary use. The client was, not surprisingly, very upset by this demand letter and I certainly feel some responsibility for their distress.

I recently received the princely sum of $1.36 (before commission) for a recent photo of mine, which could have earned $1000 a few years ago. So, perhaps it might be better for Alamy to spend more time trying to increase contributor fees, rather than sending out their attack dogs to harass innocent people. Apart from anything else, given my almost zero income from stock currently, I need to retain goodwill with my direct clients.

 

Hi Steve,

 

We are very sorry for the mix-up in this check to your client on an unlicensed image use. This has occurred because the image would have been marked as exclusive to Alamy.

 

We wanted to update you on when to mark images as exclusive or not when you upload to the Alamy site, which is that the images don't appear on any other third-party site other than your own personal website. This is because it will be assumed that if a license hasn't been bought and used through Alamy on images marked as exclusive, then an infringement has taken place.

 

For this reason, in terms of the contract there is a clause here about notifying us regarding your own sale of content that is marked as exclusive on Alamy:

 

"2.3 ...You must notify Alamy prior to any sale of Content on exclusive terms not made via the System."

 

In terms of getting in touch with your client we can according to this clause:

 

"2.10 By marking Content as Exclusive, you grant Alamy the right to chase third party infringements of the Content without Alamy having to consult you."

 


We likewise don't want to write to customers or clients of photographers where an infringement hasn't truly occurred, and we can only search for infringements on images that are marked as exclusive to us. This does in part relate to the reliability of contributors marking images as exclusive correctly.

 

We are sorry that this has happened, and will look carefully at the wording of the contract and review it in case there has been any confusion about the definition of 'exclusivity'. This will hopefully avoid any further mix-ups like this happening again.

 

We have got your email and will also respond to you there too.

 

Thanks,

 

Alamy

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Just now, Steve F said:

 

Thanks 👍

 

pretty sure this was highlighted when the new agreement was introduced, but Alamy left it as is.  It was identified as an issue, which lead many of us to remove "Exclusive" from Exclusive images (especially since Alamy wrote that they can charge us under 2.10), which pretty much removes the advantage of introducing the "Infringement" team, which was they whole big hoopla in the latest commission reduction

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