Help ridding my website of licensed images
March 27, 2015 9:19 AM   Subscribe

So...I woke up to a lovely email from Getty advising me that I had been using one of their premium images on my shop's (extremely low traffic) website ...

and that they would have to extract recompense from me for the privilege. Of course I immediately took down the image upon receipt of the email and replaced it.

My question isn't actually about avoiding paying Getty the enormous fee they now want, it's to ask if anybody knows how I can automatically search my website for any more copyrighted images? I would like to avoid such awakenings in the future.

I didn't put the image on the website, a member of staff did, and I will be doing some re-training to avoid it happening in the future. I don't think what happened from our side is OK before anyone asks. I just wish Getty had started with a cease and desist first. We're such small fry and would have been delighted to comply.
posted by dance to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could try using this method in reverse.
posted by beagle at 9:24 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

In order to not violate copyright you want to only use that which you yourself create, pay for, or that which is in the public domain or has a Creative Commons license that you follow (attribution, etc). However, you can't fully trust search results on sites that aggregate public domain/CC images since, well, people sometimes are mistaken or lie about copyright.

If you/your employees are just googling/scraping images as they find them, you are most certainly displaying copyrighted images. If you're relying on public domain/commons searches, you're probably going to occasionally break copyright. (Some image databases, though, like that of, are pretty trustworthy since federal images like theirs automatically are in the public domain.) And if you pay for images or use your own, you will be totally fine.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:41 AM on March 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

Was this a un-watermarked image that turned up in a google image search, then the staff member just downloaded it and stuck it on your site?

If thats the case, than I think a very very rigorous review of your /img directory is going to be in order, and a verification of a license for each image. Metadata is your friend here.

If you don't want to risk it, replace each image with a placeholder (like your logo) until your search is done. Your developer could write a little batch script to do this.

A subscription to something like will be a good tool to get staff using properly licensed images. Or only using Flickr Creative Commons search.

Getty owns millions and millions of photos. There is no way to reverse search all of them. You need to have positive verification of license/rights, especially now that there is easy enough tech for stock houses to find you.
posted by fontophilic at 9:43 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

TinEye may have a (for pay) service to help with this.
posted by scruss at 9:45 AM on March 27, 2015

Best answer: PicScout is most likely what Getty used to find the image on your site. You can use the search tool for pay to search the rest of your images. (Full disclosure: I work for Getty Images, but in technology, not in licensing.)
posted by matildaben at 10:41 AM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

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