Getty Images has taken action against a serious copyright infringer who was discovered to have improperly accessed, downloaded and distributed Getty Images content through social media.
In early March 2016, Getty Images received a report from one of its customers alerting us to suspected copyright infringements that were taking place via a private group hosted on Facebook.
The ensuing investigation revealed the Facebook group was being used by some members as a forum for unlawfully trading and/or selling sports photographic imagery owned by or exclusively licensed to Getty Images. As alleged in the lawsuit filed on June 8, 2016, defendant Walter A. Kowalczuk was an active member of this forum and used it to offer for sale, high resolution Getty Images images, and images belonging to other photo companies, for as little as $0.75 per image, using code names to hide the true source of content and to conceal his unauthorized sales.
While Getty Images’ investigation thus far has revealed significant infringement, it believes that further investigation will reveal that Mr. Kowalczuk downloaded thousands of images without authorization from Getty Images and profited from those downloads. In addition, Getty Images believes that Mr. Kowalczuk was not acting alone, and the company is actively pursuing other possible infringers. Getty Images filed a complaint against Mr. Kowalczuk for copyright infringement, violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and other claims. That complaint was filed in the United States District Court in Cleveland, Ohio.
Getty Images strongly supports a robust and fair industry that recognizes and remunerates the artists whose expertise, time and livelihood is adversely affected by copyright infringements such as those incurred by Mr. Kowalczuk.
Getty Images has an immense responsibility to the 200,000+ artists we work with and our over 330 image partner relationships, to ensure that their work is properly licensed. Bear in mind that many artists themselves are small businesses, and are entitled to be paid for their work.
We intend to hold Mr. Kowalczuk and any others involved in this illegal marketplace accountable for their infringements.