Image Use, Demand Letters, and the Flu

I got two things yesterday I really didn’t want: a demand letter and the flu.

First, I must address my absence – I took the summer off to read, research and learn. I’ll write about that later.

Back to the demand letter and the flu...

Traveling has its upside. I get to work with terrific clients. In person. Love it.

Traveling has its downside. Close proximity to thousands of people in crowded airports and planes, time zone changes, long days – all can lead to a bug.

I’ll get over it.

But the demand letter is something else.

What did I do? The claim is that I used an image I did not buy.

I do not steal. The image in question was pulled from a public domain site. Hmmm. Maybe not so public domain? Had this firm purchased the image after I posted it? Free advice: watch out for public domain.

This law firm is well known (on the Web). After doing a little research online, I found that my demand letter was from a firm that has sent thousands of these letters out on behalf of their client, and has been doing so for years. I'm hardly the first to get one of these demand letters.

Why does this always happen on a Saturday?!

I won’t use the name of the law firm, nor the name of the company they represent. Why? Because they also scan the web for any instance of their name and, and as those who’ve answered this firm’s demands state (yeah, I know everything posted on the Web is true), it becomes personal very quickly.

They want the image removed, and for me to pay them $825.

I have removed the image and contacted a lawyer to make sure this is legit. Yeah, I really regard this as serious. Being Saturday, I hope to hear back Monday. I really don’t want this to drag on.

Now I have a couple days where I can do nothing but worry that I am accused of being a thief; and sweat with a 102-degree fever, a throat so sore I can’t swallow water, and chills that seem impossible to possess in the middle of the desert.

Good artists copy great artists steal.

Picasso said that. It says so on BrainyQuote.

Brilliant artists are inspired.

I said that. I checked on Google, and there are no results for the quote. You may use it. For free.

Sincerely, this is a huge matter to me. I am an artist. I was a graphic designer and illustrator way back when. My work was used, without permission, more than once. I didn’t have the resources of a law firm to demand payment. It hurt. I could have used the money.

And trust me on this: I do believe in paying an artist for their work. Most are struggling to make the rent. I get it. They deserve to be paid.

I have worked in the capacity to purchase either directly or through an image farm, an artist’s work. Payment made, rights on file, expiration flagged.

To be accused of stealing is horrible.

I guess this can serve as a cautionary tale. Never assume you have the right to do anything, even though you’ve jumped through all the hoops. You’re just a presort-mail-demand-letter* away from a legal issue.

*As an aside, I usually toss presort mail. It’s usually junk.