Frequently Asked Questions

Why did I get a notice from ArtistDefense?

As explained in our letter, you’ve used one or more images owned or represented by one of our clients. Our client can find no record of a license granted for your usage, so it appears that you’ve infringed our client’s copyright. Our client has instructed us to contact you to resolve the matter. Learn more

Do I need to talk to a lawyer?

We’re providing information on this website as an educational resource, but it doesn’t qualify as legal advice. We highly recommend you speak with a qualified lawyer if you have legal questions about the letter you got from us or about copyright in general. However, you’re not required to hire a lawyer in order to resolve a claim with one of our Copyright Compliance Officers.

What is a copyright?

Copyright is the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, use, distribute and display an original work of authorship, such as a photograph. This right is protected by treaties and the laws of the United States and Canada. For more information, see:
United States Copyright Office - Copyright Basics (PDF)
Canadian Intellectual Property Office - A guide to copyright

Is the problem solved if I remove the image?

No. While removing the image mitigates your liability, it doesn’t solve the problem. The use of copyrighted images requires proper licensing to cover any and all uses. Therefore, payment of a license fee is required to resolve the matter completely.

What if I hired someone to create my website?

Under the Copyright Act, it doesn’t matter who designed your website or whether you intentionally committed copyright infringement. As the end user, you’re responsible for the infringement and for paying the appropriate license fees. We won’t contact the designer to reach a settlement unless the designer agrees to take responsibility for the infringement and has the means to do so. If you believe the designer is responsible, the onus is on you to contact the designer.

What if I bought the image as part of a design template?

Under the Copyright Act, you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring that you have permission to use the image. If you purchased or acquired images from a subscription service or a website that provides templates, you are still liable for copyright infringement if that company didn’t properly license the image for your use.

What if I didn’t know that the image had to be licensed?

Copyright infringement is referred to as a “strict liability” violation. This means that it doesn’t matter if you accidentally infringed someone’s copyright or didn’t know the image was copyright-protected and needed a license. Your lack of knowledge doesn’t excuse or dismiss your unauthorized use, nor waive the license fees you need to pay for your use of the image.

What if I found the image on the internet and there was no copyright notice or watermark?

Under the Copyright Act, the lack of a copyright notice or watermark doesn’t mean there’s no copyright protection. An image is protected by copyright from the moment it’s created, whether published or not, whether registered or not, and whether or not a copyright notice or watermark accompanies it. Just because an image is on the internet doesn’t mean it’s in the public domain, even if you found it through a search engine like Google. The term “public domain” is a narrowly defined exception to the Copyright Act that deals specifically with works in which copyright has expired or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that the work is not subject to copyright.

What if I didn’t make any money from the image?

Making money from the use of an image is irrelevant when determining whether the use was an infringement. The copyright owner can recover damages even if you lost money when using the image without permission. Making money from the use of the photo may increase the amount of damages, but it’s not required, even to recover statutory damages (which can be as high as $150,000 per infringed work in the United States).

How are retroactive fees calculated?

Fees for stock photos vary greatly depending on whether the image is royalty-free (RF) or rights-managed (RM). Refer to our current fee schedule for more information.

What’s the difference between Rights-Managed (RM) and Royalty-Free (RF) images?

First of all, whether an image is licensed as RM or RF is entirely up to the copyright owner.

RM images are licensed for fees based on how an image will be used. Factors include the media in which an image appears, duration of use, territory of publication, quantity of reproductions, size and prominence of the image in the final use (e.g. whether on the home page or secondary page of a website) and whether or not any exclusivity is granted to the end user. The prices can range greatly based on the scope of the rights granted – even for the same image. Essentially, the more you do with an RM image the higher the price.

RF images are generally priced based on the file size of the image used. Rights are usually very broad, allowing uses in unlimited applications for an unlimited period at a fixed fee. Some licensing restrictions usually apply. There are big price differences between crowdsourced “microstock” collections (which ArtistDefense doesn’t represent) and professional collections of RF images (which we do).