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Web designers are becoming alarmed that Getty Images is coming after them for using its copyrighted images on their websites without a licence.

A Reg reader complained to us about the "school bullying tactics", by which Getty charges people for using its images and fines them for doing so without prior permission.

The reader said small website owners, unaware the images they were using were copyrighted, were being sought out and fined.

"Website owners may have used [template] sites... or third party web designers where the implied status of the templates from these sources would indicate a royalty-free status.

"Getty are targeting small one man bands, charities, and low profit organisations since they will not have the resources to fight back," he said.

A spokeswoman for Getty said it had been using a firm called Picscout for about a year to scan the internet for commercial websites - not hobbyists or bloggers - that are using its rights managed images without permission.

It sought an amicable resolution that involved the payment of royalties and a fine to compensate Getty for the use of the image. Getty passes the royalties onto its contributing photographers. It is not known whether it also passes on a portion of the fine.

"If people want to use our images, they have to pay for them," she said. ®

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