Getty Images recently billed a German women's geek culture blog $868 for a 2012 blog post that contained Socially Awkward Penguin meme images. Getty also insisted that the blog, Geek Sisters, keep quiet about it.
Socially Awkward Penguin is a 6-year-old meme that has appeared countless times on Reddit, blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts. The penguin photo in the meme was taken by George F. Mobley for National Geographic and usage licenses are available from Getty.
Get Digital, the parent site of Geek Sisters, paid the fee, but it is not keeping quiet about it as Getty insists. Here's a post about Getty's threat to bring in the attack lawyers if Geek Sisters mentions having to pay the fee (original text is in German, the following is from Google Translate):
After some more exchanging e-mails with the answer Getty became clear: Since the legal situation appeared quite clear we agreed on paying the amount claimed and of course we deleted the images. As a result Getty pointed out that we were obliged to maintain silence about this case otherwise their lawyers would take over. : O
Of course that is something we can not accept. We informed Getty that we would agree on everything (including the payment) except for the confidential treatment. Apparently this is not acceptable for Getty as they repeated their answer saying that in this case an agreement would not be possible and they would hand it over to their lawyers. Here is the presumed reason why it is NOT POSSIBLE to find anything about this case on the internet:
Getty is simply threatening to contact lawyers in order to force the affected persons to maintain silence and just pay the amount claimed! Probably most bloggers will decide to pay the money and do not mention it when faced with seeking pressure. Apparently this method is very successful but of course it will not work on us. We payed the license fee Nevertheless, as already mentioned the images were deleted. More over we declared legally binding to Getty did we would not use the Socially Awkward Penguin ever again. Besides this we are now waiting to receive mail from Getty's lawyers. Of course we will keep you posted about the outcome.
Here is a warning, though: It is not a very good idea to use the Socially Awkward Penguin. At least not the one with the penguin from Getty, Which is why we made a new version which we are releasing under public domain. Here it is: