"It has come to our attention that you are using an image represented by Getty Images for online promotional purposes," the letter from the photo service began. It demanded $1,000 in damages, or $900 if Formella agreed to pony up the cash within two weeks.
"We were really surprised, because we didn't think we were using any copyrighted pictures," Formella, 51, told me. He said he immediately pulled every photo from his company's site, which had been put together by a Web-design firm.
But Formella said he won't pay hundreds of dollars for inadvertently using the photo -- a generic shot of a woman sitting in front of a computer. Getty charges as little as $49 to license such images.
"A thousand dollars in damages?" Formella said incredulously. "Are they kidding?"
That's undoubtedly a common reaction among the tens of thousands of people who receive such letters each year from Getty and another leading image provider, Corbis, owned by Bill Gates.