Getty Images sues Microsoft for copyright violation

Getty Images is suing Microsoft for for a “massive infringement” of its copyright.

Getty Images sues Microsoft for copyright violation

The case revolves around Bing Image Widget, a new service that allows users to embed digital photos on their site.

Microsoft claims the service can enhance a customer’s website “with the power of Bing Image Search” and provide visitors “with beautiful, configurable image collages and slideshows”.

However, Getty – one of the largest digital image repositories in the world – alleges that rather than drawing on a pool of licensed images, the service simply accesses the billions of photos found online without regard to their copyright status.

“In effect, defendant has turned the entirety of the world’s online images into little more than a vast, unlicensed ‘clip art’ collection for the benefit of those website publishers who implement the Bing Image Widget,” the lawsuit said, according to Reuters.

In its suit, the company, which has an archive of more than 80 million photographs, also claims those using the service could be subject to legal action if their site reproduces a copyrighted image.

“That’s going to be an uncomfortable experience for some of the users,” said John Lapham, Getty’s general counsel, according to The Financial Times.

Getty has earned a reputation as a particularly aggressive enforcer of copyright.

Since 2008, the company has issued demand letters to those who infringe the rights of its photographers claiming substantial damages and has been known to send out debt collection agents to try and enforce them.

The same year, the the Federation of Small Businesses accused Getty of harassing small businesses, to which the organisation replied it’s “liable to chase” as its photographers expected their work to be protected.

In response to this latest suit, Microsoft said: “As a copyright owner ourselves we think the laws in this area are important. We’ll take a close look at Getty’s concerns.”

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