Getty sues Microsoft over embed tool

Getty and its team of lawyers show no fear when an outside force threatens to tamper its business. No claim is too small or big, and this time Microsoft is the target.

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An example of what the Bing Image Widget looks like. Source: Recode.net

Getty has sued Microsoft for its recently released image embedding service, the Bing ‘Image Widget’, citing a ‘massive infringement’ of Getty’s copyrighted images.

The Image Widget that was released in August allows publishers to embed a slideshow of image thumbnails sourced from Bing’s image search results. Like most search engines, Bing pulls its images from other websites and webpages, and the reason Getty is suing is because it is highly likely some of these images are ‘owned or controlled’ by Getty, according to the lawsuit.

‘Rather than draw from a licensed collection of images, Defendant (Microsoft) gathers these images by crawling as much of the Internet as it can, copying and indexing every image it finds, without regard to the copyright status of the images and without permission from copyright owners like Plaintiff (Getty),’ the suit says.

Getty makes the point that Microsoft has essentially turned ‘the world’s online images into little more than a vast, unlicensed “clip art” collection for the benefit of those publishers who implement the Bing Image Widget’. It has sought a court order to block the widget from causing further irreparable damage, as well as unspecific damages (which are apparently ‘incalculable’).

In response, a Microsoft spokesperson said they’d ‘take a close look at Getty’s concerns’, which has led to the company temporarily disabling the Image Widget, which was in its beta stage.

While there’s no denying that Bing’s Image Widget would lead to many professional photographers work being used without permission, one may notice the irony in Getty fighting this battle. Getty’s own image embed tool that was released earlier this year is entirely beneficial to publishers (and eventually Getty with ad revenue), and was implemented without asking permission from their contributors.


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