Getty Images sues Microsoft, says Bing Image Widget turns digital images into a free 'clip art' collection

Getty Images sues Microsoft, says Bing Image Widget turns digital images into a free 'clip art' collection

Getty Images has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft in U.S. District Court targeting the newly released Bing Image Widget. Getty is asking the judge to block the widget and award damages.

Bing Image Widget allows websites to embed galleries and slideshows into your site. These images are supplied by Bing. Getty claims that these images are not from a licensed or owned collection of images.

Getty further claims that, "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, all without seeking permission from the owners of copyrights in those images."

Microsoft has stated that it will look into Getty's concerns. Getty is a company that produces and provides media, and it has a product that does a similar thing as the Bing Image Widget. However, Getty points out that their tool is only used on non-commercial websites and includes photographer attribution. So not only does the Bing Image Widget provide competition, Getty itself represents or owns more than 80 million images.

Those are the facts as I was able to distinguish. We will have to wait on the court and Microsoft for more information. However, if you look at the Bing Image Widget, it does seem like Getty has a point. In this site, we try our best to make sure images get an attribution if they are used from another source. Putting a picture from Bing Images doesn't seem right, and that is exactly what the widget does.

Now, the site itself could provide sources, but from the widget itself it would be hard, as they link to Bing Images and not the actual webpage. Also, some sites just don't care. There are numerous ways to correct this, one being to just offer a curated pool of owned/licensed images - perhaps from the Bing homepage images.

Here is an example of the Bing Image Widget, with a search of 'surface':

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