Getty Images Sues Microsoft Over New Bing Photo Widget

Posted on 9/4/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Reuters reports that Getty Images claimed in a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York on Thursday that a new Microsoft product that allows website publishers to embed digital photographs on their sites is a “massive infringement” of copyrighted images.

The Bing Image Widget, released on Aug. 22, gives publishers the ability to create a panel on their websites that displays digital images supplied by Microsoft’s Bing search engine, according to the lawsuit. (See previous story.) Rather than draw from a pool of licensed images, the lawsuit claimed, the product grants access to the billions of images that can be found online, without regard to whether the photos are copyrighted.

“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,” the lawsuit said.

Getty, which produces and distributes photos, video, music and multimedia products, is asking a judge in U.S. District Court to block the widget immediately and award an unspecified amount of damages. The actual injury to Getty is “incalculable,” according to the lawsuit.

In a statement, a Microsoft spokeswoman said the company would consider whether Getty’s claims had merit.  “As a copyright owner ourselves we think the laws in this area are important,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “We’ll take a close look at Getty’s concerns.”

The widget is already in use by websites around the world, the lawsuit said. Getty owns or represents more than 80 million unique digital images, according to the lawsuit.

The case is Getty Images Inc v. Microsoft Corp, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 14-7114.

Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Sep 5, 2014
    If Getty gets a big award, will they somehow share this with photographers? I doubt it! We are the ones whose copyright is being hurt.

  • Douglas Peebles Posted Sep 6, 2014
    I am guessing Corbis will not join in this suit.

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