A photo widget on Microsoft’s Bing service has led to a lawsuit claiming “massive infringement” on copyright. Microsoft has removed the offending tool, which allowed users to post photos and slideshows onto their websites, Sky News reports.The “Bing Image Widget” allowed Web publishers to embed galleries and slideshows of images curated from Microsoft’s Bing search engine. It had been in beta testing for less than two weeks when Getty Images, one of the world’s largest stock-photo companies, responded with a federal lawsuit claiming the tool facilitated “massive infringement.”
In a legal complaint filed last week in New York, the notoriously litigious company claimed the widget crawled the Internet for billions of images without regard to licensing or copyrights. The suit further alleged that Microsoft made copies and indexes of every image without permission.
The images, collected via Bing, came from all over the Internet—and Getty Images’ lawsuit is charging that many of them were copyrighted, Reuters reports. “In effect, the defendant has turned the entirety of the world’s online images into little more than a vast, unlicensed ‘clip art’ collection,” the suit says.
Getty has never been shy about using the court system to solve a disagreement. Earlier this year, it went on a litigation spree with a series of boilerplate copyright lawsuits aimed at online publishers it said was using its images without permission. In an ironic twist last month, Getty Images itself was sued over its aggressive copyright-enforcement efforts by an intellectual-property law firm, which accused Getty of “unfair and deceptive business practices.”
Microsoft has responded to Getty’s complaint: “As a copyright owner ourselves, we think the laws in this area are important,” says a rep. “We’ll take a close look at Getty’s concerns.” Getty says it is facing “incalculable” injury from the widget; the company “owns or represents” some 80 million digital photos, it says, per Reuters. It wants unspecified damages as well as the shuttering of the Microsoft widget. Its current removal is reportedly temporary, PC World notes.
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Microsoft Dumps Widget Sued for ‘Massive Infringement’
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The full legal complaint is below: