Getty Images is suing Microsoft for "massive infringement" of copyright. Microsoft's recently released Bing Image Widget enables people to display images on a website based on search terms. The automatically generated code creates image slideshows and galleries that pull in images from Bing - Getty's complaint centres around the fact that the widget displays unlicensed images from its catalogue that are subject to copyright.
The Seattle-based stock image company says that Microsoft has turned the images that can be found online into "a vast, unlicensed clip art collection".
The lawsuit, filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, says that the injury caused to Getty is "incalculable" and calls for the widget to be blocked immediately.
The level of damages sought is not specified, but Getty's lawsuit suggests that the company has more than 80 million unique images in its library. Getty has its own image embedding tool, and John Lapham, general counsel for the company, explained to Reuters that it is "only available for non-commercial websites and includes photographer attribution".
He went on to say: "Now you have someone else's picture in full, beautiful display on your website, having never paid for it and with no attribution to the photographer at all. Microsoft issued a statement by email that 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".
We reached out to Microsoft for further comment, but have only received the same statement so far. We'll update this story if a further statement is forthcoming.