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Getty Images files case against Google over photo piracy

According to the US photography agency Getty Images, Google is undermining its business by enabling its users to pirate copyrighted photos.

The company has decided to file a formal complaint with the EU's antitrust commission. Getty is targeting Google Images with its complaint and its argument is based around the way in which the service gathers images hosted on third-party sites and then makes them available to download.

The images are available in a variety of sizes and even come in high resolution formats. By making them freely available, Google Images deters its users from visiting Getty's own site where the same images are available for purchase.

Originally the service only presented its users with smaller photos in thumbnail formats and did not directly interfere with Getty's business. However after January 2013, Google Images began to display photos in a variety of sizes, formats and at a higher quality. Getty claims that its own site saw a tremendous decrease in traffic after the company implemented this change.

When contacted about the case, Google declined to comment. Three years ago, the two companies did attempt to resolve this issue. At that time though, Google only presented Getty with the option to fully accept the new format of the service or it could choose to opt out of Google Images altogether and no longer have its images appear on the search engine's image service.

Getty also claims that Google has taken advantage of its market dominance and is strongly suggesting that other photographers rally behind its cause:

“Getty Images represents over 200,000 photojournalists, content creators and artists around the world who rely on us to protect their ability to be compensated for their work, Google's behaviour is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the world, present and future.”

This latest case could cause even more difficulties for Google with the EU antitrust commission. Last week, formal charges were filed against the company over its mobile OS Android and now the commission has even more ammunition in its fight against the company.

Image Credit: antb / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.