Getty Images sues Microsoft over feature that displays photos from Bing

Microsoft Windows 8.1 bing smart search

Getty claims that a tool that lets website owners add pictures from a Bing “image search” to their pages amounts to large-scale copyright infringement, and is suing Microsoft in New York federal court.

The lawsuit over the “Bing Image Widget,” which Microsoft rolled out in late August, is unusual in that it involves two companies that are both outspoke advocates of strong enforcement of intellectual property enforcement.

In a statement to Reuters, a Microsoft spokesman said “We’ll take a close look at Getty’s concerns.”

As for the Bing feature itself, it works by providing publishers with code they can embed in their website that in turn displays images that turn up in a Bing search. The publisher can choose a “collage” or “slideshow” feature. Getty’s complaint (embedded below) provides these Marilyn Monroe examples that might appear on a website that uses the Bing tool:

Bing Widget

Bing Widget

Getty’s complaint also points to several websites that are using the image tool and laments that Microsoft “has turned the entirety of the world’s online images into little more than a vast, unlicensed ‘clip art’ collection.”

The Bing Image Widget was profiled in late August by Search Engine Land, but otherwise has attracted little attention. The lawsuit may change that.

Update, Sept 8: Microsoft has reportedly removed the widget.

Getty v Microsoft

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