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Google announces deal with Getty Images and changes to image search

by on 14th February 2018

Google and Getty images have announced a new partnership and Getty Images, in a blog post on its website, has announced it has withdrawn its long standing anti-trust complaint against Google filed with the European Commission.

Getty’s original complaint was about Google’s decision to scrape full-size imagery from its website, as well as Google’s decision, from 2013, to display Getty’s imagery in a carousel.

Getty claimed Google Images was causing tangible harm to its licensing business as well as the businesses of content creators worldwide.

Getty contended that with the introduction of the carousel, users were able to view full resolution images in Google Images and this replaced the need for them to visit Getty’s website.

At the time, Getty said “Because image consumption is immediate, once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site. These changes have allowed Google to reinforce its role as the internet’s dominant search engine, maintaining monopoly over site traffic, engagement data and advertising spend.”

It also accused Google of “promoting piracy.”

According to an update made to the official press release on Getty’s blog, Google responded by telling Getty Images to accept the new image carousel or opt-out of displaying their images in Google Image search.

This was unacceptable to Getty and they argued that they were being faced with an impossible choice between “allowing the harm to continue” or “becoming invisible on the internet.”

The new “multi-year global licensing partnership” between Getty and Google will, according to a new press release on Getty’s blog, involve Google removing the “view image” image button from Google Image search and making copyright disclaimers more prominent in their image results.

It will also involve “deeper integration” of Getty’s images across a range of Google’s products and services.

Getty has come under fire from a number of independent publishers in recent years for sending out letters demanding payment for what Getty claims are licensed images; the financial demands made by Getty have reportedly been as high as thousands of dollars.

According to the LA Times, in one case the photographer Carol Highsmith, after posting one of her images on her personal website, received a letter from Getty Images demanding payment.

In response, she filed a lawsuit accusing Getty of illicitly claiming licensing rights to over 18,755 of her photographs and she claims Getty had no right to claim license on her work.

Getty responded that the lawsuit was “based on a number of misconceptions” and the courts eventually dismissed the claim.

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