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Microsoft removes Bing Image Widget in wake of Getty Images lawsuit

Microsoft has removed access to its Bing Image Widget for websites in the wake of a lawsuit filed against the company last week by Getty Images, who claimed the widget violates the copyrights on the photos it owns.

The Bing Image Widget, which launched in August, allows websites to place a panel on their pages that shows images from the Internet found by Microsoft's Bing search engine. However, Getty Images claims that widget will allow websites to place copyrighted images from its service on their pages without permission.

In a statement to Re/code, Microsoft said, "We have temporarily removed the Bing Image Widget beta so we can take time to talk with Getty Images and better understand its concerns." There's no word if Getty Images will drop its lawsuit as a result of Microsoft's actions. What do you think of this development in this case?

Source: Re/code

45 Comments
  • wow, so who's next, google image search?
  • I think the issue is that it shows the images on someone else's page. I imagine they have agreements in place about the use of their images with Google, Bing etc. that this violates. On the other hand, conspiracy theorist in me wants to say Google had a role to play in this...
  • I would hope so. If you go after one company you better go after them all.
  • It doesn't sound like this is an image SEARCH issue per se, right? I assume Bing image search is still available.
  • Correct.  This case isn't about the Bing wallpaper or Bing Image Search.  I'm sure MS gets permission prior to using the Bing wallpaper images and they do show the source on their image search. This case is about a fairly new (still beta) "widget" that web developers can embed in their webpages. It basically uses images from Bing's Image search to build a collage of images based on whatever search phrase the web developer configures into the widget.  It does show the source of each image if you hover over it, but if the image owner wants compensation then just giving credit is not always enough.  Anyway, It's kind of a grey area in my opinion.  I think that Getty has a point and I think MS has good intentions, but it's kind of hard to classify this widget and it also probably depends on how the web developer uses it.
  • Thanks, that's the kind of info I wish they would include in these articles. (excellent and timely as they are)
  • Everybody against Microsoft!?? :(
  • Sad! :/ First SkyDrive, now this... rumors has it that Microsoft will have to remove the name Windows because of copyright of the invention of that air entrance people have in their houses. And will have to rename Outlook because people sometimes out look... and Bing translator will be banished because it is ripping off the job of translators in the reception of hotels. But keep calm folks, Google services will continue to work normally! :D That's just bad, very bad Microsoft wanting to dominate the world.
  • Come on , what is Getty images? Don't even heard of , infamous brand please get out of here !
  • They have a huge collection of images on the Web, and I'd probably not be wrong by saying that where the vast majority of the pictures you see on the Internet come from. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • You're joking, right? Getty Images is among the most well-known image repositories in the world. Sounds like MS put the cart before the horse here. Either they'll hammer out an agreement, or MS will leave Getty Images out of this new functionality.
  • Dunno if serious or just trolling
  • You might be too young to know what's on the internet but Getty has been around probably since before you were born. Their stock and trade are images.  They have tons of them.
     
  • They are the owners of millions of pictures that I assume one or two of the Getty family (Rich American family) collected over many years, some are still in copyright.     Bob
  • This is ridiculous. It's not like they are profiting off of their images.
  • I am guessing you don't know how copyright works. 
  • Meh. Another publicity attempt from a no name company I've never heard of.
  • Publicity Attempt? You're funny.
  • Getty is one of the biggest, of not the biggest names in image licensing. Guess you wouldn't mind if I walked into your house and stole something. After all, you are just a no name looking for publicity.
  • Nice shot, ZuneLune! You just scored a bull's-eye!
  • Then don't be posting pics on the net. Keep safe in a hard drive.
  • Saying "Then don't be posting pics on the net"  is basically the same as saying that if an artist doesn't want their art to be photographed, printed, and resold then the artist shouldn't display it in an art gallery.  If the world opperated that way, then most art would never see the light of day and most artist would never get credit for their work.   Getty, along with any other copyright holder, has the right to display their images on the internet or anywhere else they like (art gallery, social media, publishing, etc.).  Getty, and other copyright holders, also have the right to be compensated if others are using their material for commercial purposes.  I for one would be a little upset if one of my favorite photographs (a hobby of mine) that I shared to friends via my website ended up being used in some article or publication without so much as a "Photo by cleavitt."   I don't think the problem is with MS allowing people to find and see the pictures.  Any search engine does the same thing and that actually helps Getty promote their images.  It is up to the user of the images to pay and/or get approval before using the images for commercial purposes.  The fact that Getty is only upset about this tool/widget and not Bing in general tells me that simply finding and displaying the images is not the problem.  Honestly, Getty has a legit compaint in this case and it looks like MS is making a serious effort to resolve their concerns.
  • Ha! This.
  • If you don't know anything then it's better to keep quiet or the best thing is to do some search about Getty instead of posting comments here.
  • No name. Yeah. Good one.
  • Oh my.... Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • I couldn't careless about the image!
  • I would be happy to show off my pictures on Bing haha :)
  • In the real sense, who cares..
  • Microsoft is in the wrong here. Image theft and copyright infringement is a huge problem for photographers. Microsoft, who has in the past made a big deal about intellectual property theft should be in the business of protecting the intellectual property of others.
  • Well as far as I can tell what Getty has a problem with is "other" sites can use this widget and it gives these sites access to copyright images that they haven't paid for. Microsoft has paid for their site but the widget bypasses and therefore violating copyright. Taking down the widget should be back in compliance.
  • Will this affect the Bing lock screen WP wallpapers?
  • No.  This has nothing to do with the Bing Wallpapers or even Bing Image Search.  MS licences those images from the copyright holder (which is often Getty).  This has to do with a new beta "widget" that can be used by web developers to show image collages/slideshows on their websites.
  • No name? When you look at pictures from a news website such as the BBC, have you not noticed that it states "Getty Images" at the bottom of it? #ruserious #irseriouscat
  • You can't expect these kids who think EVERYTHING should be free to even begin to understand what the fuss is about...
  • Once artists started sampling each others music and people began trading music files without having to compensate the artists, all hell broke loose. People seem to think owning your own work and property is somehow wrong, that they're entitled to it in whatever form it's presented. So did MS violate copyright laws, or did they just share files that are readily accessible if the user searches for them? I'm on Getty' side on this, cause I think file sharing does violate the laws and MS did allow it to happen, but the laws are very muddy now.
  • Then the net is the wrong place to share anything. Sell it at the store!
  • They should just make contests to send in images! I think a lot of photographers would really like to see their image on a site as big as bing!
  • This has nothing to do with the Bing wallpapers.  This lawsuit relates to a "widget" used by web developers to display content in their own websites.
  • Yeah, sure. But then they could use these sent-in images instead of the Getty ones
  • I think it is Google who worked behind Getty.
  • Yeah it looks like Getty Images has a pretty good and valid point. Should they have just outright sued instead of negotiating and talking first? No. But that's just corporate drama for you. Microsoft should keep the widget, but lock it down to Bing images only.
  • I agree.  It's possible that Getty did attempt to contact someone at MS first, but perhaps they couldn't get in touch with the right people initially.  MS is a huge company after all and it's not easy to get ahold of the decision makers.  Big companies like MS and Getty have teams of lawyers on staff that are getting paid even if there is no work to do.  With that in mind, it's probably easier to get in touch with the right people at MS by having the legal departments handle it.  Hopefully, they can find an amicable solution and MS can make the widget available again.
  • so we can take time to talk with Getty Images and better understand its concerns
    MS seems to be in the dark about this. I think Getty went with the "sue first, negotiate later" approach when they could have very easily reached an amicable settlement that addressed all their concerns.
  • this is why we can't have nice things... it not good to see "We have temporarily removed the beta." just because some people can't be better and work on it without lawsuits and that crap.. it's not like Microsoft it's stealing anything you can't already do in Bing or google image search, and it's not like everyone was using this widget to get crazy and angry about it, so it could have been fixed without a stupid lawsuit or Microsoft removing it.