When it rains, it pours. That saying holds true for Google now more than ever before, and not in a good way either. Even as the company continues to fight against all the allegations leveled against it at the European Commission, it keeps getting targeted with complaints and lawsuits from newer fronts with alarming regularity. Getty Images, the Seattle, Washington-based stock photo agency, is now the latest entity to join the long list of companies, organizations and governments to have now come up with an objection to the way Google goes about its business. According to a complaint received by the European Commission from Getty, Google’s policy of scraping full-screen, high-resolution, copyrighted images from websites and displaying them on its own site is a breach of copyright laws in Europe.
Google reportedly first started showing high-res photographs on Google Image in January 2013, before which, the company used to display only smaller thumbnails. According to Ms. Yoko Miyashita, the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Getty Images, “Google’s behavior is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the word, present and future”. Getty also accuses Google of turning unsuspecting users into “accidental pirates” by making the images available to freely download, which is leading to “widespread copyright infringement”. The company also says that not only is this affecting its own business and that of the 200,000 photographers it represents, it is also taking away web-traffic from its partner websites, leading to a loss of revenues for them.
Meanwhile, Getty also asserts that its complaint against Google is not a knee-jerk reaction, as according to the statement released by the company, it has been in discussion with the search giant for the better part of the last three years before approaching the regulator. The company says that it wants antitrust watchdogs not just in Europe, but from around the world to investigate Google’s image search methodology and put a stop to it, as according to Ms. Miyashita, "We want to go back to search functioning as search, and not search functioning as a substitute of publishers".