Visual communications company Getty Images has filed a complaint against Google, accusing the search giant of distorting the image search results for Google’s own benefit.
The complaint focuses specifically on changes Google made to its Google Images in 2013. The changes, allege Getty, have impacted the company’s image licensing business and other content creators around the world.
“Because image consumption is immediate, unlike other mediums searchable through Google, such as news or music, once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site,” the company said in a statement.
“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. This has also promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement, turning users into accidental pirates.”
Getty Images’ general counsel, Yoko Miyashita said in a statement the company represents more than 200,000 content creators who rely on the company to protect their work. “Google’s behaviour is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the word – present and future. By standing in the way of a fair marketplace for images, Google is threatening innovation, and jeopardising artists’ ability to fund the creation of important future works.
“Artists need to earn a living in order to sustain creativity and licensing is paramount to this; however, this cannot happen if Google is siphoning traffic and creating an environment where it can claim the profits from individuals’ creations as its own.
“Getty Images believes that images have the power to move the world by spurring action and driving change. It is key that these issues with Google are addressed and that the dominant search engine in Europe leads users to legitimate sources for imagery, rather than creating an environment that benefits Google alone.
“A fair marketplace will allow photographers to continue to capture the ground-breaking imagery that informs and impacts the world every day.”