Getty Images Responds to Billion Dollar Copyright Lawsuit

Documentary photographer, Carol Highsmith, is suing Getty Images for $1 billion claiming copyright infringement after the photo service sent her a $120 bill for using her own photo. The photo that was flagged was not only her photo, posted on her website, it had also been donated by her (along with tens of thousands of other images) to the Library of Congress for public use.

The request for $120 alerted Highsmith to Getty’s sale of over 18,000 of her photographs. The $1 billion lawsuit was calculated by; the 18,755 violations, multiplied by up to $25,000 in statutory damages per violation, multiplied by the three years in which the infringement occurred. Hyperallergic reports her complaint reads, “[They] are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees … but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner,” that is, they are charging licensing fees for use of these images, many without credit to Highsmith, some with false watermarks.

Getty Images has responded to the incident in their online press room stating: “We are reviewing the complaint. We believe it is based on a number of misconceptions, which we hope to rectify with the plaintiff as soon as possible. If that is not possible, we will defend ourselves vigorously.”