Tag Archives: Bing image Search


by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel  

Getty Images (US), Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., No. 14CV7114 DLC, 2014 WL 5285697 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 16, 2014)

In late August Microsoft launched a test version of a new service called Bing Image Widget which allows website publishers to embed a panel on their website that displays images supplied by Microsoft’s Bing Image Search that would enhance the user’s website experience.  The Bing Image Widget search prompted an automatic tool that “crawled” the Internet for any content that Microsoft could find, whether the crawled site had permission to use the images. The images were displayed in collage mode comprised of small, thumbnail-sized images or slideshow mode displaying full-sized images that rotated every few seconds. The thumbnail images were copied and indexed and then stored in a Thumbnail Library on Microsoft’s servers including code that displayed the full-sized images by an in-line link to an originating website’s server.

As mentioned n a prior post, http://blog.pacaoffice.org/?p=2242, many PACA members, as well as other associations (Specifically ASMP and CEPIC) were concerned that this widget could be used to replace legitimate licensing and contacted Microsoft to discuss the widget and industry concerns. Prior to any response  to the Associations from  Microsoft, Getty Images, who had earlier this year released an embed tool to promote “responsible image sharing”   http://infocus.gettyimages.com/post/new-embed-lets-you-share-tens-of-millions-of-images#.VFfluTTF8YZ]  filed a motion seeking preliminary injunction against Microsoft. A motion for preliminary injunction seeks to compel the allegedly infringing party to immediately cease use, and is granted where a party faces “irreparable harm” by the continued use. That same day, Microsoft immediately disabled the Widget and a few days later communicated to Getty Images that Microsoft was willing to “commit to not re-launching the Widget during the pendency of the lawsuit except as redesigned to display public domain or licensed images.” [Although, it wasn’t until almost two weeks later that Microsoft disabled the Widget for those that were still able to use the code generated prior to Microsoft’s disabling of the Widget.]

Due to Microsoft’s “prompt disabling” of the Widget and their assurances that it will not re-launch the service until the pending copyright infringement action is decided, the Southern District of New York denied Getty’s motion seeking preliminary injunction against Microsoft. It is important to note that this decision does not mean that Getty Images’ copyright infringement action against Microsoft is dismissed. Rather, the Court held that Getty Images did not meet the requirements for obtaining a preliminary injunction because Microsoft had already discontinued use of the Widget on its own.

PACA/Digital Media Licensing and ASMP did eventually have a conversation with Microsoft where it stated that due to ongoing litigation, it could not discuss the case, but that the Bing widget was disabled and there was no intention of launching the current Bing Widget in the future.  We offered to be available to discuss image embedding and search and in particular anything that would not encourage licensing of images from the original source. We discussed the  industry’s effort to increase image information through the PLUS registry and encouraged Microsoft to learn more about the PLUS coalition.


Many of our members are as concerned as we are about the recent Bing Image Widget that launched August 22, 2014. This tool is marketed to internet users and encourages website publishers to enhance their websites and embed a panel of images on their website that are selected from using the Bing Image Search.  There is no indication from Bing that these images may need to be licensed for use.

As a preliminary step, PACA , together with ASMP and CEPIC reached out to our contact at Microsoft to express our fear that the Bing Image Widget will have an serious impact on the image licensing industry and lead potential image users to believe that the use of images are available for free. We requested a meeting during the PACA conference October 19-21.

As Associations, without ownership of copyrights, we can advocate on behalf of the industry but based on recent court decisions, would have jurisdictional challenges in bringing a copyright claim.

We learned today that Getty Images, US Inc. brought a copyright infringement action against Microsoft in the Southern District of New York seeking to enjoin Microsoft from the use of its Bing Image Widget Service and for statutory damages based on its alleged massive copyright infringement of Getty Images many registered works. A copy of the Complaint is here.

There have been several articles written about the Bing Image Widget, you can see one here.

We will keep you apprised of any new developments  and will continue to support all efforts to encourage the licensing of images and the education of users as to copyright.