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Photographer Sues Getty Images for $1 Billion after Billed for Using Own Photograph
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An example of Carol M. Highsmith’s work.

Summary: A photographer is suing Getty Images after learning they had been licensing her free photographs without permission.

Photographer Carol M. Highsmith donated her photographs to the US Library of Congress in an act of charity. The talented artist had been documenting America throughout her career and had a library of thousands of images. However, she was shocked when she learned that Getty Images and distributor Alamy had been profiting off her donated pictures for years, and now she is suing.

  
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In December of 2015, Highsmith was served with an email from License Compliances Services which accused her of copyright infringement. She had been using one of her own photographs on her website, and LCS said that she owed photo distributor Alamy a $120 fine. That’s when she realized that Alamy and Getty had taken her free images and had been illegally licensing them to consumers for profit.

The lawsuit was first reported by PDN Pulse. In her complaint, Highsmith said that the companies unlawfully charged fees and fraudulently claimed they owned the exclusive copyright to her work. She said that they printed watermarks on her photographs as if they were theirs. Furthermore, Highsmith said the two companies had been threatening legal action against individuals and companies with lawsuits they should not have been allowed to pursue.

Highsmith is seeking $1 billion in damages.

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In her lawsuit, Highsmith stated that her almost 20,000 images were donated royalty-free to the Library of Congress so that consumers could have access to her work for no cost.

As of July 29, Getty and Alamy no longer distribute Highsmith’s photographs, Quartz reported. The companies stated that once Highsmith contacted LCS that the company ceased pursuing their complaint.



In a statement, Getty Images said that “distributing and providing access to public domain content is different to asserting copyright ownership of it.”

Do you think Highsmith can win this $1 billion lawsuit against Alamy and Getty? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Quartz



 

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