Microsoft takes down Bing Image Widget after Getty lawsuit

The company is being sued by Getty Images for copyright infringement

Following a lawsuit from Getty Images, Microsoft has temporarily removed the beta of the Bing Image Widget, which lets publishers embed collages and slideshows of images from search results on their Web sites.

On Thursday, Getty Images filed a copyright complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Microsoft, in which it alleged that the "beautiful, configurable image galleries and slideshows" typically consist of copyrighted images, including images whose copyrights are owned or controlled by Getty.

The court ordered Microsoft on Friday to show-cause by Sept. 17 as to why an order should not be issued, enjoining it from using, offering, or otherwise supporting the Bing Image Widget or comparable technology used to display images, during the action, unless it has an express license for such use by the copyright owners.

Microsoft's Bing now says on its website that " We have temporarily removed the beta." Microsoft could not be immediately reached for comment, but the company is quoted by various reports as stating that it had temporarily removed the Bing Image Widget beta so it "can take time to talk with Getty Images and better understand its concerns."

Microsoft launched the widget in late August and markets it to website publishers as a tool for enhancing the visual quality of their websites, according to Getty's complaint. "Rather than draw from a licensed collection of images, Defendant gathers these images by crawling as much of the Internet as it can, copying and indexing every image it finds, without regard to the copyright status of the images and without permission from copyright owners like Plaintiff," it added.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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