In an effort to control photo piracy, US-based stock photo agency Getty Images filed a competition lawsuit with the European Union's antitrust commission over the way Google displays its images in search results.
The complaint relates to changes implemented on the picture search function by the search giant in 2013, which the agency claims has given it an unfair advantage over engagement data, site traffic and advertising spend.
Getty Images state that the search giant has snitched traffic that should have gone directly to the photo agency’s website. When Google has made their images available in high quality and large format to be downloaded, there is no reason for users to visit the photo's original source. Previously, the company only displayed small thumbnails of images. The agency accused the company of promoting piracy that has resulted in widespread copyright infringement which apparently turns users into accidental pirates.
The photo agency’s workforce largely include more than 200,000 content creators, photo journalists and artists all over the world, copyright violation is a huge deal for these individuals since they get paid for their work and losing traffic against the Mountain View, California company means losing out on a lot of income.
The agency general counsel Yoko Miyashita is calling on to photographers to support them in their cause against the tech giant. In an open letter, Miyashita has asked photographers to correspond with their respective regulators, warning that the entire industry will be affected if the search giant
continues with its practice.
The complaint filed with the antitrust commission comes less than a week after EU charged Google over its alleged supremacy on Android devices. It was reported that the company used illegal practices of popularizing its own services on Android devices.
Tablet and smartphone makers, who use the search giant’s operating system, are required to pre-install their apps and services such as Gmail and Chrome browser on the devices. This automatically denies consumers a wider choice of apps and services that can be used.
The tech giant hasn’t been cooperating with the photo agency over the issue since the last three years, hence the complaint. The company already faces charges over infringing EU competition laws.
In the course of time the European Commission will have to decide if Google has breached competition rules. In the past, the company dismissed allegations it has used its dominant position to withhold competition.