Getty Images, a US stock photo agency, which acquires and supplies images, illustrations and stock film footage to various businesses and consumers, has again found itself the subject of another lawsuit for alleged copyright infringement.
Last week, on 25 July 2016, photographer Carol M. Highsmith filed a claim in the US District Court of the Southern District of New York (the ‘Court’), alleging that Getty Images had made 18,755 of her photos available on its website without crediting her as the author and charging licence fees for the use of her photos without her permission.
Carol’s claim seeks damages up to $468,875,000, but because Getty was found by the same Court to have infringed copyright in another case (Morel v Getty) within the last three years, Carol’s lawyers believe the Court has the power “to treble the statutory damages in this case against Getty” to what Carol’s lawyers have said should be “well over one billion dollars” to deter “bad faith business practices”.
One of Carol M. Highsmith’s allegedly infringed photos
This week, on 1 August 2016, Zuma Press, an independent press agency, filed its lawsuit against Getty Images in the same Court claiming that Getty Images had infringed 47,048 of Zuma’s sports images, by allegedly making them available on its website for licensing purposes without Zuma’s permission and without credit.
Zuma also claimed that Getty had even gone one step further by replacing Zuma’s credit, as author and copyright owner of the photos, with its own!
Zuma’s lawsuit is seeking damages which are said to range from $2,500 to $25,000 per infringed photograph, totalling up to a possible whopping $1,176,200,000!
Similar to Carol’s claim, Zuma’s lawyers have also noted that “[p]ursuant to 17 U.S.C s 1203(c)(4), the Court may award up to triple the damages if the Defendant had a judgement entered against it for violating 17 U. S.C s 1202 within the last three years”.
We will keep you updated of any further developments in either of these cases.