Photographer sues Getty for falsely claiming copyright

WASHINGTON — American photographer, Carol Highsmith, never thought she would be charged for posting online a photo of her own until she received a letter from a firm associated with Getty Images accusing her of license infringement.

The License Compliance Services, the copyright enforcement entity believed to be connected to Getty, even demanded a settlement fee of USD 120 from Highsmith.

The 70-year-old photographer astonishingly learned that the stock photo agency had been charging people for thousands of her pictures that she had donated to the Library of Congress for free access since 1992.

She also found that another photo agency, the British-based Alamy, had been doing the same thing.

Highsmith, who is famous for having captured images of the American life as a record of the early 21st century, filed a lawsuit against the two agencies for falsely claiming copyright of 18,755 photos she took, and demanded more than USD 1 billion in reputation damages.

According to the suit, Getty and Alamy are not only “unlawfully charging licensing fees” for the donated photographs, but are “falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner.”

In a recent public statement, Getty responded that it acknowledges the images are in public domain but still maintains that “image libraries are legally permitted to charge fees for use of images in the public domain.”

Alamy has said even less, only with one employee saying that they are looking into the issue. PNA/Xinhua/