Photographer Carol Highsmith has filed a suit against Getty Images seeking damages of $1 billion, alleging "gross misuse" of her photographs and copyright infringement.
In 1988, Highsmith donated tens of thousands of her images to the Library of Congress for use by the general public without charge under the sole stipulation that she be properly credited for them. Nonetheless, she recently discovered that Getty Images had been charging licensing fees for her images when she received a letter from them in December 2015 telling her she had to pay to use her own image (seen below) on her website. Upon further investigation, she found the "brazen and extortionate practices" were being applied to many users and were continued even after she voiced her objections, and thus, she filed a lawsuit.
The claim alleges that Getty and other named parties have "misappropriated Ms. Highsmith's generous gift" and are "falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright holder." Under copyright law, she is entitled to up to $468,875,000 in damages for the 18,755 images that appeared on Getty's site, but due to a precedent in which Getty was similarly found to have violated the DMCA, the claim alleges Highsmith is entitled to damages in excess of $1 billion. The case was filed on July 25 in the United States District Court , Southern District of New York. So far, it appears Highsmith's images have been removed from Getty's site.
[via PDN Pulse]
Images of Kansas City Art Museum by Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, used under public domain.