Getty Images filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) on allegations that its new Bing Image Widget allows publishers to commit “massive infringement” by embedding copyrighted digital photographs.

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Getty Images’ allegations

In its lawsuit, Getty Images indicated that the Bing Image Widget launched by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) on August 22 enabled publishers to create a panel that displays digital images on their websites. The digital images came from the software giant’s Bing search engine.

Getty Images alleged that the Bing Image Widget provides publishers access to billions of images available online without taking into account whether the photographs are copyrighted.

The lawsuit claimed that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) “turned the entirety if the world’s online images into a little more than a vast, unlicensed ‘clip art’ collection for the benefit of those website publishers who implement the Bing Image Widget, all without seeking permission from the owners of copyrights in those images.”

Getty Images filed its lawsuit in a federal court in New York. The content producer and supplier of creative and editorial photographs, stock footage, music and video requested the court to stop the Bing Image Widget immediately. Getty Images said the actual harm caused by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) through its photo tool is “incalculable,” and it is seeking unspecified financial damages.

Microsoft to evaluate Getty Images’ claims and concerns

In an e-mailed statement to Reuters, a spokesperson for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) said the software giant would consider whether the claims of Getty Images had merit.

“As a copyright owner ourselves we think the laws in this area are important. We’ll take a close look at Getty’s concerns,” according to Microsoft’s spokesperson.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) removed the Bing Image Widget beta temporarily as the company wants to take time to discuss and understand the concerns of Getty Images.

Getty Images’ general counsel John Lapham said they had been in discussions with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) regarding the “erosion” of copyright protection for online images for more than a year.

According to Lapham, the Bing Image Widget is more than a search tool as it enables websites to embed copyrighted images for commercial use. He emphasized that Getty’s embedding tool is only available for non-commercial websites and includes attribution to the photographer.