Getty Images has formally complained to the European Commision’s antitrust officials about the multinational’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour.
Getty has flagged up concerns about Google’s use of “scraped third party imagery” on its search engine.
Google is accused of distorting search results in favour of its own services, including Google Images, Shopping, Maps and several others, affecting competitors from media companies such as Getty to travel sites and price comparison companies.
Getty’s latest complaint, following its registration as an “interested third person” in June, revolves around Google Image search, which displays images from across the internet in response to picture or word search terms.
The image company’s complaint specifically calls out changes made to Google’s Image search in 2013, which it says created “captivating galleries of high-resolution, copyrighted content” and “promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement”.
Getty Images’ General Counsel, Yoko Miyashita said: “Getty Images represents over 200,000 photojournalists, content creators and artists around the world who rely on us to protect their ability to be compensated for their work. Google’s behavior is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the word – present and future. By standing in the way of a fair marketplace for images,
“Google is threatening innovation, and jeopardizing artists’ ability to fund the creation of important future works. Artists need to earn a living in order to sustain creativity and licensing is paramount to this; however, this cannot happen if Google is siphoning traffic and creating an environment where it can claim the profits from individuals’ creations as its own.”
Miyashita continues: “Getty Images believes that images have the power to move the world by spurring action and driving change. It is key that these issues with Google are addressed and that the dominant search engine in Europe leads users to legitimate sources for imagery, rather than creating an environment that benefits Google alone. A fair marketplace will allow photographers to continue to capture the ground-breaking imagery that informs and impacts the world every day.”
Google has refuted the anti-competitive claims, which form part of the growing unease over the dominant position of US technology firms within Europe.
The US company holds a 90% search share across Europe, and is facing several antitrust investigations from the EU.