Getty Images files competition law complaint against Google30 April 2016 | Steve Thirsk
On 27 April, 2016 Getty Images, a world leader in visual communications, filed a competition law complaint against Google Inc. with the European Commission.
The complaint followed on from Getty Images' submission in June 2015, when it joined as an interested third party in support of the European Commission's existing investigation into Google's anti-competitive business practices.
The Commission's current proceedings against Google are wide-reaching, with Google accused of distorting search results in favour of its own services. This affects a myriad of industries, from media companies like Getty Images, to comparison shopping and travel websites. Just a week earlier, a further set of proceedings were issued against the search engine, to address Google's business practices around its Android mobile operating system.
Getty Images' complaint focuses specifically on changes made in 2013 to Google Images, the image search functionality of Google, which has not only impacted Getty Images' image licensing business, but content creators around the world, by creating captivating galleries of high-resolution, copyrighted content. Because image consumption is immediate, once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site. These changes have allowed Google to reinforce its role as the internet's dominant search engine, maintaining monopoly over site traffic, engagement data and advertising spend. This has also promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement, turning users into accidental pirates.
Getty Images firmly supports a more image-rich, digital world, but one that recognizes and remunerates the content creators who create this imagery. In 2014, Getty Images launched its embed tool, which revolutionized the visual content industry by making imagery available for easy, legal sharing at no cost for non-commercial use. This embed functionality provides consumers with an easy, legal alternative to the "right click," an alternative that ensures the content creator is appropriately credited for their work and that the image is clearly traceable to Getty Images in the event that a user wishes to license the image for a commercial purpose.