Getty Images & Microsoft Bury Hatchet, Partner

Chris CrumBusiness

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It appears that Getty Images and Microsoft have buried the hatchet after legal issues last fall, as the two just announced a new partnership, which will see Microsoft taking advantage of Getty's imagery.

The two companies will work together to develop "image-rich, compelling products and services" for Microsoft products like Bing and Cortana, which use Getty's library of images. Both companies' tech teams will partner to provide real-time access to that library as well as associated metadata "to enhance the Microsoft user experience". This will take place over the coming years.

"With our new partnership, Microsoft will use Getty Images' latest API innovations and our award-winning visual content to take search experiences to a new level," said Getty Images Senior Vice President of Business Development Craig Peters. "Our technology teams will work together to create beautiful, engaging applications and services for Microsoft users with licensed content and attribution for photographers and other content creators."

"This collaboration enables Microsoft users to take full advantage of Getty Images' speed to market, structured metadata and unrivaled content," added Microsoft Executive Vice President of Business Development Peggy Johnson. "We look forward to working with Getty Images to provide the next generation of image depth and breadth for our users."

Back in September, Getty sued Microsoft over a tool it had launched, which enabled people to embed slideshows of images from Bing Image Search on their websites. The tool was called the Bing Image Widget, which Microsoft described in the following manner:

Bing Image Widget enhances your web site with the power of Bing Image Search and provides your users with beautiful, configurable image collages and slideshows. What’s more, Bing Image Widget is easy to configure.

Users could get the code by going to the Bing Image Widget page or via Bing Webmaster Tools. They could simply copy and paste the code onto a page, and adjust the settings to meet their needs, and then get a collage of images. It basically looked like a group of image search results, and probably wouldn't have even been used all that heavily, but just to make sure, Getty sued Microsoft over it, deeming it a "massive infringement" of copyrighted images.

In October, Reuters reported that Getty had failed to convince a federal judge to take action against Microsoft as the company had already taken the widget offline voluntarily. Again, the amount of usage it was likely to attract was probably not worth the headache of a legal battle. From the Reuters report:

Getty asked U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan to slap Microsoft with an injunction on the new product. Even though Microsoft removed the widget the day after the lawsuit was filed, Getty pressed forward with its case. Getty told Cote not to believe Microsoft's claims that it would not relaunch the widget because it did not rule out creating a new widget that could still infringe on Getty's content.

...

"We would have preferred a judicial mandate for (the widget) to stay down," said John Lapham, Getty's general counsel. "But the question of whether or not you're allowed to take and use somebody else's copyrighted materials without any attribution or compensation is still live and before the court."

As far as I'm aware, Microsoft has not relaunched any version of the tool since, though it had indicated to Getty at the time that if it did, it would do so with filters, attribution notices, and other copyright-related details. The original tool is still offline.

Earlier last year, Getty had released its own embeddable image tool, enabling bloggers and website owners to use some of their images as long as they did so with the provided embed code that ensured all proper attribution, links, and other requirements.

While the tool doesn't give you access to Getty's entire library, does let you search 50 million photos, and gives you quite a few embeddable options.

"It's easy, legal and free," Getty says on the landing page for the tool.

Shortly after suing Microsoft, Getty launched a mobile app called Stream designed to let users view and share its photos. It was the company's first consumer app.

On Tuesday, Getty also announced a new "Boards" feature that it says "sets a new standard for collaboration in the creative industry."

The offering lets people curate, share, and discuss Getty's photos and video content on GettyImages.com and via a new redesigned Getty Images iOS app.

“In today’s always-on global economy, media and creative professionals collaborate with peers and clients who are just as likely to be across the world, as across the office,” said Getty Images CTO Steve Heck. “A true collaboration tool, Boards create a dynamic platform to bring your projects to life using the world’s best imagery. By establishing seamless workflows, Boards ensure creatives can capitalise on ideas and opportunities at any time, working across various devices, wherever they may be.”

Boards let users view collections of images and videos according to specific projects or creative interests, without requiring them to sign in to gettyimages.com.

Getty Images has over 180 million images in its library, as well as video.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.