Category: Author: David Hall
We were delighted with Bing’s announcement in July that they had added a “Search by License” feature to their image search. We discussed it in our weekly team meeting and encouraged our writers to use this, to determine if images they were using were protected by copyright. Bing is using Creative Commons licensing information to filter their image searches, if you choose that option.
That seemed to be going smoothly until this morning, when we got a call from a client that they had received a letter from Getty Images demanding payment for use of an image that we had used on their social blog. “We have searched our records,” they said, “and have not been able to locate a valid license for the use of the image(s) under your company’s name.” This was an image that we had found using Bing’s image search by license feature.
Here is a screen shot of the Bing search page highlighting the image that was used (note the filter applied – “Free to share and use commercially”):
So, can you rely on Bing’s image search by license feature? Who is in error here – Bing or Getty?
If you click for more information on Bing’s image search by license, they have this disclaimer posted at the bottom of the page:
“Bing doesn’t verify or represent that a specific license is associated with an image or that you can use the image under that license.”
However, further up on Bing’s information page discussing this feature, they say, “Free to share and use commercially: You can share and use them for personal or commercial purposes. Changing or editing for personal or commercial purposes might not be allowed.” Is this disclaimer saying that this representation made further up on the page is not true? I would argue that they are indeed representing that a specific license is associate with an image. The whole existence of this feature is dependent upon this representation. Otherwise, the feature is completely useless.
This whole matter could become very interesting. If Getty is correct that they own the license to this image, why has it been published on the “Reasonably Well” blog since 2010 without any attribution or copyright notice? We’ll let you know how it all sorts out. Meanwhile, we have removed the image in question from the client’s site.