Microsoft, Getty copyright dispute heads for mediation

Getty asked the court for an injunction on a Bing widget

A judge in New York has postponed for mediation proceedings a decision on an injunction motion by Getty Images against a Bing widget, which allowed publishers to embed image collages and slideshows from search results on their websites.

Getty had earlier this month filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Microsoft, in which it alleged that the image galleries and slideshows typically consist of copyrighted images, including those owned or controlled by Getty.

Microsoft said it had temporarily removed the Bing Image Widget, which was in its beta, so it could talk with Getty and better understand its concerns.

In a court filing, the software company said a preliminary injunction wasn't required as it had voluntarily disabled the widget a day after learning of Getty's claims and subsequently agreed to change it to use only licensed images until a decision in the case. The company plans to relaunch the widget only in the modified form. Getty could hence not claim any irreparable harm without an injunction, Microsoft argued.

Getty has countered in a filing last week that the widget remains operational across websites worldwide, to which Microsoft continues to supply images, including Getty's copyrighted images, without a license to do so.

Microsoft has also held it cannot be liable because its widget never actually copies or displays any copyrighted works, but supplies to the third-party user's website an "HTML address pointing to where the images are located, not the images themselves." The image host site to which Microsoft's code points in the collage view is its own server containing images that it copied from the Internet at large, Getty countered.

In an order made public Friday, District Judge Denise Cote ordered that the motion for preliminary injunction "is stayed until October 3, 2014 while the parties engage in mediation." Getty has to file any amended complaint by Friday.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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