Carol Highsmith vs Getty Images, When You Get Accused of Infringing Copyright Using a Photo Taken by Yourself (2016)
Named one of the greatest acts of generosity in its history, the Library of Congress received a collection of more than 100,000 images authored by Carol Highsmith. In 2015, she got a letter from LICENSE COMPLIANCE SERVICES, which is associated with Getty Images. There, the company demanded a $120 settlement for the use of one image authored by Highsmith and used by her nonprofit organization “This is America! Foundation”. After investigating this matter, she discovered that similar letters had been sent to other users of her photos and filed a lawsuit against Getty Images under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act DMCA. Finding out she had published around 18,000 images, she demanded one billion dollars as statutory copyright damages in this case.
Getty Images, on the other hand, was unfazed by this lawsuit. They said that Highsmith had no right to claim misuse or infringement since she gave these rights up when she donated the work to the public domain. The judge, in this case, agreed with Getty and dismissed most of the federal copyright claims, leaving the case with several state law issues, and the case ultimately resulted in a settlement agreement. As for the infringement letters sent to the photo users, Getty said it was an honest mistake on their side, and they immediately addressed the problem.
What do you think about this case and its outcome? Who was right in this matter?