Arrr! Photo agency wants Brussels to force Google into walking the plank for turning people into "accidental pirates"

William Turvill
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This is a cat, not a real pirate (Source: Getty)

A photo agency wants Google to walk the plank for turning people into “accidental pirates”.

Yes, Google is facing yet more legal action in Brussels. This time, Getty Images has complained to the European Commission over Google Images.

As well as accusing Google of creating pirates, Getty also said the search engine is "threatening innovation, and jeopardising artists’ ability to fund the creation of important future works".

Read more: EU accuses Google of breaking antitrust rules with Android

The complaint, which Getty said it will be file today, focuses on changes made to Google Images in 2013, which is “creating captivating galleries of high-resolution, copyrighted content”.

Getty said in a statement: “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.”

Read more: Alphabet shares plummet after it misses expectations

It's been a tough month for Google.

Its owner, Alphabet, reported a disappointing set of first-quarter results last week, with revenue growth and earnings per share coming in below analysts' expectations.

And the European Competition Commission also filed formal charges against the company, which it believes has violated antitrust rules in Europe via its Android operating system.

Read more: Google and co could be forced to reveal EU tax, EC says

Getty Images’ general counsel, Yoko Miyashita, said: “Google’s behaviour is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the word – present and future.

“By standing in the way of a fair marketplace for images, Google is threatening innovation, and jeopardising artists’ ability to fund the creation of important future works.

“Artists need to earn a living in order to sustain creativity and licensing is paramount to this; however, this cannot happen if Google is siphoning traffic and creating an environment where it can claim the profits from individuals’ creations as its own.”