Detail of a historic car with license plates from the 1940s. San Francisco, California
Title, date, and keywords provided by the photographer.
Credit line: The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Gift; The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation in memory of Jon B. Lovelace; 2012; (DLC/PP-2012:063).
Forms part of: Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive.
In 2015, documentary photographer Carol Highsmith received a letter from Getty Images accusing her of copyright infringement for featuring one of her own photographs on her own website. It demanded payment of $120. This was how Highsmith came to learn that stock photo agencies Getty and Alamy had been sending similar threat letters and charging fees to users of her images, which she had donated to the Library of Congress for use by the general public at no charge. In 2016, Highsmith has filed a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against both Alamy and Getty stating “gross misuse” of 18,755 of her photographs. “The defendants [Getty Images] have apparently misappropriated Ms. Highsmith’s generous gift to the American people,” the complaint reads. “[They] are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees … but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner.” According to the lawsuit, Getty and Alamy, on their websites, have been selling licenses for thousands of Highsmith’s photographs, many without her name attached to them and stamped with “false watermarks.” (more: http://hyperallergic.com/314079/photographer-files-1-billion-suit-against-getty-for-licensing-her-public-domain-images/)