A photographer renowned for her Americana-themed pictures is suing stock-photo agency Getty Images for $1 billion for copyright infringement.
Carol Highsmith filed a federal lawsuit Monday in New York claiming the agency and its subsidiaries have been charging fees for the use of her more than 18,000 images without her consent.
Highsmith has been providing her images to the Library of Congress since 1988 for use by the general public for no charge.
"The defendants have apparently misappropriated Ms. Highsmith's generous gift to the American people," the complaint said. "[They] are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees...but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner."
According to the suit, Highsmith found out about Getty using her images when the agency sent her a letter in December accusing her of copyright infringement for using her photos on her own website.
One of the photos is of a huge shuttlecock on the front lawn of the Kansas City Art Museum. Getty apparently wanted Highsmith to pay $120.
Now Highsmith wants big bucks as payback.
A Getty spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the agency believes Highsmith's suit is based on "a number of misconceptions" and it hopes to rectify the matter quickly.
"If that is not possible, we will defend ourselves vigorously," the agency said.