In the lawsuit, filed last week in Stockholm District Court, Scanpix complains that its pictures often appear as thumbnails next to articles listed in the Swedish version of Google News, Google Nyheter.
According to Scanpix, the images constitute copyright protected material that the agency hasn’t authorized Google to use.
In the suit, Scanpix describes ongoing efforts to strike a deal with Google to compensate the agency for the use of its pictures, which began appearing on Google Nyheter in 2008.
Google also attempted to filter out Scanpix images, but the efforts failed to adequately address the problem.
Following a series of fruitless meetings in 2010 and the first half of 2011, Scanpix warned Google in June 2011 that it planned to take legal action to put a stop to the “unauthorized use” of Scanpix images.
A final letter sent by Scanpix in November 2011 demanding payment from Google by the end of the year was rebuffed, prompting the filing of the lawsuit.
“Ever since Scanpix contacted Google in 2008, Google has been aware that the use of Scanpix pictures requires consent from Scanpix,” the agency wrote in its lawsuit.
“This condition notwithstanding, Google has continued to use Scanpix pictures as well as refused to pay for the use that has occurred.”
Google responded to the lawsuit in a written statement issued to media trade publication Dagens Media.
“Google respects copyright and provides rightsholders simple tools to control their content on our services. If someone doesn’t want their material to be included in Google Nyheter, they can inform us using a commonly accepted web standard robots.txt,” Google wrote.
The search engine added that it considers Google Nyheter to be a service which works to the advantage of publishers and rights holders.