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Carol Highsmith, Library of Congress Collection

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/)
The result of former U.S. President George W. Bush's invitation to those involved in a Library of Congress photo shoot to join him and former first lady Laura Bush for a group shot following the photo session. Pictured are (l to r), former Voice of America broadcaster Ted Landphair, husband of photographer Carol M. Highsmith; George W. Bush, photographer Highsmith; Mrs. Bush; and Lynn Crain, assistant to Lyda Hill, the Dallas, Texas, philanthroper who underwrote Highsmith's visual study of early 21st-century Texas that included photographs of the Bushes at their 1,600-acre ranch near Crawford in McLennon County, Texas
43 Media in collectionpage 1 of 1

Willard Hotel, Willard Room under demolition with fallen capital and column, 1984 / C.M. Highsmith.

Photograph showing a fallen capital in a demolished interior in the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Willard Hotel lobby after cleanup, before restoration, 1984 / C.M. Highsmith.

Photograph showing the lobby of the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. stripped of furnishings in preparation for restoration.

Willard Hotel lobby floor being fitted for tile pieces, 1985 / C.M. Highsmith.

Photograph showing a tile worker on the floor of the lobby of the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. during restoration.

Willard Hotel - mansard roof during renovation, 1985 / C.M. Highsmith.

Photograph showing workers on scaffolding repairing the mansard roof of the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Washington Monument is in the distance.

Willard Hotel Crystal Room scagliola being repaired, 1985 / C.M. Highsmith.

Photograph showing a worker repairing the scagliola on a column in the Crystal Room of the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. during restoration.

Willard Hotel bull's eye window from interior of 12th floor suite / C.M. Highsmith.

Photograph shows a view of the Washington Monument as seen through a bull's eye window at the Willard Hotel.