It's not just thumbnails, it can also embed a slideshow of larger images, loaded directly the the website that hosts the original images.
Does one say yahboosux to Getty, for their tirelessly intimidating campaigns to extract money from careless small businesses, or to Microsoft, for, well, being Microsoft?
And there's the important detail "loaded directly from the website that hosts the original images." and they didn't circumvent any actual passwords or controls this is a nuisance, stupid lawsuit hoping for an ignorant judge. You ask for the image, and the host provides the image. The host can't reasonably say afterwords that a third party violated copyright. The people hosting the image are never obliged to provide it just because your computer provided the IP to your service provider. But if somebody who has the rights to provide you with a copy gives you a copy than it is yours, although your rights are in turn limited by copyright. But under any reasonable reading of copyright, ip addresses themselves are not protected in the way that the underlying image is.
Can't Getty just put a big 'GETTY IMAGES' watermark on all it's images then? problem solved.
Maybe I'm being dense, but is this significantly different from being able to right-click on an image and the select "Save Image As"? I mean, that save-as function also allows anyone to capture an image from a site that has not protected content from the right-click function. And isn't there HTML code that allows one's website to simply display any image that has a URL? (It's been a long time since I had to look at HTML code.) So is Getty suing over the ease of capturing and embedding images?
I saw an elegant extrajudicial solution. Serve a different image if a HTTP referrer indicates the request comes from a site that pilfers your bandwidth this way. Can be a simple your-request-is-denied image, or porn, or something that goes directly against the values of the offending site.
By embedding a third-party object, you are exposing yourself to the third party's pranks.
There's a big difference between downloading for personal use and republishing someone else's intellectual property.
Being able to merely 'Save Image As' and look at the image offline isn't really relevant.
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