Corbis Corp., a photography provider owned by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, said it sued Web retailer Amazon.com Inc. for being party to illegal sales of its images.
Amazon said that the images in question were being sold by independent poster and picture sellers on Amazon's "zShops" program.
A spokesman said Amazon removed 15 merchants, who also were named in the lawsuit, from its Web store after learning of Corbis' lawsuit.
Corbis could get as much $150,000 for each infringed copyrighted image, plus other damages, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Amazon and Corbis, as well as Corbis' largest competitor, Getty Images Inc., are based in Seattle.
Amazon said it has been diligent in respecting the rights of copyright holders and that it was difficult to track any merchants violating copyrights on its store.