Nikon has withdrawn its sponsorship of a Microsoft online photo competition, which asks the public to find and vote for images that they believe signify Britain.

Named "Iconic Britain", competitors must find the images they think are iconic by using Windows Live Image Search.

However, Microsoft doesn't give an accredition to the images that are appearing in the competition, causing both photography groups to push their members to sue, and Nikon pulling out its sponsorship and support.

Website, Pro Imaging, got a response from Microsoft on the matter, in which the company said: “All images that feature on Iconic Britain are images from the Internet that are already in the public domain.”

Note to Microsoft - this doesn't, however, mean they're copyright-free.

Pro Imaging agreed, saying: "If copyright was truly respected by Microsoft they would have made sure that no images subject to third party copyright would be selected by Live Search."

A Microsoft statement counters: "When an individual wishes to submit an image into Iconic Britain, it is the subject matter (for example, red telephone box or cup of tea) that they are searching for, not a specific image. The site then repeats the individual’s search and displays a dynamic, visual set of search results from images that are already available on the internet and not one specific image. At no point, does www.iconicbritain.co.uk copy, host, or download any image."