The news that Getty Images is making 35M images available for embedding in online content royalty-free led to a spate of emails here at InkHouse on what this might mean for our clients. As an agency, we use different forms of content – infographics, video and photographs – to help tell our clients’ stories more effectively. We are careful only to use content for which we have appropriate rights.Getty has made the case that because misuse of its photographs is so rampant – and because there is no source for people to easily find images – offering a free and legal approach is an opportunity for the company.
The use of Getty’s images will be through an embed code. This will keep the image on Getty’s server, give it better visibility into how and where its images are being used and give it control over the potential placement of ads on the photographs. The images will also have all of the attribution information and licensing details for those wishing to use an image for commercial purposes.
That last part – commercial purposes – was a question that came up at InkHouse. How exactly does Getty define “commercial?” According to the terms, “Content may not be used: (a) for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship . . .”
That’s not especially clear but that’s all it says. Does the inclusion of an image on a corporate blog constitute promotion? Does using one as part of an infographic count as advertising? I suspect time will tell.
As a photographer, I value and appreciate the impact of a still image and am always gratified when one of my pictures is used. As a rights holder, I want to be recognized – and in some cases remunerated – for my work. Getty’s claim that there is no way for people to easily find images (which they have likened to the pre-iTunes days of digital music) ignores the easy availability of images through Creative Commons. The fact that they are not allowing photographers to opt-out of participating in this new program is also questionable.
It’s an interesting development and one that’s bound to change the way individuals and organizations use photographs.