Friday, March 07, 2014
Getty Lifts Restrictions on 35 Million Images
When Getty Images, the world's largest photo agency, effectively opens its picture vaults to make them library free to use, you have to stand back and realise that access to use restricted stuff is radically changing.
Getty combating piracy not by locking up the images with restrictive watermarks or DRM but making 35 million images, including iconic images of Marilyn Monroe and famous ones of John F Kennedy and Barack Obama available without cost to blogs and social media sites. However Getty Images is not the most user friendly site and searching and establishing what is allowed is still often a mare.
The photos will be tagged through an embedding tool with a code that links back to Getty's website but they effectively have decided to combat abuse by bringing the offenders inside and encouraging the use of the images by all. Images cannot be resized and they will all incorporate a Getty Images logo, as well as a credit for the photographer.
There has been some backlash from photographers who are opposed to their images being given away but the reality is that they are all over the Internet anyway and currently there is no attribution or provenance. Trying to ascertain whether a picture is in the public domain or restricted and who owns its rights is like trying to chase down the rights to orphan work books – difficult.
Commercial users of Getty's library, which include TV, newspapers, publishers and advertisers will continue to be charged. Exactly how the Getty economic model now works remains unanswered today but this move is a significant one not just for images but for all media.