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Getty Images to give content away free - What if the movie and music industries did the same?
In an abrupt change in business model, Getty Images, the world's largest photo provider, is letting people embed its stock images for free. Instead of relying on licensing fees for its stock photos, Getty plans to make embed codes public for the majority of collections on its site. Those pictures will come without a watermark and will contain an image credit linking to the company's licensing page. But most importantly for Getty, the practice will provide a new form of revenue.
This change is an acknowledgment that many of its pictures are already being copied anyway.The company will allow "non-commercial" users such as bloggers and Twitterers to embed its images using a code similar to what's on sites like YouTube. The image that appears will include a Getty photo credit and a link to the company's website, where viewers can have the opportunity to license the photo.
According to a Getty Images spokesperson, the free embedding will be open to editorial websites "from The New York Times to Buzzfeed," as long as the images are used in an editorial context and not, presumably, in a sponsored post. That begs the question: will journalism sites and other blogs keep paying for Getty subscriptions?
"This will provide people with a simple and legal way to utilize content that respects creators' rights, including the opportunity to generate licensing revenue," Getty said in a statement announcing the move. The decision "opens one of the largest, deepest and most comprehensive image collections in the world for easy sharing, thereby making the world an even more visual place."
Getty reportedly still doesn't know how the ads will appear.
It's hard to predict how this will all play out. Even though the images are now free to use, will lazy people be willing to go to the Getty website, find an image and copy and paste the embeded code? Or will they still just copy and paste pictures straight out of their Google Image results? We also have to assume there are a ton of copyright neophytes stealing Getty's pictures, who don't even know what Getty Images is — they'd never know to go to Getty's website and find a photo's embed code.
One wonders where the movie and music industries would be today if they had decided tho go down this same route. It's sad that Getty can't just convince everyone to pay for a subscription, but — as the company itself recognizes — we live in a time when it's really hard to get people to pay for content on the Internet. We guess it's better to legally give your goods away for free than have people constantly stealing your stuff.
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