07 March 2014
Getty Images, one of the world's leading photo libraries, is abandoning watermarking and encouraging bloggers to embed its images in their posts. It's a huge turnaround for a stock library that makes money from licensing its images for use online and in print. In effect, it's a surrender to social media, with the library acknowledging that people were using its images anyway. This strategy will help Getty to build the business from those who are willing to pay for commercial usage, by making the images more traceable to their owners.
The images are fantastic, and take you to people, places and times you couldn't otherwise access. Here's Prince, up close and in concert in the US in September 1984.
Before you start using Getty Images on your blog, though, there are three things you need to know:
- Getty's terms say photos may not be used "for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising)". This is a potentially grey area, given that lots of blogs carry advertising and almost every company uses social media to keep in touch with its customers.
- You are only allowed to use the photos by using a special embed code. This is the same technique used to embed Youtube videos today. You don't actually put a copy of the photo or video into your blog, you just put in a code that brings it in from Youtube or Getty when someone looks at your post. That means, however, that Getty controls the embedded photos on your blog, not you. They can remove them at any time, serve alternative content, or even serve ads. Some content management systems might not allow you to embed content in this way. Using embed codes slows down your web page because it adds in another request to a different server. For those who want to optimise the user experience, they're not ideal.
- The entire image area is a link back to Getty at the moment. It would be more usual for the credit line to be a link. Having such huge links creates the possibility that people (especially those using touch-based devices) will end up visiting them by mistake, which can be a frustrating user experience.
The collection of images is fantastic, though, and the way the photos are presented looks great. This is an interesting strategy, and it will add some wonderful imagery to the web. As long as you have a strategy to manage the risk of images disappearing, this provides a great free source of high quality editorial photos.