Getty Images has just announced something of a game-changer; anybody who wishes to use Getty stock photography on their site can now do so, without paying the historic license fee. The company will make embed codes for up to 35 million images freely available for anybody to use (including an image credit which links back to Getty).
This decision might seem counter-intuitive at first, but Getty has its eye on another source of sustainable revenue; advertising. By permitting bloggers to embed their photographs in their blogs, Getty secures access to a wealth of data which it can then leverage into targeted, embedded ads.
This new strategy is also fantastic PR. Setting such a generous precedent allows Getty, the largest stock photography company in the world, to position itself as a friend to small bloggers everywhere, while simultaneously mining these blogs for data. It is also undeniable proof that large companies can identify changes in their landscape and move with the times.
However, not everybody is thrilled with this new arrangement. Specifically, the photographers who rely on the fee they receive when somebody licenses their image. “A lot of people are very, very angry,” photography journalist Daniele Bowker told the BBC, “but at the same time, the genie is out of the bottle.” She adds that Getty “must have a plan” to ensure that photographers continue to be reimbursed for producing high quality work.
“Ultimately, Getty is acknowledging that its content is in high (often illegal) demand,” says Colin Daileda at Mashable. “It’s making a strategic choice to monetise photos via more creative means. If the gamble works, the company will have tapped a revenue stream for years to come.”