Great News for Bloggers… (and not so great news for photographers)

[Edited 22/09/14 to adapt text to updated Getty embed feature]

Ever heard of Getty Images? You should have, if you are an RA blogger, because lately a lot of his images have been officially been distributed by Getty Images, the world’s largest photo resource bank. Leslie Hassler’s intimate shoot in New York? Getty. The old favourite red-backdropped images from the press tour 2012 by Vera Anderson? Getty. Berlin red carpet in all its glory? Getty. The delicious first outing of the new A___ mane (lately to have been cut back again *meh*) in conjunction with some chest-hairitage at the BAFTA LA tea party 2013? Getty. So we can all agree how important Getty is for the distribution of RA images alone.

Up until now, however, we have been operating in rather shady fields and murky waters. The use of licensed imagery on blogs is subject to permission and fee – which fan bloggers like you and I can not afford. For the most part I, personally, have tried to avoid using licensed imagery on my blog (but I have caved in for my *ooof*s on a regular basis). Essentially, you and I have been infringing on copyrights every time we have illustrated our posts with a professionally taken and licensed image of A___ – an issue I have long been very uncomfortable with…

But Getty will now make it possible for me and countless other non-commercial fanbloggers out there to use its images legally and for free. The solution to our copyright infringement problems is Getty’s new embedding feature. Essentially, the company from now on allows its images to be used on non-commercial blogs and websites in their un-watermarked version for free – that is if you embed the image through their system on their image bank, which will add an automatic attribution bar and link underneath the image as it is embedded in your text.

As you can see above here, the embedded image is unwatermarked, it mentions both distributor (Getty) as well as originator of the image (photographer Jim Spellman). For easy Social Media use, sharing options like twitter and tumblr are already included. For you as a blogger the + symbol applies. Click, and a little window pops up with sharing options. The most important little symbol are the two little arrows – if you click on them, you get the embed code for the image in a new window, which you can copy and thereby easily transfer this image into your own blog. (You can try this out right now – move your mouse over the icon above and click – the embed code will appear in a box on top of this image!) As far as I can see you can not play with the size of the image on the Getty page – you can, I suspect,Β  adjust it when you go into your own source code on your blog/webpage.

If you want to embed an A___ image not from someone’s blog but from Getty themselves, you can search for “r___ a___” on their website. Move your mouse over the images, and you will see that some pictures give you the option to embed (look for the icon).

getty embed

If you click on the </>, the image will appear in its preview in a separate window. The embed code is ready to copy and paste in a box above the image.

getty embed 2

On a practical level, Getty acknowledges with this initiative that the battle against copyright infringement within social media has basically been lost. Sharing images has become a daily occurance for almost anyone who has a Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ account. Unfortunately, with losses to photographers – their images are used but the creators do not reap the reward. This initiative by Getty seems to ignore the copyrights of photographers once again, because it is intentionally designed to allow the unlicensed use of the image in digital media. However, much along the lines of my own argument from last year, Getty argues that while the copyright battle is long lost on the web, there is other value to be had, namely proper attribution, direct link-backs to the Getty site with all proper details, and since the embedded images are served from Getty, access to information on who and how that image is being used and viewed.

The last point, as inconspicuous as it sounds – is the crucial point: Getty gets something out of this, even though it is not tangible revenue as such. They get valuable data – about users and distributors of their images, and they will most probably use the opportunity at some stage to show ads either with the embedded image or on the back-end where users can access the embed-code.

The decision to open up the images for free embedding will be viewed controversially among photographers. Aside from a small number of celebrity photographers, the general consensus is that photographers do not exactly amass riches with their work. Losing potential income from the use of their images will be a sore point with them. However, the fact remains that they never received income from illegally pictured, screencapped or unlicensed use of the material in the first place – so what is the loss? Maybe the news will turn out beneficial for photographers, too, in the long run. With better attribution and easier linking, the embed player could certainly help spread the word about photographer’s names and draw commercial users to the correct source.

In the mean time I will shut Guylty the photographer into the basement and go on a massive embedding spree as Guylty the blogger. It’s good to be able to do this legally now…

58 thoughts on “Great News for Bloggers… (and not so great news for photographers)

  1. I understand the photographers’ point of view, but as you say that battle was lost long ago. With the amount of content uploaded each day, a great portion of it non-commercial, it’s just not realistic to expect people to only use pics of their feet and coffee mugs. Embedding sounds like a win-win solution, users get the photos and authors get the recognition.

    /this is an exceptionally delicious post, btw!/

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    • Yes – I have to say that Getty is on to something. They will certainly spread the use of their images. As for photographers – the “recognition” argument is one that we are extremely tired of. I have heard that so often: “Can I use your image, please, I will credit you in return and send users your way…” BS, that trade-off only benefits the other party, not the photographer. I have never had more work coming in because I had allowed my images to be shown somewhere – and unfortunately I can’t live on “recognition” alone… My “name” does not really provide sustenance.
      But as a blogger I am relieved – it just means I can illustrate my post with nice pictures, not having to worry about copyright breach. I can see many “delicious” posts coming up, soon… *ggg*

      Liked by 1 person

      • Okay – I understand. But do you think there is an efficient way to stop people from using the images, or convince them to pay to use them on non-commercial sites? I can’t think of one. :/

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        • Well, I think there could be other ways of protecting copyrights. A nominal fee could be paid for inclusion of copyrighted photographs. If image banks were clever, they’d work together with blog providers such as WP and hash something out. Just imagine: They could bring out an automatic subsciption for instance to Getty images for non-commercial use of pictures for a nominal fee, let’s say 2 $ a month.There are over 76 million WordPress sites in the world – can you imagine how much money could be made with this kind of thing – and it would neither hurt the blogger, nor would the photographers or the distributors be short-changed…

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          • As a subscription fee, it might work. Paying per image – no chance, I think. In my experience, people are very reluctant to pay, i.e. for templates or images, when they’re using a “free” platform. Even for commercial sites…

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            • I completely agree – I only use free templates and free blogging platform. I admit I am more sensitive to issues of copyright when it comes to photography, but in my estimation, a large proportion of the blogging public would actually be willing to pay a small fee in exchange for legal use of copyrighted material – because the decent people of this world are aware of the shady area that is illustrating blogs with images that belong to another. A pay-per-image system would not work – too cumbersome. But a monthly subscription, organised automatically through the blog provider for instance, who takes an interest in it once he is promised a cut, is a definite possibility…
              Anyway, this is all theoretical. In the end, what matters is that Getty is making it legal for us to use some (not all!) of the images for sale on their resource bank.

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      • You know, I put myself through college taking children’s pictures – it was a family business. Scanning and copying pictures almost put us out of business until my dad came up with the bright idea to burn all pictures taken to a cd on the set and sell it there. We came to the conclusion years ago that reorders and reprints were a lost cause so…

        So I see both sides easily. On one hand – yay! On the other, it ain’t puttin’ food on the table, y’know???

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        • I see both sides too – I feel slightly schizophrenic here… As a blogger I am pleased, as a photographer, not quite as much.
          I would agree that reprints/reorders in the area of people/portrait photography are a lost cause. When I do a shoot and I come out with more than the previously agreed on 10 images, I give them to the client nonetheless – because what do I want with those images of people I do not know? I can’t sell them anyone else, anyway.
          I don’t really think you can compare that to press and editorial photography, though. Stock photography and celebrity photos have a different sell-by date than the personal stuff and could make money much longer than my little private photo shoot can.

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          • Before computers became an every day appliance, we would get reorders up to a year or two. I remember once we received an inquiry several years later – there had been a house fire and the family lost everything. sadly, it is difficult to store negatives for that long. .

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  2. I saw this yesterday and was amazed. Maybe I don’t understand, but doesn’t Getty pay the photogs for the images in the first instance before they post them? In other words, don’t the images Getty posts belong to Getty when they post them?

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    • No. The image rights belong to the photographer until the end of time :-D. Getty is more of a distributor. It’s like an agent – selling the photographers’ work.

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      • Ah. So how does Getty get the images to begin with? The Getty images seem to come from red carpets, as well as inside actual events. Aren’t those photogs paid by some news source to attend those events? Otherwise, how do they make a living from that type of work?

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        • The photographers are freelancers. They offer their work to Getty to be licensed through Getty’s established online presence, i.e. they sell usage rights to their work through Getty. Getty receives a commission in return.

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          • So how do they make a living? Are there enough legitimate customers out there for these type of photos? For ex – when US or People use photos for fashion or their articles, are those customers enough to keep people eating? Do most of these photogs also do other types of work?

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            • Well, there are different types of photographers represented on Getty. People like Leslie Hassler probably make most of their money with commissions by magazines. The press photographers who license images of red carpet and other events through Getty, are most likely freelancers who work every event they can get to. That means shooting lots and being quick with uploads onto the Getty site.
              Re other types of work: I think press photographers by and large tend to shoot events. Fashion photographers will also do editorial, possibly commercial photography (similar in that it is studio based and relies on similar techniques). I don’t think there is much cross-over between press and portrait, for instance, or press and fashion. Press is pretty much a lifestyle – hard-hitting, elbow-oriented work, fast, efficient, competitive. Hence male-dominated. (I’ve written about this before re. 2012 Hobbit premiere in London – shocking disparity between female and male photographers)
              And yes, strictly speaking the large magazines *could* provide enough work and pay to the photographers. If you click around on Getty, you can actually see what the prices for image use are, and you get an idea that you can indeed make *some* money with it.

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            • That’s a very good point – but I assume they do. Again – if you click through their site you’ll notice that the embed feature is not available for all images. I presume that Getty gives photographers the option to opt out of free embedding. There might also be a time-restriction on it, i.e. an event that is only one week ago might not allow embedding, but something that is 2 years ago will – because it is simply not up-to-date anymore…

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  4. It’s a big advertisement campaign for Getty Images, as it now uses the non-commercial bloggers to distribute its content. So pictures will become known to potential clients even if they don’t directly search the Getty database. Clever idea and long overdue concept, where in my opinion the photographers can only gain in popularity, as their name is prominently displayed with the images. I otherwise normally forget the name of the photographer immediately. (Sorry! Have unfortunately more remembreance of numbers than names. So it was a wonder that I remembered … But that was fate ;o) ) The new way of Getty ensures that the connection between photographer name and image remains and is repeated with each blogging about an image.

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    • I think you have really hit it when you say that it is a big advertising campaign for Getty… They gain more by it than the photographers. Yes, names may be associated with images – it’ll be interesting to see whether it leads to more sales in the future (which I doubt) – but it’ll mostly be the name “Getty” ;-D. Note which name is printed bold underneath the embedded image…
      But anyway, I should leave the sourpuss photographer out of this. As a blogger, I welcome the initiative.

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    • Well said, CDoart! And thanks so much for this informative and insightful post, Guylty! Getty’s new “embed procedure” will help all of us bloggers take proper crediting of images to the next level–and possibly save us some time in the process.Cheers! Grati ;->

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  5. I saw this late last night and sighed a huge sigh of relief. (And thought, Guylty will be ambivalent.) Thanks for the great explanation.

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    • You know me well :-D… And yes, ambivalence is right. But I did think that this is great news for my fellow bloggers, even if my fellow photographers are annoyed…

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  8. Thank you for sharing this Guylty (even if Photographer Guyty wasn’t sure you should have)! I especially enjoyed the gratuitous RA images at the end of your post! πŸ˜‰

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    • *teehee* I should’ve embedded them at the beginning – that would surely lure even more unsuspecting females onto my site πŸ˜€
      But yep, glad to be of service here – I think it is important that we are informed about things like this, after all we all want to do what is right πŸ˜‰

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  9. Thanks for the heads up. I see a plethora of gorgeously decorated posts in our future. πŸ˜‰
    As for the gratuitous Armitagosity you shared … I think I need to go lie down now. With an icepack. *fans self* *giggle*

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    • Yes – this new initiative by Getty is going to benefit all whose hunger can be stilled by some event photography from New York, Toronto, Berlin, Madrid, London… πŸ˜€ I really look forward to it – because the quality of photography speaks for itself.
      “Armitagosity” – that’s a great word. And it really hits the mark, doesn’t it? Yum!!!

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  10. *raises hand timidly* Embedding is great if all you want to do is display the original image in a post. But what about creating wallpapers, signatures, etc? Does Getty have a way for fans to retrieve the unwatermarked RA image, manip it like crazy into a new graphic, and still be able to provide some Getty crediting.

    From the beginning,when I created my little RA wallpaper graphics, I have “embedded” image credits on the graphic–in an out of the way place sometimes, or just taking up corner space whether it was aesthetic or not, because I feel obligated to provide the image credits.

    I think that having a single line image credit referencing both Getty and the photographer would do the trick–it could go up the side of an image frame–like you see in magazines, often in the crease. Your thoughts?

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    • You are raising an interesting point there, Grati. I suppose the issue with that is that you are creating a new piece of work from an existing image, resulting in something that is considered a “derivative work”. There are different copyright issues attached to that than to the use of an unchanged image in a blog post – I am not quite sure what they are. I suppose they also depend on “fair usage” of an image, and for the moment I suppose your proposed way of dealing with that is the best that can be done – crediting the original creators. But this is only my opinion – and I have no authority to say whether that is the correct way of dealing with it…
      *sigh* it’s all quite stifling, copyright issues etc.

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    • I love spreading good news :-). We will see how this initiative by Getty will pan out. Photographers are not happy – but well, if anything, at least the embed feature now gets the credits right.
      And oh, what a lovely picture you chose!! How did you get it to display in your tumblr without the Getty attribution box underneath?
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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      • He is so handsome on this pic with his sunny smile ^^
        Well, I didn’t use the arrows under the picture to get it but I clicked on the little “T” and it opened a new window before publishing it to my tumblr. But it is weird because on your dash, it’s only dark with the link to the picture while the whole image appears on your blog page… but at least, we have the whole picture unwatermarked and that’s GREAT! πŸ˜€

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        • Yeah – it is blacked-out on the dash and only acts as a placeholder. I am sure that is deliberate. They want us to click and look at it on the blog page…
          Have to check that “little T” you are talking about!

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