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Getty Images To Offer Some Photos For Free, Sort Of

Getty has released more than 35 million of its images for free non-commercial embedding, to build brand awareness and combat unlicensed use.
Posted at 11:07 AM, Mar 06, 2014

Getty is opening up a huge chunk of its archive for anyone to use — as long as they're not making money on the images, that is.

Getty now allows embedding of more than 35 million images for free, and includes copyright information and a link back to its licensing page. It's similar to to the way YouTube embeds its videos around the web.

A senior VP at Getty told the British Journal of Photography it wants to control what it can in the online world of copy-paste.

"What we're finding is that the vast majority of infringement in this space happen with self publishers who typically don't know anything about copyright and licensing, and who simply don't have any budget to support their content needs."

Getty's embeds are only for non-commercial use. Anyone planning to make money using Getty's media will have to pay for a license as they always have.

'Getty’s terms of service says it will be collecting data based on embed use patterns, and reserves the right to sell ads against embedded images.

Or, as the Nieman Journalism Lab explains: if you can't beat them, monetize them.

"Imagine a day, five years from now, with Getty photo embeds all over the web, when they flip the switch — ads everywhere. And imagine your website has used a lot of Getty embeds over the years — enough that Getty can actually sell ads specifically targeting your website, using all that data it's gathered."

It's hard to say what the immediate impact will be. As some are pointing out on Twitter, the photographers that sustain Getty will probably lose out on some licensing revenue. (Via @thomashawk, @taratw)

But the move does strengthen Getty's brand, which was worth at least $3.3 billion to private equity group Carlyle Firm in 2012. (Via CNN)

License-free embeds began March 6. Getty hasn't said when it might start running ads on embedded images.