Kathleen Shrimpton Team : Web Production

Getty Images Announces Free Images, But Is This As Good As It Sounds?

Kathleen Shrimpton Team : Web Production

Last month Getty Images made a decision to make their library of images publically available for bloggers and social media users.

By making the 35 million images available…for free!

The decision comes after the ongoing issue that online agencies face due to copyright infringement. Instead of trying to fight the issue, Getty Images chose to give the users what they want.

And this is what we want…isn’t it? Free images! Rather than having to scroll through hundreds of photos only to decide that you can’t choose all the images you desire due to cost restrictions, Getty now allows you choose images without the hassle of price.

But is making the images free a win/win situation for all of us or are there some implications associated with this?

Yes, there are.


Not Traditional Embeds

Firstly, this is not like traditional embeds.

What users don’t realise is that the service won’t allow multiple versions of a particular image, such as a featured thumbnail. The image will only be visible in an iFrame.

This isn’t an issue with other forms of media i.e. imbedding videos or audio. However the use of images, thumbnails and feature imagery plays a large part in web and CMS development.


Commercial Use

Secondly, the Getty Images embeds are not allowed for commercial use.

You may only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest). Embedded Getty Images Content may not be used:

(a)   for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship; 

In essence, if you are a blogger looking to show an image of a product you are reviewing, then yes Getty Images are for you.
If you are a retailer trying to sell a product then no Getty Images are not for you.


Legal Implications

Users still face legal implications regardless of Getty making the images free.

For example, many football bloggers understand the danger of being on the wrong side of Football Data Co’s litigation department. This is the rights management company that protects the commercial interests of the Premier League and Football League, well known for sending notices/invoices to bloggers reaching up to thousands of pounds for using their images.


Whilst Getty Images are free, they would still require a licence from Football Data Co to publish any images from events.



This also presents the old ad/payment debate. Make the use of your website free and use ads for revenue VS. introduce payment on the website and eliminate ads.

Whilst it hasn’t been confirmed, many predict that Getty will move to embedded advertising, similar to the YouTube model with pre-roll advertising.

As Getty Images have control over the content within the iFrames it also means that they can pull an image at any time. Which means there could be many issues of ‘image not found’ creeping up on websites.

So was this a good move by Getty? Does making this service free increase the benefits?

Whilst it vastly improves the selection of images as it eliminates the price comparison, it doesn’t eliminate the threat of copyright infringement or control that Getty has over the images.

So remember. Always. Read. The. Fine. Print.