With so many people on the web using its images without credit or payment, Getty is betting that allowing broader free use can help the bottom line more than it harms it. But watch out: Ads may be on the way.
Getty Images is dropping the watermark for the bulk of its collection, in exchange for an open-embed program that will let users drop in any image they want, as long as the service gets to append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page. For a small-scale WordPress blog with no photo budget, this looks an awful lot like free stock imagery.
It’s a real risk for the company, since it’s easy to screenshot the new versions if you want to snag an unlicensed version. But according to Craig Peters, a business development exec at Getty Images, that ship sailed long ago. “Look, if you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply,” he says. “The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that’s what’s happening… Our content was everywhere already.”
But there are some downsides, as Benjamin Mayo puts it in his post today:
This means that in the future Getty could replace your image blocks with other images, advertisements … or well anything. It also means that your site now has a dependency on Getty’s CDN uptime. If their servers are down, your site has no images.