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In case you haven’t heard, Getty Images has made its stock images free to use. In the past, all of Getty’s stock photos were stamped with a watermark. If you wanted to use the image, you had to pay for the rights to the photo to get the watermark removed.
But now Getty’s announced that it’s dropping the watermark in favor for an open-embed program. To use an image,
- Click the </> icon under the picture
- Copy the embed code
- Paste the embed code into your website’s source code
One thing to note about the embed code? It’s an iframe embed code. Now I’m no coder, but I’m going to attempt to explain of what this means.
When you use Getty Images iframe embed, you are basically leasing that frame of your site to Getty Images. They have control over what goes in that frame, not you.
So while for now, Getty Images is putting the image with a footer with a link back to the photo licensing page and social share options, who knows what Getty Images is going to put in there in the future.
For example, it seems likely that Getty could eventually put advertisements in the iframe. My friend—who happens to work for a local competitor SEO company (our friendship is very Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet in that way, except we don’t hook up and neither of us has killed ourselves…yet.)—thinks eventually Getty Images will put five second advertisements into the iframe before the photo even loads.
If this happens, you might be worried that Getty Images could potentially display ads for your competitors on your own website (that’s the risk when you embed a YouTube video, after all), but here’s the other caveat:
“Embedded Images May Not Be Used for Commercial Purposes.”
If you click the </> embed button beneath a Getty Images photo, the embed box that comes up has a note on it that says “embedded images may not be used for commercial purposes.”
How does Getty define commercial purposes? “The key attribute in classifying use as commercial is whether the image is used to promote a business, goods or services, or to advertise something. If not, it is a non-commercial use.”
So if you blog for your business and wanted to use Getty’s stock photos for free, too bad.
Who Benefits from Getty Images Free Stock Photos?
Pretty much just Getty Images. The only people who can embed the images for free are people who are using them for “non-commercial purposes.” So basically recreational bloggers who weren’t ever going to pay for stock photos anyway. And if they choose to use them, Getty Images pretty much owns a spot on their site.
Would you expect anything less from a site that allegedly waits months or even years after finding one of its unlicensed images on your site to file a copyright infringement settlement? (Read more in our post, “This Website Mistake Could Cost You Thousands.”)
And don’t think the copyright infringement lawsuits are going to stop now. If you don’t use the embed code, you could very well still get one of the famous copyright infringement notifications from Getty Images.
I encourage you to check out the following articles as well as their comment sections for more insight into the stock photo site’s announcement:
- “The World’s Largest Photo Service Just Made Its Pictures Free to Use” by The Verge
- “Getty’s New Free Stock Photos Come With a Price” by HubSpot
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