Getty's Free Embed Tool Lets You Post Photos Wherever You Want

The image-licensing service takes a big leap into the murky free-for-all of image copyright.

Copyright on the Internet is a mess. Thanks to the social web, photographs and images fly across Tumblr and Imgur with startling velocity, putting quite a bit of distance between the original content creator and where you might actually see the image.

For photo-distribution platforms like Getty Images, which licenses photographs to news organizations and websites for commercial use, this lack of attribution presents a sizable headache. It's why, starting today, Getty Images is unrolling a new set of social sharing features that, if all goes according to plan, will help curb some of the rampant copyright abuse.

The new tool isn't so different from Connect, which Getty Images initially announced in 2012. Only this time around, it allows anyone—not just its clientele—to embed Getty Images' entire catalog of photographs for non-commercial use on their blog, website, or social media accounts. For free.

It's a pretty telling move, too, considering the company's reputation for (rightfully) issuing DMCA takedown notices. "This is a more visual world," Craig Peters, Getty Images VP of Business Development, Content, and Marketing, tells Fast Company. "Everybody is a publisher today." The thinking goes that everyone already uses Getty's content without permission; this just gives them a legal means to do so.

How does it work, exactly? "Think of YouTube and their embeds," says Peters. Users can go directly through the Getty Images webpage and grab the necessary HTML code from there. It looks something like this:

Getty says it reserves the right to monetize the feature—perhaps with ads—but says it won't do so right away. And the million-dollar question, of course, is will people actually use it? Getty bets they will; at least it makes the free service as frictionless as possible. And hey: Giving users the option to embed content seems to have worked out okay for Twitter and Instagram, right? "The benefit of that is we get attribution to the content creator and owner," adds Peters. "This is the opportunity to give individuals and platforms a legal way to really share."

[Image: Flickr user pbkwee]

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  • John Beckwith

    This must be where all the photos you upload on craigslist and Yelp go to. After all, people agreed to the Terms of Service which grants them the write to do what they want with the pictures you upload.

  • Great to see Getty follow the leader in embedding technology for photography on the web — IMGembed — and finally recognizing the direction that image monetization is taking.

  • Does this mean even news websites can embed these images on their site? Is it possible to do so? Or is this facility only available for bloggers?

  • Benjamin Lee

    We have been doing embeds for about a year now, having Getty come in does excite us. Innovation in this space is definitely necessary -

    Most importantly we use flattened jpgs to facilitate responsive designs and current CMS auto-generated thumbnails.

    We aim to be a fair marketplace, so our ethos might differ slightly from corporate Getty. Photographers strictly retain their rights and we only act as a facilitator. Free use is limited to 10,000 impressions but is allowable for commercial use. Our belief is that beyond 10k impressions, you are probably making enough that the photographer should be fairly compensated. While we might suggest image pricing, that is fully up to the image rights owners, giving them full control.

  • Oddbjørn Sjøgren

    Second that Benjamin. And welcome to Getty to the modern internet age :)

    I'm the CTO of which launched a streaming service for commercial use (Gettys program if for 'none commercial use') months ago. Our model is also a bit different, since we actually pay our photographers, and also let them opt out. It's our belief that professional bloggers and website owners are willing to pay $9.90 per month for a superior product with unlimited access to 5 million images, in-browser editing, and professional hosting with no limitations on views or impressions.

    If you are interested, read more about our streaming service here: