Getty Hands Google Users Free Commercial Images, Photographers Get $12

- - Stock

On December 6th the Google Drive Blog announced that “5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides” with no mention to how they were acquired or what type of license they come with. If you have a google drive account (comes with gmail and google apps for business) you can create a document and when you go to insert an image you can search google, life or stock. There’s a notice that the “results shown are labeled for commercial reuse with modification” but other than that you can insert the image results in your document and away you go.

It all seems quite mysterious, but luckily some istockers uncovered what’s really going on. In a forum post on January 10th an istock contributor is alarmed to find one of their images in the search results and once they place “it into my document at 1,066 x 1,600. No attribution. No meta-data. No license. No link.” This post is followed by 537 comments then the thread is locked.

On January 11th a forum post titled “Google Drive + Update” is made by mr_erin who appears to work for istockphoto with the following information:

“This is a license deal arranged with Google through Getty Images”

“There may eventually be additional content added to this pool/agreement”

“Google licensed these images for use by Google users through the Google Drive platform; Users of this platform are granted rights to place this imagery in content created using Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Presentations, which end uses can be for commercial purposes.”

I haven’t really dug into the forum posts to see what else is being said or located other sources for the story. The photographer who emailed me about it (Don) says that Getty/Flickr photographers are being paid a one time fee of $12 for the deal.

I’m positive that Getty and Google will figure out a way to lower the bar even further at some point, but this is the lowest I’ve seen it. Gmail has 425 million active users worldwide according to Wikipedia. That’s some serious fractions of a penny for a license.

There Are 119 Comments On This Article.

  1. Yes, I am very glad to be out of Getty (I read that it wasn’t just istockphotos in this deal, but also images from Getty’s main collection!).

    It is death by a thousand cuts. At some point, a serious photographer really has to say ‘enough is enough’, and walk away.

  2. Getty Contributor

    The kick in the teeth for many of the Getty contributors is that the collection sold to Goole for free re-distriibution contains many images of valued models, friends and family. These images were model-released with assurances from the photorapher AND Getty they could not be used for pornographic or defamatory purposes; however, Google does not restrict the commercial re-use of the images in any meaningful way. Moreover, the copyright and metadata is stripped and as such it will be almost impossible to track re-use.

    Top selling RF images are essentially devalued completely and many Getty contibutors are indicating a second round of sales to Goole where they are getting only $6 for what is essentially a buy-out.

    • yikes. it all seems very messy with the models, stripped copyright and hundreds of millions of users with access. I’m hoping google sees how stupid this deal is.

    • And I am sure if a model (or modeling agency) gets upset and wants to sue, it’s the photographer who is on the hook. Not Getty.

      • Couldn’t you post an updated notice to all your models that you have a release with and let them know what has happened? I’ve been trying to break into this market and I would hope that you keep up with what images are being accepted where and what image that is and who was released. Or you could just do a blanket “release of indemnification”? Surely any judge could see when your contract was signed and when this news was released and you would be protected to know have to pay anything in a suit. This is something you have no control over anymore and you need to make your models aware. Maybe the more people that are aware the more people can boycott this use. Then companies will have to go back to go ole’ photo shoots for their sites.

  3. Yep also tempers are flaring and many pissed like me in the Getty flickr groups.
    7 pages and 632 comments since we also are quite peeved. Had two images sold in this manner.

    Alamy is organizing for a Feb. 2 mass resigning from alamy and many in getty flickr also.
    .

    • This has no connection with Alamy.
      Many contributors to iStockphoto are planning a mass deactivation of images on Feb 2nd.

      • Why wait till Feb 2nd. Seems like the photographers would start yanking their photos as soon as possible. I know I would. This is outrageous.

        Unless I misread the copyright laws, you cannot do something like this without written consent from the artist. A lawsuit needs to be filed against Getty. If they get away with this, then other such site may follow. Then there is no protection for the artist anywhere on the web.

  4. I’m a Getty contributor with 2 images in the Google scheme. I sent a contract termination email to Getty today. I’ve asked that no more of my images be included in this or any other (hinted at) 3rd party arrangements in the next 90 days, the amount of notice that Getty requires. I hope that they respect my wishes. Lots of images of people and children, not worth the risk.

    • Good for you, Kathy. I’m considering same as of this reading. Time and time again Getty does something financially great for Getty, leaving the people that provide that opportunity completely out of the equation. Twelve bucks? WTF! They won’t even pay their contributors enough to compensate for such a shitty deal. And that’s not the least of the problems… as pointed out here.

  5. Are we that desperate!?

    When are we as photographers and BUSINESS people going to say enough is enough. Sixteen years ago a husband and wife photographer team who specialized in stock photography told me they were leaving the business. I thought they were nuts! They had a small apartment in Manhattan as well as a nice Condo near the beach in Carlsbad and were living what I thought, was the dream. 90% of their income was earned on stock photography. They would create “stock shoots” the way others would style commercial ad jobs using professional models, great locations, and wonderful lighting.

    They clearly saw the writing on the wall. “Photographers are getting screwed and it’s only going to get worse” were their words. Boy were they right! Stock photography is no longer a viable business option and photographers are so desperate to get “something” for their work that they agree to these ludicrous terms from the large stock agencies. Let the “moms with a camera” receive pennies in the mail for their “fun little hobby.”

    The problem is that amazing photographers are allowing their work to be stolen and when the payment is a slap in the face, they return for more. Photographers have become battered wives who can’t leave their husbands!

    Tell Getty and the others thieves to GO SCREW THEMSELVES and market your own images. I guarantee you’ll get a hell of a lot more than $12!

    • The problem with this Getty/Google deal is that photographers didn’t “agree to these ludicrous terms” and no one is happy with receiving $12 to have their images distributed for free by Google. That’s why there is a huge backlash from photographers and many are leaving Getty.

    • Victor, nobody is “allowing” this use. It was done without any notification, consent or agreement from the copyright owners. That’s why there’s a mass image deactivation planned for Feb 2 in protest.

      I agree with your other points, though. The industry is in a downward spiral.

    • I find it incredible that good photographers settle for such little money for their work. Someone had suggested to me putting my photos on 5ooPX. There is some awesome photography on that site, and I don’t even come close to being that good, nor will I upload my photos to that site, because they sell the digital files for 2.99 and the photographers get $2. It’s beyond my understanding why good photographers would just give away their photos. It devalues the photos. It would be nice to see a group of photographers, with a good conscious and strong ethical values start there own group for stock photography.

      • The photos on 500px are not for sale unless the artists chooses to sell them through 500px.

        • I was considering selling my photos on their site, but only in print form, not digital. I checked with them and they said they don’t have the option of print form only. If you put them up for sale, they will be offered in print and digital.

    • Frank Darnell

      The internet will reduce EVERYTHING to the lowest common denominator. The belief by non-producers of content is that if it’s on the web, it’s free for whatever you want.

      If you put it on the web, it’s gone forever. It’s like global thermonuclear war – the only way to win is to not play the game.

      It all boils down to one little black cube that destroyed the world. Steve must have sold his soul to the devil.

      Undock, un-hook, learn to print, open a gallery and forget the internet. There is no hope there.

  6. I’ve added this article to a discussion group. I think this whole issue wreaks of legal theft.

      • If you signed up to be a contributor, didn’t you agree to their legal terms and they have full right to change those terms without any notice to you? I’m just curious if a class action suit is really going to have a case.

  7. I’ve never done any stock, but this still pisses me off in general. Maybe the time and facts are ripe for a class action lawsuit to send a message.

    • Why?
      So after winning the case, the photographers get $12 and the lawyers gets X100,000 that?

      Class actions lawsuits are only guaranteed to makes one party rich, and it’s not the plaintiffs.

      • Is the goal of legal action to just make some money for yourself or to put an end to this downward pricing slide that is destroying our future ?
        If legal action caused a significant financial hit to Getty’s profit, and possibly allowed the artists to revoke their contracts and pull all their images from Getty that would be a start to real change.

        • Stephen and Brent, exactly. A class action suit, if one hypothetically were planned, wouldn’t be about making money, but about protecting copyrights and punishing corporations that think they can give away others’ intellectual property without permission or reasonable compensation.

        • Brent – question for you. You said, “and possibly allow the artists to revoke their contracts,” Seems like Getty is in violation of the contracts they have with the artists. In that case, doesn’t that make the contract null and void and artist has every right to not do business with Getty any more?

          • The real question is how to get photographers to band together in a financial way as to be able to stand up and fight the big $$$ corporation that uses it’s financial power to do as it pleases is the million dollar question. If artists can somehow band together and won a test case all related contracts could easily follow the precedent set.

            In this case it is the Getty / Google giants and a rip off license deal. Tomorrow it could be a giant worldwide corporation infringing an artist’s copyright.

            • I agree with you. Almost everyone has A FB page. Someone could start a page for this specific reason, and gathering as many photographers as possible and sending out this article. There are several photographers on my friends list, so I am going to post the article for their benefit.

            • I think that was the point of the Feb 2 date. If enough photographers leave Getty Images and take their pictures with them, Getty will have to take note. No lawyers, no legal battle, just photographers banding together in a way that will make their voice heard. An old fashioned boycott fueled with the power of social media has the power to force big business to change.

      • shahn – If they got hit with a big class action suit and all the artists pulled their work, it would give notice to other stock photo companies, they can’t get away with this. The goal should be to put these thieves out of business.

  8. Big picture question – why is the Getty accounts team licensing imagery so cheaply when Google as a client has so much money?

    It’s just mind boggling.

    • Not saying I agree, but I think the idea is some sort of primer to get a little access to a big content channel. ie using Google docs are users that are “likely” to purchase more stock imagery. However looking at the way it’s currently in place there is no push towards Getty or iStock on Google’s end.

  9. Did I miss something? What is in this for Getty? Users can use images for free right? If its true and they are paying out a measly $12 to the photog what are they getting out of it? Something is a miss here or I missed something completely . And yeah, this is ripe for a big law suit. And it does stink.

    My fav part about Google is their slogan – Don’t Be Evil. Which clearly they use as a slogan of irony.

    • My assumption is they have agreed to terms that screw over their photographers in order to create a partnership with a 37 billion dollar revenue company.

  10. I have three images in this scheme that I was paid $12 each for. Another image was licensed in November by the same google account and I got half or $6. That last image, so far, doesn’t seem to be in the free google drive stock collection so far and I am glad as it is an image with four of my family members in it. The other images are ice cream and fruit.

    Over at FlickrGetty private contributor thread we are anxiously awaiting word of what is going to happen, how they are going to dig themselves out of this fiasco. Currently, I am withholding submitting any more images.

    • Susan, it is illegal to sell images of people without a written consent from them, so if Getty should sell that picture to Google, it seems you could take legal action against them.

  11. I have two images in this scheme that I wasn’t paid $12. Nevermind!
    This is how I see on this scandal:
    We(Getty)are so powerful so we can do whatever we want and you’re nothing but poor miserable contributors depending on us. We need $$$ we need millions, we need billions no,no, we need trillions $$$ and we will do everything to increase our profit. We are going to make a deal(if is’s necessary) even with the devil just to make our profit bigger and bigger.
    It’s so simple and I don’t have to be super smart to figure out the point.

    • Alex, you are so right on. You could not have put it any better. They don’t care about the poor photographer.

      One poster wondered why when Google has so much money already. The simple answer to that question is the rich are never satisfied, no matter how much they have.

  12. Wow! Just when I was about to try my hands at stock photography. Nevermind! I’ll figure something else out, maybe boost my website marketing efforts more. This should be a recurring royalty basis, not a one-time $12 fee. And no announcement–very suspicious. Maybe Getty will experience their own Instagram-like revolt.

  13. Thank God I have nothing with Getty The Answer will fall on Deaf Ears.

    Dont Bleat, moan and whine. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    1-Dont Contribute To Getty!
    2-Dont Contribute To Anything Owned by Getty
    3-If You Have Images With Getty Pull Them Out

    If every Photographer with Getty Did the Above Getty would Listen But Not One of You Will.

        • As Kathy says, it is Getty. We all signed the terrible contract which allows Getty to move images from RM to RF, and from whatever collection they want to at anytime they want to.
          In the end, what this does is make money, lots of money, for Getty whilst leaving the contributors out of the profit sharing.

          • Eric, I don’t have my photos on Getty, so I don’t know how the contract reads. But if it does give them the legal right do what they have done, don’t you still have the right to upload what you want to sell and take down what you? If you do, then take down all your photos and upload one really bad pic. – small, low res.

          • “We all” Um… No, I removed my images and didn’t sign the new contract once that deal was announced. To bad everyone didn’t have the balls to do that. I say, they’re getting what they deserve.

    • Paul, you’re wrong this time. A massive Image Deactivation Day is planned for Feb 2. Many contributors have already committed to deactivate all, or large portions of their images on that date.

      • Lisa,
        I hope you are right, I hope I’m wrong but getting a group of photographers to stand together is like herding cats. I shall keep a look out for the 2 Feb if it comes off great!
        Its a good idea to choose a single day to do it! Is there a website/facebook page or blog organising this. Its success or failure will depend on two things Photographers standing together and Photographers knowing what’s happening and when.

        • Paul, I definitely agree about the herding cats, LOL. I think the difficulty of getting a bunch of creatives to work together is the reason things have gotten this bad. The organizing, such as it is, is happening on this thread on an industry forum, Microstockgroup. http://www.microstockgroup.com/istockphoto-com/d-day-%28deactivation-day%29-on-istock-feb-2/
          We’ve also got some Istock exclusives dropping their exclusivity on that date. Would be great to get some Getty macro photographers who are affected to participate too. Delete a few images, or a lot. Every one deleted on Feb 2 helps send a statement.

  14. Can’t help thinking :
    Well if you were going to bend over for a Microstock agency, shouldn’t be surprised if they take advantage of that!

    Still would be interesting to see what went on – something like Image Sale : $24, admin fees: $10,000 ?

  15. It would serve the arrogant twats who run Getty right if Google were to just buy Getty outright and then send them all back where they came from. Not that such a move would make the photographers’ situation any better.

  16. I have a Photoshelter account I’m totally independent for the past 4 1/2 years. I have no more Getty headache… Guys is time to get those peoples out of your lives..
    You will make the same $$$ that you make now just have to think a little different.
    It is not hard is just different.

  17. I have been a full-time video producer with iStock for 2.5 years. If they do this
    with our photos what will they do with my high end medical clips? I am getting out as fast as possible and never looking back!

  18. I’ve been hating on Getty for years. They sponsor a few grants and buy their way into a few photo festivals and pretty much silence all their opposition. Meanwhile Cassandra over here is likened to the old man yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.

    Well, enough of that…

    *********************************************************************

    This is a great opportunity and you’re all so stupid for not recognizing that! Twelve whole dollars for an image (or is it six?) and all I have to do is upload my snaps and wait for the monthly checks to arrive?

    AWE-SOME!

    Obviously none of you realize how much Ramen Noodles you can get for six dollars.

    Face it. You’ve all had a good run, but your time has passed. The world no longer belongs to you, your fancy cameras, your outmoded ideals about ownership, copyright, private property, your work ethic, and high professional standards are so 20th century. Everything you’ve worked so hard to accomplish can now be easily duplicated by a Hipster with an iPhone. Furthermore, he or she (Hipsterette?) can do all this with one hand in their pocket.

    What a bunch of pussies. That legacy, that archive, you desperately cling to… you didn’t build that. If it wasn’t for the good people over at Getty, and Google (who I see now owns Nik Software, wonder what that’s about?) people wouldn’t even know who you are. They created this market. They built the roads that the customers travel on to find your work. You should be grateful, instead all I hear is a bunch of complaints.

    How much money do you need? At some point you’re just being greedy. Stop your whining, shut your mouth, get an Xbox and move back into your parents basement already.

    *********************************************************************

    Okay, that’s passed.

    Now seriously, if you’ve had any dealings with Getty, you’re part of the problem and you have nobody to blame but yourself. At least the staffers get a regular salary, camera gear, maybe some benefits to justify the trade-off. The rest of you have no excuse, and this goes for all my dear friends who market their work through Getty (or Corbis for that matter).

    Photoshelter is an excellent option and there are still a few mom & pop photo agencies out there. Start a co-op, work together, protect your work and set the terms for how you profit from it.

    And for gosh sakes, I just threw some seed down, get the hell off my lawn!

    • Kenneth, I though you were a tad bit harsh, but when you said the following, I had to agree with you:

      Now seriously, if you’ve had any dealings with Getty, you’re part of the problem and you have nobody to blame but yourself. At least the staffers get a regular salary, camera gear, maybe some benefits to justify the trade-off. The rest of you have no excuse, and this goes for all my dear friends who market their work through Getty (or Corbis for that matter).

      Photoshelter is an excellent option and there are still a few mom & pop photo agencies out there. Start a co-op, work together, protect your work and set the terms for how you profit from it.

      If these people were working at a 8-5 desk job and only getting $12 a day, they would quit and go elsewhere.

      Thanks on the Nik tip – I have been wondering whether to buy it or PhotoMatix. It’s going to be PhotoMix.

  19. Saw this coming when I got legalese from Getty.
    never finished the sign up. So happy now.
    Photoshelter rocks …so far, nothing is permanent

  20. I already deactivated 15 MR files from Istock and I’m mad as hell like the rest of 85K contributors. Feb 2nd knock knock.
    Getty burn in hell.

  21. Whine whine whine… Oh, maybe you shouldn’t have signed that crappy Getty contract in the first place. Oh, NOW you figured it out.

    Congratulations. You’ve enabled this.

  22. The inroads for this arrangement started when google started scanning books, so I have to say it isn’t a shock at all.I curious, are the people still working for getty? I thought when they put out the new contract everyone bailed.

  23. No wonder all of this Istock. Long time ago that it smells really bad, you have to finish them and remove our photos. I over a year ago not charge any image on iStock. We must make common cause and all get out. I have understood that there is a massive action on February 2.

  24. This is a ripe mess…there has to be more protection for Artists/Models
    Most of the General public does not understand what it takes to get a professional quality image..we are so used to seeing and capturing images so quickly that they lose value. as a photographer I find it ludicrous that Getty did this, but..that’s the big tank…this is the first I read about this..so I am going to post this and suggest everyone shoud too

  25. Anyone giving their work to stock agencies, especially Getty are amateurs these days and will be treated as such.

  26. I’m not a stock shooter but saw writing on the wall and quit Getty 2 yrs. back; privately owned company can do what they want.

  27. Don’t quite a few other stock agencies have agreements with Getty to let them sell their images also? I wonder if this reaches into there as well.

  28. I do not know the specifics of the agreement you stock photographers signed with either iStock or Getty. I applaud taking your images off those sites. But what, specifically, prevents you from sending google a DMCA takedown notice once they share your image? YOU are the copyright holder.

  29. Why are professional photographers supplying photos for $12! I have nothing to do with Getty or anyone who doesn’t respect photographers, models, artists etc as professionals in business, we have overheads the same as any other business. Surely there must be legal boundaries crossed here. If there’s not then we need to collectively lobby government to protect our industry

  30. 425 million active users… just being objective, how many of those use your image?

  31. How about everyone pools together their $12 and takes Getty to court for this…10,000+ photographers?

    Or a #BoycottGetty twitter campaign to get the news beyond the photog community.

  32. I’m just gonna go on record to say that after watching the shift of the stock market place, and all the ‘new’ photographers racing to microstock; many of us established stock shooters warned about how the race to devalue images would create a slippery slope. Many people called the old established shooters dinosaurs, because the new economy revolved around images sold for pennies. Microstockers would mock those who decried elder shooters who knew about valuing image licenses based on use, and not file size. Even established shooters railed against those who kept agreeing to Getty contracts that lowered the photographers commission rates. So many said, “Don’t do it!” – So many yelled back – “Get on board with the new world order!”

    To hear Microstocker & Getty contributors bitch about $12 sales, all I can say is: “You had the leading hand in lowering the bar (value), so please don’t bitch when the bar hits you in the head.” – There’s a meme right now making it’s way around on FB that says, “KARMA – It’s pronounced: ‘Ha-Ha, F*ck you.” – Now I’m certainly not so harsh as to say it like that, but as far as people pulling out of getty or istock over this, I’ll believe it when I see it. But I find it hard to believe that people who have spent their entire stock career allowing companies to license the unlimited commercial use of their images for $18.00 are really gonna take a stand for the value of their images being sold at $12.00.

    Personally, I hope every photographer at istock and getty pulls their images. With no images left to market, the gorilla in the room will be nothing more than a paper puppet. But it just won’t happen, ‘cuz no matter how many people scream, “Don’t do it! Just say no; it’s a bad deal,” photographers have a prove track record of doing it anyway, I see no difference now,

    • And to which I’ll add, almost every single stock agency contract I’ve ever seen usually allows the ultimate pricing and licensing determination is left to the authority of the agency. So my bet is that if you signed the contract, you allowed this to happen.

  33. fight for your rights

    Not to mention that there were way more than 5,000 images involved. There were actually over 12,000 images total included in this deal.

  34. I’ve read some article says that there are a number of picture styles which can be used when shooting in modes such as manual, aperture and shutter priority. The creative control modes can only be used as their own independent modes, but you can increase or decrease the level of their affect.