Getty Images Admits It Can't Stop Internet Sharing, Opens Up Its Photos For Free

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 5 2014 7:21 PM

Getty Images Admits It Can't Stop Internet Sharing, Opens Up Its Photos For Free

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Johnathan Loyd of Oregon poses for a portrait for Getty Images photographer Ezra Shaw during the PAC-12 Men's Basketball Media Day on October 17, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Down goes the paywall. Getty Images, the world’s largest photo service, is opening up the bulk of its photo collection for free. Internet users will be able to tweet, blog, or otherwise post photos with Getty’s embed feature that attaches a credit and link to each image.

"Look, if you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply," Craig Peters, a business development executive at Getty Images, told The Verge. "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."

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Like the music industry, Getty Images is facing a new Internet reality where content is often shared without attribution or payment. Now it’s trying to catch up by riding the wave of social media. The new embed program is designed speficially to tie in with Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress and others. Watermarks like the one in the tweet above will be removed, replaced with a sleeker attribution function.

"We've seen what YouTube's done with monetizing their embed capabilities," Peters told The Verge. "I don't know if that's going to be appropriate for us or not." In the meantime, looks like small time blogs and individual users can stop worrying about take down notices and intimidating legal action – if they ever did.