Google Strikes Controversial Licensing Deal with Getty Images


Back in early December, Google announced that the company would be adding 5,000 new stock images of “nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories” for free use in Docs, Sheets and Slides.

At the time nobody knew how Google got these images, who took them, or what kind of license they came with. The mystery continued on unsolved until a week ago when an iStocker discovered one of his own images in the search results. As it turns out, the use of these photos is the result of a little known licensing deal between Google and Getty Images.

According to an iStockphoto forum post from a few days ago:

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.

And can you guess how much photographers are being paid for what amounts to unlimited, possibly commercial use of their images by any of the 425 million active Google users? According to A Photo Editor: a one time fee of $12.

(via A Photo Editor and Google)

  • dogita

    Why would you give your images to Getty if they’re only paying you a pittance?

  • David Ewers

    We are nit giving them to getty or anyone else. They were on getty and istock for royalty free , license sale. Other called it microstock. Soon you will see a mass migration away from these two agencies.

  • Leif

    The rates of Getty have never been fair. Everyone who submits photos to them should know that.

  • baranq

    This is so bad.

  • Mike

    people really need to stop giving images to getty en masse. I know it will never happen cause the vacuum of the jilted will be filled by the short sighted.

    At some point even Getty has to start wondering how it will maintain its library. It has to pay at least enough to keep producing

  • Alan Dove

    Your last sentence captures the situation perfectly: photo agencies want to pay the absolute minimum amount necessary to photographers in order to keep sellable images coming in. That’s just business.

  • Jamie MacDonald

    Realizing that AFTER the fact.
    Was too excited at teh acceptance to research how little I would actually earn from a sale.

  • akaawol

    So where is it safe to keep our photos? Seems like all the big players offer free space, then they cash in.

  • lidocaineus

    Hmmm? What do you mean? This has nothing to do with storing photos.

  • David Tribby

    situations like this are one among many reasons I will not do stock photography. (The larger reason being it marginalizes working photographers)

  • John Kroetch

    Not too surprising.

    Once again, the way it “used to be” is not the way it is “going to be”. This is to be expected. As more and more supply hits the market, the sky-high margins of photography are shrinking.

    You can complain, and protest, and say that all those others are ‘short sighted’, or you can realize that the momentum is carrying the industry towards cheaper and cheaper images and lower your expectations. High-quality cameras are getting cheaper, and the knowledge on how to use them is spreading quickly thanks to the internet.

    This is my 2 cents, anyway.

    (I wonder if authors who only sell through print complain about all those ‘short-sighted’ authors who sell eBooks, or musicians who sell through iTunes are killing the industry? It’s not dying — it’s just changing.)

  • Valentines

    iStock/Getty – two horrible agencies: huge prices, limited portfolios in terms of numbers and variety, and ugly behaviour in regard to submitters(the smallest comission in the industry etc.)

  • akaawol

    Ah I thought this was another instagram or the other who have gone and changed their practice.

  • Alexskopje

    I have two images in this scheme that I wasn’t paid $12. Never mind!
    This is the message from Getty to 80k mad as hell IS contributors:

    We (Getty/IS ) 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.

    Looks like they are trying to commit business suicide. IS used to be such a nice place. R.I.P. Let it be

  • Bobby Freeman

    I am happy with my $10-$15 one time payment for images off of my phone I take traveling.