Getty’s New Embed Tool Makes Millions of Photos Free to Use Non-Commercially


Last night, Getty Images made a huge announcement that could forever change the way high quality images are shared on the Internet. Like Flickr before it, Getty is introducing an embed feature, essentially creating an “easy, legal, and free” way for people to share the majority of the agency’s images in a non-commercial context.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of a move like this. Getty is the king of the hill where image licensing is concerned, and they are basically admitting that they cannot fight the entire Internet at once.

“We’re really starting to see the extent of online infringement,” Getty Senior Vice President of Business Development, Content and Marketing, Craig Peters, told BJP. “In essence, everybody today is a publisher thanks to social media and self-publishing platforms. And it’s incredibly easy to find content online and simply right-click to utilise it.”


So how do you fight the Google Image Search/right-click-save-as culture we live in? Well, it seems Getty’s solution — which is bound to receive untold amounts of criticism from the photo community — is that if you can’t beat them, join them… just make sure they give proper credit in the meantime.

According to BJP, everybody — from your small-time blogger to larger websites that generate ad revenue, to publishers like BuzzFeed and the NY Times — will have access 35 million images from Getty Images’ news, sports, entertainment, stock collections and archives, available to share freely and without a watermark as long as they’re not doing so commercially.

All they have to do is simply click the embed button, copying the HTML code and paste it wherever it needs to go. And just in case that wasn’t accommodating enough, they’ve added Twitter and Tumblr share buttons as well.


At a time when the photo community is increasingly dissatisfied with how Getty does business, this move is bound to draw ire, especially since there will be no way to opt out. But Peters defends the move nonetheless.

There are three reasons, he says, why this is a good thing for both Getty and content creators: shared photos will now be properly attributed, all images will link back to the licensing page so those that need to license it commercially can do so in just a few clicks, and Getty (like YouTube) will use information on who is using that image and how to improve their business. They will also likely implement ads in the near future; again, much like YouTube does with its embeds.

Here’s a look at what these embeds look like:

No matter how you slice it, in the end, this represents Getty throwing in the towel when it comes to non-commercial use of its images. They’ve lost this war, and rather than fight the hoards of people on the Internet who pull their images without watermark or credit and use them all over the place, Getty has created a legal use avenue that they believe will “benefit [their] content creators.”

The benefit to their content creators is debatable, but one thing is for sure: this decision will reverberate across the whole of the photography industry, quite possibly leaving other players in this game little choice but to join Getty, implement embeds, and hope for the best.

To learn more, head over to Getty’s website by clicking here.

(via British Journal of Photography)

  • Sean Mason

    The customer gets your photo for free. Getty gets money from advertising. You get your name in tiny thin gray lettering. Not sure who wins, but we know who loses.

  • Gavin

    To be honest I dont think the photographer of the image is at much of a loss, so its a win for all 3 parties. Getty and the photographer get their advertisement, and the consumer gets a free image! What makes this okay is that its for non-commercial use. And non-commercial users (blogs, social media, etc) aren’t the ones that would be paying big money for an image anyways.

  • Francis Estanislao


  • demarq

    In my line of work I should be jumping for joy, but if were to put my self in the photographers shoes I’d be pretty pissed.

    I think I’d rather pay a fair amount for someone else’s hard work.

  • David Addams

    This is not going to go well for Getty. This is not what the photographers that loaded images signed up for.

    They basically hired Getty to work as their agent to sell their images. Getty is now giving them away for free.

    When an agent does something you did not authorize the logical thing to do is fire them.

  • Christopher Jobson

    It should also be mentioned that the embeds are a fairly low resolution of around 530px wide max, trying to scale things up results in a pretty terrible image.

  • ajbatac

    I just wish that credit name (photographer) has a link directly to his Getty portfolio. Right now it’s just a name.

  • snapshot1

    This accepted notion in the digital age that, “Well – they wouldn’t be buying it anyways, so no harm no foul if they use it without paying for it” is what’s killing the photo industry and other content makers industries.

    How on earth are they going to monitor what is being used for non-commercial or commercial use? Are they going to go out and check every site of soon to be tens of thousands of embeds (probably at a rate of month/week) they will now be getting from this? Yeah right. It’s all about the future ads embed and data pooling they will now be doing from the embeds.

  • ldfrmc

    When a third party (Getty) is between the photographer and customer you lose control of who sees and gets your work and the price paid. Galleries and agents used to do this work, but they knew something about and cared about the art of photograpy and the artists, the quality of work and the audience.

    Digitalization turns artists into “content providers,” but worse, audiences into “consumers” not of art, but advertising.

    Would a gallery offer little to nothing because the works might be stolen while in the gallery, or later copied and the forgeries sold or given away? Would a gallery derive most of it’s revenue from advertising wine and cheese that may be served during an exhibition?

    This new scheme by Getty gives them both revenue from advertising (totally unrelated to the photographer or subject of the photograph) and an excuse to say the market price for photographs now has a “free” ($0) value.

    The problem with “free” on the internet is devaluation of original work and labor by people who actually do something – photographers, writers, video producers, music composers, music performers.

    A rather inane art-business-cultural model – advertise yourself as an artist, by having your work advertise other unrelated things, through galleries of copiers and distributors who collect money, but produce nothing.

    Not sure if any of this “produces” anything like a culture, or artists, or audiences.

  • hapinessey

    We have to stop this madness that if it is in the internet then is free to (ab)use. Getty is now the Pirate Bay of photography

  • Carlini Fotograf

    Isn’t it bad enough that Getty takes 60% of their photographer’s money!! Now they allowing free usage across the internet. How long is it going to be till these Getty photographers wake up and realize how badly they are being ripped off? Are people really that desperate to get their images in print, they would subject themselves to this! I would rather never sell another Image again.. then be a part of what that company is doing.

  • Ridgecity


  • Mauricio Matos

    I don’t want to be an a** but people who sell pictures for cents (or a couple of dollars) are doing it wrong in the first place. People complain that this move ruins the photo business but this kind of stock sites are the ones who started to destroy it.

  • letsmakeart

    You assume that the photographer ‘gets an advertisement’. Let’s wait til money actually goes to photographers from advertising.

  • Douglas Knisely

    So here’s the problem. You just used a Getty embed on this blog, which is a VERY COMMERCIAL usage. You just violated their terms of use, but apparently even YOU thought you weren’t.

  • Eric Lefebvre


    Are they BLEEP insane? Every photographer on any of Getty’s platforms should just pull their entire library RIGHT NOW! Getty is meant o LICENSE IMAGES from content creators not GIVE IT AWAY!

  • pgb0517

    This news article would be “editorial” use, not “commercial” use.

  • random guy

    How ethically opposed is everybody to someone using a “getty image” in a different medium (screen printed into kiln-formed) glass and then giving the original photographer a percentage of the profit?

  • Andre Friedmann

    Getty made it clear more than a decade ago – they’re not an agent for photographers and they have no “principal/agency” relationship with their photographers. Photographers persist in calling Getty “my agent”.

  • Brandon Daughtry Slocum

    There are hundreds of “photo” sites on Facebook that post photos with no credit to the photographer at all. At least this embeds the credit. Getty is ripping off photographers though, bringing in advertising dollars and paying the artists nothing in return.

  • photographer

    Getty will continue to sell photos to commercial users of photos. That’s where Getty and photographers make their money. They never have made more than a pittance on bloggers.

  • photographer

    How do you know they’re paying photographers nothing in return? Especially given that they haven’t even started the advertising how could you possibly know what they’re going to do in the future?

  • Omar Mossadek

    Absolutely. It would only make good business sense to use a profit-sharing model, as is the standard with this kind of scenario.

  • Omar Mossadek

    I think this is a pretty wise business decision on Getty’s part. They stand to make decent money on the back of the advertising, as will the photographers, one would hope. Maybe they don’t do it at first, for greed or for more free publicity of the new product, but I think they will need to profit-share in the end, or others will. It’s dog eat dog now.

  • CameraPhone Cash

    Definitely something to consider before uploading your photos to Getty Images…

  • VSB

    “… shared photos will now be properly attributed, all images will link back
    to the licensing page so those that need to license it commercially can
    do so in just a few clicks…” Why would anybody want to license an image commercially that’s been used who knows where else? This does not help photographers at all and it strikes a blow to copyright protection, too.

  • VSB

    Thank you! It’s great to see someone who gets why we photographers are frustrated about this.