Two major acquisitions
This past week, Getty Images announced the acquisition of PicScout and Photolibrary. These two acqusitions may signal a turning point in shared content that might have once been free for use with attribution or as pay to play.
According to Getty’s press release, “Photolibrary’s content will be licensed through Getty Images’ global distribution platform, which enables search in local languages and single image purchases in local currencies.”
The intent of the acquisitions
The acquisition of PicScout anchors the intent with Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images, who stated, “As the access to digital imagery becomes even easier, the ability to safeguard and manage creators’ content has become more critical than ever.”
Klein continued, “This acquisition will enable us to bring a vital service to a greater number of imagery agencies and companies around the world and make it possible for them to successfully manage the licensing of the content they represent.”
Long history between content producers and Getty
Along with the Associated Press, Getty Images has always had a touchy relationship with digital content publishers and both are typically avoided altogether in order to steer clear of costly charges and legal threats due to improper content use or licensing.
Rumors in 2009 surfaced that Getty Images was attempting to monetize shared content on the web, however the reports died down shortly afterward, as nothing ever developed from that acquisition that would support the fears.
The danger that now lurks
What some are speculating is a retroactive licensing agreement that could cause problems for previously unlicensed content. One would only need to evaluate images used from these services to make sure there is no time expiration or that the use has not changed from personal to business use over time.
We have speculated that Flickr will see an even greater increase in use by amateur publishers, however, there should be caution placed on bloggers’ use of images that appear to be free to use.
Users are urged to document the current licensing status at the point of publication, as the latest craze on Flickr seems to be a licensing change after use that requires payment or further attribution above and beyond the consumer’s initial use. The only way to safeguard is to use caption techniques using the description body to describe the current status of the image which also notifies Google image users of your license to use.
The difference here within these current acquisitions is that their motives are being made clear in their statements unlike 2009, and content publishers should be aware and watching the terms of service very closely moving forward or avoid using shared images altogether.