What Every Retailer and Manufacturer Need to Know About Using Licensed Images

Businesswoman sitting in office with computer smilingGetty Images, one of the world’s largest stock photo agencies, recently announced that it would offer up its entire image collection for free use by anyone.
What does this mean for you (i.e., retailers and manufacturers doing business online)? It means that you’re able to use these images in your blogs and on your websites for free… with some strings attached.

While Getty Images has opened its collection for free use, the shift accompanies an open-embed program that requires users to drop any Getty image they want into their content management system, which then allows Getty to attach a brief footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to its licensing page.

As the owner of an eco-friendly children’s product business such as yours, it’s likely that you have a blog and website that could benefit from Getty’s vast image collection. But don’t get too excited…

Read for the Fine Print.

While this move makes it easier for content publishers to source and use stock photography, Getty’s new arrangement does come with strings attached. It seems that the company realizes that most people treat images on the Internet as public domain on blogs and social networks, so they are amending their guidelines accordingly.

With their new system, Getty Images says it retains the rights to collect data related to the use of the embedded image viewer or place ads directly in the viewer. They also retain permission to monetize the viewer without any compensation or credit to the web publisher.  If you regularly use Getty images, keep in mind that the service can sell ads specifically targeting your website and its readers, which may have negative implications on your published content.

Beware of Poor Image Quality.

When you purchase an image from Getty, you are free to purchase the size you need for your intended purpose, be it print, web or social media. With the new (free) embed option, you may not have as much creative control over the image quality, as you can change the embed size manually but it will require some math to determine the best ratio for the height and width. While the embed may be free of charge, it’s less user-friendly than simply paying for an image.

Seek Out Options for Social Sharing.

As social media has become a mainstream form of communication, it is more common for people to seek images from outside sources to utilize in social media. Beware of using Getty images for this purpose.  The open embed program makes images available for websites and blog, but if you use the images in social media, you do so at your own legal risk.  Instead of using Getty Images for social media graphics, consider creating your own images and photography, or subscribing to a stock image site that enables social media usage of images under its licensing agreement.

The bottom line:  While Getty’s change is helpful for business owners looking for fast and inexpensive access to a large library of images, it may not be the best route for anyone who wants strong, shareable content on their website or social networks. Plus, I don’t love that Getty can target ads to your readers. My recommendation is to create your own images by hiring a fantastic graphic designer, getting some professional photos taken, and/or using easy design tools like PicMonkey. I also suggest you seek to license stock images from a company like iClipArt or iStockphoto.com – which may be more amicable to providing imagery on your blogs and websites with no or little strings attached.

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