The Future of Online Sharing

Written by 5ivecanons Staff

Without images, social media sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and personal WordPress blogs wouldn’t have a good portion of their content. Content is king.


But unsurprisingly, the users of these sites habitually reblog, repost or retweet copyright-protected images, including stock photos that were never purchased.

Getty Images, the world’s largest stock photography service, has been greatly impacted by this increase in piracy and has reacted by making a portion of its 80 million stock photos available for free – integrating an easy-to-use embed code that works natively with Twitter, Tumblr and WordPress.

It’s a surprising shift for a company which tried to curb piracy by watermarking their entire image library. However for the average users, piracy is the last thing on their mind. After all, a simple search on Google images returns both licensed images and those part of public domain. To complicate matter more, some users do actually pay for their images. Unfortunately, those images end up being reposted watermark free, traveling the internet and making their home in many servers. The spread of licensed images over the internet is inevitable, and Getty understands that.

Share Responsibly

Just like the music industry before it, the photo industry is learning there is no simple way to prevent people from sharing online. So they’re letting users share, the right way. Frankly, it’s a great way to educate users on the future of online sharing. By requiring users to embed photographs, users will give the photographer credit, Getty credit and provide an easy way for every user to embed images from site to site.

Not to mention, the code helps Getty see exactly where their image has been, how many times it’s been shared and could play a integral role in monetizing their services in the future.

Times are a changing

More important than free images is the shift in online photography, and it’s implications. There are certainly a couple of photographers who are understandably upset with Getty for giving away their photos for free. It seems times are changing indeed.

With some of the world’s most significant images on available for use publicly, how will smaller stock photography shops survive? I think we got our answer from Getty: adapt or die.