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Embedded images, from Getty

Ajit Deshpande - - 0 Comments

Last week, image licensing giant Getty Images announced that it was opening up more than 35 million of its images to be embedded into online content platforms such as WordPress, Twitter and Tumblr. The embedded images on their part would attribute to Getty Images as the owner of the content, as well as link to the Getty content repository for purchases.

Getty and Corbis are the two dominant image repositories today. Both of them have similar business models: buy stock photograph rights from photographers, license these images out to online content creators for a fee, and enforce their ownership rights via legal channels as much as possible. Last week’s announcement has been touted by many as similar to the transformation that online music went through, wherein pirated music sharing was replaced by low-cost purchases on iTunes. In terms of legality, this seems to be a step in the right direction for Getty, because it can now utilize image embedding for two purposes: brand recognition, and advertising. Earlier, the only input that Getty had in pricing its images was buyer demand in terms of number of image purchases, but the company had no visibility into the number of eye-balls an image received, which in turn was driven by the caliber of the web-content that the image was used within. Now, with advertising and brand visibility coming from image embedding, Getty’s revenue can likely scale with the number of image impressions, which makes this new model far more effective for Getty.

But then, what about the photographer? Could he/she also be somehow enabled to make money proportionately to the number of image impressions? Could a pricing engine be built that gives the photographer a choice between selling image rights upfront (for the right amount), or receiving image royalties based on impressions, or some hybrid of these two approaches? Could someone like Getty offer its photographers such a versatile and predictive pricing platform? Now *that* would be a true marketplace strengthening innovation!

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