Getty Images on the New World of Content Licensing

Getty Images on the New World of Content Licensing

No matter what your personal opinion on Getty Images is, you can’t argue that they’ve evolved into one of the major powerhouses in the stock industry. But when co-founders Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein got their start in 1995, they were working in a completely different space – the business of selling stock photography was fragmented at best, and the Internet was just kicking into high gear.

Fast forward 17 years, and Getty has become the one-stop shop for many advertisers, newspapers, bloggers, film producers – and the list goes on – for imagery and footage. Boasting over 80 million still images and more than 50,000 hours of film footage, Getty has perhaps the largest stock library in the world.


Of course, that notion isn’t lost on Getty or its financial partners. Private equity firm Carlyle Group recently acquired Getty Images from buyout firm Hellman & Friedman for a cool $3.3 billion. And since making its mark, Getty has aggressively pursued its own acquisition program, buying up everything from mom-and-pop stock libraries to larger agencies like Archive Photos of New York, iStockphoto, and Jupiterimages.

Their immense growth means that images licensed through Getty are literally all over the Internet – you almost undoubtedly see at least one every day.

One of the leaders at Getty today is Craig Peters, Senior Vice President of Business Development. Peters originally joined Getty in 2007 in the footage, music, and multimedia department following the acquisition of celebrity pictures agency WireImage. Peters is speaking at Luminance 2012, PhotoShelter’s new photography conference this September 12-13 in New York City.

“This world generates frictionless and unprecedented use and production of content,” says Peters. “However, the current environment is too often one where individuals use copyrighted material without permission, platforms do little to protect copyright owners and often facilitate abuse through their tools and policies, and copyright owners cling to traditional models rather than offer individuals or platforms a broad-based, simple and economically viable solution.”

Getty, of course, is in part responsible for the proliferation of photography both online and offline due to its huge library and many content contributors. And Peters has been directly or indirectly responsible for many of the newly developed products and acquired businesses.

One his team’s noteworthy moves was the Connect system that launched earlier this year. Connect gives Getty’s 4 million – and counting – unique users direct access to all Getty’s content through their API. Simply put, this means that publishers can basically grab a snippet of code and publish images directly to their website, making it technically easier (and more inciting) to use a Getty image. Plus, Getty’s code suggests other images based on what you’ve written on the webpage, which is almost certainly more gratifying than pouring over thousands of images on your own.


Peters told that Fast Company that Connect “makes it easier for people to consume the imagery in the proper way, with the right rights and have a formal relationship that allows them to build businesses and build services and integrate imagery.”

Also launched during Peter’s time was the Flickr Collection on Getty Images, which has stirred up quite the array of opinions in its time. A once inherent component of the Flickr Collection was the Getty Images Call for Artists, which allowed Flickr users to self-submit their images to Getty for consideration, in order to become a contributor to the collection. Last March, the Call for Artists group closed – likely from becoming totally overwhelmed by the 86,000 members’ submissions.


The group says that instead, “editors [are] searching through Flickr for images in areas and subjects we are most in need of.” Flickr users can still enable Getty licensing directly from their images, so potential buyers can request to license from their Flickr page. This is also how Getty suggests users get found by its editors and invited to the withstanding Flickr Collection.

The last acquisition we want to mention here is that of PicScout, makers of the ImageExchange and ImageTracker tools, which enable photographers and agencies to identify their images anywhere they exist online. Getty acquired PicScout in the spring of 2011 to help expand copyright protection and improve the safeguarding of creators’ content – i.e. to determine where Getty’s images are being used outside of agreed licensing.


Those images registered with PicScout will display the PicScout PIcscout ImageExchange Icon icon when someone is using the PicScout ImageExchange browser add-on. This gives buyers a clear, professional path to licensing or purchasing  work online. PhotoShelter also uses PicScout, meaning that members’ images that are designated as publicly searchable and for sale are indexed by PicScout. So a PhotoShelter member’s images could be downloaded and re-uploaded to another person’s website, and PicScout’s technology could find them – even if the image has been slightly manipulated.

We’re excited that in addition to Getty’s Craig Peters speaking, PicScout has signed on as a Luminance sponsor, helping us to make the event that much more amazing.

We’re itching to hear from one of Getty’s senior officers to learn more how they see photography’s impact developing today and in the future. Every speaker will have a Q&A session, giving you the chance to ask leaders like Craig Peters the questions you’ve been drying to ask but haven’t been able to.

To find out more about our 20+ other speakers and register for the conference, check out

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