Stock photography has always seemed to go one of two ways. Either you make a great living, or you memorize McDonald's value menu; however, no matter if stock income is your main source, or a small residual you need to know about Getty's current partnership with Google. On December 6th of 2012 Google Drive (a free service) announced on their blog that “5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides” yet they failed to clue anyone in as to where the images came from, or what the license terms were.
Google Docs allows you to search a internal stock library of free images for insertion into any document you are creating, but there is no credit to the photographer whatsoever. In fact, according to one iStocker's post on January 10th even the EXIF data has been stripped out. Clicking the link about copyright within Google Docs says this: "When using the Google Image Search feature in Google Docs, your results will be filtered to include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy the image for commercial purposes and modify it in ways specified in the license." Basically saying that anyone on their platform can use these images for commercial purposes. What are the photographers getting paid?
Every source I've encountered says the same thing, a whopping one-time fee of $12!
One Getty Contributor had this to say: "Just checked this out and found loads of my images, all sold on my recent statement as Premium access time limited, yet I can download all for free."
On January 11th, after 27 pages of conversation between members and what appear to be several iStock, Getty and Google employees a post went up by "Mr_Erin" with this to say:
“Google licensed these images for use by Google users through the Google Drive platform; Users of this platform are granted rights to place this imagery in content created using Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Presentations, which end uses can be for commercial purposes.”
Mr_Erin also confirms that this is a license deal between Google and Getty, but goes on to say the more images may be added into the pool at a later date.
Further investigation points to a Getty owned stock agency ThinkStock as the licensing entity Google has partnered with, and they have been crowd-sourcing content. Users are given the opportunity to nominate 10 images from ThinkStock's archive to the GoogleDocs pool. Getty has been in the media time and time again for shady business practices from "bait and sue" strategies against consumers to massive insults like this one. When you think about how many times people already say "oh, I just got the image off of google" an agreement like this hits a dangerous point. Rob Haggert of APhotoEditor.com says it best: "I’m positive that Getty and Google will figure out a way to lower the bar even further at some point, but this is the lowest I’ve seen it. Gmail has 425 million active users worldwide according to Wikipedia. That’s some serious fractions of a penny for a license."
What are your thoughts on this? Is $12 enough for you to potentially never see another dime from an image?