Getty Images Enables Embedding Photos For Free With No Watermark

When it comes to licensing photography, there are few, if any, names bigger than Getty Images. And now, they're doing something very interesting. They're making the lion's share of their images free to embed around the web with no watermark on the photo. It's a shift in strategy for the company and it could prove very interesting and important in the long run.

The idea is that by enabling embedding, people will be more likely to get the images from the source and use the code. Then, important information like the photo credit and a link to license the image can go along with it. That's a big departure for the current web culture, most of which lives by pirate's code of Google Image Search.

It's unclear exactly what the endgame is for the embeds at the moment. Other services like Youtube have been monetizing this type of feature by inserting ads or using the embeds to collect data, and that certainly seems like a future possibility here, but for now, they just seem to be trying to slow the right-click-save-as problem that they're currently running into. Of course, commercial outlets will still need to license the photos directly (like for advertisements), but the model is adapting, and that's the key.

Photo sharing sites like Flickr have allowed for embeds for quite some time and it hasn't really caught on, but for personal bloggers to be able to use the vast collection of Getty imagery without a photo budget and without having to resort to infringement is a very interesting prospect. Another service called Stipple has actually been working on something similar, a system to make photos modular while maintaining crucial copyright and contextural information.

Getty has even added Twitter and Tumblr links to the bottom of the images so you can share them via social without the watermarks.

While it may not lead to more revenue right away, it has potential and it targets new customers who would typically just steal images from other sources 100% of the time. It's an attempt to adapt to a changing market and even a changing culture. And if it leads to more photographers getting paid reasonable sums to create great images, that's pretty hard to argue with.

If it doesn't work, Getty will have the option to turn the embeds off completely. It will be very interesting to see how it affects their profits and those of the photographers as well.