In a surprising move, Getty Images has announced today that it has made more than 35 million of its images completely free under a non-commercial usage agreement.
This means that any kind of online publisher - from a 14 year old blogger in her bedroom to a journo at The New York Times - will be able to browse the images and then use Getty's new embed tool to obtain them.
The images they pick will then be served up in an embedded player (kinda like embedding a YouTube video or a Tweet) that also contains the full copyright information and a link back to the image's licensing page on the Getty Images website.
Although it may seem like madness that Getty Images is handing its content out for free, in actual fact it's getting a lot from the agreement - links back to its site, the correct attribution and all kinds of insights into where, when and how the images are being used.
Getty Images has made it clear that these images can be used in an editorial context and on sites with ads, just not part of promotional materials in order to shout about a particular product or business.
The controversial move attempts to add a bit of order to the murky world of online photography. Craig Peters, senior vice president of business development, content and marketing at Getty Images said:
"In essence, everybody today is a publisher thanks to social media and self-publishing platforms. And it's incredibly easy to find content online and simply right-click to utilise it."
This new method provides online publishers with a wealth of images for free and in a round-about way also gives the power back to Getty at the same time.
Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images said:
"Innovation and disruption are the foundation of Getty Images, and we are excited to open up our vast and growing image collection for easy, legal sharing in a new way that benefits our content contributors and partners, and advances our core mission to enable a more visually-rich world."
The link you can use to search through all of the embeddable, free images is here.