Getty Images, one of the largest online U.S. stock photo image companies, recently made over 35 million photo images from its inventory available for free online use by any interested person. Getty had previously charged for the use of all of its images. Given the ease with which a digital image can be copied, however, frequent use of Getty's images online caused the images to turn up in search engine results that led to rampant re-use and sharing by additional persons without an appropriate legal license from Getty. This shift in Getty's policy offers a new approach to prior and often unsuccessful attempts by Getty to control the systemic infringement of its images online. Getty's new policy provides a select group of images for free via a new embedding feature that provides attribution and a link back to Getty Images' website. Beginning March 6, 2014, a business will be able to visit Getty Images' library of content, select an image, and copy an HTML-embedded code to use the image on its own website.
Businesses often make frequent use of Getty images on their respective websites. This policy shift offers an intriguing option for businesses to exploit a Getty image at no cost. Although businesses can use these photos for free, it remains critical to understand the limits of Getty's new policy.
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