back to article Getty on Google: It’s all about traffic, duh

Photo giant Getty Images has had enough – it has filed an antitrust complaint in Europe against Google. And the reasoning behind the action is more subtle than readers might think. Getty Images' VP Jonathan Lockwood explained why. Getty’s action isn’t a copyright dispute, he points out. It isn’t about piracy, rights, or right- …

  1. Ralph B

    Stone Age

    Getty’s superior search technology incorporates its PicScout acquisition. It works a bit like Shazam, identifying an image from a fragment. You can try it yourself and see how well it does. By comparison, general purpose image search engines like Google and Bing are in the Stone Age.

    Well, I tried it with one of El Reg's sidebar images. PicScout came back with "We are unable to identify the image you uploaded", whereas Google Images identified it (correctly) as a Shutterstock image. So, maybe Google "Stone Age" algorithm isn't so shoddy after all. (Maybe it just looks at the filename for clues.)

    (I didn't try Bing, because, well, you just don't, do you?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stone Age

      Maybe because the image is not in the Getty database, while Google has images data from all of them?

  2. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    Getty "has 60 million images"

    Is that all?

    I think my selfie-enthusiast, food-tographer wife has at least twice that...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: Getty "has 60 million images"

      Getty "has 60 million images"

      And a huge amount are just happy snapper shite.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Getty "has 60 million images"

        Getty is not Flickr... nor Facebook.

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: Getty "has 60 million images"

      "Is that all?

      I think my selfie-enthusiast, food-tographer wife has at least twice that..."

      I know of at least one of my friends with a toddler could easily double that.

      relevant comic

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

    As a web developer, I only use Open Sourced or self-created images. I will not buy.

    Getty's business model is flawed and it's not Google's fault they can't make money

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

      What's wrong with paying for images? I'm not saying you should do it all the time but the web isn't about everything being FREE.

      As to Getty's proposed solution: It’s an embedded widget that tracks use, and ensures the photographer is credited.

      Sorry, that won't work. I will happily embed metadata in an image or provide attribution via caption or whatever but I won't let you spy on my visitors.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

        Do you use Google Analytics or any other service on your site? If you take advantage of Getty image storage and deliver, why shouldn't you use the widget? You can still buy the rights on an image and use it as you please...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

          Do you use Google Analytics or any other service on your site?

          No. Next question.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

          why shouldn't you use the widget?

          1) Extra work/code

          2) External server call, so increased load time and possible search engine it because of that

          3) You're letting your visitors be tracked by Getty (and whoever they decide to share/sell that data to)

          4) More to go wrong

          5) Possible/probable scope creep

          I don't use Google Analytics or any other similar service, no.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

        "As to Getty's proposed solution: It’s an embedded widget that tracks use, and ensures the photographer is credited.

        Sorry, that won't work. I will happily embed metadata in an image or provide attribution via caption or whatever but I won't let you spy on my visitors."

        I read that as meaning it tracks use on websites, not tracks users on those websites.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

        Sorry, that won't work. I will happily embed metadata in an image or provide attribution via caption or whatever but I won't let you spy on my visitors.

        That's a bit naïve... Google, any advertisers, all track your users. And those are just the well-known trackers.

    2. terry doyle

      Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

      So you want to get paid for your work, a lot of which has visual results ... but you make sure no photographer ever gets a penny?

      Interesting approach.

      I suppose you would find it perfectly acceptable for web development clients to only use free or self made html templates .. so web developers don't get a penny ... ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

        @terry doyle - I -like croaker at the top- pretty well always use free stuff (mainly freeimages.com, formerly sxc.hu; and there's a couple of other sites that are good for vectors). Money-where-mouth-is, I've also uploaded a shedload of images there, so my karma is good. Man.

        It's not about denying photographers money at all. Free stuff is alluring; no doubt about that; but you're also drawing from a bank of images from people who -like me- have voluntarily contributed to the common good. A small thing, and it's not going to Save Mankind; but worth encouraging.

        Secondly, paid stock images can be a risky proposition with some clients. You're paying for the photos immediately; whereas you don't get paid until you deliver the site. With indecisive clients it's possible to rack up quite the bill before you ever see a penny; and nobody wants to pay for stuff they've decided against.

        Also, the stock image sites are getting a lot of their images for free. Pretty well all of them have a minimum payout (usually $50) and it takes quite a few photo sales to get there. I uploaded a test batch of 100 images to a bunch of stock sites in 2011 and have yet to see a penny from any of them. Got the odd theoretical $20 here and there and I may actually see some cash by 2020 at this rate if (hah!) nobody changes the terms in the meantime. I learned 2 main things: 1) The variations from site to site of acceptance/rejection and the reasons (if any) given are hilarious and 2) It's exploitative. You buying an image from a stock site in no way guarantees that the photographer is ever going to see any part of that.

        -----

        I don't mind if someone wants to use a free or named template. Saves them some money and me some time. The look of the thing is only one aspect of building a site...there's infrastructure; coordination; security; longevity and all sorts of things to consider.

  4. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Why don't they just make an Android App that takes the user directly to their Site? Barring that, some cleverly named Website, that will give them the traffic they so desperately want, so badly? I can see how the Google hate patrol would be the ones to find fault here. But, before Advertising came along. This was Google's raison d'etre, to make searching for this kinda stuff on-line much simpler, and faster?

    So by that proxy, does Getty have any care about other 'Providers' (Bing. Yahoo (Well whats left of it) etc..?), or is it singularly Google that they just hate? But, decrying over how the Web has worked in essence since day one isn't going to change their favors I think. What they needed to do, and must do is to take a more proactive stance on their properties.

    After all the Author did claim that their "Search" was better then Google's... Personally I wouldn't really know. Why, cause While I may have heard about Getty Images... The fact that even have such an engine to search their warez was lost on me... The further fact that its probably also closed to the further public. (Why buy what you can just look at / use from whatever Google turns up), is probably also why nobody but, them even care.

    Google might be a bit naughty... Hell even downright evil is some books. But, they never pretended to be someone else's charity. If Getty can't fix their own problems by whatever means (e.g. Robots.txt), then its their own lookout.

    1. VinceH

      "Why buy what you can just look at / use from whatever Google turns up"

      But isn't that the problem?

      Google helps you look at / use stuff from Getty without you going to Getty. As per the article, with one modification:

      "But Google has built the equivalent of a sweet shop in front of Getty’s store - and gives theGetty's sweets away for free, monetising it by advertising and mining your personal data as you pass through Google. The public never gets to see Getty’s sweet store. Meanwhile Getty has bills to pay, but Google uses the work for free."

      "Google might be a bit naughty... Hell even downright evil is some books. But, they never pretended to be someone else's charity."

      Not being someone else's charity doesn't mean they can be some kind of digital Robin Hood.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Micheal,

      you really have no idea what you are on about do you?

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re I don't get it?

        It seems to me that it's a case of Company "A" repudiatedly taking away Ad facing Traffic from Company "B", and complaining that someone else made off with their virtual Dime.the ballache seems to me that for Company "B" needs Company "A" to exist, to be even seen. But don't over care much about the fact that nobody that matters even care that Company "A" even exists.

        If Company "A" feels hard done by Company "B" generic and broad as the universe is wide Image Search. Then the answer to me seems to be obvious. Create a new competing web image search site, and give users a more compelling reason to use it over, it's arguably inferior competitors.

        Then you'll have the kind of traffic that these clowns are balling about.

        But fork that noise! Blame Google instead.

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: Re I don't get it?

          "that for Company "B" needs Company "A" to exist, to be even seen."

          Actually, if Getty had good stock that couldn't be found elsewhere on the web, they could use robot.txt and word of mouth would lead people to them.

          They want their cake and eat it too.

          Free advertising for their paid content from Google without reciprocation.

          On the other hand, Google wants free use of Getty's paid content without reciprocation.

          Neither comes across as a saint here.

          1. VinceH

            Re: Re I don't get it?

            "Neither comes across as a saint here."

            Exactly - sort of. Getty aren't helping themselves if they aren't doing something to prevent this from happening to the images on their own site such as using a suitable robots.txt entry to stop Google scraping the images in the first place.

            However, there's also the problem of third parties who are legitimately using images supplied by Getty - the images on those third party sites will still be found by Google, and still offered up to people using Google, who can save and use them, just as they can now. Robots.txt on Getty's own site won't help a jot here.

            It's a tougher problem - but it is part of the same one - and it's not something for which Getty are to blame themselves. Partly, it's "because of the way the internet works" - the old "once it's out there, that's it, you have no control" problem.

            Google, however, could mitigate the problem to some extent: Not easily presenting the full size version would be a start. Since most people probably don't disable Javascript, where they do present images, they could use a bit of script to prevent right-click saving. Perhaps they could overlay their own watermark to advise viewers that the image may not be free to use.

            Ultimately, they should force visitors to the site on which the image is hosted, rather than make it easy for people not to go there. Once there, what happens is another matter - but Google will have done their part, and not made it easy to grab images without considering rights.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Getty and Google

    Murder-suicide would be awesome for the rest of us.

  6. Ol'Peculier
    Mushroom

    Snappers

    Getty have destroyed the freelance sports photographer market in the UK. Now, when the boot's on the other foot...

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Snappers

      I really don't think it's fair to blame Getty for creating a market that allows new entrants to compete.

      1. Ol'Peculier

        Re: Snappers

        That's not how it's happened. They signed huge contracts with all the news outlets that allows unlimited usage for a fixed fee. You could have the best picture in the world but the pic editor won't buy it if he can get the next best from Getty and not pay extra for it.

  7. To Mars in Man Bras!
    Facepalm

    Capitalism. It's a Laugh, Isn't It?

    You start a company and if you're ruthless enough and aggressive enough you drive your competitors to the wall, become highly successful and laugh all the way to the bank.

    Then, perhaps, a few years later an even bigger, even more aggressive, even more ruthless company comes along and starts doing the same to you.

    At which point you go wailing to anyone who will listen about how "unfair" it all is.

    Boo! Hoo! Getty [and by extension] Carlyle Group. My heart bleeds!

  8. g e

    "traffic would go to the infringer’s site"

    Errrm that implies a couple of things surely...

    1. Google isn't the infringer

    2. The infringer can easily be found and presumably fined, hence revenue

    Perhaps I misunderstood something there but it sounds like a cheap temp could google for stuff and find many 'infringers' for pursual each day.

  9. EveryTime

    This sounds quite a bit like "I want the government/court to keep my business model profitable, even as the market changes".

    Note that Getty Images specifically does not want to enable new competitors to their legacy business, where they hold a dominant market position. They want to fence off a company that changed the underlying market, which is often the only way to compete against a dominant company.

  10. zarvus

    This article is rather rich (strangely Andrew's arguments about copyright supremacy/anti-Google screeds fall even flatter when defending a large corporate entity like Getty Images which is backed by an even bigger corporate entity The Carlyle Group).

    This is a copyright complaint Getty knows they can't win if they argue it as such, so they're hijacking the "anticompetitive/monopoly" argument against Google in the EU. There's so many stock photography sites out there now that they have a vastly increased competitive market. 60 million images doesn't mean 60 million _quality_ images. Maybe it should?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm famous!

    ...at last! Quoted in an AO article. Even better, it was as having "grasped the wrong end of the stick"; which -in context- is pretty conclusive proof that I was right.

    Form an orderly queue under this comment for autographs. (Of course, I'm still at the "engage my adoring public" stage, because I haven't yet had time to assemble an entourage of toadying yes-people to fend off you peasants).

    (PS, If anyone out there is already famous - do I need to get a Twitter? Also, can I still keep using my old army-surplus rucksack or is a bunch of designer crap compulsory...thanks)

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