back to article Getty delivers text-to-image service it says won't get you sued, may get you paid

Getty Images announced its own text-to-image generative AI tool on Monday, insisting it is "commercially safe" as it's been trained exclusively on Getty's own stock photo platform. Dubbed "Generative AI by Getty Images" the service uses Nvidia's Edify model to generate images, videos or 3D graphics. Edify is part of Nvidia's …

  1. hammarbtyp

    Whose images?

    We had a talk by a commercial sport photographer recently. They showed there spreadsheet where they sold an image made at a major sporting event to Getty. That image will be used by newspapers and social media around the world driving profits to both the user and Getty.

    How much did they get paid?

    A one off 40p, that included transfer of copyright to Getty

    Getty may make a big thing of only using their stock images, but those images are collected on the basis of virtual a monopoly that has allowed them to force the amount they pay the creators to virtual chicken feed

    What is required is image makers to realise that Getty cannot exist without them and there expertise and refuse to sell their images at such ludicrous prices. AI is just another way companies like Getty will monetise other peoples skills and work without feeding any of the benefits back

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whose images?

      Ironcially you dont' make any money in photography by selling pictures!

      It's always been that way with stock libraries, and Getty is one of the better ones! Alamay or Shutterstock is about 5p-10p per shot.

      I'm a hobbyist landscape shooter and a Getty Contrbutor and I have about 500 images on Getty and I make a few hundred a month regularly, but it's all £1 here and there for websites and you have to have you best images, you sign a contract to only exclusively license with Getty and no one else. Once in a blue moon you'll get a big hitter and you can easily break a grand that month but it's very rare.

      I only shoot for fun and to make some pocket money but I know pros who cannot risk using stock libraries as the exclusivity kills their sales and for the cut it's pointless. Most pros make their money simply doing tutorials at £50+/hr or doing talks for a few hundred quid.

      The only way to make good money in photography now is teaching it or gloating on social media about the kit you've been loaned by some sponsor. Not many people left in pro photography who actually care much about taking photos, it's all about teaching or promoting your tutorial session on social media.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whose images?

        > Getty is one of the better ones!

        I appreciate that the implication here is that this isn't saying much, it's just not as ludicrous as...

        > Alamay or Shutterstock is about 5p-10p per shot.

        Speaking of Alamy, they outright allow- or don't make any pretence at banning (*)- the uploading of images marked as "public domain" then transferred by one of their users who credits them to *their* name, charges for the privilege, removes any reference to their being public domain. Then only acknowledges the possibility via a small print disclaimer that acknowledges that some of their images (not necessarily this one) may be public domain.

        Of course, along with the parasitic uploader, Alamy gets a very nice cut of whatever some ignorant mug pays them for use of those free images.

        This isn't just with images that are public domain due to age- they do so with those released as PD by photographers via the likes of Wikimedia Commons. (**)

        Now, the question is whether having released something into the public domain makes what they are doing legally permissible (especially given the fake credits to "Paul Fearn" or whatever). But regardless, having effectively relinquished ownership would likely make it difficult to sue them for very little reward.

        The point remains, legal or not, it's sleazy and parastic as f***, as are Alamy themselves by extension.

        (*) Beyond a certain point, they can be treated as the same thing. They can't plead ignorance as the Wikimedia Commons article above is five years old and I'm damn sure they know about it and have had enough complaints elsewhere.

        (**) I've had at least one of my own images ripped off in the same way- can't remember for sure whether it was by "Paul Fearn" at Alamy, but I think it was. This is why- on principle- I won't license even my most mediocre uploads to Wikimedia Commons as PD as I used to, and use CC-BY-SA instead.

        1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Re: Whose images?

          I understand you are upset, but why did you donate the image to the public domain if you didn't want that to happen? That is what public domain means: anyone can do anything they like with it, including lie about ownership if they like.

          If you don't want that to happen, then use a suitable CC licence. Of course, I realise that enforcement of CC licences is also almost impossible but that is a different issue.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whose images?

        Old photography joke: "The only time you'll make money from photography is when you sell your gear."

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Whose images?

      Well, all it needs is another competitor selling images and giving 41p to the creators, and unless Getty are doing something illegal they should start raking it in, right?

      It's the same argument about Kindle, etc. My father-in-law is a published author, dozens of works to his name, huge sales figures over his lifetime.

      His new books, his agents can't sell and only give him a pittance when they do. He puts the same book on a private website, a dozen other services, he gets a pittance of sales and even though through his own site he gets nearly 100% of the cost, he has to discount heavily to get anyone actually buying them - including the books that were previous best-sellers in physical form and translated into a dozen languages.

      He puts them on Kindle, himself, no other middle-men, and he makes money straight away. And though the percentage is nowhere near 100%, he makes money because consumers go to Kindle FIRST almost every time. That's not monopolistic unless Amazon actively abuse that. At one point his books were removed from Amazon, and he devoted his full-time career as an author to getting them up anywhere else, on every other service. He moved immediately back to Kindle the second that the dispute was resolved (which took months) because it had taken him from "making a nice amount on top of his pension" to "you might get a coffee a year if you're lucky" and far, far, far more effort (in terms of marketing, conversion, uploading, etc.) than it was ever worth elsewhere.

      In the same way, people looking for stock images are going to Getty first despite there being a thousand other companies doing the same thing. So they can throw the creator only a gnawed bone, and the people getting their images are perfectly happy.

      I don't work for any associated companies in this space (unless you count hosting my father-in-law's website for him), by the way. And I don't necessarily think it's fair or right. But your sport photographer friend will know - if he sells his images to ANY other company in that space, he won't make as much as Getty give him, in the long-run. Doesn't mean they aren't conning him, but also doesn't mean they're doing anything "wrong" if there are no serious competitors able to provide the same.

    3. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: Whose images?

      > A one off 40p, that included transfer of copyright to Getty

      I don't get it.

      I mean, I *do* understand why Getty would take the piss like that if they can get away with it, but I don't understand why *he'd* accept their risible offer if he's a commercial photographer who- presumably- needs to make his living from this.

      Yeah, I get that it's possibly all he was *offered* by some automated algorithm designed for quantity-over-quality shite in a market driven down by sad bastards desparate to see their photos in "professional" use and/or willing to accept peanuts.

      But if that were all they were going to pay, ever, then 40p is so close to nothing that I'd have thought the obvious answer would be "thanks, but no thanks"? And if he was *that* desperate for the money, then it's clearly not a sustainable job, it's a hobby.

      So, as I said, I don't get it.

      1. hammarbtyp

        Re: Whose images?

        I guess they have been doing the job for a long time, enjoy it, but seen there margins diminish as outlets slowly turn to agencies, who eventually monopolize the industry meaning there is little competition.

        There advantage is with a strong body of work behind them, there are other outlets for their work which pay better. The individual photo become advertising and loss leaders. The issue is more up and coming photographers who don't have the benefit of the background forced to make a living on these rates. Of course there will always be someone willing to do it, but it disciminates against people who parents aren't willing to bankroll them (did I hear someone say Brooklyn Beckham). Then talent is lost in an industry

        Unfortunately in creative industries there is always someone willing to undercut you for "exposure", not realizing they are cutting there own throat as well.

        Recently there was a big storm in Ireland when RTE offered the job of a on-site photographer for 60K and a minister saying that anyone could do that job. Attitudes like that and the fact that artists tend to be independent means that change is hard, but the writers strike in the US which has basically shutdown billion dollar behemoths shows that the power is in the artists hand if the collectively use it and we as the consumer should not facilitate the diminishment of the creators

        1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          Re: Whose images?

          > The individual photo become advertising and loss leaders.

          If he's an established photographer, his reputation should be good enough by now that he shouldn't still need to be doing it For The Exposure any more.

          I mean, that's the whole point that it's supposed to justify- you accept this early on for exposure to gain a reputation you can build your career on.

          So if someone in that position is still having to give away their best, most commercially-appealing work for peanuts, what's the point?

          Assuming- as I said- they *are* genuinely doing it for a living, and not just a hobbyist bolstering their ego by kidding themselves they're a professional because Getty/Alamy/whoever has their image on their site.

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: Whose images?

            @Michael Strorm

            In the UK a lot of media outlets will see if any of their inhouse photographers (if they have them), freelance photographers they have dealings with have anything, and check stock images companies (though also try "on the cheap" options such as unsplash etc.).

            .. Occasionally they will see something they like on social media or elsewhere on the web and (if someone is lucky) they will pay a pittance (but often just steal it e.g. this link as Mail are frequent offenders https://www.35mmc.com/20/01/2023/news-daily-mail-steals-photographers-images-without-permission-pay-or-apology/).

            It's difficult to break into the "goto list" of photographers the media outlets have (a few friends are keen amateur / semi pro photographers, with some stunning work, and tried hard to get on "goto" freelance photographers list of some UK media cos but with no joy)

            Full disclosure, had a couple of my photos published (with my permission) in books / websites but received no fee (niche interests low sales books & author could not really afford royalties & was happy to allow use of my work for free, websites again were niche hobby sites) - if they weren't "niche" areas I would not have been published as my camera kit is fairly low end & my shots more capturing the moment than composing a perfect image so there are huge numbers of far better images than mine for anything I have shot that is more "popular"

    4. Martin Summers

      Re: Whose images?

      How much are Getty charging for the images though? That's the crux of it. The photographers should be on a percentage of sales, not hard to do and the only fair way to do it.

      As someone else has said, all this needs is a rival to disrupt the market and break the likes of Getty's hold and everyone is happy.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Unlike other commercial text-to-image tools, Getty's model is not trained on third-party images scraped from the internet. It was only fed data that the stock photo provider owns – meaning any pictures generated by the software shouldn't violate any copyright laws.

    Unfortunately it also means all generated photos feature at least one woman laughing while eating salad.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      But it does mean none of those $ethnics appearing in the backgrounds to your training PowerPoints

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Great idea

    Let's train our statistical analysis tools on images that have a copyright bar in them.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but Getty doesn't own all the copyright

    People upload stuff to Getty, and tell Getty they are transferring copyright to Getty.

    Getty only has the uploader's word that the uploader really was the legitimate copyright owner and can transfer copyright to Getty. If they weren't, then Getty is claiming copyright illegally.

    One of my creations is on Getty and the uploader had absolutely no right to sell it to Getty. I have tried to contact Getty about it but I can't seem to get through to intelligent processing. And I can't afford a lawyer so that means I'm stuffed.

    Unless, you know, I ever happen to become rich, in which case I just might get a lawyer and they might be in a bit of trouble for having allowed my copyright to be infringed for so many years without giving me any means of flagging it up to them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: but Getty doesn't own all the copyright

      That's even worse than the parasitic behaviour of Alamy and some of their "contributors"- described here- since in your case it sounds like they're facilitating the unauthorised reproduction of images you still retain the copyright to.

      > Getty only has the uploader's word

      And, of course, *that* quite likely suits Getty very well. Why would they spend *their* time and money verifying something that wouldn't benefit them- they'd have to remove the image and any possibility of making money from the copyright violation, rather than being able to feign ignorance, withdraw the image if someone complained and- in the worst case- pay some damages from the few wililng and able to take them to court.

      Both of which would be vastly outweighed financially by the majority of cases where nothing happens and they can continue merrily profiting off work stolen from others.

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