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If you’re a blogger, you’ve probably written about some kind of pop-culture news at some point and wanted a picture to go with it. If you had a big-ass lens, time to sit outside of a hotel in Hollywood, and no sense of shame, you could get your own picture. If you had a ton of extra money, you could buy the right to use an image from one of the big photo sites. If you had no sense of fairness, rules, or karma, you could just steal one.
But now, there’s another option, and it’s kind-of amazing. Getty Images is allowing many of its pictures to be embedded on blogs, for free. There’s also code to tweet the pictures, and embed them on tumblr (so far, nothing for facebook).
But of course, there’s a catch. Actually a couple.
The first is, I think, reasonable. From their TOS:
Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.
Once you embed their viewer they can basically use it however they want. They can put an ad in there, and you have no control over what they’re advertising, whether it’s guns or butter or porn. No control, and no compensation.
But hey, that sounds like a fair exchange for a picture of a celebrity.
The second catch, though, is the one that’s a bit more troubling:
Not all Getty Images Content will be available for embedded use, and availability may change without notice. Getty Images reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove Getty Images Content from the Embedded Viewer.
Basically, they can yank the pictures at any time, leaving you with a blank space where the picture used to be, and these words:
Image not found
This image is no longer available for use.
Find more images on gettyimages.com.
One day you could have a picture of Hugh Jackman staring out dreamily from your blog page, and the next day you could have blank space and a free ad for Getty Images.
The problem with embeddable viewers
I’ve mostly gotten away from using embeddable viewers because of this very problem: they go away. I used to use a similar kind of celebrity picture service that let you post the pictures in exchange for an ad running under the pictures. When that company went belly-up a bunch of my posts had broken links and weird formatting where pictures used to be. I also used to embed these really great slideshows, and then the company ceased to exist, and the slideshows didn’t work. I used to use a great plug-in for embedding twitter statuses before twitter provided embed codes. Yup, that one’s gone too. And I had to go in and fix every one of those posts. The ones that I found, anyway! Who knows how many messed-up posts are in my archives?
Other cons with this Getty service
Another downside: You can’t change the size of the photo. You need to buy a license for that. Also, you can’t crop it. Or photoshop yourself in.
And, so far I don’t see any way to filter out non-embeddable images when searching. You need to hover over each image and see if it has a symbol that looks like this: </> (no, the symbol does not yet appear on the search results page – you have to hover over or click on each image; I’m hoping that changes soon).
So, the bottom line is that using this service is a risk. I don’t think that Getty will just capriciously decide to remove certain pictures. I think a more likely scenario is that after a few months or years they will decide that their experiment didn’t work, and they’ll get rid of the embeddable player, and all embedded pictures will disappear.
Still, I don’t think that will stop me from using it. Because, I can now do this:
And as a blogger with almost no budget for photos, that makes me happy.