Photo giant Getty Images has launched a controversial new feature that allows more than 35 million images from its vast library to be freely shared via blogs and social media.
The world's largest photo agency unveiled its new embedded viewer feature on Wednesday.
It allows for the legal, non-commercial use of millions of its news, sports, entertainment, archive and stock images — a vast array of photos that range from significant figures (from Barack Obama to Marilyn Monroe) to shots from popular annual events such as last weekend's Oscars and other star-studded award shows.
Like a similar feature on video-sharing site YouTube, Getty will now permit online sharing (for instance via services such as Twitter or Tumblr ) and embedding of its images directly into personal blogs (such as those on Wordpress).
The feature generates HTML coding that links back to Getty's website and includes both a Getty logo and a credit to the original photographer.
According to Getty's terms, the agency or a party on its behalf may one day collect data related to the use of its embedded viewer and content. It may also one day place advertisements within or use another way to make money off the service.
Commercial users — including media services and advertisers — will continue to be charged for use of Getty images.
According to the agency, the unorthodox move is a response to the already widespread and unauthorized use of its images online.
Those in the tech industry have lauded the initiative as an honest recognition of how photos are shared on the web today and a bold attempt to extend Getty's brand by increasing usage of its images.
However, some professional photographers have expressed outrage and concern about what appears to be a further eroding of the value of their work amid today's copyright-flouting society.