Photographers and Getty go Head to Head in Google Drive Deal

A few days ago I wrote a blog about a deal made between Getty and Google which caused an uproar in the iStock (Getty) community. Images were included in a deal with Google Drive, where Google members can use the images for free in their Google Documents. The photographers who had their images picked for this deal received either $12 or as little as $6 per image.

Since then a few new developments have occurred and they are quite juicy. It seems Getty/iStock and their contributors go head to head and a third player has entered the arena, Shutterstock!

First, it seems that that Getty still believes they are right and all others are wrong. In an article from the British Journal of Photography a Getty spokeswoman is quoted saying:

“Google licensed an initial pool of several thousand images from Getty Images and iStockphoto Royalty-Free collections for use by Google users through the Google Drive platform […] Royalties for these images were paid through Getty Images and were processed in October and paid in November of 2012 based on a per-image price.”

And then she goes on to say: “[contributors] are granted rights to place this imagery in content created using Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Presentations, which end uses can be for commercial purposes.” She adds: “Google users are not granted rights to use this imagery outside the context of Google Drive created content. No rights are granted to Google users to redistribute image files outside of the context in which they’re used.”

What I understand from that spokeswoman is that you got paid and that’s the end of it. But it doesn’t hold water in my humble and honest opinion. I get it if the image on Google Drive is used once, by one person, but as soon as the next person uses that same image, another 12 dollars should exchange hands/banks. In this case, the images on Google Drive can be used an infinite amount of times, by infinite amount of people and the photographer got paid for one single download only. 

These latest developments have been picked up by the iStock community so its only a matter of time before this one takes off as well. I can imagine the statement from the Getty spokeswoman is only oil on an already out of control fire.

Secondly, regardless of the mass uprising against this deal, and whilst the community is waiting for answers, Getty/iStock seem to be adding new images to this deal as if nothing happened.

Just checked my December Getty statement and see another (3rd?) round of licenses to Google Drive occurred last month.

What I also expressed in the iStock forum, is one would almost think they are committing business suicide. Either that or its just utter arrogance. In the mean time the deactivating of images is still ongoing and there are rumors that Deactivation Day (D-Day), planned for the 2nd of February might be moved ahead to a sooner date as contributors are ramping up the deactivation of images as we speak. I myself only had 11 images on iStock, but deactivated them this morning. I will never see my $3.84 balance paid out, but it seems iStock needs it more than I do at this point.


Deactivating images on iStock is a bit of a pain in the wrist as you need to go through 3 steps for each image to get to the deactivation screen. So iStock exclusive Sean Locke wrote a Greasemonkey Script that will help you deactivate images a lot easier and quicker. Or you can get it directly by clicking this link. You do need Greasemonkey installed for it to work.

And the fight is toughening up, members are being banned from forums, I was told by Sheila Smart. The word about this deal is now spreading over the internet as you can see in this summary from photographer Dennis Pepin. It also has already found its way onto Wikipedia.


So what about that third player, Shutterstock? And this is where it gets real fun 🙂 Apparently Shutterstock received a significant amount of emails from stock photo exclusives (whether these are iStock exclusive is left in the middle, but the coincidence of these two events makes it very plausible).

We are receiving inquiries from exclusives who are interested in joining Shutterstock. We have created a direct email address,, to guide them through the signup and approval process.

This new move is considered to be another slap in the face of iStock, Shutterstock’s biggest competitor in the microstock industry. The Shutterstock community is waiting with great anticipation on what is going to happen next. Some Shutterstock contributors say its a good thing, because it will bring more buyers to Shutterstock. Some are gearing up for some new stiff competition from this potential flood of high quality images. On the move from Shutterstock seems to have received a warm welcome, and iStock exclusives are in the process of submitting their entire portfolios to Shutterstock, where they will have to go through the review process. How many images will be added to the Shutterstock libary is hard to say, but it will be in the thousands. The future will tell.

So… we haven’t seen the end of this yet, and I am sure it will bring us some more fireworks. I will keep you up to date about any new developments. For now, I am going to have a few beers with friends and watch some quality Led Zepplin concerts.

Talk soon!


Comments are closed.