Getty Images rallies global photo and creative community to advocate against Google’s anti-competitive practices

 In Company News

Following its filing of a competition law complaint against Google with the European Commission in April 2016, Getty Images unites global photo community to speak out against Google’s anti-competitive business practices, drawing an initial 7,000 signatures; campaign’s intention is to encourage policy makers to take action

New York – 5 October, 2016: Getty Images, a world leader in visual communications, has launched a global campaign to encourage photographers and content creators to lend their voice in support of ensuring a fair and competitive online marketplace for all – a campaign that has been supported by an initial 5000+ creatives in the first two days alone and currently stands at almost 7,000 signatures.


What: By asking creatives to add their names to these open letters addressed to the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights and to Europe’s Competition Commissioner, Getty Images is inviting the global creative community to advocate to end Google’s anti-competitive practices, which hinder a fair marketplace for creators and impair their ability to earn fair compensation from their work.


Where: You can find the letters here:


Who: The letters are open to photographers and other image businesses worldwide to sign, with the aim of putting a stop to Google’s anti-competitive business practices which significantly threaten the livelihood of the global creative community.


Yoko Miyashita, General Counsel of Getty Images: “Getty Images is committed to ensuring a fair and competitive online marketplace for all content creators – those who work with our company, as well as the wider creative community. With the launch of this campaign, we encourage all to have their voice heard and to join the mission to put a stop to Google’s anti-competitive scraping of content. By uniting the global community of photographers and content creators behind this critical issue, our intention is that policy makers will be encouraged to take action and restore a fair and competitive online marketplace once and for all.”


When: The letters are open for signature, effective immediately.

Why: The campaign follows Getty Images’ anti-competition filing against Google with the European Commission on 27 April of this year. Getty Images’ complaint focuses specifically on changes made in 2013 to Google Images, the image search functionality of Google, which not only impacted Getty Images’ image licensing business, but content creators around the world. With these changes, Google Images became a substitute for licensed content, by creating galleries of large-format, high-resolution images that can be viewed and downloaded without ever leaving Google’s ecosystem. These changes have allowed Google to reinforce its role as the internet’s dominant search engine, maintaining a monopoly over site traffic, engagement data and advertising spend. This has also promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement, turning search engine users into accidental pirates.




Supplementary information:


Timeline of changes to Google Images – background to Getty Images’ complaint:

In January of 2013, Google changed its presentation of imagery by displaying high resolution large-format content through Google Images. That was the latest in a series of changes from when Google first launched Google Images – Google Images originally displayed low res thumbnails that clicked-through to source sites. The format change to high-resolution picture gallery display has diverted users away from source sites and siphoned traffic from Getty Images, other media organizations and image creators. Google Images’ current format also promotes “right click” piracy by making hi res imagery easily available, with no requirement for the user to go to the source site to find out how they might legally license or seek permission to use the image in question. Google’s practices involve presenting content in such a way that it deters users from engaging with content creators; this impacts artists’ ability to monetize users’ interest and thereby reduces the level of reinvestment available for the creation of new content. By creating its own captive, image-rich environment and cutting off user traffic to competing websites, Google is able to maintain and reinforce its dominance in search, where it generates most of its $80 billion annual revenues. It does this without making any contribution to the costs of creating the very images upon which it relies to attract and maintain users.


When Getty Images first raised concerns with Google three years ago, Google’s proposed solution was no solution at all: accept its presentation of images in high res format, or opt-out of image search. This would mean allowing the harm to continue, or becoming invisible on the Internet, making it even more difficult for users to legitimately source and license images.


This campaign builds upon earlier submissions made as an interested third party and as a formal complainant in the European Commission’s ongoing inquiry into Google’s anti-competitive business practices.


Getty Images embed tool

Getty Images actively promotes a more image-rich, digital world, but one that recognizes and remunerates the content creators who create this imagery. In 2014, Getty Images launched its embed tool, which revolutionized the visual content industry by making most of its imagery available for easy, legal sharing at no cost for non-commercial use. This embed functionality provides consumers with an easy, legal alternative to the “right click”- an alternative that ensures content creators are appropriately credited for their work and that the image is clearly traceable to Getty Images in the event that a user wishes to license the image for a commercial purpose.


About Yoko Miyashita:

Yoko Miyashita, Senior Vice President, General Counsel

As SVP, General Counsel, Yoko manages Getty Images’ global legal team. Her role, based in Seattle, includes overseeing the company’s intellectual property policies and practices.


About Getty Images:

Getty Images is the most trusted and esteemed source of visual content in the world, with almost 200 million assets available through its industry-leading sites and The Getty Images website serves creative, business and media customers in almost 200 countries and is the first place people turn to discover, purchase and share powerful content from the world’s best photographers and videographers. Getty Images works with over 200,000 contributors and hundreds of image partners to provide comprehensive coverage of more than 130,000 news, sport and entertainment events, impactful creative imagery to communicate any commercial concept and the world’s deepest digital archive of historic photography.

Visit Getty Images at to learn more about how the company is advancing the unique role of still and moving imagery in communication and business, and enabling creative ideas to come to life.  For company news and announcements, visit our Press Room, and for the stories and inspiration behind our content, visit Stories & Trends. Find Getty Images on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr, or download the Getty Images app where you can explore, save and share the world’s best imagery.


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