April 27th, 2016

Getty Files Complaint Against Google In Europe

Getty Images announced today that it has filed an unfair competition complaint against Google Inc. in Europe, where Google is already under fire. Getty objects to Google’s image search platform, which enables users to easily find and scroll through high resolution, full-screen displays of photographs. That deprives Getty of traffic to its own website, and takes potential sales away from the creators, publishers and distributors of those images, Getty alleges.

In a press release, Getty explains that the complaint addresses “changes made in 2013 to Google Images… which has [sic] not only impacted Getty Images’ image licensing business, but content creators around the world, by creating captivating galleries of high-resolution, copyrighted content.” Prior to 2013, Google made only low res thumbnails available in their search engine, so users had to click through to the sites of Getty and other publishers and image libraries to see full-screen images.

Getty is already a third party in the European Commission’s investigation of Google’s business practices, which the Commission believes are anti-competitive. This new Getty complaint supports that investigation, Getty says, as well as an earlier complaint filed with the European Commission by Coordination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage (CEPIC), an organization representing photo agencies in Europe.

“Google’s behavior is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the word – present and future,” Getty Images’ General Counsel, Yoko Miyashita said in a statement. “By standing in the way of a fair marketplace for images, Google is threatening innovation, and jeopardizing artists’ ability to fund the creation of important future works. Artists need to earn a living in order to sustain creativity and licensing is paramount to this; however, this cannot happen if Google is siphoning traffic and creating an environment where it can claim the profits from individuals’ creations as its own.”

In an open letter also published today, Miyashita urged photographers to get involved in the complaint. “A fair market for your works is the lifeblood of your business – no one is more greatly impacted by Google’s practices than you, the content creator,” he writes. “We invite you to engage local regulators to help put a stop to the anti-competitive scraping of your content.”

Photographers’ responses to the news on social media have been mixed.

Getty* just filed suit against Google Images for making people think photos are free.

*Owners of $1/pic iStockPhoto pic.twitter.com/OVGeiRxCPh

— David Hobby (@strobist) April 27, 2016

August 22nd, 2013

Photography Trade Organizations Take Aim at Instagram Terms

Several professional photography trade organizations have banded together to study Instagram’s Terms of Service, and today the American Society of Media Photographers issued the following press release:

Photographic Community, Led by The American Society of Media Photographers, Deems Instagram Terms Too Far-Reaching

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), joined by National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), The Digital Media Licensing Association (PACA), American Photographic Artists (APA), This Week in Photography (TWiP), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Coordination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage (CEPIC), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) and American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP), has mounted a campaign to address the far-reaching Terms of Use of the image sharing service Instagram. Since 2010, more than 16 billion images and movies have been uploaded to Instagram. The organizations believe that few of the users who share images on the site understand the rights they are giving away. ASMP has issued “The Instagram Papers,” information in the form of essays and analysis about the Terms of Use in which the key issue is that users should have the ‘right to terminate’ their agreement with Instagram, allowing them to remove permissions for the use of their identities and content at any time.

Specifically, the Terms of Use give Instagram perpetual use of photos and video as well as the nearly unlimited right to license the images to any and all third parties. And, after granting this broad license to Instagram, users also relinquish the right to terminate the agreement. Once uploaded, they cannot remove their work and their identity from Instagram. Additionally, in the event of litigation regarding a photo or video, it is the account holder who is responsible for attorney and other fees, not Instagram.

Moreover, while Instagram’s agreement includes the right to sublicense images, it specifically excludes the need to ever pay creators, regardless of the way the company may use or sell their work. The photographic community believes strongly that fair compensation for the creators of work is a vital component of a fair agreement.

According to ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik, “While clearly benefiting Instagram, the rights of imaging professionals and general users stand to be infringed upon in an unprecedented way. We are concerned that not only have Instagram’s Terms of Use gone beyond acceptable standards, but also that other social media providers may use these onerous terms as a template for their own agreements.”

Peter Krogh, ASMP’s Digital Standards & Practices Chair, said, “As online services become larger repositories of intellectual property, power has shifted away from the user and toward the company provider. Unless changes are made by Instagram, we believe the terms will have a profound and negative impact on imaging professionals, publishers and general users.”

In the coming weeks and months ASMP, along with the other listed organizations, will continue to reach out to gain support in addressing these egregious terms before they become the industry standard.

Related: Bowing to Pressure from Users, Instagram Retracts New Terms of Use
Now That We Know Instagram Isn’t a Charity, What Would You Be Willing to Pay?