Getty Images has announced a partnership with Google that includes a multi-year deal licensing deal. In a statement released by Getty on Friday, the two companies exchanged pleasantries, but offered few details about the deal. The “collaborative relationship” between the companies, said Getty CEO Dawn Airey, will allow Getty to work “closely with [Google] to improve attribution of our contributors’ work and thereby [grow] the ecosystem.”
The announcement comes almost two years after Getty Images filed an unfair competition complaint against Google in the European Union, claiming the search engine had cut into the agency’s licensing business. The new agreement suggests the two companies may have reached a détente, at least for now. An email to Getty contributors suggested that Getty had withdrawn its unfair competition complaint against Google. “After working cooperatively with Google over the past months, our concerns are being recognized and we have withdrawn our complaint,” the email said.
Getty had filed the complaint against Google, Inc. to protest changes made in 2013 to Google Images, which had not only “impacted Getty Images’ image licensing business, but content creators around the world, by creating captivating galleries of high-resolution, copyrighted content.” Google Images went from displaying thumbnails that linked to image sources such as Getty, to displaying galleries of large images that kept search users (and their behavioral data) in the Google ecosystem.
“They’re the ones monetizing all of that [image search] traffic and user engagement,” Getty General Counsel, Yoko Miyashita told PDN in an interview shortly after the company filed its EU complaint. “We’re a competing images search engine. Search engines thrive on queries, follow-on queries and all of that engagement data to continue to improve and smarten up the algorithms. We have customers who pay us significant licensing fees to have the rights to display these images. They’re wholly dependent on that traffic to generate the advertising revenue that’s required to pay for the images they license from us. To me, its an underlying fairness issue. All of these publishers pay for the rights to display these picture galleries and Google has done it for free. It’s really hard to compete against a zero-cost competitor.”
According to Getty’s email to contributors, Google will change the structure of its Image search platform, eliminating the “View Image” button that allowed Google Images users to view a high resolution image, and will also display copyright and credit information more prominently.
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