Getty Images works with policy makers and industry groups to uphold creatives’ rights and safeguard intellectual property, from defending against the display of hi-res images within search engine results to advocating for copyright reform and ensuring that content is respected online. Lend your voice to ensure that a fair marketplace for content creators continues to flourish.

Today we’re campaigning to stop Google’s anti-competitive scraping of your imagery. By adding your name to both of the open letters below, you can lend your voice to the campaign and let US and EU anti-trust regulators know that it is not okay for Google to profit from your creativity and unfairly compete in the distribution of your images.

You do not need to be living in the United States or the European Union to sign these letters, nor do you need to be a Getty Images contributor. This affects the entire visual content industry and we are stronger together.

Click the links below to sign today.

You can also help spread the word by Tweeting #PlayFairGoogle


Ensuring a fair marketplace: why Getty Images is lending its voice to proceedings against Google

An open letter from Yoko Miyashita, General Counsel, Getty Images

Today, on behalf of content creators around the world, Getty Images has taken a significant step to protect the livelihoods of photographers and ensure a fair online marketplace for all. We have filed a competition law complaint against search engine Google Inc. in the European Union

Current proceedings against Google are ongoing and wide-reaching, with Google accused of distorting search results in favour of its own services across a myriad of industries, as well as more recently, additional proceedings examining Google’s business practices around its Android mobile operating system. Our complaint focuses specifically on changes made to Google Images in 2013, which have impacted the competitiveness of our business by siphoning off traffic and promoting piracy – to the detriment of the 200,000 contributors who rely on us to earn a living. On a broader scale, this has impacted the interests of content creators around the world, allowing Google not only to profit from their work, but also to reinforce its role as the internet’s dominant search engine and thus maintain its monopoly power.

Photographers spend years acquiring the necessary skills to become commercially successful.  Many invest in local economies by funding photography shoots that involve location and equipment rental, hiring of local talent and all of the attendant services such as styling and post-production work. Others risk their lives to cover breaking news – both on a local and global scale – that brings critical coverage to media worldwide and serves the important function of educating and informing us all of what’s going on around the globe.  Their craft is their livelihood and they rely on a fair marketplace to fund the creation of new content.

Effective online search is a necessary tool for the discovery of images online, and Google Images dominates this market. In January of 2013, Google drastically changed its presentation of imagery by displaying high res, large-format content through Google Images, where previously low res thumbnails were displayed. Once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, it is immediately consumed – there’s very little reason to go see it somewhere else. This format change immediately diverted traffic away from Getty Images, and from the websites of Getty Images’ customers and those of other image creators, deterring users from leaving Google’s platform to engage with content through legitimate sources. This, in turn, negatively impacts content creators’ ability to monetize users’ interest through licensing and advertising, and 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 – and reserving that traffic exclusively for its own benefit – Google is able to maintain and reinforce its dominance in search. It does this without contributing to the costs of creating the content that Google displays and relies upon 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 our images, or opt-out of image search.  This would mean allowing the harm to continue or becoming invisible on the Internet. Plainly, neither is a viable choice.

This is clearly a cause that impacts many. If you feel motivated to take action, here are some avenues that are open to you:

  • To regulators: Europe’s anti-trust regulators have recognized the harm to competition caused by Google’s practices, and we ask for the same level of scrutiny to be paid to this issue in other geographies. Like the European Commission, our hope is that policymakers and antitrust authorities around the world take action.
  • To creatives: 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. To ensure that a fair marketplace for content creators can flourish, we invite you to engage local regulators to help put a stop to the anti-competitive scraping of your content. Getty Images will supply additional resources to support you to do so in the coming weeks.
  • To consumers of imagery: We believe in the power of imagery to move the world and want to encourage the easy, legal sharing of our content free of charge for non-commercial purposes. In fact, we introduced our embed feature for this very reason, to power a more image-rich, digital world and provide a legal alternative to the “right click”. We ask that you feed your love of imagery by visiting or licensing images through lawful content websites, helping to ensure a fair marketplace for all.

Innovation and creativity are essential elements in content creation, and Google’s practices are threatening this. How can one continue to create and innovate if there isn’t a fair online marketplace for images?  Without a fair marketplace, we fear for a future devoid of breaking news, powerful imagery, and visual inspiration.

Please join us in the effort to amplify the concerns of image creators worldwide.



Yoko Miyashita

General Counsel

Getty Images