For the past three months, Getty Images has been engaged in a massive reduction of the number of images on its site. In September, I did a count of the images on the Gettyimages.com and found 1,174,692 RM and RR images and 964,227 RF images for a total of 2,138,919. Today, three months later, there are 585,985 RM and RR images on the site and 664,819 RF images for a total of 1,250,804 images.
This is a 50% reduction in the number of RM and RR images and a 31% reduction in RF. That's an overall 42% reduction in the total number of images on the site. The good news is that the average-return-per-image for those remaining on the site is likely to go up dramatically. The bad news is that most suppliers are unlikely to see any growth in revenue.
Images from Getty Images brands, including those wholly owned by Getty, represent about 34% of all the RM and RR images on the site. The other 66% of RM and RR images belong to Getty's Image Partners. Contract photographers should recognize that many of the images that had been accepted and posted on the Getty site in the past may now have been removed.
It is unclear whether Getty has any plans to make the removed images available through other venues. It is clear that RM and RR images will not be added to the Punchstock collection, as Punchstock is scheduled to become an entirely RF collection early next year.
Getty did not return calls for comment.
There is some indication, but no confirmation, that images that had been on the site for three years were removed. It is not clear whether this affects only images that were never licensed during this period, or all images older than three years. Or, if images that might have been licensed prior to 2005, but had not been licensed again in the last three years, were removed.
No other removal criteria has been suggested, and it would seem unlikely that such a massive individual editing job could have been accomplished in such a short period of time. It's unknown whether the editing process has been completed or whether further editing can be expected.
No word on what portion of the RF images removed will be added to the Punchstock collection (assuming they were not already on Punchstock), or whether they will be eliminated entirely from both collections?.
It will be important for photographers who have given the company exclusive rights to market the images it accepts to determine which of their images have been removed from the market. It seems likely that many of the removed images might continue to generate revenue if they were made available through other portals. Based on the language in existing image exclusive photographer contracts, I believe photographers have the right to offer images to other venues in the event that Getty chooses not to market them.