iStock Provides Google Drive Explanation

Posted on 1/12/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (4)

iStock has provided an explanation on Google Drive issues described in my previous post. The following was posted on the iStock forum late yesterday.

Thanks to everyone for your patience while we've learned more about the Google partnership/deal. As I explained briefly in a post yesterday, due to the volume of sales deals that are constantly in progress we in the content team are not always able to learn about them before they are implemented. I agree this communication is currently not working how it should and I'm working with the sales team on a plan to help us stay better informed earlier in the process. We would much rather be able to answer questions quickly or share information proactively with you than have things unfold the way they have this week. This is not intentional and we apologize for the speed at which we've been able to respond.

A few facts:
  • This is a license deal arranged with Google through Getty Images, this is not a promotional arrangement like the 2007 MS deal also being discussed here recently.
  • There was an initial pool of several thousand images licensed from Getty and iStock RF collections that are on the Getty Images platform.
  • No RM content was included in this pool or deal.
  • Royalties for these images were paid through Getty Images and were processed in October and November of 2012.
    Of images licensed, just under 700 are from a group of about 490 iStock contributors.
  • Just under 100 of those contributors have multiple files within the pool, the rest have a single file.
  • There may eventually be additional content added to this pool/agreement, but at the moment there are no concrete plans
License information:

Google licensed these images for use by Google users through the Google Drive platform; Users of this platform are granted rights to place this imagery in content created using Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Presentations, which end uses can be for commercial purposes.

Users are not granted rights to use this imagery outside the context of Google Drive created content. ?No rights are granted to Google users to redistribute image files outside of the context in which they’re used.

Google’s license rights are not the same as the standard RF license rights. We have specifically given them the right to enable that content to be used by their end users within the confines of the Google programs. They have a bespoke EULA.

Copyright protection:

There have been copyright concerns raised specifically around the right click functionality and lack of embedded metadata within the Google platform, although not ideal from some perspectives this is fairly standard practice for this type of product placement. Lack of attribution has also been mentioned, but this being a license deal rather than a promotional arrangement attribution is not typical or required.

That said, we are very aware that copyright enforcement is vital to the future of our business, Getty Images purchased PicScout and the Image IRC and we continue to develop new methods for copyright protection on behalf of our contributors and partners, many of which could help this platform and others like it improve in this way over time.

Google is an important partner for us and we have many innovative licensing arrangements with them in place and in negotiations. Our goal is to continue to expand and improve this partnership over time – to the benefit of everyone involved including Google and it's customers, as well as Getty Images and our contributors. This is a long term objective that includes pricing, copyright protection, and volume.

Again, thanks for your patience while we've pulled together this information. We understand and accept that not everything about this deal is going to make every contributor happy, but we hope this gives some additional context to the scale and intent of this arrangement, and that it gives some sense of what we are aiming to achieve in the longer term through partnerships of this kind.

Copyright © 2013 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Jan 13, 2013
    Jim.... Just WHAT exactly does this letter say?? Anyone else confused??

  • Carroll Seghers Posted Jan 14, 2013
    I take it to say that Google negotiated a bulk deal wherein, every EU of Google Drive can make flyers, brochures, presentations, webinars, websites, etc. using these images without any additional payment to Getty or photogs.

    Thinking of the potential millions of usages, I hope Getty got a good upfront fee, because it seems to destroy the RF model of each EU paying for their use. It's more like a "subscription" sales plan.

  • Todd Klassy Posted Jan 14, 2013
    All for just $12. Such a deal.

  • Paula Lumbard Posted Jan 14, 2013
    This is fascinating. Thank you for this important work that you do.

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