2UNAUTHORIZED ONLINE USE OF GETTY IMAGES
January 29, 2005
SAA Trial Reveals High Rate of Online Misuse of Getty Images
The StockArtistsAlliance (SAA) and PicScout have announced the initial results of their much-anticipated study about misuse of SAA members' images. For the purpose of the trial SAA members provided 13,000 of their Right Managed images which are represented by Getty Images. "By eliminating images with known licenses for Internet use during the past year we increased the accuracy and usefulness of the Study," said Betsy Reid, SAA's Executive Director. The images were uploaded to PicScout Image TrackerF System and then compared with images from commercial websites in North America and Germany. "We were astonished to find out these images were found 11 times the rate of the average that PicScout finds," said Eyal Gura, PicScout's CEO. This figure is based on PicScout's accumulative customer database of two million stock images.
(Editor's note: Selling Stock does not find this all that surprising. It is simply an indication that Getty's site is much more widely used for image search than any other site in the industry. For example the images from the Zefa site were among the first PicScout started tracking. Zefa had $41 million in sales in 2004. Getty had over $504 million in sales for the same period. Thus, we might reasonably expect Getty to have more than 12 times the visitors of the Zefa site.)
Applying the same rate of misuse of images to the full Getty Images collection could mean tens of millions of dollars in lost revenues to both photographers and Getty Images. "We have provided Getty with the first PicScout reports and are confident that they will be responsive to this important new information by investigation of these cases and recovery of otherwise lost revenue," said Betsy Reid.
"The average rate of infringements on the web is 90%. This means that for each image that is properly licensed, there are nine images that are being used on commercial websites without being licensed," added Eyal Gura.
PicScout and SAA intend to continue this trial which is expanding to search images from other distribution outlets, and are committed to jointly act to better educate the industry about the importance of rights management and policing of image usage online.
The images were delivered to PicScout in November and PicScout's Image TrackerF System started searching commercial web sites for these images shortly after that time. It is expected that the system will require many months to search all sites in North America and Germany and it is possible that some of the images found were licensed legitimately after the study began. The real unauthorized use will not be determined until after Getty has had a chance to examine their current records for the images found.
It should also be noted that while the lost revenue may be significant the figure quoted above in the press release is extrapolated from a sample of about 3% of the RM images on the Getty site and from a one-month search of only a small portion of the commercial sites in North America and Germany. In the initial stages of Zefa's experience using PicScout that I reported in Story 641 Zefa was able to collect more than 20,000 Euros for the unauthorized uses uncovered in the first ten days. In the Zefa experience half the images found had been licensed legitimately at one point, but were being used beyond the period allowed in the license.
As Getty Images is the largest distributor of images in the world, it is expected that images distributed by Getty Images would be found at a much higher rate then other images on the Internet. The rate of usage of Getty Images found by the SAA and PicScout trial is well correlated with the popularity of the Getty website and the quality of images distributed by Getty Images. PicScout and SAA will continue to report the online misuses to Getty and hope to assist Getty and its contributors further on.