Getty Images’ new embed feature is missing something

Getty Images Missing Images

Last week Getty Images, the world’s largest image library, announced that they were making the majority of their catalogue available as free embeds. This has led to all sorts of interesting debate about creative rights and the value of attribution; but much less discussion about what this might mean for social media and content marketers.I suspect that there are some clear limitations that prevent Getty’s move being quite as valuable as we might have hoped.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work. Let’s say I need a photo of Pete and Dud. I go to Getty, grab the embed code, paste it into my post and hey presto magico:

Nice, eh? But there are two big limitations that might prevent this from being really useful.

Can’t use on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+

It should already be obvious to some of you of course, but we can’t use embed codes on most social platforms. There almost a blogging platform.

These embeds only really work on blogs. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it’s a limitation.

Can’t be used as Open Graph image or Twitter Card image

One of the major reasons we like images on our blog posts is to create visual interest and stand out when the post is shared through social platforms. Facebook’s og:image and Twitter’s twitter:image:src let us choose images that work well to capture attention and deliver clicks.

Because the photo of Pete & Dud is an embed, I can’t use it as the featured image, and it can’t be displayed when shared. Oh, and it can’t be Pinned either.

Neither of these issues should prevent us from thinking up creative ways to use the Getty library, of course. I’m just pointing out — in my gloomy way — that it’s not as exciting as we might have hoped.


  1. Terence Eden says

    Right-click, view image. Take that URL and stick in in your tags, or paste it into your social network of choice.

  2. says

    You wouldn't want to paste the URL (it displays horribly as a link, and points to the image file, not the article.) If you're going to break copyright and terms, you may as well go the whole hog and download/re-upload the image. Which (while fairly straightforward) is not the point.

  3. says

    I was about to say "Of course you can't do that, hotlinking the image without using Getty's embedding codes would clearly breach their copyright".

    Then I remembered about the Svensson ruling, and now I'm not so sure: embeddable images are already available to the whole world, so hotlinking them doesn't make them available to a "new public". So under Svensson, that suggests there is no infringement. Still thinking about that one (have floated it on Twitter:

    That wouldn't work for most social networks, however, as they create a fresh copy of the image on their own servers rather than hotlinking to a third party site. That fresh copy would most certainly be an infringing copy, and you would risk having the wrath of Getty descend upon your head with a nasty letter and a four-figure invoice…

Please tell me what you think.