A few weeks ago, I posted “The Audacity of Getty Images: Exploiting Carol Highsmith, America’s Photographer” about the way Getty Images took from the Library of Congress thousands of images placed in the public domain by “America’s photographer” Carol Highsmith. Her intention was that Americans could use them without paying a cent. Getty downloaded these images from the Library and then uploaded them on its own site, Getty Images, and charged licensing fees for using these pictures, which belong to them no more than they belong to me — or you.
To add insult to injury, Getty Images listed itself/Carol Highsmith as these works’ creator, which suggests that she was in cahoots with them, notwithstanding that Highsmith first learned of this scam when she received a threatening letter for not paying licensing fees for the privilege of using her own pictures on her own website.
Yes, the mind boggles.
Then I wondered: if Getty Images is pretending that they have the right to demand payment for the use of Highsmith’s photos, could they be pulling the same scam with other images in the public domain?
It took less than an hour to establish that Gettying extends beyond the Highsmith experience. Consider these 2 pictures of ships. What’s the difference? Unless you want to place it in an advertisement, using the first image is free — no licensing, no permissions.
In contrast, this photo, the one with “gettyimages/ US Navy” will cost you $575 to use.
Even the caption at Getty is plagiarized — stolen — from the US Navy.
Compare http://www.gettyimages.com/license/612905348 to the screenshot above from the Navy:
“Ships Huddle At Key West To Offer Aid As Hurricane Matthew Approaches
Editorial #: 612905348
Collection: Getty Images News
KEY WEST, FL – OCTOBER 5: Nine ships from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, research vessel Walton Smith and a contract vessel take shelter at Naval Air Station Mole Pier as Hurricane Matthew approaches October 5, 2016 in Key West, Florida. NAS Key West is not currently projected to be in Matthew’s path and as such, stands by to support other services and relief efforts. NAS Key West is a state-of-the-art facility for air-to-air combat fighter aircraft of all military services and provides pierside support to U.S. and foreign naval vessels. (Photo by Cody R. Babin/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)”.
The US Navy website makes it clear that you need not pay licensing fees:
Notice: U.S. Navy photographs and digital images on this site are fully released by the U.S. Navy. If used for news and information purposes please credit as “U.S. Navy photo by [photographer’s name].” The use of Navy images for advertisements must be specifically approved by the Navy Office of Information (OI-2) prior to the use. Write to email@example.com and include details on your intended usage.
In other words, unless you want to use the picture of the ship at Key West in an advertisement, you are free to do so for free. The idea is that since the military is supported by tax dollars, you have already paid for this picture.
And let’s be clear about this: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cody R. Babin is not working for Getty Images. He is not paid by them. He works for us. Really, he ought to protest the use of his name by Getty because were he on both their payroll and the Navy’s, he would be double-dipping. Yes, I suppose it is nice of Getty to acknowledge him as the creator of the work — but do you think he will see one thin dime of the $575 licensing fee Getty is charging for — well, for what?
Next up: Gettying NASA photos and historical images from the Library of Congress.