Getty Images is giving away 35 million photos for free. Some are saying the move, aimed to combat pic piracy, will upend the entire stock photo market. Shutterstock CEO Jon Oringer isn’t worried. Why not? The free images come with two thick strings attached–they can’t be used for making money and Getty can run its own ads on the pictures.
“It’s not very landscape changing at all,” Origner told me via phone from San Francisco. “You can’t use their images for commercial use and 99.9% of our business is commercial use. We sell to businesses who sell other stuff, so we’re just going to concentrate on doing that.”
As Oringer notes, the fat part of the $11 billion image market is made up companies in the business of selling– large coprations, advertising agencies and marketers. Under the new plan, they all must still pony-up for pictures. Even if they did get images for free, Oringer doubts they’d give up control over the picture to Getty to save a few bucks. “Any business that is trying to sell something should be willing to a couple dollars for a stock photo to not have ads in it and not distract the user from using the product they’re trying to sell,” says Oringer. “That’s what sounds strange about this.”
Under Getty’s new policy, media companies can use Getty’s content for free, but for the reasons stated above, Oringer doubt’s major news agencies want to risk Getty running ads against their own client ads. Harvard’s Nieman Journalism lab wrote a smart article on this yesterday.
Shares of Stutterstock are down about 8% since Getty announced the free image policy on Wednesday–but Oringer isn’t sure Getty’s to blame for the plunge: “It’s hard to know. We easily go up and down this amount on days where there is no news,” says Oringer. “But short term jumps don’t really matter when you’re building a company that will be around for decades.”
Shares of Shutterstock have climbed more than 325% since the company’s IPO in October 2012.