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Celebrity images, like this, are among the most pirated online.
Kevin Mazur—WireImage/Getty Images

Getty Images, the largest photo agency in the world, has made a huge amount of their pictures available for free, in order to combat piracy.

The now publicly accessible library of around 35 million images includes everything from celebrity shots, stock images and sports events to nature images, while omitting recent photojournalism, for which media outlets will still have to pay.

The move is meant to address widespread online photo theft, where people copy pictures without paying for them. While Getty’s new system doesn’t allow you to download pictures, it provides internet users with an easy way to share them. All available images have been equipped with symbols allowing you to share the photo over Tumbler, Twitter or embed them onto a website.

Like this:

Next to the buttons are a credit line and a large company logo, making the effort a great branding opportunity for the agency. The Atlantic also notes that Getty will profit by collecting valuable data from people using the service.

“You have to adapt to survive,” Rolling Stone photographer Kevin Mazur told BBC. “Evolving to embrace technology that encourages responsible image sharing is the way forward for the industry.”

However, not all photographers are happy about the development. Photography journalist Daniela Bowker tells BBC that her Twitter feed has exploded with professionals angry with seeing their work being handed out for free. “They say: ‘Exposure won’t feed my children’,” she says.

Or, as the photographer Paul Clarke expresses it on his blog: “Getty me out of here.”


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