Last month, Google informed Drive users that five thousand images will be added to the stock images list. Everybody was wondering where these photos came from, and only now it was revealed that the search company struck a controversial deal with Getty Images.
Google announced on the official Drive blog that five thousand images were added for users to be employed freely into their Docs, Slides, and Sheets. A few days ago, it was revealed that Google arranged a licensing agreement with Getty Images to use thousands of photos from Getty and iStock RF.
The 5,000 images have been selected from categories including animals, education, food, music, nature, sports, technology, and weather.
An iStocker has discovered one of his photos in Google’s search results and has decided to check the metadata for credits. He found no evidence of such information as there were no credits in the metadata and no mention of the photographers. Outraged, he dug deep into the story and found out that Google paid a one-time fee of $12 to all photographers, while Drive users now have full access to 5,000 images.
The deal is very controversial because the owners of the photographers are not aware of Google’s deal with Getty. Most people claim they are angry because $12 is such a small fee for their work considering Google allows more than 400 million users to make use of their photos, including for commercial purposes.
iStockphoto employee to the rescue
iStockphoto forum user, mr_erin, explained in a forum post that the deal is not similar to the one signed with Microsoft back in 2007 and that the images can be already found on Getty Images. He added that the royalties for the images have been already paid since October and November 2012.
According to mr_erin, less than 100 iStockphoto contributors have multiple images on Google Drive, and that all others have a single photo. It appears that only 700 pictures were added from iStock, courtesy of 490 photographers, who have all been paid accordingly.
Copyright infringement allegations
Photographers have accused Google and iStock of infringing their copyrights, but the forum poster said that the content can be used only in Google Docs, Sites, and Presentations, which may end up being used for commercial purposes. The search company and its users do not have the rights to use the content outside the Drive platform and nobody can distribute the images.
Furthermore, the licensing agreement does not infringe author’s copyrights because the rules are different when compared to standard RF license rights. The lack of metadata has been attributed to “standard practice” and “license agreement,” both of them being different from promotional settlements, hence metadata can be removed by Google.