Getty to phase out rights-managed images in favour of royalty-free content

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Getty Images has announced that it will be phasing out rights-managed content in favor of royalty-free imagery for its 'creative image' submissions.

According to a blog post from Getty, "Complicated licensing models create friction and customers demand simplicity—they want the most simple and most flexible access to relevant, authentic imagery."

In essence, the change means photographers will no longer be able to control how their images are used and distributed once purchased on the platform.

With a rights-managed model, photographers could define how their images were used, setting limitations on exclusivity, number of uses, length of use and other parameters. In turn, images with these restrictions could potentially earn more for the photographer. The shift to a royalty-free model will mean all images can be used without restriction for any purpose for any length of time and with no stipulations on use. 

Ther implementation appears to be underway already, with Getty Images contributors no longer able to submit new rights-managed creative images to as of November 6, 2019, and by the end of January 2020, all rights-managed images will ‘be removed from single image licensing (sometimes called à la carte) on,' although these can be reuploaded as royalty-free if the photographer desires. 

Getty says the decision has been made following 'extensive customer research and testing on RF versus rights‑managed (RM), including Market Freeze.'

'We have confidently concluded that the RM creative image licensing model no longer meets our customers’ needs, especially given the flexibility demanded by digital marketing and the increasing reuse of imagery, and it actually reduces our overall competitiveness,' the statement continues. Getty have not shared any of the details of the research to date. 

There's few indications in the announcement of how the shift will benefit photographers either, although it's worth noting the change does not extend to either RM editorial stills licensing or rights‑ready video licensing at this time. 

You can read the statement in full here. 

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