Recently Getty Images announced that they were making a bazillion photos available for embedding in your blog posts and other web content. Many people misunderstood this to mean that Getty was opening up their catalogue for any kind of non-commercial use, but that is not the case. There are a lot of great discussions about the limitations of Getty’s free offering, but there is one point that really makes it a deal-killer for me:
You can embed only
Embedding means that the image is still hosted at Getty and your blog post just links to it. Your blog’s site is not storing a copy of the image at all.
Why this is a good idea
Embedding means that your audience can find the source.
It means that you’re not illegally taking a copy of the image and misrepresenting it as your own.
It makes attribution really easy, because it’s like auto-attribution.
Why this is not such a good idea
What if Getty’s site is unavailable?
What if they change the terms down the road?
What if they simply change the structure of the embed code, breaking your links to their images?
It’s fine in the short term, but there is a long-term maintenance problem. That’s okay for content that is “timely” and essentially expires; it’s not okay for content which we want to have persist.
Reliability is a good reason to not embed
If you can download an image, possibly modify it if the license allows, and upload it to your blog’s media library, you have a copy of it to use forever (or thereabouts). I like to search on Flickr by licence type for CC-BY images which give me wonderful freedom. It’s also how I share my own images, so help yourself.
Include attribution and links to the source, and you’ll be okay even if the distributor is later offline or revokes future licenses.
There is a nice-looking plugin called WP Inject if you’re using a self-hosted WordPress solution, or you can do something like this when uploading media to WordPress.com:
Which will then appear like this:
Notice that the creator is properly attributed, the licence is listed (which is nice if not exactly necessary), and the image itself is a link to the photo on Flickr. That makes it easy to find, and I think that’s better than a gross-looking, unreliable embedded photo which might vanish without warning.