Getty Images Move Too Little, Too Late

In the past two weeks Getty Images made its images available for free on a limited use basis to anyone on the Internet, and severed its relationship with Yahoo!’s Flickr. On the surface, this seems like a great thing for those of us who create content and/or spend hours navigating the web.

But the deeper I dig into the “free Getty Images” announcement, the less I like it. Some of the issues include:

  • Turning bloggers into sales reps by making a licensing disclosure a part of embeds as well as sharing buttons.
  • Providing thousands of complimentary links to Getty’s site thanks to the embeds on bloggers site.
  • Limiting image size, in turn defying the trend towards responsive design.
  • Hoping that amateur photographers will resubmit their portfolio through a weak uploading site and app.
  • Assuming that amateur and pro photogs will promote their partial limited Getty portfolio instead of their full portfolios on websites, Flickr and Instagram, all of which already have organic followings.
  • Deploying unfriendly and limited embed and sharing functionality on the photos.

As a Getty Images licensed photographer with a whopping total of 11 photos on the site, these details don’t motivate me to use their service, both as a blogger and as a photographer. It’s nice to say that I have been licensed, but that’s about the sole value of it.

Here is a sample of a Getty Image embed.

Beyond the technical details, Getty Images’ moves are too little, too late, and won’t change anything.

Getty Images’ moves may be a direct result of the social web’s demand for social photos as well as those embedded via Creative Commons, Flickr Creative Commons, and Instagram. Photos have become a primary driver of visual storytelling in social media.

As a result, Getty Images has to have suffered lost licensing fees, and has definitely experienced increased piracy. The move represents a measured gesture to capture some of that social photo and content marketplace. Why else would Getty Images suddenly severe its Flickr relationship, and tell Flickr/Getty Image portfolio members they can soon upload directly? Perhaps they will give bloggers an affiliate deal on licenses next?

While Getty Images brings quality and reputation to the table, it doesn’t offer ease of use, accessiblity, or transparency (e.g. money and licensing fees gained). These moves are not enough in the larger context of digital photography ecosystem.

Nice pictures, though.

What do you think?

24 Free Twitter Header Images

As an amateur photographer nothing makes me happier than giving my photos away so people can use them. This holiday season I reedited 24 of my photos, cropping them to fit your Twitter header image.

None of the photos have watermarks, none of them require attribution. If you like any of them, click on the link located below these images to download on Flickr.

If you are looking for my sweet Patagonia pics, find them towards the end of the post.

Thank you for spending time on this blog. I really appreciate your time. Happy holidays!

First Presidential Tweet
The First Presidential Tweet

Hang Gliding in Hawaii
Hang Gliding in Hawaii

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Free Content, Expectations and Monetization

Vieux Port

Good free content attracts people. If successful, it builds an expectation of more free content and time. This creates problems for small businesses and individual content creators (bloggers, photographers, etc.).

First, once people get free stuff, they want more. More content, more time, even services and goods for free. They ask for it, and voice dissatisfaction when told they must pay. When told that some offerings are paid, communities and customers even get angry.

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Listen to Welcome to the Fifth Estate for Free

Speaker Drivers
Image by DeclanTM

As promised, Welcome to the Fifth Estate is being made avalailable to you for free via podcast. Each podcast is roughly 1/2 to 1/3 of a chapter, and approximately 15 minutes in length. The Fifth Estate Podcast will be posted every week by Friday until the book is completed. As the author and narrator, please excuse little hiccups. This is not a professional audiobook reading!

The first Welcome to the Fifth Estate podcast was posted today. It opens by discussing several media trends:

  • The overall market trends for digital media including the Like economy as presented in the introduction by Mashable Editor in Chief Adam Ostrow
  • An epiphany of realizing that social media is unavoidable
  • Understanding citizen media, and its role as the Fifth Estate

Listen to the podcast on BlogTalkRadio or subscribe to it on iTunes. Again, an episode will be published every week.

In addition, the first reviews and articles are coming in for Welcome to the Fifth Estate, and they are stellar:

Margie Clayman wrote, “I highly recommend you check out this book when it becomes available. It’s an extremely interesting snapshot of communication and society as they both exist today, right now.”

Fellow Zoetican Beth Kanter said, “If you’re looking for solid principles to think about social media strategy formulation, pre-order your copy of “Welcome to the Fifth Estate” now!”

John Haydon added that the book offers “four strategies that you can steal!”

Learn more about the book here, or order your copy today! If you would like an electronic review copy, please email your request to geoffliving [at]

The Zoetica Salon and the Business of Free

Kami Huyse (@kamichat) & Beth Kanter (@kanter)
Zoetica Co-Founders Kami Huyse and Beth Kanter

Zoetica launched its Salon today on Beth Kanter‘s personal fan page on Facebook. The Zoetica Salon meets a nonprofit marketplace need for basic peer-to-peer conversations about social media adoption. The primary differentiators of the Zoetica Salon is Beth Kanter and her significant experience in the space, and that it is completely free of charge, and hosted on a common easily accessible social network — Facebook — that doesn’t require a new log-in identity (see press release here).

This begs the question why market a free service? After assessing the current offerings out there, there was no free service. The best educational offerings range from affordable services like the esteemable Nedra Weinreich‘s Social Marketing University series to TechSoup’s NetSquared community and the Nonprofit Technology Network‘s excellent professional membership services.

At the same time, the partners in the company believe basic advice and simple questions should be available free of charge to an industry dedicated to resolving society’s ills. With no organization formally serving that need, a clear opportunity existed. As more social media consultants enter the space, it’s important to remember that advice from bloggers and consultants do not equate to formal training. The Zoetica offering seeks to channel people who want to do more than spend time in the Salon into the capable hands of folks like Nedra, NetSquared and the NTEN team.

Lest a Robin Hood halo be painted, there is an end goal for the company, which is branding and demonstrative leadership. Simply put, by giving people a taste of the offering, the company builds a reputation for its consulting services, and gains new business opportunities. A vast majority of Zoetica’s business is through referral or direct client requests.

What Free Costs

There’s a real cost to free, which most people don’t take into account when they launch their services or blog. That’s the time it takes to build a quality reputation via free services. By assuming that giving away free time will monetize, Zoetica shoulders great risk. For example, in addition to the Salon announcement today, the company also announced the addition of Julie Pippert to the team (Welcome, Julie!). Deploying Julie’s unbillable time to the page is a significant investment.

It is a risk that all of the partners have successfully shouldered individually, so the leap is taken with faith. Perhaps the poster child of free intellectual property Cory Doctorow said it best:

“For me, the answer is simple: if I give away my ebooks under a Creative Commons liscence that allows non-commercial sharing, I’ll attract readers who buy hard copies. It’s worked for me – I’ve had books on the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) bestseller list for the past two years.”

Other online organizations have sought different methods of monetization, including advertising, sponsor programs, affiliate marketing, membership fees and subscription models. Every entity has to choose the model it thinks will serve its community of interest best, and ultimately serve its long-term business goals. And so with that, let the free experiment known as the Zoetica Salon begin.

A complete discussion on the economics of Free can be found in Chris Anderson’s book Free (which was available online for five weeks free of charge).