Getty Images' decision to make 35 million of its images free was inevitable, says Jeff Moore of the British Press Photographers' Association, yet it will cost photographers their jobs. He speaks to BJP
“The reality is that there was a sort of sad inevitability about it,” says Jeff Moore, chairman of the British Press Photographers’ Association, the first representative organisation to react to Getty Images’ embed programme. “Something like this was going to happen at some point. We’ve got YouTube and Vimeo, why did we think we’d be any different?”
But he adds that photographers will feel the pinch from the resulting change in the way images are used online.
“It’s going to make people redundant,” he says. “It’s going to put people out of work, without a shadow of a doubt. The first ones to fall will be small and independent freelancers and smaller agencies that are relying on small internet sales.
“Getty was one of the big agencies that was helping the creative industry in trying to make the internet work, making it pay, and they decided to go into the opposite direction. I think we were starting to get the message out.
“Of course, we were never going to be able to convince everyone to stop right-clicking to pinch images, but this is a massively cynical move from Getty, and I imagine that Corbis and Alamy will do the same. But can their business modes sustain this?”
Now, photographers will have to change the way they market themselves to survive in an increasingly competitive industry, says Moore.
“Freelance photographers will have to start thinking outside of the box,” he warns. “If you have a unique library, you’re going to have to start promoting yourself as your unique library. That’s your selling point. But not everybody can do that, obviously. I think a fair amount of photographers will go to the wall over this.
“It’s a big mess.”