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Unsplash is being acquired by Getty Images (unsplash.com)
567 points by baptlac on March 30, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 272 comments



This reminds me of 500px. I used to be a huge fan of 500px. It was the most beautiful photography site on the internet, designed with attention to every tiny detail. It allowed you to share your photos under a CC license, presented them beautifully and had fantastic curated feeds with photos by fantastic photographers.

In 2018 they were acquired by an investor company and partnered exclusively with Getty. As a contributor, you were now pushed to "earn money with your pictures", CC licenses were discouraged and (I think) eventually removed. The site stopped getting optimized for aesthetics, it was now getting optimized for selling stock photos. I deleted all my photos and left.

I hope this doesn't happen to Unsplash. But I'm not optimistic.


Reading through the press release, this really stood out:

> In 2016, we first met the Getty Images team. We weren’t sure they would see the world the same way we did given their business was largely built on licensing. Over years of conversations, however, we learned about the level of respect they had for the Unsplash community and the rights of creators to choose how and where their imagery is made available.

While this is written as though they had initially misunderstood Getty, it doesn't clarify at all how things have evolved. My unvarnished reading is "We were worried about Getty because they're all about copyright, but after talking for years, we've learned they're really all about copyright."

After reading this, I think your lack of optimism is warranted.


> "We were worried about Getty because they're all about copyright, but after talking for years and waiting for our daily uniques to grow, they've agreed to our terms re: valuation."

FIFY


> "We were worried that selling are souls to the copyright czars would not be worth it, but after eating in to their business for years they've finally made us an offer we can't refuse."


The cynic in me says that they were just beaten into submission and after 5 years they said 'fuck it', because they weren't getting any better offers.


The quoted paragraph reminds me of something I once read from a blog post by the WhatsApp team


I read it more like "The plan was from the beginning to exit to Getty so we had talks early on"


> the rights of creators to choose how and where their imagery is made available

I didn't know that there's any way to control where the images show up. Isn't it just a free-for-all on Unsplash?


It was when I read this that I thought of Elsevier.

I'm not sure why I thought of them right then. I suppose the connection was forming in my mind while I was reading the preceding sentences. Going to elsevier.com I see this though:

"How Elsevier supports Open Access"

We're not bad, we're just misunderstood!


https://www.pexels.com/ is another similar site, owned by Canva which seems to have kept its quality through the years.


Someone mentioned yet another alternative which I have used previously but had completely forgotten

https://pixabay.com


I switched to pixabay from unsplash when looking for stock images for presentations. Nowadays I nearly never use unsplash. Maybe because I don't look for landscape that much.

Because unsplash actually made my desktop backgrounds look good.


Pexels is the best community for people who want to share their photos/videos (CC0). It's the worst community for monetising that in any way.


> It's the worst community for monetising that in any way.

That sounds fantastic, I'll take a look!

Edit: It's not CC0 though, right? The Pexels License looks similar to the Unsplash License.


(Disclosure: I work for Canva)

You are allowed to do anything with Pexels photos, except 4 conditions listed on the plain English licensing page: https://www.pexels.com/license/

In short, • don’t portray identifiable people in a bad way • don’t sell unaltered, make a change first • don’t imply endorsement • don’t redistribute on other sites.

Commercial use is perfectly fine. You don’t need to attribute, but our photographers (and we) prefer it.


> don’t portray identifiable people in a bad way

Not a lawyer, but this is so arbitrary that any sensible company wouldn't touch Pexels. What is considered bad? If the person is put next to some junk food? Cigarettes? An abortion clinic ad? Oil company?

This is the same issue with the No Evil license: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Crockford#%22Good,_not...


Yup, this is also why Wikimedia Commons doesn't allow Pexels as a source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Bad_sources#Pexel...


The link you provide says Wikimedia Commons doesn't allow Pexels because of the non-commercial clause. It says nothing about the morality clause.


If you really need a picture of a human, you could just...get that person's permission instead of whining about free not being "free."


I don't see it as whining. These companies are in the business of providing photos for people to be able to use. If their TOS is so vague that one simply cannot use any photos without knowing what the TOS allows or not - then the core purpose of the company has failed.

If FB and others are to be used as an example, these TOS are written vague and broad on purpose.


We appreciate the feedback, and will discuss internally to see if we can make this clause more specific and objective.


Clauses like that are really really hard. CC has the NC clause, which is problematic because it may not be clear what consists of commercial use and what doesn't. If a non-profit uses a picture for a fundraiser, is that commercial or not?

The thing that one of the parent comments suggested would actually be quite cool: An alternative license where the "applicants" could ask for permission to use a picture, stating how they will use it. If the author accepts (using a 1-button click), a license will automatically be granted. Everything would still remain free though. And certain use-cases could be allowed automatically (e.g. "personal use" or "use for a non-profit").

It would remove ambiguities (because an explicit permission is granted), but everyting would still remain royalty-free. Plus, the authors would learn how their photos are being used. (I'm happy to give out photos for free, but I'm also happy if people tell me where they're being used.)


I would actually argue that this situation is a case of a unserved need/business idea: a site with stock photos of people where it is possible for a potential user/buyer to negotiate what a particular photo would be used for with the person who’s photo is taken.

In my mind, it is similar with how I ask for references: I ask people who I think would be a good reference for me if they are willing to do so, but I also ask permission again them each time I need a reference for a given company. If there is going to be a number of companies reaching out, then I combine/bucket a number of requests into one e.g. “Three companies need me to provide them with a reference, so could I please ask your permission for those three companies”.

Yes, there is more going on in the case of copyrighted photos, but facilitating communication is one of the reasons the Internet exists.


Hey Ipsum2, I want to say thank you for your feedback.

We discussed internally and will remove this clause from our license. Will be updating it soon :)


Actual answer for GP: no, it's not CC0.


With this acquisition, there are no independent free photo sites anymore! Maybe free photo time is up?


Vecteezy.com is still independently owned :)


That’s the business of stock photos. Unsplash managed to stick around because they provided free high quality images that were more “real” looking than stock photos. It was supported by ads, which I’m sure kept the site running but when Getty knocks on your door and offers to buy you out ... it’s hard to say no.

The cycle will continue. In its place there will be a new Unsplash which will offer the same + a bit more until it gets bought out too.


To be clear, Unsplash never provided images: they created a website that accepted user submissions, that's it. All content in Unsplash is user generated.

What bothers me about this sale is exactly this: Unsplash cashed in on their user submissions without guaranteeing their users (and use!) would be protected and perpetuated.

This is equivalent of me building a little lemonade stand, inviting a neighbor that makes a good lemonade but doesn't have a very visible stand to come give away their lemonade on my stand, and then selling the entire stand (with lemonade) to Lemonade Store down the street.


I wrote a bunch of articles for a community blog/magazine a while back that had a lot of others in the community doing the same thing. Then the "owner" turned around and sold it to some nameless person that wanted to profit from it.

She patted herself on the back and moved onto building another community thing. I removed my articles and moved on.

It's a real shame, she's very talented, but I struggle to engage with any of her work now because I keep looking for where she's going to try and profit from community participation.

I wish her no ill, but it was a reminder to not treat things as a not-for-profit if they don't have clear governance to back that up.


The original image licenses still apply even through an acquisition, no? With regards to perpetuated, we can stick them in the Internet Archive.


Unfortunate but I think you are very right. For my part, I very much do want to find the next Unplash, with a good F-droid app to look at wonderful free high quality images. I'm ready to ride whatever the next wave is in this cycle.


Oh man, 500px used to be amazing. The photos were just beautiful. As you say, it died at some point (the quality started declining and they pushed some user-hostile stuff) and I never went back.


It just reaffirms that one should not put all money on one horse, and to keep a copy of all of your work under your own management. With photography that's manageable, with e.g. youtube that can become challenging if you're a prolific video maker (especially nowadays with 4K, even 8K video footage).

Anyway, always have an exit.


I’m not sure I follow? Storing a rendered final copy of your work is not prohibitively expensive given the cost of local storage, and is small in comparison to the raw footage which most creators presumably don’t just delete?


For a lot of casual photographers, the version on their phone is the original and the version in the cloud is the backup. And if they run out of space on their phone, they delete the original.

Of course, to professional and semi-professional photographers, such a haphazard approach would be unimaginable :)


I am guessing OP is not referring to images per se but platform. For example, if you have all your 10K followers only on Instagram, you should definitely have exit like owning your own blog. Your followers should at least have a place to find you in case you loose access to Instagram for some reason.


pixelfed.org is another great platform - and it's powered by ActivityPub, so you can host your own and federate it with others.


I can warmly recommend Pixelfed, it would be great to get some talented photographers on board.

However, it's more like Instagram and not really suited for uploading a high-quality high-resolution portfolio. It's also not really suited for finding photos for a project.


Yes, that is true, although it all depends on what content people update, and how well they tag their photos.

I can easily imagine a pixelfed instance dedicated to sharing high-quality stock photos, with strict rules about photo quality, and how to post and tag the photos.


If only the server wasn't as demanding, it's a beautiful project and there are plenty of clients that experience-wise are similar to Instagram


Sad to hear. I just deleted all my photos from there and closed my account.


But, but....the CEO showered them in flattering praise. Everything is going to be wonderful.

We should just throw anti-trust out the window. It's a mess.


IMHO, it is hard to run a sustainable business around sharing pictures.


And then there's Instagram, who only did square photos and nothing else for years


I think you're misrepresenting Instagram. Instagram is a personal PR platform where images are the primary vehicle. In that sense Instagram is closer to Twitter (text-based PR dissemination) than Unsplash.


Unsplash mostly served two groups:

1: people who uploaded as lead generation for professional photography, or some other product or service

2: people who just thought it was cool when someone used one of their photos

The only difference between it and Instagram is Unsplash didn't allow text images or videos.


I guess because this is Hacker News, you're technically correct. From an engineering perspective, you're right that the two platforms share many similarities. But from a business perspective they're completely different. Instagram is where normal people go to show off their life and absorb the lives of others via images. Unsplash is for photographers and consumers of stock photography. As a result of these differences, they have completely different business models, user experiences, and growth trajectories.


500px also disabled it's API when this happened.


To me, this feels like such a new/old media clash point.


Have you seen www.scop.io they focus on diverse artists and have a great community @scopioimages


My main association with Getty is their 'copyfraud' practises where they claim public domain images (NASA, Library of Congress etc) as their own and sell licenses[0]. They're also well known for aggressive acquisitions[1]. Perhaps this a good time to create a mirror

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getty_Images#Claiming_copyrigh...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getty_Images#Acquisitions


Regarding Getty's "aggressive acquisitions", some interesting background turned up in this recent NY Times obit for Daniel Wolf:

Daniel Wolf pulled off what may have been the greatest legal art caper of all time: Over the course of two years in the early 1980s, he quietly amassed some 25,000 classic and contemporary photographs, buying them from the world’s most renowned collectors on behalf of his client the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

He was so secretive that none of the sellers knew about the others, or about their buyer — a stealthiness that allowed him, and the Getty, to pay about $17 million, “less than the price of a moderately good Cezanne still life,” said John Walsh, the director of the Getty at the time, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times.

...

But nothing made quite as big a splash as the Getty acquisition. It not only gave an institutional imprimatur to collecting photography; it also soaked up a sizable chunk of supply, making the remaining works on the market much more valuable.

“Suddenly, absolutely overnight, 25,000 of the rarest photographs ever taken were off the market,” said Weston Naef, who helped Mr. Wolf plan the acquisition for the Getty and later became its first curator of photography. “It would be like someone removing half the gold from Fort Knox.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/24/arts/daniel-wolf-dead.htm...


That is a different entity than Getty Images.

https://www.getty.edu/research/library/faq.html#gettyimages

> No, Getty Images has no relationship to the J. Paul Getty Trust.

The "Getty" name derived from the same person, but the museum and Getty Images have nothing do with each other.


To be more precise, Mark Getty of Getty Images is J. Paul Getty's grandson.

Some of the initial investments in Getty Images came from other members of the Getty family (who had inherited probably quite a lot of money from J. Paul) but that seems to be the extent of the relationship.


Based on this behavior, my paranoid side is expecting a wave of copyright notices and invoices being sent to every single site that is using Unsplash images right now.


Hopefully they won't be able to revoke rights already given...


They can't, but they can attempt copyfraud as they seem to already be doing, see the aforementioned wiki article and public domain NASA/LoC images.


Careful about creating mirrors, the Unsplash license [1] explicitly disallows “compiling photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service”.

[1]: https://unsplash.com/license


Indeed, if you're putting something up online you probably just want to make it easy for users to switch rather than reuploading

Offline personal archives and tools to create them I expect are permissible (IANAL)


> Perhaps this a good time to create a mirror

Creating a mirror is forbidden by Unsplash's license.

I wonder if there are any actually CC0/Public Domain image sites left anymore?


Yup, they've taken rare public domain images from the vaults of museums around the world, claimed the copyright on them, and charge thousands of dollars to use them. Fuck Getty Images.


I'm going to instead see this as an opportunity for something better to emerge.

My biggest problem with Unsplash is that they did not use a standard license that would easily be compatible with a Creative Commons or open source licensed work. If I incorporated images from Unsplash, suddenly I couldn't say "you're welcome to do whatever you like with my work." In fact, they used to use a CC0 license, but then changed, because other sites were copying them. As a user, this was a feature, not a bug.

I would far prefer to see the community band together and produce an image sharing website with CC0 as the default license. Creative Commons image search right now is in need of some TLC from an engaged community.


As a site, when you adopt a CC0-esque license, what happens is other sites will scrape you but not allow you to scrape in exchange.

You start losing out on SEO rankings, and then contributors, and finally content. This also makes it harder to invest in usability features like curation and search (photo search is complicated!).

I’d love to understand any ideas on how to create open CC0 aggregators without the game theory seemingly stacked against you.

(Disclosure: I work on content at Canva. We own Pexels and Pixabay).


My earliest exposure to Unsplash was wallpaper apps, and that's certainly the case with many of my friends. I didn't even make the association between Unsplash and stock photography until very recently.

My fiance had Giphy installed on her phone when I first met her, which surprised me because I considered Giphy as little more than a Reddit gif host. She uses a lot of reaction gifs in her messages.

A search engine isn't the only route to your website. With Unsplash going down the drain, people are going to want wallpapers (on their phones, their browsers, and their desktops). You could also make an image search plugin for PowerPoint and GSlides. Making an aggregator is "easy," that stuff is hard.


Giphy, incase you’re not aware, is now owned by Facebook..far worse than Getty when it comes to data privacy.


Creative Commons caused many issues in countries like Germany, with photographers publishing under CC with attribution clause, then hunting for sites using photos without or with not 100% correct attribution (in illegal pro-profit cooperations with lawyers) and suing the site owners for thousands of dollars. It really would have to be CC0, but even mentioning CC will raise a red flag for many now.


> hunting for sites using photos without or with not 100% correct attribution

I do not see what is wrong about this part (other than the illegal(?) nexus with lawyers). CC licences still have to be complied with (or the user can contact the copyright holder for an alternative licence).

GPL infringers have been taken to court as well, and a legal, for-profit litigation initiative might be a good incentive that encourages compliance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source_license_litigation


Since I've been victim of this practice, let me elaborate:

There are individuals in Germany (two photographers IIRC) who upload photos to the Wikipedia. The licence is always CC with attribution, but that part is badly presented on Wiki (or was). Next thing, they wait for people to use their images and go around to sue everyone who doesn't display the attribution string alongside the image. It is just predatory behavior. They guy sent me an E-Mail with an pay early option. Their claims are also this weak, that the guy trying to pull this off with me was instantly silenced after our lawyer sent him a single letter.


And Wikipedia doesn't want to change the missing attribution and "hidden" license for their images. I guess some of those participating in that scheme are active wikipedians and lobbying to keep things as they are.


Hmm, the text of the Creative Commons license is such that I would think such suits would be unsuccessful in court. Specifically, it has a section about reinstating your rights if you fix a violation of the license after you are notified. Has this ever been litigated? Of course receiving a demand letter is still a nuisance.

If this is a problem that you have knowledge about, have you ever considered contacting Creative Commons about this? They could perhaps provide legal guidance or even modify the next version of the license (if there is a next version).


I actually was sued over this exact thing and lost (and paid quite a bit of money). All for a little UI experiment that nobody saw but me, google and (via google image search) these vultures.


Please consider writing up the story and submitting as an HN post, that sounds horrific. Thanks.


I don't know if my writeup would add something new. It's actually a known practice here in germany (as I discovered after the fact). Here is a good article about it (in german and not the same photographer as in my case): https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Wikipedia-beraet-ueber-Dist...


Wow really, that's a pretty big problem. Which country?


Germany


> The licence ... is badly presented on Wiki

Maybe don't pull images from Wikipedia for exactly this reason?


I'm all for attribution in this case it was basically user generated content. We deployed measures to avoid this in the future afterwards, nonetheless I still think the practice is predatory. If I had ripped some artist off his hard work, sure. But not naming the photographer of an half-assed picture submitted to an article with close to zero traffic, in order to lure some people into copying the picture for your own profit is just shady.


Those guys were only publishing under the CC license to make a profit (by lawyer/court). I think thats wrong to abuse the CC license for profit this way.

Another detail of that scheme: Wikipedia actually does not do (correct) attribution on their site (no attribution next to the images. So if you mirror/copy Wikipedia content, in germany you will be sued by "photographers" who won't enforce their attribution on wikipedia but will on your site (to make a profit, see above).


> Wikipedia actually does not do (correct) attribution on their site (no attribution next to the images.

More recent versions like CC-BY-SA 4.0[1] explicitly say that it may be reasonable to attribute via a hyperlink.

Older licence versions do not have this line, but even then, it could be argued that Wikipedia itself is not infringing because attribution is still provided as part of the same work (considering the whole of the German Wikipedia as the work), rather than on an external site.

Unless German courts have already ruled that attribution has to be next to the image?

1. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode#s3a...


There's a few times I see the attribution next to the image itself (excluding the featured image, where there's plenty of spaces to do proper attribution).

"Order of Parental Glory" [1] is one of the examples. Strangely enough, many of the examples of inline attribution is for images from kremlin.ru, meaning there's probably some kind of agreement that mandates inline credits back in the days, but no longer anymore.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Parental_Glory


If you have JavaScript enabled, attribution is displayed when you view the full-size image.

If you don't have JavaScript enabled, it's still displayed when you view the full-size image, but it loads a different page to do so.


Is it technically legal to show thumbnails without attribution?


There are many ways to go about this. Using the one that causes monetary harm and disincentives everyone to even consider hosting a site is not the ethical option to pick, but it's the one that is profitable in the short term. It's not like they couldn't just ask first to respect the license, but this isn't about respecting the license, it's about generating an income.


CC0 (with a zero, without the -BY part) is equivalent to public domain. I don't see how it would allow for the German popular sport of "Abmahnen" (threatening to sue). The reason it exists is that not all jurisdictions have a concept of public domain.

But yes, of course, if you use pictures under a CC-BY-* license, then you must comply with the terms (including attribution).


It's still called CC. I am aware of the licenses and their requirements, others who hear about the active scam will only see CC license and be alarmed. That's all I wrote above.


What was illegal about what they were doing?


To add a bit more detail: as far as I understand it (and I am no lawyer) the concept of an Abmahnung is that you notify someone of their (supposed) legal transgression, and give them the option to stop their behaviour and reimburse your costs (lawyer's fees and damages) to avoid going to court. For copyright claims in particular, it may be difficult to claim large damages, but sometimes the right holders collude with their lawyers by demanding the reimbursement of non-existent fees instead, which they then split as profits. This is illegal, as you are only allowed to claim costs that you have actually paid.

A (somewhat dated) example at [1] (german).

[1] https://www.lawblog.de/archives/2009/11/17/abmahnanwalte-ver...


The shared for-profit part of the scheme. It's one thing to hire a lawyer to get a license respected, it's another to institute to what amounts to a fraud scheme: Publish images with as hidden license requirements as possible, "hire" a lawyer for free with a profit sharing agreement, then sue who you can. That profit sharing agreement is illegal here, but hard to prove, and the Abmahnindustrie is actively protected by politicians (many of which are lawyers, pure coincidence of course).

Edit: When they send in that notice (die Abmahnung) they will ask for money for incurred costs. Since they did not pay anything in advance - the lawyer worked for free - there were no costs. That's not legal here.


> Publish images with as hidden license requirements as possible

What exactly was going on? Have they published images in misleading way?

Or is it case of going after people who published images with "source: Internet"? Or case of attacking people who made honest effort to attribute author?

Because I am familiar with big corporations using freely licensed work and ignoring attribution requirements. For example Facebook is displaying map using OpenStreetMap data. OpenStreetMap license requires a clear attribution, visible to all users ( https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright ).

Facebook is ignoring that, Facebook employees claimed to be working on improvements, nothing was improved - attribution is still cleverly hidden.

The same with for example Snapchat.


No, wrong target - big enterprises have lawyers of their own. The target goal here is the 13 year old that published a fan page on neocities. He won't defend himself, the parents will pay, and that the claimed image licensing costs are way higher than what usually can be claimed in such a situation they will not notice.


If there are sources confirming targeting such cases as "13 year old that published a fan page on neocities" then I can become outraged.

But for all what I know they could be targeting marketing departments using stolen photos in ads.


“If there are sources” — the answer is different depending on whether you speak German or not. The practices of the so-called “Abmahnindustrie” (legal warning industry?) are well publicized in German media and widely known in the German tech sector. It might be hard to find an authoritative source in English.

As far as I understand, they don’t get that much more damages from larger cases, so they target masses of small fish instead. Individual ebay sellers, small private clubs (which are ingrained in the German culture) and the like.


The typical target is small business, nonprofits, schools, etc.

But large business/enterprise screws up with image licensing too, and ends up just paying as well.


CC0 is the norm on Pexels (based in Germany). It adds a clause to forbid reselling on other sites, but that's it.


That's not CC0, and is not even a free content license. "Right to fork" is integral to any definition of free/open content.


> Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand and division of Getty Images. The entire Unsplash team will be staying and building Unsplash in the direction we have been. The main difference now is we have access to the resources and experience of Getty Images to help accelerate our plans to create the world’s most useful visual asset library.

Sounds so familiar.

How many times have we heard this one? How many times has it remained true in the long run?


Just to save calories in case someone actually spends non-zero time thinking about this: it is never true. Its a "put 2 and 2 together" type thing.

- Getty is a for-profit organization.

- Profit means money.

- Getty is lawsuit-happy.

Now it is only a matter of time before Unsplash is "incredible journey'd".


We need an office pool for the timeline.


Unsplash makes money too, and is lawsuit-compatible.


Almost never.

The current exception nowadays seems to be Microsoft. Minecraft, npm, github seem to be doing good, and keeping their core values and strengths.


For a historical record, see https://ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com/


Loved reading about their journey on HN. Here's a 5-year-old thread about their costs:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11519085

Unfortunately the original link is down (and I could not find an archived version). But here's relevant material from the comments:

> $18k is a lot of money to spend each month. Understanding the scale of Unsplash though can help explain the costs.

> So at a cost of $18k per month you are getting 30M pages served, 140M API calls, 2.2M background jobs and 143TB of bandwidth. That sounds like a lot of bang for your buck.

> The biggest chunk is the bandwidth charges from imgix. They do appear to be giving you a break on their published pricing, but not a huge one ($0.075/GB vs $0.08/GB). The CDN they are using appears to be Fastly, which also has a published price of $0.08/GB. So, there doesn't appear to be any overzealous markup on imgix's part.


Nice news: the link in that HN article goes to backstage.crew.co, which was 302ing to dribbble.com. And while IA didn't save a copy of the dribbble page...

...it did save copies of the original links before they started 302ing. In fact, it saved across two different site reorganizations,

https://web.archive.org/web/20160504110408/http://backstage.... (backstage.crew.co)

https://web.archive.org/web/20160903203745/https://crew.co/b... (crew.co/backstage)

Both pages are fully intact; I think the theme on the 2nd one is a bit nicer. (This feels like a bit of a "1st-world-problems" discussion, making commentary about the most aesthetically pleasing presentation of obscurely archived webpages that've officially fallen off the internet.)



I am curious about why they went with Fastly? Doesn't Cloudflare free tier provide caching of images? Worst case scenario, they could use their $20 or $200 tiers if needed?

https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/articles/200172516-U...


I don’t mean to rain on their parade, but 30M requests served per month, while sounding really good, translates to 11 requests per second. And maybe 60 requests per second for their 140M API requests.

If I were paying $2500 per month for that I’d be a bit sad.


They say it's mostly bandwidth cost. But 143TB/month is around 500Mbps. If they were to buy it themselves, at the time, it would have been around 500$/month at most. Of course, if you use a CDN/cloud, you pay the extra costs around such a service.


This was around April 18, 2016, when Unsplash was relatively new (Founded in 2013?). I think those numbers were pretty good for that time.


the imgix service is probably worth it in some scales, but for something like unsplash I doubt that is the cheaper option.


"This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down. Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand and division of Getty Images."

Sweet summer child


What is it about being the CEO of a startup that causes people to believe these promises?


Feels like, at this point, anyone in this situation surely knows what's gonna happen. They can't say it publicly, though, or at least, definitely not during the announcement!

I can just imagine how that would go... "Today we have been purchased by BigCo. We'll try to keep things the same for as long as we can, but tbh all the founders got a 2 year agreement after which we get a boatload of money, and then we're outta here and they'll probably shut this whole thing down. Enjoy it while it lasts!"


The bank balance


What makes you think they believe it?


For example, I honestly believe the Oculus founder believed the promises that you wouldn't ever need to use a FB account to use an Oculus, just given his public comments.


You can't use Oculus products now without a Facebook account?


Without a Facebook account, your Oculus headset has "limited" features. There's also been a bunch of stories on HN from people who've bricked their headset when their linked Facebook account got banned or deleted.

[1] https://www.oculus.com/blog/a-single-way-to-log-into-oculus-...


Does it really brick the headset? I read that if one account gets banned, you can log in with another account.


Why would you believe public comments, especially from someone who sold to Mark Zuckerberg, famous for mocking people for trustit him?


Everyone thinks “this time will be different”


I think it's more so something founders can tell themselves to feel better about the situation. Deep down they know it's not true


Indeed. The abused spouse syndrome. Although that's probably a more apt name for when you believe the same company for the nth time.


Narrator: it was.


>> ... I’m excited about this acquisition ... because it’s not goodbye, it’s about acceleration

>> This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down. Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand and division of Getty Images.

>> Will Unsplash remain an independent brand?

Yes.

HAHA! You can't intentionally write parody this good! Just like every teenager swears they'll be nothing like their parents, every acquired startup swears nothing will change and their independence is preserved; why did you make a massive change to keep everything the same? Do you think Getty wants something for those bags of money they just handed you?

I'm not against acquisitions, on the contrary. I just expect everyone, including the author, to acknowledge that this sort of post is solely to allay their conscience, not that of staff or customers. Funny enough the same hubris is probably what aided their success in the first place...


No one actually thinks that. Mad Libs Press Releases just has that wording baked in.


If the automobile was invented today it would be owned by the largest conglomeration of horse breeders.


Henry Ford had to fight what was essentially a patent troll when he started his motor company.

https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2012/11/05/the-origin...


I remember reading that at the beginning,there was a requirement for a person to walk ahead of an automobile and alert others that it's coming. It was related to horse industry lobbying too.


> there was a requirement for a person to walk ahead of an automobile

Yes. In the UK this requirement lasted until 1896 when it was removed by an act of Parliament [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locomotives_on_Highways_Act_18...


The 1865 "Red Flag Act" "required all road locomotives, which included automobiles, to travel at a maximum of 4 mph (6.4 km/h) in the country and 2 mph (3.2 km/h) in the city, as well as requiring a man carrying a red flag to walk in front of road vehicles hauling multiple wagons.

The 1896 Act removed some restrictions of the 1865 act and raised the speed to 14 mph (23 km/h). "

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locomotive_Acts


There were similar debates in the 90's when the first modern electric cars came out, regarding the fact that they were very silent compared to other cars and could cause pedestrians to cross the road without realizing a car was coming. Some suggested to add an artificial noise for added safety.


Tbh I had at least a few situation where I was nearly hit by an electric car because I assumed there were no traffic around. admittedly, I was jaywalking too.


And you'd start it by sticking your hand out of the window and slapping the side with your buggy whip.


”Intellectual property is the oil of the 21 century. Look at the richest men a hundred years ago; they all made their money extracting natural resources or moving them around. All today’s richest men have made their money out of intellectual property.“ –Mark Getty, founder of Getty Images

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mark_Getty


My manager, who is American, once made a comparison that completely blew my mind: we laugh at native Americans handing over their land without really understanding that they're getting screwed in the transaction, and yet we just hand over our personal data to Google and Facebook without a second thought. We barely even have a concept of data ownership. –u/henrebotha

https://old.reddit.com/r/selfhosted/comments/kd0s5c/dont_rel...


Ugh, what a clueless analogy, blind to its own obsolescence and polluting effect on society.


It's actually a perfect and terribly perceptive analogy. He's right! Like Rockefeller and Carnegie and his grandfather before him, he's made a load of money and made the world a worse place while doing it, all the while not even attempting to contribute anything to society.

He doesn't claim to be a good man, he claims to be a rich man.


I've lived/worked through Getty's purchase and destruction of iStock. I'm not eager to watch Unsplash suffer the same fate. RIP to another great service.


I was wondering what Unsplash's business model was, and I stumbled onto [1]:

> Nor is it going to slap banner ads on every page of its website. Yes, it’s unveiling a digital advertising business, but Unsplash is taking a specific approach — working with companies to create branded photos, which will then appear on desirable searches.

> Square, for example, could upload photos of the Square Register, which will then show up when Unsplash users search for “cash register” and other terms.

> Brands working with Unsplash will get prominent placement in relevant searches, as well as their own brand channel, but Cho said the real impact only begins on the Unsplash website.

So basically, without you realizing it, you may end up with paid product placement in your presentations and (pointless) header images on your Medium articles.

Sometimes I wonder of the answer to the Fermi Paradox and the Great Filter is: eventually all alien civilizations end up converting their entire society and economy into advertising monetization, all corporations consolidate into one giant inert behemoth, all real progress stops, and the species converts its entire planet into fuel for AdCoin cryptomining and winks out of existence.

I miss the days where people just, like, started businesses that charged people for stuff, and people bought that stuff, and the business stayed in business without having to be acquired or snuffed out by a megacorp.

[1]: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/10/unsplash-for-brands/


The whole brands aspect has really confused me. If you search for "nature" on unsplash right now the first result is a picture of a person prominently holding a product in the most blatant product placement way possible. So far they're basically working as banner ads, no sensible user would ever want to use a sponsored photo for their work.

I'm more afraid of how they'll modify their existing products to manipulate users into paying for "Premium" Getty stock photos over the free Unsplash ones :/


This was no mystery. I'm pretty sure I saw a giant photo of a Coke bottle on Unsplash not that long ago. It has plenty of corporate users, and not in some secret shill sense, in a "This post from Docusign" kind of way.


Getty already offers free images through embeddable content as well as brand partnerships, so it's natural for them to want a fresh injection of great work. Especially since their library has been rather stale for so long. It's hard to keep nice pictures coming in when photographers are getting royalty statements of only pennies. Of course, that's still more than Unsplash photographers receive. It will be interesting to see how Getty leverages this new model of 'images as ad network.'

The Unsplash dashboard features the number of image views/downloads very prominently and artists treat it as a kind of cachet. An image with 100,000 views at $2.00 CPM is what, $200? It's strange to me that photographers brag about their view counts when it's plain evidence of how much the company is making off their shadow labor. Credit to the Unsplash team for taking this dissonance to its apex - it really did require a new way of viewing images as assets that hadn't exist before. I'm hopeful that they can bring that kind of thinking to Getty. I'm not that hopeful that any photographer benefits from this new partnership.


>Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand

I hope this means that their current free offerings will continue.

https://www.pexels.com/ also offers similar free collections.



+1 that.


Noooooo..... good-bye to Unsplash being a good site. Maybe it's just not a sustainable site, but I'm certainly sad to see it go.


Unsplash has a great product, however for Getty this seems to be a good deal more because they eliminate a competitor than because they acquire a good product/team.

I read that Unsplash's plan to monetize was to sell banner ads and branded image placement, but that's gotta make less money than Getty slapping their normal business model onto Unsplash, right?


Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

-- Robert Frost


I was a contributor [0] to their second batch of photos (the first with user-generated content) when they initially launched under the name Ooomf because I love the philosophy of open-source. They even published an open-source photography book [1], which I was featured in [2]. It is very cool to stumble across my images across the web.

The initial model was to receive a handful of user-generated photos, then handpick 10 each week and feature them [3]. I don't even see this feature page anymore.

However, we all know that once you sell, you lose control of the product. While on day one the service will still exist, I doubt it will be around with its current philosophy for much longer, especially since Getty has already stolen all my images from 500px that do not have people (so they can sell them without releases).

[0]: https://unsplash.com/@css

[1]: https://book.unsplash.com/

[2]: https://unsplash.com/photos/bSmKli4OTIY

[3]: https://unsplash.com/collections/5/collection-%235%3A-crew


what were the license terms of the upload?



That is the license for downloading but does not specify what happens on uploading -- it appears photos uploaded to unsplash were given to unsplash, relinquishing all rights.

The commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page) would have retained ownership.


> it appears photos uploaded to unsplash were given to unsplash

This is incorrect, according to section 6 of https://unsplash.com/terms


If you want to create a free public resource do it, if you want to create a for profit business, by all means do that too. But for the love of all that's holy please stop trying to pretend you're making a free public resource and then backdooring in some crappy business model or exit strategy.


This demonstrates rather plainly that the paranoia (from myself and others) around the "Unsplash license" was warranted.

> In 2016, we first met the Getty Images team.

"...and then changed our default license within a year of that meeting to make it more palatable to corporate ownership and ensure that users don't have leverage to object. Totally a coincidence, nothing to do with entertaining buyouts, no siree."

> This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down.

...said pretty much every company that was bought to be shut down.


I never understand why companies being acquired make statements like this. You're acquired, you no longer have control, you can no longer stand behind any statement with complete and absolute authority.


Because some not-insignificant of concerned end users will believe it and continue using the site, thus helping keep numbers on track for any deal terms or earn out targets.


I could imagine tightening collaboration with Getty which could make sense, but once you let somebody acquire you, the game is over. No promise can hold.

Can someone link me a list acquisition promises that new owners of various businesses broke in the past? There must be one.


The WhatsApp acquisition comes to mind:

1. Promise to not hoard and sell user data: https://blog.whatsapp.com/why-we-don-t-sell-ads

2. Get acquired by arguably the largest ad network and data hoarding giant

3. Proceed to flow user data to FB, forcing it down the throat of all their users



> This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down.

Translation: This is one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down.

I wonder if it sounds as ridiculous to the one writing it as it does to someone reading.


A very sad beginning of the end, but even more sadly, predictable. Rampant cannibalism from the top down. Will it ever stop?


Well, I'm deleting my stuff from there.


Interesting, I wonder how many other photographers will delete their photos. I'm curious, can you and will you be uploading them elsewhere?


I'm no expert on this, but I believe their license implies that you can upload your photos elsewhere: https://unsplash.com/license

However, deleting your photos does not prevent other people from using them in the future.


+1 Though I'm a little worried that the photos will end up there again... because of the permissive license.


RIP. I'm sure this acquisition will be great for the team but it's pretty obvious Getty will fill the site with tricky sponsored images. They will also likely start fading out new free images until the site is mostly stale or filled with sponsored image links. I could also see them playing around with image licensing so it's less obvious how you can use them. Welp, I guess there's always Pexels.


"it's pretty obvious Getty will fill the site with tricky sponsored images"

That is literally Unsplash's current business model already


They already have tricky sponsored images on their site. Also their "Brands" ads:

https://unsplash.com/brands


A big day for the VCs. For everyone else using unsplash, get ready for a giant price hike.


Alternatives that I have been using:

- https://stocksnap.io

- https://www.pexels.com


Hadn't heard of https://stocksnap.io

Checked them out. While their pictures are less "professional" looking, I would actually prefer using them as the pics seem more authentic.


Very curious :Any info on what there revenue was? From what I've read/seen they were experimenting with a bunch of methods, but nothing seemed to really work (could be wrong). How much did they get acquired for?


I'm very worried about this, as I've been using Unsplash's images for a lot of my blog posts. I'm just wondering how this will affect users of Unsplash's images in the long-term? Will we have to take down all our content that makes use of Unsplash imagery, in case Getty places a new license on the images or requires a fee to use the images? Or will they stay free? It's so hard to predict what will happen now that this acquisition has taken place. Unsplash was too good to be true, and now their time has come.


Wasn't Getty responsible for the removal of direct links from Google Images?

As always, with stuff like this: doesn't bode well, hope they don't screw it up, but my expectations are low.


Does anyone know what happened to the original ~200k images with CC0 licenses on Unsplash, and how they can be found?

For context: https://creativecommons.org/2017/06/22/unsplash/

"Following the switch to the new Unsplash-branded license, there is no marking of works that were previously shared in the public domain using CC0. The Unsplash API restricts/obscures the full CC0 collection, which we believe to be about 200,000 images, but it isn’t possible to access the complete archive. In order to ensure that the commons is maintained, we hope that Unsplash will either a) properly mark all the works shared using CC0 and/or b) make available a full archive of the CC0 works so they can be shared on a platform that supports open licensing and public domain tools. Previous platforms that have gone under or abandoned open license tools have shared their CC archives for this purpose. We hope Unsplash will follow the same path."


Is someone interested to build an open source alternative with me? Donation based to cover the server costs. Maybe the chance to pay for the service if you want to maintain a private image library (somehow like the previous Github pricing model was). Building a feature to allow Unsplash user to migrate their images with a single click. Code and content under MIT. Allowing videos, too. I would prefer Ruby on Rails as framework.


Somewhat reminds me of Facebook and Whatsapp


Absolutely. Came here to say this.

Remember back in 2014 when Mark Zuckerberg promised that WhatsApp will function as a standalone app, completely sandboxed from the rest of the Facebook ecosystem?

That didn't happen, did it?


There goes one actually useful site.

Removing my user, thanks for all the fish.


Pretty inevitable, it was actually surprising how long it lasted. Somebody gotta pay for that bandwidth.


> After interacting with the team at Getty Images more and better understanding their long-term vision, we realized we shared so much alignment that going at this together could be much more impactful than going at it separately.

Of course they will say that now, but isn't Unsplash a direct threat to Getty's bottom line?

Unsplash images are free for commercial and non-commercial purposes with no permission needed. The only limitation is that you can't sell them or start a competing service.

How long before this changes?


Absolutely. This is a dark day for 'open source' images.


It’s hard to find examples of acquisitions that were good for the customers or the employees.


in general i would agree, but i think that github might be one exception, the free plan was expanded to include private repo's, the redesign is annoying but usable

they have made some mistakes with things like the dmca notice on youtube-dl but thankfully restored it and seem to be willing to help fight for it


'How long before this changes?'

I'd guess it will be a gradual process that starts with a constant nag that you can find more and better images if only you hand over your card details.

Ultimately, it will be just another Getty brand.


Unsplash images are free for commercial and non-commercial purposes with no permission needed. The only limitation is that you can't sell them or start a competing service.

My theory is Getty is really paying for the right to sell them. Getty has a lot of very large customers who pay for access to their libraries and adding a new substantial library to their plans could benefit them.

I'm thinking it's a bit like when AWS takes something like MongoDB and rolls out DocumentDB.. there are companies who are so entrenched with their AWS accounts that it seems more appealing than dealing with the hassle of opening a separate account and doing all 'the legal' for another service, even if it's free/cheaper. If a large agency or institution has a process around Getty and the way they assign rights and manage licenses, maybe they'll happily pay for the Unsplash library from Getty even if they could get it free separately(?)


(Almost every website that features free images already also shows ads from websites like Getty Images and iStockphoto.)

I can also see it happen that Unsplash remains free forever, but that it will be used to lead more people to Getty Images. And that's very understandable from a Getty Images point of view, right?


My guess would be that unsplash will start adding source file size limits (that can unlocked with a Getty account) and long term quality and quantity will stagnate as its used as an acquisition funnel for their paid services


The nervous thing is that it would need to constantly defend its ROI to survive


I recently started uploading pictures to Unsplash. I'm not sure I'll continue with that.


Won't be long before they are Getty's images and not yours - or maybe I'm cynical?


I with you here. I love Unsplash- but I'm afraid it's doomed now.


Yep. I used to love istockphoto before Getty purchased it and slowly eliminated it. The same will happen to Unsplash.



Saving that to the Internet Archive[1]. Let’s revisit in a few years.

[1]: http://web.archive.org/web/20210330134914/https://help.unspl...


Has anyone made a complete archive of Unsplash, so that at least when Getty shut it down ("in order to serve customers metter by focusing on our core business") the images that have already been uploaded there will remain available?


Excellent idea. I'd be curious to see what the current compressed database size is... Their (wonderful and brief) license does prohibits "the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service", so this would have to be a personal archive.


I think The Eye did archive it at some point.

Also, it might be hard to find a scraper, since Unsplash likes (or at least liked) sending "friendly" requests to authors of scrapers on GitHub to remove their repos.


I am unclear why Getty Images would be interested, unless the purchase price was less than the cost of internally building its own loss leader open source image site that allows them to try to upsell to “premium” photos.

Users have limited loyalty to any particular source of “free”. Getty presumably has a far larger library from which to pull images, so there can’t be any advantage to Unsplash’s library.

I am guessing it was a very low purchase price.


This article from 2019 might provide some clues: https://www.chron.com/business/texas-inc/article/Getty-Image...

It seems that one of Getty's biggest problems is that the variety of fresh imagery their customers expect Getty to have to hand has shot up while revenues have grown more modestly. Maybe Unsplash's library and base of contributors will actually provide some value in the long tail for their existing customers.. and it might be possible for them to offer that extended library to customers with existing packages without them really caring where it came from or that they could get it cheaper elsewhere.


I recently discovered Pexels for anyone looking for other sources after this.

https://www.pexels.com


Very slick, and fast. But how do they pay for the site? There are no ads and no monetization I could find. The claim 4 billion image views a month, that has to cost them some bandwidth...


(I work for Canva).

Pexels has affiliate ads (to paid stock sites) in specific locations; as an example, when your search returns zero Pexels results.

Pexels content is also syndicated to Canva, where it is free to use (under the same license) by several hundred million users. This helps us provide a better Canva user experience, while giving more exposure to work on Pexels.


Ah. And Pexels is in fact owned by Canva, as is Pixabay. (What is it with Germany and picture-sharing sites?)


Tons of portraits in there, but I see no mention of signed releases?


I have been browsing Unsplash for five or six years now. I remember the time when it did not have ads to the how it is now. I understand the owner might not have been earning a lot from the site, so I get that he wanted to cash out. I just hope that the content remains of high quality and open source if possible.


MySQL and Oracle all over again. Perhaps time to fork Unsplash and give birth to the MariaDB of open photography?


Good for Unsplash, sad for the community.


I just use https://search.creativecommons.org.

Any photo I want/need is available, and I already clearly know the license. Unsplash etc. are good, but this is solid.


Well, you certainly don’t acquire a company without trying to make a profit off it that’s the bottom line. how are they going to make back the offer they gave to unsplash if they don’t make money by monetizing it??


What ever happened to their association with OST and micro crypto payments?


AFAIK OST is no more, and the company behind them pivoted to make an online fitness course portal[0]. I think there are some projects that were building things using their OpenST framework and continue to use that.

[0]https://moxie.xyz/


We knew it would happen and with the bills they had to pay each month I understand the decision. I just wish Unsplash will not become another item on a list of services Getty killed/made worse.


I have to say this kind of announcement sticks in the craw. I get that Mikael Cho and colleagues created Unsplash and it's theirs to do with as they please: they don't owe us anything. But really, couldn't they just come right out and say "They offered us too much money, we couldn't resist, So long, suckers"?


I remember the day Crew.co (another Mikael Cho venture) was sold to Dribbble. I was a member of, and I've felt cheated. I was sold and paid nothing. I've contributed to the value of Crew.co and I was ousted from a day to another.

The official reason selling Crew was to focus on Unsplash. Another venture where network effects (free work done by contributors) can generate later a fortune for few.

So ... we've been tricked. Our collective efforts was monetized by a few. That's network economy.


nobody needs to say that anymore; it is a given.

if you sell your company to a Getty or Facebook or Zoom, for example, you really were just selling your customers and eliminating yourself as competition, for probably a nice payoff. if you had a bad VC deal, then you the founders/builders might even get nothing.


What makes Unsplash so special? I've browsed it in the past and yea, it has some really nice pictures. Why would artists post their work (for free) there instead of another site?


Why do people contribute to open source?


Ok, so there isn't necessarily some secret sauce with Unsplash. If it all goes south after the acquisition, there's opportunity for a new one.


does anyone have any guesstimates about their business side of things? i know they raised a series A focused on crypto (https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/15/unsplash-simple-token-seri...) but ironically they seem to have completely missed out on this NFT wave.

serving up that many images every day is costly. im guessing they ran out of money.


That is a pretty interesting point. They could have gained more credit ($$$) and media attention from integrating NFT minting functionality for their huge user base.


> This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down.

I’ll believe it when I see it. I didn’t know there was any other kind of tech acquisition.


I had to prevent many employees from using Unsplash with people because they don't have a model release and most startup people don't know what that is.


Quick, pull the non-rate-limited API keys out of the unsplash desktop app with strings and start mirroring it from Tor (which they don't block).

The images are public domain.


> The images are public domain.

They are permissively licensed, but the photographers still own the copyrights. They are not public domain.


Ahh, you're right of course. I forgot about that. I believe the permissive license allows one to archive the entirety of the site.


Unsplash must be the company that removes watermarks. Thank God, maybe they'll finally help Getty Images remove those pesky watermarks for them!


This is definitely a monopoly. Look at any image and chances are it comes from Getty. I'd like to see anti-trust investigations here.


A very sad day for me. Should I expect a refund on my crowdfunded support? With interest would be a small consolation. #justSayin


What are some alternatives to Unsplash that provide very high quality photos, for when Getty inevitably ruins this site too?


Good for the Unsplash team. I've used their images on a bunch of my content. It's a great resource!


“It’s not like one of these acquisitions where the acquired company gets shut down”. Good luck with that.


> this is not one of those acquisitions

> will continue to operate as a stand-alone business

Sounds funny after you read the exact same words for the 17th time!



RIP Unsplash, looking forward to seeing even more watermarks on everything on the internet


I am the CEO at Scopio, www.scop.io/submit the most diverse photographer community. Visit us and join us. You can also see us on @scopioimages. We have the most talented artists in 150 countries and people get paid and build their network and careers. A real community for the underdog. Tons of perks and other opps once in.


Apologies if it’s super obvious to the rest of the people here, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what Unsplash offers? It’s not at all clear from the website, at least to me. Not intended as an attack, more as a PSA to make your purpose extremely obvious for the dumb people like me :)


They launched in 2013 as a website for high quality copyright- and royalty-free images. The license has changed a few times, which is unfortunate.

There is a bit more on their "about" page (which is hidden in the three-dots-menu) at https://unsplash.com/about


Ooooh that’s why I couldn’t find it, thanks!


RIP. Time to leave unsplash


You won't have to leave them, as within a year there will be nothing recognizable to leave. It will have been replaced with free content wrapped in a bow and pricetag, or simply the best free content redirecting to similar paid content.


What are some good alternatives with API support? (free or paid)


They can't change licensing for images that are already in use under Unsplash current agreement, can they?


Whether they can or not is less relevant. Getty has already demonstrated that it is willing to sell free works to people who don't realize they can get it for free (legally). I'm not even talking about where they take other people's works and illegally resell it as their own...

Getty, if judged by their past behaviors, is an evil company.


> Getty has already demonstrated that it is willing to sell free works to people who don't realize they can get it for free (legally).

It seems plausible to me that there are some customers whose legal teams would be very uneasy about anything free.

For those customers, Getty’s name and “reputability” may be the service they are paying for.


This is essentially the business model of open source companies. Free is a very hazy concept, and there's money in providing clarity.


Assuming appropriate licensing, I have no idea why a legal team would be uneasy about using something free. Can you elaborate?


> Assuming appropriate licensing

For such customers the mere fact it is free would make the licensing questionable.

Consider a service like unsplash: what vetting can there be that the people who upload actually hold the copyright? Do unsplash indemnify you if it turns out they never had permission? How does it look in a court, should it come to that?

It’s not about paying money for the image as much as it’s about buying an assurance – even if it is only to be able to say "we acted in good faith and licensed this from a ‘reputable’ supplier.” Some legal teams are incredibly risk averse.

Unsplash almost certainly isn’t considered by these sorts of customers. It’s not some kind of snobbery, it’s to avoid having to deal with the case where the one image that you build a multi-million dollar ad campaign on turns out not to have been improperly licensed.


They cant change the license of existing stuff right ? RIP.


It's going to turn out bad. Great site for now.


I wish they’d been bought by smugmug instead.


Congratulations to the unsplash team!!


This is terrible news for end users.


RIP Unsplash


Because of course it is.


Does anybody have a torrent of their free content before it is too late?


Getty Images is the same old crony capitalism at its worse. Sad day for the Internet. RIP.


Fortunately there are a lot of people who travel, and modern phones take remarkably good photos easily. The biggest immediate impact the "photographer" has is on framing the shot; but with high res images and you being willing to crop, you can do half of that job yourself.

So there should be another to replace Unsplash. And if the founders can guess on being acquired in a few years, then this isn't a bad plan.


If you still want to upload your awesome shots to a community that might use them for their projects, I highly recommend Creative Market (https://creativemarket.com/kirill).

Started uploading photos there a few years ago, and I still get a payment every few months.

You don’t have to charge a lot for your photos, but this way it’s something to keep you/site going, while also sharing what you have with the world.


Guys, don't worry. Getty will slowly destroy Unsplash. They are really good at breaking things and squeezing money out of stones.


Potentially unpopular opinion: Good.

I am tired of people just putting large images into their websites where the main image is barely relevant to the rest of the page. It was sloppy and lazy, like modern day clip art.

And if someone really wants images, there are paid services like envato that are at least somewhat sustainable. These solutions are really affordable now and they've got very decent licensing terms.


This acquisition isn't going to change that. Getty isn't going to slap a watermark on every Unsplash image overnight.

And even if they do, people will continue using meaningless images as thumbnails for their Medium posts from some other source like Pexels.


It's always been weird to me that people are so averse to adding an extra 20kb of CSS, but they'll drop megabytes and megabytes of javascript and images into their site.


> And if someone really wants images, there are paid services like envato that are at least somewhat sustainable. These solutions are really affordable now and they've got very decent licensing terms.

Or, more likely, they'll just revert back to rips from Google Images. Maybe that's just the cynic in me, though.


You prefer walls of text, with nothing else?


Invert the scenario: imagine a blog post with photos by the author, but text pasted in from Wikipedia just to space the photos out a bit.

It's essentially the same thing.


If it's a photography blog and I came for the photos but there is some text just to break the monotony, I'm fine with that.




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