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.
> 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.
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?
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!
Because unsplash actually made my desktop backgrounds look good.
That sounds fantastic, I'll take a look!
Edit: It's not CC0 though, right? The Pexels License looks similar to the Unsplash License.
You are allowed to do anything with Pexels photos, except 4 conditions listed on the plain English licensing page: https://www.pexels.com/license/
• 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.
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...
If FB and others are to be used as an example, these TOS are written vague and broad on purpose.
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.)
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.
We discussed internally and will remove this clause from our license. Will be updating it soon :)
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.
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.
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.
Anyway, always have an exit.
Of course, to professional and semi-professional photographers, such a haphazard approach would be unimaginable :)
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.
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.
We should just throw anti-trust out the window. It's a mess.
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.
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.”
> 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.
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.
Offline personal archives and tools to create them I expect are permissible (IANAL)
Creating a mirror is forbidden by Unsplash's license.
I wonder if there are any actually CC0/Public Domain image sites left anymore?
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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).
Maybe don't pull images from Wikipedia for exactly this reason?
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).
More recent versions like CC-BY-SA 4.0 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?
"Order of Parental Glory"  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.
But yes, of course, if you use pictures under a CC-BY-* license, then you must comply with the terms (including attribution).
A (somewhat dated) example at  (german).
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.
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.
But for all what I know they could be targeting marketing departments using stolen photos in ads.
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.
But large business/enterprise screws up with image licensing too, and ends up just paying as well.
Sounds so familiar.
How many times have we heard this one? How many times has it remained true in the long run?
- 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".
The current exception nowadays seems to be Microsoft. Minecraft, npm, github seem to be doing good, and keeping their core values and strengths.
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.
...it did save copies of the original links before they started 302ing. In fact, it saved across two different site reorganizations,
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.)
If I were paying $2500 per month for that I’d be a bit sad.
Sweet summer child
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!"
>> 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?
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...
Yes. In the UK this requirement lasted until 1896 when it was removed by an act of Parliament 
The 1896 Act removed some restrictions of the 1865 act and raised the speed to 14 mph (23 km/h). "
He doesn't claim to be a good man, he claims to be a rich man.
> 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.
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 :/
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.
I hope this means that their current free offerings will continue.
https://www.pexels.com/ also offers similar free collections.
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?
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
The initial model was to receive a handful of user-generated photos, then handpick 10 each week and feature them . 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).
The commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page) would have retained ownership.
This is incorrect, according to section 6 of https://unsplash.com/terms
> 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.
Can someone link me a list acquisition promises that new owners of various businesses broke in the past? There must be one.
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
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.
However, deleting your photos does not prevent other people from using them in the future.
That is literally Unsplash's current business model already
Checked them out. While their pictures are less "professional" looking, I would actually prefer using them as the pics seem more authentic.
As always, with stuff like this: doesn't bode well, hope they don't screw it up, but my expectations are low.
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."
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?
Removing my user, thanks for all the fish.
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?
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
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.
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(?)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Any photo I want/need is available, and I already clearly know the license. Unsplash etc. are good, but this is solid.
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.
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.
serving up that many images every day is costly. im guessing they ran out of money.
I’ll believe it when I see it. I didn’t know there was any other kind of tech acquisition.
The images are public domain.
They are permissively licensed, but the photographers still own the copyrights. They are not public domain.
> will continue to operate as a stand-alone business
Sounds funny after you read the exact same words for the 17th time!
There is a bit more on their "about" page (which is hidden in the three-dots-menu) at https://unsplash.com/about
Getty, if judged by their past behaviors, is an evil company.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And even if they do, people will continue using meaningless images as thumbnails for their Medium posts from some other source like Pexels.
Or, more likely, they'll just revert back to rips from Google Images. Maybe that's just the cynic in me, though.
It's essentially the same thing.