It's not just Meghan & Harry going royalty-free.
Getty Images kicks off its 25th anniversary year boldly, phasing out rights-managed 'creative images' by the end of next month.
In an email sent out to customers today, the stock image giant announced that the "best of rights‑managed will become royalty‑free (RF), meaning all of our creative images will be RF — the simplest way to license images with the broadest usage rights and strongest indemnification of any stock provider."
Look into the careful wording and you'll see it's not all rights-managed images that'll go royalty-free by the end of February, with only creative imagery to go RF (of the sort catalogued here.) Editorial imagery will be unaffected by the move; rights‑ready video licensing is also not included in the move.
The announcement first came about last November, when a ‘phased retirement’ of rights-managed creative images commenced. Contributors were no longer able to submit new rights-managed creative images to the site, with photographers being told that after removal from the single image licensing option, they would "be able to distribute RM images as [they] wish", but without licensing any rights-managed images (or similar) in a way that "conflicts with any active, unexpired exclusive licenses."
While photographers will have less control over how their images are used, the news is good for customers who, according to Getty research, have been rejecting RM imagery in their droves over the years.
The simplicity on offer to buyers could see more photos being used, which is potentially lucrative for creatives – although, with this new model, it's now harder to choose between Getty and its more budget subsidiary iStock, their differences now smaller than ever.