Good morning. As mentioned, my name is Christian Toksvig and I am the Vice President of Business Development at Getty Images. This is my twitter handle if you want to contact me. It’s a great privilege to be standing before the Digital Marketing Show here in London this morning, and I’m very happy to be talking to you today about the visual world and how to play fair with content in social media. Today I’ve got two messages for you: So if you only remember two things from the next 30 minutes, let it be this: One. We live in a visual world and everyone is a photographer, videographer, content creator. Two. Everyone has rights in their content. And those rights are not being protected well enough at the moment. To frame the topic, I would like to spend a few moments to provide a bit more background on Getty Images and my own role, andwhy I am standing here today.How many have heard of our websites, gettyimages.com or iStockphoto,com?For those not so familiar with Getty Images, we are the leading business to business marketplace for visual content. We are like Amazon.com for digital content in that we bring together 100,000s of content owners and millions of content users. Our content ranges from photos to video to music and it includes creative, or “stock” content, and editorial content providing up-to-date and archival news, sport and entertainment coverage. Through our various websites, we represent the work of over 150,000 content producers and annually service more than 1.3 million customers. To give you an idea of what our content looks like and where it ends up being used in advertising and publishing around the world, I’ve prepared a short video showing our content in action!Roll video
So, it’s clear that I live in the visual world. Pictures and video are our business at Getty Images. But I’m NOT a photographer, which will become very clear later on. As for my role with Getty Images, the Business Development team is essentially responsible for helping to develop a view of the future of our markets and opportunities, defining the strategies we need to position ourselves for that future, and help to implement those strategies through acquisitions, partnerships and creating new businesses. So I spend quite a lot of my time looking into the future and trying to make sense of where the world of digital media is going. And no surprise, it’s changing rapidly thanks to technology.What I’m going to be talking about is how the world is becoming more and more visual. How we are ALL becoming photographers. How a photograph is moving from being a memory to keep about our past, to being a shared experience now. I’m going to talk about how the fact that we are all sharing photos with each other – whether or not they belong to us or someone else – is creating a potential copyright minefield for all parties involved – content creators, publishers, brands and advertisers, and the solution we have for it.
Now let’s put on our future vision glasses and jump in and look at how the world is becoming more visual.
The first reason the world is becoming more visual is, not surprisingly, that it contains a lot more cameras than ever before. This slide shows the explosion of smartphones in the last five years, and corresponding decline in sales of digital and film cameras. Today, there are about 2.5 billion smartphones and 800 million tablets with cameras installed in the world. And this is in addition to all the stand-alone cameras that are out there.
Because the camera is in everyone’s pocket, and the desire to share our lives with others is so strong, we take an astounding number of pictures. This data shows the number of photos taken per year from the birth of photography in 1826 to 2011. We can see how analog pictures peaked around 2000 when about 85 billion were taken. It is safe to assume that the curve of digital images taken is continuing its strong upward motion into today and beyond. Since it’s so easy to take and share pictures, they are no longer our personal keepsakes to help our memory of special occasions. Instead they are now the way we participate in an event here and now. Story about showing photo album to a stranger on a train 10 years ago.
A great example of this is the hit app ‘Snapchat’. How many have heard of Snapchat? It is a photo app that takes a photo and sends it to your friends. They will have a chance to look at the image, but after 10 seconds the snap just disappears. It’s about creating a connection and sharing a here-and-now moment, not creating a record.
Of course, many of the images we take and share end up on popular sharing platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Flickr. Can I ask for a show of hands: How many in here have a Flickr account? And Instagram?These services become enormous repositories of photos. Here is a look at the volumes of photos that are being uploaded per day to the most popular sharing sites. I have included our own websites just for comparison. We certainly think we are doing a good job uploading around 50,000 images and videos to our sites per day. But we are dwarfed next to Flickr, with 1.5M per day. And Flickr, in turn, has nothing on Instagram with 55M per day. Facebook takes that to a whole different level with over 350 million images uploaded - per day. But the big gorilla, and this is often surprising to people – is Snapchat. There are 400 million images sent via Snapchat every day. As explained, they’re deleted again so it’s a slightly different model from the other platforms. But the volumes are astounding – and the growth in less than two years is too. Snapchat turned down a $3 billion cash offer by Facebook recently. !
To give you an idea of what a typical day’s upload to Flickr looks like, a Dutch artist named Erik Kessels took the time to print out ALL the photos uploaded to Flickr in one day and putting them in a pile. This became an installation at Foam in Amsterdam in 2011. I hope he had a good color printer!
Facebook is now the single largest repository of images in the world – by a long, long distance. This chart shows just how big Facebook is in comparison with Flickr, Instagram and the US Library of Congress. And this slide is now over a year old, by the way.
But so what? Aren’t most pictures uploaded to Facebook and Instagram awful and tacky? With no intrinsic value beyond the memories they represent to the people who took them and shared them? These are my own Facebook pictures, by the way – I told you I wasn’t a good at taking pictures! Yes, most photos are artistically and commercially valueless and couldn’t be licensed for even 10 cents. But as most of you people in this room know, when these images are aggregated into billions of images, such as is done by the sharing services we are talking about, even my bad party pictures have a valuable property –they drive web TRAFFIC! And traffic equals eyeballs, which eventually equals advertising revenue. And of course, I’m not just sharing my own work – my own “oeuvre”. I’m also sharing lots and lots of articles and videos containing copyrighted material. [animation]And suddenly, I’m no longer just a photo sharer. I’m a publisher. And I’m generating revenue.
As a result, gone are the good old days when publishing was limited to a select few professionals, like the newspapers. The publishers were selling their audience to advertisers and were accountable for the content they published.Today, the world’s audience and advertisers are up for grabs for anyone with a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone from any coffee shop orpark bench.As a content owner, for example an individual photographer, this should mean great things. More potential customers for my content. More potential revenue. The only issue is that this new mass of publishers is largely unaware of copyright, unaware of where and how to license content, lack the systems to manage content and, for the most part, have no budget to buy content. If you are a blogger on Tumblr or Wordpress, your audience is likely to be small and fragmented. And, in many cases, like my stuff on Facebook, it’s the platform that is making the advertising revenue, not the creator who has posted the content. This is also a problem for brands. Because users are uploading pictures of brands to social media. Or they are sharing content on a brand’s website without copyright. Let me show you an example.
So here is where we end up…the world of the “right click”. This is a Getty Images example and it was all too easy to pull together.So here are some pictures of Adele from Getty Images. Our customer Zimbio licenses a lot of celebrity photos from us. [animation]Some Zimbio users saw this image and – they liked it! In fact, they decided to share it on Pinterest, Youtube and last.fm. [animation]I wish I could say that such use is harmless, but it is not. It’s not the same as tearing a picture out of a magazine and putting it on your fridge door. Putting it on social media creates web traffic, and therefore revenue. Social media represent a huge share of online engagement. They compete for the same audience and advertisers as those publishers who ARE licensing content properly. I do not believe this world is ideal for any involved.For content creators and copyright owners, it means the obvious loss of compensation for use of your work. And why should you invest in future production when you can’t be sure of protecting your content?For individuals who use content without rights, it exposes them to copyright penalties and it prevents them from using the best content, which you usually have to pay for. For publishing and sharing platforms, it forces them to rely upon increasingly thin protections such as the take-down notices. Take-down notices are when a content owner asks a web platform to take down unlicensed content. And finally, for brands and advertisers who seek an audience on social media platforms, they risk damage to their reputation by associating with illegal content. Some have even become party to copyright infringement lawsuits. For example, most of the advertisers brands represented in this room would hesitate to run display advertising on file sharing platforms such as the Pirate Bay. Well, several well known social networks with high valuations in the stock market are doing this every day.Operating in this legal grey zone reduces advertiser willingness to embrace popular social media platforms. And it means that social media users are not producing their best content because they don’t have open access to the best content libraries. This state of affairs is NOT ideal for any stakeholder. So, the question becomes how do we collectively realize the opportunity instead of the risk?
Before I tell you what the solution is, because we do have one, I’m going to mention briefly a related case where a popular sharing and posting service was seen as a den of copyright abuse until they found the solution that worked. I’m talking about YouTube.Remember when YouTube started to get really popular in 2007 and 2008? The movie and television industries, as well as the sporting federations, absolutely hated YouTube because it let its users upload and share their copyrighted content. You could find whole movies, tv shows, the best goals from the football leagues and much more on YouTube, on demand and for free.What Google did was invent something called Content ID. ContentID allows content owners to register their content with YouTube, indicate their willingness to allow their content on the site and for them to receive a share of revenue generated from their content where they allow the content to be published to YouTube. When a user uploads a piece of copyrighted content, Content ID recognises the content and automatically asks the rightful owner whether the content should be left alone, monetised, or blocked. The user never knows that a process to create revenue for the owner of the content is taking place. He probably doesn’t care, as he just wants to share the content he is passionate about. The system does not rely upon individuals to license content in their posts, it is completely automated and it allows content owners to opt in or out of the program. Google has made a tremendous step in introducing this program and the content included in the program is rumored to generate close to US$500 million in annual revenues. Like Youtube has done in video, the music industry has finally started supported streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Rdio. These services allow users to do what they like best, namely freely listen and watch while the system quietly takes care of the commerical and legal issues in the background.
So, judging from the experience from the video and music industries, it seems like the situation with regard to visual content is the following: Firstly, users don’t always want to own content. They are quite happy to just have access to it. They want to rent, stream, listen, view it. Secondly, social media platforms like Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest have to accept that they are part of the solution. Their standard response, offering to take down copyrighted content – is not viable in the long term because most good content is copyrighted in one way or another. And it hampers their ability to attract mainstream advertisers. Thirdly, content producers and distributors like us at Getty Images, have to develop new business models. Traditional licensing is not enough. The new business models have to be based on views or streams, not actual sales of content. And the models have to be as unobstructive as possible, allowing users to go about their business without putting up paywalls or asking them to pay at every turn.[animation] So is there a solution? Can we achieve Fair Play in Social Media? Yes there is, and tadaa here it is!
Getty Images has been investing heavily to come up with a system that allows for social sharing while the boring stuff, the legals, the commercials, are ticking over in the backgroundThis is Content ID for images. It’s called PicScout Licensing.PicScoutis an image recognition engine that finds image content online. That’s the first step. Find the pictures. [animation]We also initiated the development of an industry-wide reference database for pictures. This is called Image IRC. It contains over 100 million photos from most of the major photo licensing companies, including all of Getty Images. Image IRC identifies the images found by PicScout, so we know who they belong to. That’s the second step – Identify. [animation]Once an online image has been found and identified, it can then be licensed - retroactively. [animation] The license can take many forms depending on the commercial model used by the content owner. For example, the social media platform can receive a flat monthly bill, or give a share of advertising or subscription revenue from its users based on number of page views. [animation] As mentioned, we do not believe any one company can be THE solution, but we do believe Getty Images has an obligation as one of the larger stakeholders to help advance a solution. And we believe these are steps in the right direction toward a world where content is broadly accessible and utilized and where people who create content are fairly rewarded.
So, how does this work in real life? We’ve just announced what we hope is the first major partnership with a large social media platform, namely Pinterest. By using PicScout to crawl Pinterest, we discovered that around 4% of all the content on Pinterest was Getty Images content. Users pin all kinds of stuff to their boards, but often there is no information with an image, no caption or metadata. By linking up with Getty Images, Pinterest can now re-attach the captions and metadata to an image. This will allow Pinterest to know more about what users are posting and, ultimately, to place commercials around the posts. Any advertiser will know that they are safe because there is a license in place. For Getty Images, it means that our photographers get their credit. We get a link back to our site if someone wants to license the image. And finally, Pinterest pays us for the metadata service.
So this is my view of how we make social media fair for users and content owners, and safe for platforms owners and advertisers. I would like to urge the platform owners and advertisers in this room to help push through viable solutions for fair recognition and compensation for content in social media. The solution is right here, it’s available and it works. Thank you.
With that, I am happy to answer any questions the audience might have during the remaining time. A couple of my team members and I will also be around after the session if there is specific interest to discuss collaboration and how we work toward a mutually beneficial goal.