That Coronavirus Image Is Public Domain, But That Won't Stop Getty From Trying To Sell You A $500 License To Use It
from the seriously,-guys? dept
Late last week, we wrote a nice story about how the infamous image of the coronavirus that is causing COVID-19 is in the public domain, since it’s a work of the US federal government. That’s part of the reason why it’s everywhere these days:
But, as one of our commenters pointed out, that won’t stop Getty Images from trying to sell you a license to the image (even complete with the CDC logo on it, which takes real balls by Getty) for an astounding $500.
I mean, the text with the image even directly says that it was created at the CDC. You’d think some worker bee at Getty might recognize that this makes it public domain.
Getty has a bit of a history of this, and was even sued by a photographer for trying to license images that she had put into the public domain. To be clear, Getty is not violating any law here. Something that’s in the public domain is free for use in any manner, meaning that you certainly could try to sell it, though it does seem a bit sleazy and dishonest, especially at a time when news about the coronavirus is so important.
What would be problematic, of course, is if Getty actually threatened, sent DMCA takedowns, or sued over anyone using the image. Because that would be bullshit. It’s a little unclear exactly how Getty got this image. It’s listed as part of the “Smith Collection/Gado.” However, it’s hard to find out what exactly that means. There is a company called Gado Images, which mixes a bunch of buzzwords about AI with stuff about archiving photographs. I’m not sure I understand what one has to do with the other. It says it’s using AI for “digitizing, capturing and sharing the world’s visual history.” And licensing it, perhaps. But if the images are not Gado’s to share, then that raises a whole bunch of other questions.
Either way, the whole thing is pretty sleazy, and Getty should either (a) take it down, or (b) admit that it is public domain and make it freely available.