What does Google’s partnership with LIFE and Getty mean for you?

I’m sure most of you have read the news of Google and LIFE announcing that they will make LIFE’s vast photo archive available for free public perusal on Google. Sounds very cool but where do you fall in this digital media debate.

This deal could be interesting and bad on a few fronts.

First, if Google takes care of the archiving, adshare and searching, Getty deals with all the licensing and LIFE just provides the stills, then they all share in the advertising revenue and they can split the marketing efforts between three sites. This partnership could drive a lot of traffic to LIFE.com, which is a joint venture between Getty and Time Inc. LIFE.com will make money from advertising and sales of photo books and prints. Now images are displayed on Google with links that allow customers to buy framed prints through the print-on-demand service called QOOP.com. The three participants will not pay attention to personal uses and will offer a mid sized image without watermarks but the high resolution files will be watermarked. Not sure how the licensing will be worked out yet and what the user experience will be like. The watermark on the high resolution image after checking it out is really small and just in the lower corner of the image. Doesn’t really protect anything. I did hear from one source that the images all had Digimarc embedded watermarks for tracking but after checking that out it appears that in the medium and large sizes there
were no Digimarcs, and absolutely no metadata.

On the flip side this development could create a few problems. What about the issue of orphaned works? David Riecks at Controlled Vocabulary argued that LIFE magazine’s parent company is basically flooding the market with a lot of orphaned images. Working with Google, they will know have an archive of images from the 1860s to the 1980s online (I found an image shot in 1989) and the images will be without the embedded metadata.

If you are interested you can click here to see the images yourself that will be available.

PDN reported on the deal here.

A Google blog announcing the partnership and new collection can be found here.

What do you think about all this? How will this affect you or won’t it affect you?

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