The FINANCIAL -- Unsplash is being acquired by Getty Images, company announced today. It's expected that the website will transform its business according to new business model, focused on selling photos, rather than advertising.
The website claims over 207,000 contributing photographers and generates more than 17 billion photo impressions per month on their growing library of over 2 million photos.
Unsplash allows photographers to upload photos to its website, which are then curated by a team of photo editors. The permissive copyright terms on its photos have led to Unsplash becoming one of the largest photography suppliers on the internet, with its members’ photos frequently appearing on articles. Nevertheless, their decision to stop using a creative commons "zero" licence in 2017 attracted criticism, as it took around 200,000 images out of the commons. The Unsplash licence is incompatible with creative commons licences, preventing use on sites like Wikipedia.
In December 2019, Unsplash for Brands was launched, where advertisers can share branded images on Unsplash.
The lack of attribution for Unsplash photos have been the subject of controversy among photography circles, due to some companies using free Unsplash photography for profit without compensating the photographers. Unsplash itself has stated that it does not support the practice
Since its formation, Getty Images has pursued an aggressive programme of acquisition, buying up many privately owned agencies that had built up the stock photography industry, from small family-run firms to larger agencies. By 1999, it had acquired one of the largest agencies, Tony Stone Images; the online art seller Art.com; the sports photography agency Allsport; the market leader in the Benelux and Scandinavia: Word View (1996, from Mr. Bert Blokhuis, four offices, for undisclosed sum); journalistic specialists Liaison Agency; Newsmakers, the first digital news photo agency; Online USA, a specialist in celebrity shots; and the Hulton Press Library, the former archive of the British photojournalistic magazine Picture Post. The Hulton collection was sold by the BBC to Brian Deutsch in 1988, when it was renamed Hulton Deutsch. In 1996, the Hulton collection was sold on once more, this time purchased by Getty Images and renamed Hulton Getty. With the acquisition of the Hulton library, Getty Images took ownership of the rights to some 15 million photographs from the British press archives dating back to the Nineteenth Century. Hulton Getty also included photographs from the Keystone Collection, as well as images by notable photographers such as Bert Hardy, Bill Brandt, Weegee and Ernst Haas.
Getty has branched out into stock audio, music and sound effects, and also video with the acquisition of EyeWire and Energy Film Library.
In 2000, Getty acquired one of its main competitors, Archive Photos of New York (a division of The Image Bank), for US$183 million.
Further acquisitions followed, with the purchase in 2004 of image.net for US$20 million. On 9 February 2006, the microstock photo website iStockphoto was acquired by Getty Images for US$50 million.
In 2007, Getty successfully purchased its largest competitor, MediaVast, for $207 million. The acquisition gave Getty Images control of WireImage (Entertainment, creative, and sports photography), FilmMagic (fashion and red carpet photography), and Contour Photos (portrait and studio photography).
Getty Images also acquired other subsidiaries, including Master Delegates, which includes Isifa Image Service in Prague and Laura Ronchi in Italy. In 2008, Getty purchased Redferns Music Picture Library, the music photo library built up by British jazz photographer David Redfern.
On 23 October 2008, Getty Images announced their intention to buy Jupitermedia's online images division, Jupiterimages, for $96 million in cash. The sale went ahead in February 2009; Jupiterimages (including the sites stock.xchng and StockXpert) is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Getty. Jupitermedia, now trading as WebMediaBrands, continues its Internet publishing business, which they didn't sell to Getty Images.
On 25 January 2016, Corbis announced that it had sold its image licensing business, including the Corbis Images, Corbis Motion and Veer libraries and their associated assets, to Unity Glory, an affiliate of Visual China Group—Getty's exclusive distributor in China. Concurrently, it was announced that VCG would, after a transition period, license distribution and marketing of the Corbis library outside of China to Getty.
Getty now manages Corbis's physical archives on behalf of VCG and Unity Glory.
"The reason I’m excited about this acquisition is because it’s not goodbye, it’s about acceleration", said in its statement Unplush founder..
"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. The entire Unsplash team will be staying and building Unsplash in the direction we have been. The main difference now is we have access to the resources and experience of Getty Images to help accelerate our plans to create the world’s most useful visual asset library".
"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. Craig Peters, Getty Images CEO, told me, “We have so much admiration for Unsplash. What you’re doing for creativity and what you’ve built is incredible.”
"After interacting with the team at Getty Images more and better understanding their long-term vision, we realized we shared so much alignment that going at this together could be much more impactful than going at it separately", he said..
What’s to come at Unsplush
Company said it will be "hiring and adding resources to bring each of these parts of Unsplash to full bloom much quicker than we could have done alone".
"It’s been nearly eight years since Unsplash began as a Tumblr blog with ten images. Since then, Unsplash grew into something greater than we ever could have imagined.
There are now over two million high quality, high-resolution images on Unsplash that have been contributed by people from every country. The number of creative works that have been enabled by these visuals is in the billions. It’s impossible to estimate the collective impact but from what we've seen and the stories we've heard, images on Unsplash are fundamental to helping so many people make positive things happen.
It’s hard to say the Unsplash community merely created a dent in the universe. It feels more like you've helped create an entire new universe.
With the added resources and support, we’re looking forward to creating so much more for you and with you."