The new Getty Images watermark

A trivial protection tool turned brilliantly into a marketing tool!

Getty Images has taken a simple overlay image, the watermark, and turned it into a something that not only protects your image but also is a brilliantly engineered marketing and sales tool.

To have or not to have: watermarks?

Watermarks are a nuisance according to some. Others think it is an importnt tool to protect your images from theft and online piracy. In principle, from a legal standpoint, it does not make any difference if your image carries a watermark or not online (or off-line). It is protected by copyright even without the watermark. But from a practical standpoint it can make a difference. Having a watermark can make it more difficult to steal your images, and it will certainly prevent people from saying “oh, I had no idea I wasn’t allowed”.

So, personally I prefer to use watermark even if it sometimes detracts from the beauty of the image:

(Example chosen specifically to make the watermark particularly obvious.)

Getty’s new watermark: more elegant and more intelligent

Getty used to have a “normal” watermark with the text “Getty Images” and the photographer’s name across the centre image in a half transparent layer. Similar to mine although my current one is located at the bottom and supplemented by the © symbol.

They have transformed that into a watermark that is less in-your-face. It is now located on the lower right as a less glaring grey square with some text in it.

More importantly, they have integrated in the watermark a unique address to the image, a URL, that is specific to the image.

It turns the watermark into both a theft protection against intellectual property infringements and into a marketing and sharing tool.

Very nice!

Watch the video:

But will it “change perception of a billion dollar company” as the creators say? Not so sure about that.

But in any case, applauds to R/GA London, who did it!

(From what I can tell though, the watermark is not yet active. I cannot see it on the Getty Images sites. Perhaps it is not yet implemented.)

I’d be interested to hear your view! Do you think it is useful to use watermarks? Do you think Getty’s new watermark will work?

Note: I wanted to show you an example of how the watermark looks, so I contacted R/GA London and asked for permission to use a sample of the old and the new watermark as illustration. Knowing the way Getty persecutes people who use their images without authorisation I did not want to use it without permission (although technically it would probably be legal).

The person in charge at R/GA London never bothered to reply to my question (although prompted by their person in charge of press contacts), so you can see no sample of it here. Perhaps he thought that I could just simply grab a sample online? Not the best way to encourage people to ask for permission to use pictures…

Instead you can see a sample at Petapixel.

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