Getty Images, one of the world’s largest stock photography companies, announced yesterday that it will offer 35 million of its stock photos for free for editorial, non-commercial online use in an effort to thwart copyright infringement. Starting March 6, Getty Images will distribute its images via a new embedding feature. Non-commercial Internet users will be able to select an image from the Getty Images library and copy an embed HTML code to use that image on websites, blogs, and other social media platforms for editorial, non-commercial use. The embedded player will include copyright information regarding the image and a link back to licensing information on Getty Images’ website. Images will be available from Getty Images’ various collections, including stock photography, news, entertainment, and sports.

In an interview with The British Journal of Photography announcing the new program, Getty Images’ vice president Craig Peters explained that the initiative is a value proposition for Getty Images, saying “First, there will be attribution around that image, and since we’re serving the image, we’re actually going to make sure there’s proper attribution. Second, all of the images will link back to our site and directly to the image’s details page. So anybody that has a valid commercial need for that image will be able to license that imagery from our website. Third, since all the images are served by Getty Images, we’ll have access to the information on who and how that image is being used and viewed, and we’ll reserve the right to utilize that data to the benefit of our business.”

Although the new program does not apply outside the online environment or to commercial uses of the images (e.g., to promote a service, a product, or business), Getty Images’ program is likely to have substantial effects on the enforcement of photography copyrights online and the stock photography market.