While Getty once relied entirely on licensing fees for its stock photos, that’s about to change. Any blogger who can’t afford to buy stock photos can now legally use them for free. It may be surprising to discover that Getty isn’t actually giving anything up to do this. Instead, the company may be increasing its revenue.

Getty Images

How Getty’s new program works

Getty will make all of the embed codes for most of its stock photo collections available free. Embed codes will be provided for WordPress, Twitter and other common places where people tend to use Getty’s stock images.

Those photos don’t have a watermark and will include a credit for the image which links back to Getty’s licensing page. Instead of making money from licensing the photo, the use of the image gives Getty the ability to gather information about the site’s users and then run advertisements in embeddable frames. The practice is similar to what YouTube does.

Getty protects its business

Mashable’s Colin Daileda compares the stock photo industry with the music industry. It isn’t that difficult to get music or stock photos for free and just use them where you wish. So instead of battling that trend, Getty is moving with it to encourage legal use of its photos while also finding a way to monetize them through people who otherwise would not be willing to pay for licensing. The writer compares Getty’s new business model to Spotify, which offers users free music streaming services.

In addition, the site is also able to have more control over the photos. If Getty ever removes a photo from its collection for any reason, that same photo disappears from all of the sites which embedded it. It will take some time to see if this gamble is worth it, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that companies with business models that are open to pirating and the like must find more creative ways to make money.