1afairplayAsian eMarketing met with Christian Toksvig, Vice President, International Development at Getty Images, to continue talking about his presentation on “Fair play in Social Media”, which he gave at ad:tech Singapore. In his speech, Christian pointed out that the world is becoming more and more visual, so that photo capturing and sharing are rapidly becoming an integral part of how we communicate with each other. However, while the increase in sharing of content helps us communicate better, it raises complicated questions about privacy and copyright, too. YouTube, for example, was a hotbed of video piracy until Google made deals that secured proper attribution and a cut of advertising revenues for copyright owners.

Other content sharing platforms, such as Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest, still let users post content that may violate the copyright of its owners, for example individual photographers or media publishers. Getty Images, however, is developing a technology to solve this problem, and ensure fair compensation for copyright owners, unlimited enjoyment for users, and business value for social media platforms, which Christian Toksvig calls “playing fair in social media”.

The Danish national, who has been in the media industry his entire career, joined Getty Images two years ago, after having been a good customer of Getty Images before. Today, he is responsible for international business development, focusing on emerging markets, and handles strategic development of Getty Images out of their London office.

Content partnerships to fill the content gap

“We think about ourselves as a content marketplace, more than a stock agency. And it is really a kind of different frame of mind serving businesses in more than 200 countries”, Christian explained. According to him, Getty Images has around 2 million video clips currently on their site and adds on between 10 to 20,000 a month at the moment from their own as well as partners’ productions.

Best known for syndicated still photographs, the company has lately branched out to offer multi-media as well, like rival stock photo agencies.

“There’s a lot more demand for video, especially on the web,” Christian said. “That demand is driving our supply. We like to think of ourselves as the ‘Amazon of Content’, bringing together thousands of suppliers of content with millions of users”, he stated, explaining that there are a lot of different external drivers that influence how they look at their business:

"The first driver is geographic: A lot of Asian countries never had stock photography - either they didn‘t need it or produced it to order - or they stole it. We want to be there first in many countries and be one of the leaders in new markets. The second driver is technology: A lot is happening in terms of the amount of content which is being created, and we look at how we can help take advantage of that huge surge of both supply and demand of content. And that has required us to think of new ways to absorb content into our sites and offerings, so that people can self-upload and become their own business without human interaction."

Christian further elaborated that "content comes from three places. It comes from stuff we own, which makes up about 10%, and the rest either comes from individual contributors, about 150 000 across all platforms, or from content partners who are big owners of content libraries, like Washington Post or National Geographic."

Especially in Asia, Getty Images has a great demand for local content right now. So for photographer‘s and photo artists there‘s a great opportunity out there, Christian said.

Partnerships with Social Platforms

Getty Images has also started partnering with social networks like Flickr, Vimeo and Soundcloud and with individual artists and photographers, because „these particular partnerships are perfect to help us source good quality content, as there is a lot of great quality content on those networks“, Christian said. “The idea is to provide creatives with protection of their intellectual property and an income stream, and this is where partnering with social platforms comes in.”

Indeed, there‘s a huge need for protection of copyright on social media but on the internet in general. Getty Images basically gives their partners, media companies or individual artists alike, the opportunity to get better view-ability, protection of rights and additional income. In a nutshell, a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Copyright Enforcement and Fair Play

Christian explained that it has been standard to search the web for copyright violators, but “what‘s new is that we can specifically target social media sharing. This has only emerged in the last 4 to 5 years, but created the need for a different type of enforcement and licensing. And now we require the platforms to play along”.

Getty Images is working on agreements with all major platforms, since users uploading their work are generating value for those platforms. And according to Christian the company is working hard to draw up a legal framework that gets „everybody to agree that this is the right way to do it”.

“That‘s not easy and takes time, but as the leading player in our industry, we should be leading from the front. That‘s our responsibility“, Christian further explained.

Fair play is a complex notion, which in regard to social media platforms should mean an environment of mutual respect as well as principles such as equality, integrity, solidarity and tolerance. These essentials of fair play in the social network environment are the building blocks for a successful community. So, why do we still experience so much of the contrary?

Being honest and having strong moral principles are the essential basics of fair play and a sound ethical framework is vitally important. In fact, without fairness and trustworthiness the established order of a community and our society as a whole is at risk.

Besides considering that, fair play incorporates the concepts of friendship and respect for others and is therefore more defined as a way of thinking, not just a way of behaving. Thus, Getty Images‘ philosophy and engagement could and should lead to an agreement, between all of those involved in digital media management, securing the values of the digital media industry. It’s not just about a theory or goal, it‘s about manifesting an attitude of fair play that brings results. Whenever we act in the spirit of fair play we contribute to building a peaceful and better world. Getty Images is leading by example, and we appreciate the effort!

By Daniela La Marca