Monday, January 21, 2008

What the Getty sale means to libraries

Today's New York Times includes an article concerning how Getty Images wants to sell itself to the highest bidder, hopefully at $1.5 billion. But tucked away within the article is a significant mention of the competition. Not Corbis, or other photo archives, but rather everyone with a cellphone or digital camera. Although Getty Images (apparently) licenses images from news photographers, many media outlets find low-quality-but-cheap images to be sufficient.

In other words, the proliferation of images on the Internet through Flickr--and maybe digital library archives--has the effect of lowering the price of the product. Now images are not just the domain of specialized archives, but everyone. It's the democritization of photography on the Internet.

This goes in line with the Library of Congress's Flickr pilot project. It also suggests that libraries should continue to put whatever images they have on the Internet, to let others know that such media also comes from libraries, so that the general public will recognize ordinary (and some not-so-ordinary) libraries have this material that anyone can use.

No comments: