Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Getty Images Acquires Unsplash

Mikael Cho, co-founder of Unsplash:

This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down. Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand and division of Getty Images. The entire Unsplash team will be staying and building Unsplash in the direction we have been. The main difference now is we have access to the resources and experience of Getty Images to help accelerate our plans to create the world’s most useful visual asset library.

Unsplash promises it will remain free and that the photography license will not be changing, but that is not comforting. Getty has a reputation as a copyright troll and has even demanded licensing fees for images in the public domain.

By the way, it is striking how concentrated the stock photography market has become around a few key players. Getty Images has been particularly aggressive in its acquisitions of image libraries and other brands. It owns iStock, it bought Mediavast’s catalogue, and — through a complex licensing deal involving its Chinese distribution partner Visual China Group, which also owns 500px — it bought the rights to Corbis’ library. It is also surprising to me how many of these companies are Canadian: iStock is still based in Calgary, 500px in Toronto, and Unsplash is in Montreal.