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For Bloggers, Legit News Photos For Free

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PicApp, a San Francisco-based company is offering copyright news and stock photos from large photo banks like Getty Images and Corbis for free. The company is likely to announce availability of its public beta service later today.

The photos are displayed in a flash media file and can be embedded on any web page, just like YouTube. PicApp makes money off contextual advertising it embeds in the photos, and in turn shares it with the photo agencies. The new service is a sign of how tough things are in the stock photography business, where new and low cost competitors are emerging thick and fast, and challenging the old dogs like Getty Images.

PicApp’s business approach could be best described as “making lemonade when life serves you lemons.” It’s parent company is Israel-based PicScout which has technology that helps image copyright owners identify the copyright infringements online. Eyal Gura, CEO of PicScout told us that there are millions of photos that get taken from the sites of big photo agencies and show up on the web (replete with watermarks.) Litigation seems like a losing battle, but free ad-supported photos is worth a shot.

While most of us tech bloggers don’t have a pressing need for news photos to accompany our posts, the service can be useful for small websites and blogs that follow politics and news. Hollywood gossip blogs could find use for PicApp.

That said, PicApp will need a very large number of embeds in order to bring any meaningful revenues. I think it is a challenge that has confounded all “embed”-based businesses. On the other hand, larger sites that can provide large traffic volume like PopSugar and Defamer can afford to pay for the photos and use that as a way to stand out from in an increasingly crowded market place.

Update: Michael Arrington wrote about GumGum that has taken a similar approach to the stock photography market place.

38 Responses to “For Bloggers, Legit News Photos For Free”

  1. Yeah I’m too hyped on this either, and I have sideline sites that could use this type of content. Even as a ‘small guy’, sites like Wire Image have really cheap subscription packages…$10 / month for watermark free pics.

    I think there are some flaws here:

    1. If you at all take your site seriously, $10/month is nothing and odds are the ad revenue pays for it anyway.

    2. If you are a 17 year old girl posting celeb pictures to your MySpace page, you probably don’t know any better and will rip images from anywhere you find them.

    That leaves this service in a weird limbo where they need people who know better, but can’t justify spending the cost of two beers + tip on their site :-)

  2. copy editor

    oh ohm….

    you wrote:

    “It’s parent company is Israel-based PicScout ….”

    “It’s” ????

    oh boy. someone needs to consult a good grammar primer. or maybe it’s time to hire a good copy editor, eh, blogger guy :)

  3. Someone always trying to make a buck at the expense of others. You can get a subscription and get unlimited photos (royalty-free). While you have to pay up front to gain access, at least you don’t have to run someone else’s ads on your site or blog.

    There are also several free (as in beer) royalty-free and creative commons licensed sites on the net that sure beats ad supported images that allows someone to make money off of our own hard work.

    I don’t see this service lasting very long at all.