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Former Getty Images creative head calls on industry to end silence over Google 'theft'

Lewis Blackwell, a former Getty Images worldwide creative head, has called on the creative industries to take a stand against their copyrighted work being "abused and stolen" through search engines.

Writing for The Drum, Blackwell urged commercial image companies, music owners, film and TV rights holders to end their silence over the exploitation of their work by search giants and called for a new model of “micro-royalties" funded by “a modest tax on the profits of the tech companies, in exchange for a legitimisation of their use of content".

The long-time publisher of Creative Review, who is now a director at Blipfoto, said: "The products of our labour and talent have been abused and stolen for years and have fed the search giants that are now wreaking havoc with all aspects of our society – from the survival of high street shops to the credibility of international law. We must believe we can help change things for the better."

In the article, the award winning creative director and author of 'Photowisdom' said he greatly admired Google and its founders but added: “We – the owners of content – need to help it manage its power, its open and fair presentation to the world.”

He went on: “We have a situation where search engines currently facilitate theft in plain sight of us all, while the police are always somewhere else,” concluding: “As the communications industry, at the very least we should be able to make a lot of inventive and embarrassing noise about the issues rather than conspiring with the near-silence.”