LIFE is Big. Getty and Time Plan Site for Historic Number of Photos

By Paul Glazowski
|  Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 5:31 PM CDT
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LIFE is Big. Getty and Time Plan Site for Historic Number of Photos

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Would you be excited to hear today about a service that will have its launch next year? That’s what publishing veteran Time Inc and archival giant Getty Images are promising.

The two plan to launch what will be LIFE.com to house “the most comprehensive iconic and professional photography collections available anywhere online.” This will go for things historic and things current, things well-documented and things never-before-seen. The bulk of content will be available at launch, and “more than 3,000 new images will be uploaded daily from Getty Images.”

The sheer volume of what will be presented through LIFE.com makes the effort momentous. No doubt about it. It is in effect a match between something with the technical potential of a Flickr-like structure and an extensive premium media trove. Valuable? For many people, definitely. Getty of course only offers a limited view of the entire medium of professional photography, but as with anything to do with corporate interest (Hulu versus competitors, YouTube versus Photobucket and MySpace TV, and so forth), all cannot be found in one place, no matter where you look. So here’s to looking on the bright side. The quantity to be delivered by Time and Getty is alone something hugely worthwhile.

The activity of sharing such media is another topic, however, and one that will get considerable attention when LIFE.com has its debut. The partnership is said to entail giving users the ability to “interact intimately with imagery, including printing select photos, sharing photos with friends and family… creating collections of photos around special interests and purchasing photo albums of user-made collections.” The sole key word to watch closely in this description is: select.

Yes, the conveniences of sharing and printing material are appreciable in and of themselves. But the distinctions to be made over user permissions will be what drives the consumer world to either feel content with what is offered or noticeably dismayed about the rules. Naturally, a more liberal play by the content providers will prove more popular. Giving the house away, though, is potentially ridden with losses that cannot be returned. If history is a guide, the caliber of names involved in this effort will presumably ride a very cautious route into the new year.

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