Founded in 1995, Getty Images Inc. creates and distributes content including photographs, music and video clips. It adds some 40,000 pictures daily to its massive digital archive of more than 71 million images, and licenses 200,000 ­images to customers daily. The company acquired iStockphoto for $50 million in 2006. Last year, private-equity firm The Carlyle Group acquired a controlling interest in Getty Images in a $3.3 billion deal. Getty Images has about 2,000 employees and major offices in London, New York and Seattle.


John Lapham leads a 25-person team of 15 lawyers and 10 support staff spread over six cities in four countries. The team embraces the corporate creed of “bring me solutions,” Lapham said. It works closely with both the technology and product teams and meets with customers as needed. Although the attorneys focus largely on licensing and intellectual property issues, Lapham prefers to hire generalists with intellectual curiosity who are drawn to cutting-edge work. The group includes a global litigation manager and mergers-and-acquisitions specialists.


Getty Images has long relied on New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges for global transactions and corporate and competition matters. For other work, the company turns to Seattle-based law firms. It uses Davis Wright Tremaine for copyright issues and litigation work in the United States.

Getty relies on Perkins Coie to manage its trademark and patent portfolio and handle some intellectual property matters. Garvey Schubert Barer has been responsible for the company’s employment matters for more than a decade.


Lapham spends roughly two-thirds of his time in Seattle with regular trips to New York, where CEO Jonathan Klein is based. Lapham logs about 120,000 miles per year in travel. “There is always something new and complicated to tackle, which is great,” he said.

This year, he addressed a congressional subcommittee on the importance of copyright protection for creative works and participated in a panel discussion on “Can photographers get fair deals?” at the World Creators Summit, an international forum for digital businesses.


Lapham pursued his dream of becoming a litigator for about six years after graduating from the University of Washington School of Law in 1993. He then joined Bootleg TV, a short-lived digital media startup, and rebranded himself as a business lawyer. Getty Images hired him in 2001 when general counsel Jeff Beyle was building an in-house legal team. When Beyle left in 2007, Lapham was named to the top position.

He reports to Klein, the company’s chief executive, and they speak at least weekly.


A Seattle native, Lapham has been married to his high school sweetheart, Tina, for 23 years. They have three children: Megan, 19; Elizabeth, 16; and Karl, 12. He likes attending sporting events and concerts, and skiing and exercise.


“Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. He couldn’t recall the last movie he saw, noting that he’s been to several Seattle Sounders soccer games recently. — June D. Bell