So Flickr made a pact with the devil.
That’s what a ton of people in the blogosphere are saying about the photo networking site’s recent deal with Getty that will allow the stock giant access to Flickr photos. From what I understand, Getty will hand select the best photos on Flickr and then offer the photographers the option to license the photos for sale through Getty. The photographer gets paid on a sliding pay scale and Getty gets a ton of rights to the photos.
I personally don’t see it as a bum deal. Amateur photographers that would normally just have their work sitting on Flickr can now make some cash for their work, and pros that have never entered the world of stock photography can have an added revenue stream. If you don’t want Getty to own your work, don’t sign the agreement.
I realize that this deal sucks for professionals that have relied on Getty for years to make their living, but sadly, with microstock sites proliferating like bad weeds, it is bound to happen anyway.
The fact is, photo editors are already scouring Flickr for stock and news photos. I’ve sold hundreds of dollars worth of pictures that would be collecting digital dust on my hard drives if they weren’t on the site. I’ve always used Flickr as a place to dump photos that are either personal or I can’t sell to magazines. I upload them at low res with watermarks and have had very few images stolen. Sure, I’ve received the occasional lame email from an editor asking to use my photo in exchange for some useless photo credit, but just as often, I’ve had a legitimate offer to buy a photo.
What I’m more surprised about, is why Flickr–and its parent company Yahoo–never tried to turn the site into a microstock site similar to iStock or Shutterstock. They could have cut out the middle man and reaped most of the benefits. As of now, Flickr is mum about what they are getting out of this. It’s also interesting that Flickr’s founders quit the company just a month before this thing was announced. Only time will tell. Getty says that nothing has been decided on yet, and they will be selecting photos over the next six months or so.