Getty Images to License Flickr Collection

Posted on 7/9/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Getty Images and Yahoo!-owned Flickr have partnered to offer a new creative-image collection exclusively through With a goal of launching the offering within months, Flickr is currently building a platform to allow Getty photo editors to invite select members of the popular photo-sharing community to participate. At launch, the Flickr Collection is expected to number in the tens of thousands, with thousands of images added each month.

Flickr sees the partnership as a way to bring member images to Getty's worldwide customer base. Getty Images seeks to offer its customers a collection with higher levels of authenticity and regional relevance.

Established in 2003, Flickr was purchased by Yahoo! in 2005 and quickly became one of the ailing search company's hottest properties. But the union has not been one-sided; Flickr's market share has more than doubled since Yahoo! integrated images from the photo-sharing Web site into its search index.

Today, Flickr boasts 27 million members and 2 billion photos. According to March data from ComScore, Flickr is the highest-trafficked property in its niche, outranking Google's Picasa and Fox-owned Photobucket, albeit by a narrow margin. Although tracking company Hitwise says Photobucket holds the largest market share of 38%; Flickr ranks second with 12%; and other players remain insignificant.

When asked why Flickr, as opposed to Photobucket, Getty spokesperson Bridget Russel said the company knew where its customers were going. Image buyers have been sourcing images from Flickr for years. Core professional buyers often surf the site for inspiration, while the budget-conscious seek out Creative Commons-licensed images that can be used free of charge.

Thus far, Flickr did not facilitate licensing transactions, but the company did not object to users contacting each other to discuss such arrangements. Many professional photographers have also come to rely on Flickr for self-promotion. In just a few years, commercial uses of Flickr-hosted photos have become ubiquitous. So have the associated legal problems of agencies or marketers that misunderstood Creative Commons licenses as addressing all issues associated with clearing images for commercial uses.

Flickr's eventual entry into the stock-image space has been the subject of speculation for some time. While the photo-sharing company has been tight-lipped about its intentions, its notice of the partnership with Getty Images reads: "Team Flickr has long wanted to create a way to make it easier for those who use photos as a part of their daily business to do so..."

Enter Getty Images. Russel said the partnership will allow Getty customers to find the same images more easily, as well as to license them with confidence. "Out customers already go to Flickr, but cannot easily license the pictures in the way they are accustomed to on," she explained, adding that Getty's goal is to offer its business customers the right pictures, the right service and easy access.

The commercial Flickr Collection will be available for both creative and editorial uses. Flickr members whose images are selected for inclusion will be offered a Getty Images contract that spells out the standard issues of ownership, rights and commission structure. These are expected to be in line with established industry and corporate practices.

The financial potential for Getty Images is clear, but what's in it for Flickr? "We do have a business relationship with Flickr, but we are not disclosing any details," said Russel. Flickr generates revenues by hosting advertising and charging fees for upgraded memberships. It also has other partners, including Hewlett Packard and several custom-book and print-on-demand businesses.

Photos offered through may remain posted on Flickr, but will be designated as "all rights reserved," as opposed to any of the other options offered by the photo-sharing Web site. Russel said a "license this image on" button or function would eventually be enabled on Flickr.

It is safe to assume there will be some backlash from Getty-represented photographers who are seeing declining earnings due to various market pressures, particularly the entry of amateur shooters into the pro arena. "While there will be more choices with each search query, we believe the needs and tastes of our customers are diverse enough to provide an opportunity for all," counters Russel.

Getty CEO Jonathan Klein expressed a similar sentiment to Photo District News. While he admitted that that this does raise competition, he added that photographers who continue shooting relevant, saleable imagery will continue to make sales. He also pointed out that the Flickr Collection gives image buyers another reason to visit Getty's Web site, increasing the chances of non-Flickr images being seen and purchased.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Tom Morgan Posted Jul 10, 2008
    I think the Getty/Flickr venture is a very significant and positive development in terms of the trading culture in our industry.

    Flickr is the biggest brand in open image platforms and is seen as a flagship of the ‘open content’ movement, helping to proliferate Creative Commons licences, including ‘free to use’ licences. Photographers are of course entitled to license their work in whatever way they choose but there is good reason to believe that this kind of activity, in conjunction with publishers use of rights-grabbing contracts and acquisition of ‘user-generated content’, contributes to the downward pressure on prices as well as to the pervasive cultural assumption online, that “…if it’s on the web, it’s free to use”.

    Getty is the biggest brand in commercial image licensing and has been fighting to uphold transactional RM pricing as well as being enterprising in the creation of new licensing models.

    The Getty/Flickr venture invites the broadest constituency of photographers (including ‘amateurs’) to think about the tradable value of their work and to think twice about using ‘open/free-to-use’ Creative Commons licences as standard. In addition, it invites image users to think about the difference between wheat and chaff, to notice that some images have been selected as having a tradable value, and to engage with the marketplace.

    If Getty can succeed in this and further business innovations of its kind, they will be delivering a benefit to the industry by supporting the wider marketplace in a very significant way, somewhat incidentally to doing good business themselves.

    Tom Morgan
    Head of Rights
    National Portrait Gallery, London

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