Getty-Flickr Program Slowly Gets Going

Posted on 12/31/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Getty Images has begun to invite Flickr users to participate in the Getty-managed Flickr Collection. Though Getty staffers had promised in July that this offering would launch within months, there have been no obvious developments.

The invitation-only collection was supposed to launch with tens of thousands of images, Getty spokesperson Bridget Russel told Selling Stock. In pursuing the deal, Getty wanted to better meet the needs of its customers, who were already using Flickr for inspiration. Flickr wanted to make it easier for its users to buy or sell images, a service that the company has not wanted to provide on its own.

The stock community’s reaction the deal is divided.

Many wave it off as insignificant, claiming that the arrangement is a ploy by Getty to capitalize on Flickr’s popularity and would not have any tangible impact. This group predicts that Getty will have trouble locating photographers, obtaining releases and securing high-resolution images needed by core professional buyers.

Other shooters lamented the ever-increasing competition, seeing the Getty-Flickr deal as the next stage of amateur intrusion into the sacrosanct professional arena of the world’s top stock agency. Many also worried about the impact the deal would have on the quality of the overall collection: “If Getty goes down the road of becoming more and more like its microstock competitors, the last thing separating it from the rest—best imagery and highest technical quality—will be destroyed,” commented Gerard Fritz of Novastock.

However, some also saw the deal as a positive development. Tom Morgan, the head of rights for London’s National Portrait Gallery, thinks that Flickr, as the biggest brand in open image platforms, has helped the proliferation of no-cost Creative Commons licenses, thus contributing to the downward pressure on prices and the perception that everything on the Internet is free to use as one wishes. The new alliance, Morgan posits, invites the broadest constituency of photographers—including amateurs—to think about the tradable value of their work. “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,” he adds, concluding that with the Flickr Collection, Getty will deliver a significant benefit to the industry—“somewhat incidentally to doing good business itself.”

Now that Getty editors have begun sending out invitations, some Flickr users—including the outspoken businessman who has still to come through on his 2-year-old promise to revolutionize the stock industry with the Zooomr Marketplace—have renewed their objections to what they see as a lack of transparency. Thomas Hawk, aka California photographer, blogger and investment advisor Andrew Peterson, writes on his blog: “There is no way that Flickr members can apply for consideration for this program. There is no information about the types of photos that Getty wants. There simply is no communication going on about this new service by Flickr, Yahoo or Getty.”

Now that the program appears to be moving forward, some of these predictions will be tested. However, additional information on the program’s structure is unlikely to be forthcoming: the two companies have declined to disclose financials or any other details, and there is no reason to think this position will change.

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


  • Greg Ceo Posted Dec 31, 2008
    After meeting with Art Buyers at several advertising agencies in MN this summer, I can tell you that many already use Flickr and track down the releases themselves. It is a large, searchable data base of images. Advertising agencies and their clients want, authentic feeling, slice-of-life images, and they are going to Flickr to get them if they don't find them at traditional agencies.

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