Virgin Mobile Uses Flickr In Aussie Campaign

Posted on 7/17/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Virgin Mobile, a UK mobile phone company with global reach, is using amateur photos in a major advertising campaign promoting its services in Australia. All photos were obtained from Flickr and posted by users under a Creative Commons license.

All photos are used in accordance with the terms of the license, with individual billboards and magazine ads crediting the original photographer. However, Virgin Mobile may still have a legal issue, as model releases were not obtained for images depicting people. At least one person is taking legal action, beginning with a cease-and-desist letter to Virgin’s U.S. offices.


Some Flickr contributors are thrilled to have their images used in this way. Others have taken a closer look at the meaning of Creative Commons licenses. The student who took the image at the center of the model-release controversy, Justin Wong, no longer allows commercial use of his photographs. U.K. photographer Ben Roberts says that this campaign is why he no longer offers any Creative Commons licenses on his images. According to Roberts, “It is not only using people’s images with no financial gain for the contributors, but is also depriving one or more professional photographers of work.”


Commercial use of images hosted by Flickr is no longer rare.


Slava Sakhnenko, who has been a Flickr member for two years, says he was recently contacted by an Italian journalist, a Swedish librarian and an American TV studio for permission to use his images. “It is a testament to Flickr’s rising relevance that media folk are using it more and more to bypass the professional photographers and stock photography sites to score free photos for their pieces,” writes Sakhnenko in his blog.


Though industry analysts have not been overly concerned about revenues lost to free images sourced from photo-sharing sites, they are recognized as a significant market force. Much has been written about the dangers of Flickr’s possible entry into microstock licensing.


While Flickr may be the most publicized among its competitors, the stock-image industry should be more concerned about Photobucket, recently acquired by Fox. According to the latest research by Hitwise, Photobucket holds 44% of the photo-sharing market, compared to Flickr’s market share of under 7%.


Copyright © 2007 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

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