What Was Flickr Thinking?

Posted on 7/16/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

In examining the Getty/Flickr deal, it is hard to understand how the Flickr managers could have given so much to Getty for so little.

Flickr gets nothing in the way of a fee-per-transaction. It also appears that Flickr gets little or nothing for giving Getty exclusive access to its contributors. If the company is getting anything, it isn't apparent and probably not in the best interest of its contributors. Up to now, Flickr has always been open and transparent in its dealing with contributors. That may no longer be the case.

Flickr GM Kakul Srivastava told PDN, "From our perspective, on the Flickr side, we're not expecting this will be a huge stream of monetization for our members. The relationship, in the licensing piece, is purely between the photographer - the Flickr member - and Getty Images itself."

It is interesting that Flickr's founders, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, resigned shortly before this announcement. Butterfield said in his resignation letter: "I don't know what you and the other executives have planned for this company, but I know that my ability to contribute has dwindled to near-nothing... Therefore, with a heavy heart, I recognize that it is time for me and the company to part ways."

For a couple years, Flickr has been looking for a way to monetize its 2 billion image collection and assist photographers in earning revenue from their images. It would have been easy for the company to establish a marketing site competitive with iStock. But it walked away from that opportunity and gave Getty Images -- the company that demands the most from the photographers it represents and pays them the lowest royalty in the industry -- the exclusive right to communicate with its photographers.

As one Flickr blogger said, there is "no particular harm in Getty scouting for talent on Flickr," but if Flickr was going to choose the route of letting outside sources mine its collection, wouldn't it be in the best interest of its contributors to give every stock image distributor an equal opportunity?"

Given Flickr's resources, everyone thought it would build its own commercial site rather than giving everything away. Flickr was concerned about being forced to establish a call center (like Getty's) to deal with negotiations. However, there are plenty of experienced negotiators who would have been more than happy to take on that responsibility on a contract basis. Building a site that contains all the features widely accepted by buyers should have been easy.

Now, Flickr contributors will deal with the fallout.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Pickerell. 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

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Gerard Fritz Posted Jul 17, 2008
    Could the new Flickr excecutive(s) be getting a stock or cash finder's fee or other hidden value from Getty? I find it hard to believe nothing of value was exchanged.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff