By now, you must have read all about the Getty Image/Flickr deal. In a nutshell, Flickr announced that Getty Images has the right to go through the Flickr collection and pick and choose the images that they want to distribute.
Now, seldom know that Flickr has been shopping around for the last two years for a way to license its content. They have approach many existing companies in order to investigate their options. I am not at liberty to say which but lets just say they are not your traditional mom and pops. But like with any huge company, time is not an issue and most potential, at first very excited, ended their conversations with a resentful puff and walking away with what everyone thought was a goldmine. When you looked closer, it is more like a coalmine. Lots of digging for little return. One huge issue, is that, although Flickr has a clear copyright policy, most people don’t care and upload whatever they want anyway. Since nothing is for sale, no copyright infringement lawsuit has ever surfaced, but most certainly a lot of “cease and desist” notices have circulated.
The second very important issue, is that Flickr has a beautiful facade, but behind it, lies a dump yard of crappy snapshots. Their “Interrestingness” engine is a model of programming done with genius. Only the best images surface, hiding the ugly muck below.
While these talks where going on, some mash up 2.0 companies tried to take advantage of Flickr’s API to lure users to shift platforms and take advantage of their licensing engines. That was a lost battle as Flickr monitored those links very closely and shut down any one who apparent motivation was money. No more than a little slap on the hand.
Getty, having a whole department in charge of making new deals could simply not let go. These guys lose their job if they do not make any new deals. So they came out with this wackadoodle arrangement: Flick makes deal with Getty Images.
Wait a minute, Flickr doesn’t own, nor does it represent any of its content. It is only a sharing platform. How can they make a deal on behalf of their users ? They can advise them, yes, but certainly not make a deal for them. Getty will still have to ask each and everyone of them for permission to license their images. But be no fool, this has been going on for a long time. I do not know of any photo agency that has not already contacted users of Flick in order to represent their work. And those who didn’t are either fools or not in the commercial stock business. This deal doesn’t change that, as Flickr cannot dictate anything to its users.
Furthermore only Getty, or its retarded companion Corbis, could afford such a deal. It will take them a huge time to edit through the content and find the pearls. And that is money spend, not received. Let’s say they do find a photographer with great talent, nothing guarantees them that he or she will sign up with them. Nothing at all. Or they have might have already signed with someone else. This is Gargantuan work for little return.
This deal is just a pack of hot air. We all know that Getty is no fool and that this is just a big PR balloon. It will fly, get some people very excited and overheated, and just disappear after a short sting.
What is however captivating is that Getty now officially announced, with this deal, that it can no longer trust its own suppliers or photographers with providing them with the right images. It is also an admittance of the failure of both their internal “creative research and intelligence” and in its long held belief that it had secured the right partnerships. To proactively and officially reach out to amateurs is sending a loud and clear message that their current content is not adapted anymore.
After thought : So what happens to those poor pro photographers schmucks who paid $50 dollars to get their images on Getty Images under the brand “Photographer’s Choice“? Let me get this straight : you’re an amateur and upload to Flickr, Getty images includes your images for free. You are a pro unwilling to upload to Flickr, maybe because you don’t want then stolen and you have to pay $50 per approve image ? It doesn’t compute