Another shot was fired this week in the killing fields of photography. Just after announcing the purchase for $1 billion of Tumblr, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo declared “ There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”
This is not a surprised coming for a person who has never dealt with with pro photography in her life, neither at Google nor currently at Yahoo. None of the product or services that these two companies have created, so far, have helped pro photographers. In fact, mostly involuntarily, it has made their lives a little bit more difficult.
She has since apologized, of course, after receiving a ton of not so friendly tweets from the non existing pro photographers and their supporters. It was a misstatement, she said. Really what she meant was that no pro photographers would be using Flickr. Which, in a way, should be a warning.
This comes, as we mentioned, after she closed a deal to purchase blogging site Tumblr, who probably host the most copyright infringed content in the world. While Tumblr always had a policy of abiding to the DMCA and would take down any flagged images not properly licensed, it is however a fact that out of the 107.8 million blogs and 50.6 billion posts, the majority are made of images stolen from other sources.
Thus, like Google and the acquisition of Youtube, Yahoo has bought for $1 billion worth of stolen content, mostly photographs. They don’t care because, according to the law, the users are responsible for what they post and not the companies that host them. However, that is a lot of cash that is not going to the pro photographer community. No wonder then that she declares them dead.
Big internet companies ( Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple) are now in a frenzy purchase of content. The reason is that content attracts traffic and traffic is what they sell. The more content, the better. And since making content is expensive, they rely on the crowd to create the content. However, one of the internet’s dirty secret is that what the crowd sources is mostly content made by others and repurposes illegally.
Take Tumblr for example. The majority of the Tumblr blogs are made of user curated content taken from other sites. They repost what they like and Tumblr makes it very easy to do so. But in the process, they steal content unlawfully. Photographs, mainly. Created by pros.
The next content creation machine to be sold/bought for an obscene amount ? Pinterest. Same as Tumblr or Youtube before, it is even more obviously made of content created by others and un licensed.
While photography remains the number one value of the internet, it is still not the pro photographers benefiting from it . Rather, it is those who have successfully managed to bundle and repackaged them in huge quantities who have found the golden lining.