Specific details about how it will work are scarce, but we know the system will begin “soon” and that it won’t be open slather across all images, only the ones chosen by Getty picture editors.
From a photographers perspective
I’ve long thought it would be handy if Flickr had an in built tool to allow people to pay for a license to use an image.
On a semi regular basis i’m contacted by people asking if they can use one of my photos they found on Flickr. From ad agencies wanting it for a campaign, to a band wanting a shot for a run of photocopied gig flyers. Most often it’s opportunists looking for a free photo but sometimes they approach prepared to spend.
As an example, i was contacted by an ad agency about licensing the image above after they found it on my Flickr page. I’m hopeless at negotiating money deals and knew that i’d probably underquote. I’ve done so before and felt a fool when i realised the proper commercial value.
So i flicked the ad agency over to Retna who i sometimes syndicate my images with. They sold it for US$3000, took a 50% commission and i ended up with US$1500 for an image i took over a year ago and never imagined getting paid for. Regular Flickr users don’t have that facility, i already had an existing relationship with the photo agency.
Without a photo agency involved it’s a fairly laborious process of many exchanged emails before a resolution is reached. There’s no set fee structure, so it’s always a stab in the dark at working out an appropriate fee. Most often nothing gets resolved and everyone’s time is wasted.
I’d find it handy to cut out this process and just let people decide for themselves whether they wanted to license the photo based on a preset fee structure.
Like adsense for photos
I don’t put photos on Flickr with a view to selling them. Many photos i couldn’t sell because of copyright issues or existing licensing deals.
But a bit like bloggers using google adsense on a personal blog, it wouldn’t hurt to get a bit of extra pocket money should someone wish to buy a license to use a photo i already took.
I already upload everything in hi-res, i title, caption and keyword the images. It’s all ready to go.
From a photo buyers perspective
I work in house for a weekly magazine sitting next to the picture editor. Every day she sources dozens of images to use; free publicity stills, agency editorial photos, cheap stock photos. It’s often pretty frantic trying to source the right photo with a looming deadline.
Sometimes a search finds a photographer on Flickr with a photo that would be perfect to use. But if we need the photo in hi-res for deadline that day it’s not even worth trying to get in touch with the photographer.
It takes days or weeks and many emails to negotiate with a photographer about using a Flickr photo. You have to wait for them to read the emails, negotiate a fee you’re both happy with, and then dig out the original hi-res file.
When buying an image from Getty there’s standard rates and you can have the hi-res in a matter of moments.
Even if a photo on Flickr is more appropriate and cheaper than a Getty shot, Getty wins for convenience and speed.
From a non-Getty agency perspective
Photoshelter is a photo agency that offers more generous commissions to photographers and helps foster a photographer friendly community through things like blogs and events. Prompted by the Getty/Flickr alliance they published a blog post titled “How Getty is killing the stock photo industry“.
They say it’s in trend with Getty’s monopolistic practices and non-photographer friendly licensing terms.
Earlier this year Photoshelter developed a tool to easily transfer Flickr photos directly into a Photoshelter account where they could be sold. It was shut down by Flickr less than 2 days after it launched. It was a shame because i think Photoshelter’s photographer friendly community vibe sits well with Flickr’s users.
I have a Photoshelter account but haven’t taken the time to upload more than a dozen or so pictures because it’s such a time consuming process titling, captioning, keywording and uploading each image.
If the Flickr/Getty alliance means little to no extra work for a photographer it’ll be a compelling proposition.