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Getty to snap up Flickr users' pics

The logos of Flickr and Getty Images

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Alright, all you amateur photographers out there listen up, because this one's for you and it might eventually mean a couple of bucks in your pocket.

The popular photo-sharing website Flickr has made a deal with Getty Images. Getty's going to be able to go on Flickr, find pictures it likes and thinks it can sell and then start paying photographers for their work.

Jeremy Hobson has more.


Jeremy Hobson: Getty makes almost $900 million a year distributing photos to companies like ad agencies and media outlets. CEO Jonathan Klein says the Flickr deal helps Getty tap into the next generation of talented photographers.

Jonathan Klein: We have a partnership with a very strong brand which has a tremendous amount of traffic where our customers are already playing and looking for images but they cannot license them.

About 27 million members share their photos on Flickr and 54 million visitors stop by to see them every month.

Now, Klein says, not all the members are going to get a Getty contract.

Klein: From a quality perspective, I would say it's varied. There are two billion images.

Now Getty won't buy individual images. It'll put willing photographers on contract.

Flickr's General Manager Kakul Srivastava says Getty offers Flickr users credibility in the commercial photography world.

Kakul Srivastava: The premium sort of traditional licensing models that are generally associated with professional photography.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Brian Smith thinks the deal could stop a freefall of photo prices industry-wide.

Brian Smith: There has been a big push in the industry for lower and lower and lower and I think with Getty's knowledge of the industry, hopefully photographers that contribute to Flickr can get what their work is worth.

Getty says that'll likely be between 250 and 500 bucks a photo.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.
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It is always the photographers that get the rough end of any of these deals...trust me! History has shown this to be the case time after time.

I've just been reading the Ed Greenberg stuff over on the pro-imaging.org site and am horrified! BTW what an eye opener their campaign on Photo Competitions is. What with the Orphan Works bill what photographer needs enemies?

Regards

Richard

To those who are complaining about photographers are about to be screwed over because of the Flickr deal and Orphan legislation, take your work off these public sites and lock it in safe box so no one the steal it. And if you don't think you are getting a fair deal with Getty, your other option is setup your own store and set your own deals.

I think if someone wants to take a picture of your work and sell it, they'll do it anyway and this happens all the time--nothing new. Brand-name products are being knocked off with cheaper versions all the time.

I work in the creative field and believe the Flickr deal is positive because it gives many amateurs a chance to profit their hard work. Also i'm tired of paying ridiculously high price for photos i need to used for my creative projects.

I exhibit my artwork at a variety of shows. Often images of my work appears on Flickr with a note like, "I went to this show and liked this one." While many do add my name to the work, many times I find it without any attribution. While I'm generally fine with someone displaying my work with my name, learning that the Getty could lure a photographer to sell such an image gives me cause for concern on a number of levels. Add to this the pending Orphan Works legislation. If you're not familiar with it, visit the Orphan Works Opposition Headquarters website at owoh.org. It explains how this legislation can, if passed, further hurt our economy by putting many working in art and creative fields out of a livelihood. Interestingly enough, it's the Getty that is putting big dollars behind the legislation. Why? Because many of the images on Flickr (such an an image of my artwork without a mention that I made the work) could be considered orphans with little effort. Ripe for the picking. A couple bucks in the pockets of photographers? Maybe. But it's far more likely this will result in incredible profit making for both the Getty and Flickr (And what about Flickr currently stripping metadata from resized images? That's a whole other can of worms.)

I am almost always pleased with the reporting done by Marketplace. However; this was a completely one-sided account of the story. It does not discuss the current practices of meta-data stripping by Flickr nor the huge implications this will have to the artistic community.
I hope to hear a follow up story in the next few days addressing the artists' rights and issues.

Marketplace, as a long time listener and struggling freelance photographer I am extremely disappointed that you've presented this Getty/Flickr piece in such a one-sided manner.

It's comes off as mere "spin" for Getty. The fact of the matter is that Stock Photo Agencies are making it harder and harder for freelance photographers to survive - period. Most especially for those of us who specialize in concert coverage. 9 out of 10 of my colleagues are barley making ends meet - earning pennies on the dollar from agencies such as Getty.

Please redeem yourself and do a follow-up piece with interviews from those of us in the trenches.

~ Hali

• Your child’s picture winds up on the cover of a pornographic DVD.
• A snapshot of your dog appears on billboards and buses nationwide.
• A photo of yourself is used to endorse a cigarette brand.
And there is practically nothing you can do to stop it.

These scenarios could be a reality if the pending “Orphan Works” legislation is enacted.

Remember how Napster shook music industry giants with a barrage of infringements in 2002? The same thing is about to happen with visual works if the bills on the “rocket docket” are not stopped. The law that protects you may be turned on its head.

The copyright reform bills S. 2913 in the Senate and H.R. 5889 in the House of Representatives, if enacted, would effectively allow anyone to steal copyrighted works for any purpose without fear of penalty. They strip legal protections from creators and other copyright holders.

Any image, including the photos your child shares on Facebook and Flickr, would be fair game, too. Unscrupulous profiteers will rest assured there will be little chance they’d be prosecuted. They would find stealing your intellectual property; pictures, artwork and photography a lucrative business model.

How can this be? The proposed bills would strip theft deterrents from current copyright law, which passively protects everyone including artists and photographers. Without the ability to receive appropriate compensation or recoup damages for an infringement, most people just could not afford to pursue such a case.

Industry leaders along with a coalition of over 60 renowned associations support maintaining current copyright laws and protections as the Senate secretly “hotlines” the deceiving bill, avoiding public debate, with hopes of swift passage this week.

If the deceptive bills, sympathetically entitled, “Orphan Works”, pass in Congress, countless small businesses would be devastated – with a force like that of hurricane Katrina. Departing from the current free and passive copyright protection all Americans enjoy, these bills require all private creative work in the world to be registered at the copyright holder’s expense, with countless, yet-to-be-created, visual recognition databases to be operated by as yet unnamed corporate entities. Those creative works not “found” in the databases would be considered legal “orphans” and free for anyone to exploit.

If the “Orphan Works Acts” are enacted and you don’t pay and register those photos your child posted on the Internet, someone else can claim them as “orphans” and use them to make a buck. In fact, others could claim ownership to them and register them for themselves and there would be little you could do except drive to every adult entertainment shop in town and snap up those DVDs with you child’s photo on them.

Having to pay, register and submit each work and all its derivatives one has ever or will ever create is- in effect- an additional tax and inordinate burden on artists, photographers, and anyone else who wants to protect their intellectual property.

To learn more about the bills or join the coalition to preserve the copyright laws under attack by this critical bill that affects us all go to illustratorspartnership(dot)org and owoh (dot) org.

Listen up amateurs, don't believe all this stuff about Getty/Flickr being good for you.

If you want to understand how stock agencies operate you need to read Ed Greenbergs Newsletters, they are very easy to find on the net. Ed Greenberg is a highly regarded attorney who has defended photographers from the practices of the corporate world for long long years.

Go read his stuff and be enlightened. Please realise that agencies are NOT your friend, they are their shareholders friends, that where the loyalty lies, a photographer is just a disposable commodity.

Gordon C Harrison

>…the deal could stop a freefall of photo prices industry-wide.

Please, Jeremy. I don't go along with this puff piece for Getty. Getty makes plenty, yet cuts its commissions to pro photographers. They contribute to the down trend in pricing with Royalty Free license models, which this deal will certainly be. What they will pay to Flickr photographers will be peanuts compared to what they'll make over the life of the images. The Flickr people will only be their innocent victims.

What you don't know is that Getty is one of the parties behind the recent Orphan Works legislation before Congress that, if passed, will make a lot of those Flickr images "orphaned" and liable for Getty or Corbis to harvest them for nothing, then package them as Royalty Free. Really. Please see <http://owoh.org/>. OWOH is a coalition of artists and professional image makers about to lose their livelihoods because of this legislation.

Please give us time to air our side of the story.

Don Schaefer
<http://www.pro-imaging.org/>

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