Nick Starr’s FlickrLicio.us Banned From Flickr

NickStarr.com : Nick Starr dot com � Flickr doesn’t believe in Web 2.0: Wow. I’ve only heard Nick Starr’s version of this story but it would appear that, according to him, Flickr has blocked his site FlickrLicio.us. FlickrLiciou.us was Starr’s site (which I’m sure was using a hell of a lot of bandwidth) which focused on presenting women he found on Flickr. Starr would basically hotlink to images of hot women on Flickr and created an aggregated photo album of sorts.

According to Starr, “(FlickrLicio.us) operates on the basis that Flickr “makes it possible to post images hosted on Flickr to outside websites. This use is accepted (and even encouraged!). However, pages on other websites which display images hosted on flickr.com must provide a link back to Flickr from each photo to its photo page on Flickr.” – Per the Flickr TOS.

The nature of the site is and shouldn’t be the matter at hand. The site operates under full compliance of the Flickr TOS. I have personally emailed with Butterfield and Heather Champ about the site. Heather asked me to remove any posts that contain links back to the pictures hosted on Flickr if the owner of the photo asks me to do so.

I and the current owner, have complied with every single request that has come in to remove a post that someone requests be removed. “

Starr goes on to claim that he is being selectively targeted in having his site banned by Flickr:

“How about sites that do EXACTLY the same thing as FlickrLicio.us? Wouldn’t Flickr want to block them from displaying pictures as well? They aren’t though. WHY FLICKRLICIO.US?

For evidence of this check FlickrBabes, FlickrChicks, and ChicksnBreasts. They all still have photos displayed on their sites. They provide the same service as FlickrLicio.us does, but have not mastered the precision and are not covering a scope as wide as FlickrLicio.us is. “

Further, Starr claims that Flickr management will not reply to his requests for an explanation.

“The owner of the site has sent emails to Stewart and Heather as well as Caterina Fake (VP Marketing & Community at Ludicorp) addressing the concerns it has. There has not been any reply to a single piece of communication.”

These are some pretty serious allegations and I find it hard to believe that we have all of the facts at present. I’m going to email this link to some of the folks at Flickr and see if we can get more clarification on the matter at hand.

A couple of thoughts come to mind. 1. Perhaps Flickr is worried that women who show up on Starr’s site will sue them (they can’t always control who posts photos of who) or 2. Perhaps they (or their corporate owners Yahoo!) just find the objectification of women itself distasteful and choose to be arbitrary in this case. Whatever the case I’d like to hear an explanation for myself on this one.

Update: Stewart Butterfield from Flickr responds:
Hi Nick – I was going to comment on the Flickrlicious site, but I didn’t see any way to leave comments there.

I’m not sure what any of this has to do with social networking (??) or Web 2.0: it’s pretty simple. In two parts:

(1) Flicklicious is a business. Flickr isn’t around to serve businesses, but people – we’re quite upfront about the “for personal use” thing.

(2) Each Flickrlicious page served ~2-4MB of photos from Flickr. It’s also a popular site. That adds up to gigs and gigs and gigs of transfer a month. Good for Flickrlicious since it saves on bandwidth (and hosting) costs. But it’s bad for Flickr and is an abuse of a system designed to help people get their photos out onto the rest of the web, and not lock them up in Flickr.

To be perfectly honest, we definitely don’t like the T&A; or XXX angles and we don’t want it associated with the Flickr brand, but that is definitely not the issue. The same thing would happen to an ad-based site serving Flickr photos about horses or sailboats or boogers.

Carry on!

Update #2: It would appear this morning that perhaps Starr is not being selectively targeted here. FlickrBabes is also showing a message this morning saying that they also can no longer hotlink images from Flickr.

Update #3: According to Ben Barren, who has a rather detailed pro Nick Starr post out on the subject at hand, Nick Starr has agreed to pull all advertising off of FlickrLicio.us in order to better classify as a non-business site per Stewart’s concerns above.

Nick has also agreed to work with Flickr to better manage the bandwidth problems.

Per Nick Starr: “This is a general announcement for everyone following the current Flickr / FlickrLicio.us issue. As of 1pm EST today, FlickrLicio.us and ALL of its subdomains will be 100% ad free. Flickr inserts ads in their site for non-paying members. They are making money off of YOUR pictures.. The site is and will never be a commercial venture, simply a person blogging content they find on Flickr to be visually appealing. It is just like ANY weblog.. This covers Stewart’s issue 1: Flicklicious is a business. (2) Each Flickrlicious page served ~2-4MB of photos from Flickr. This can be easily solved. Simply tell me specifically how many pictures maximum you want on the main page. Currently there were 32. What is an acceptable number? FlickrLicio.us would even be willing to cache the photos on its own server, using FlickrLicio.us’ bandwidth for hosting of the photos; however there is the issue of copyright that would come into play. If you know of a solution to this the site can COMPLETELY operate free of Flickr bandwidth.”

Update #4: ChicksnBreasts seems to have been shut down as well. From the ChicksNBreasts blog: “I’m not sure why none of the pictures are showing up, but I think it has something to do with this. If flickr is really trying to shut down chicksnbreasts, it won’t work. This site has been too much fun to just let die. Stay tuned…”

Update #5: It looks like all three, FlickrLicio.us, ChicksNBreasts and Flickrbabes are all back live again.

Update #6: Stewart Butterfield left the following note on Nick Starr’s blog: “Glad it worked out and sorry how it happened. One last thing: it’d be nice if you could remove everyone’s email addresses from the first thread — will save years of additional spam crud.”

Whew! Who needs soap operas when you’ve got all this drama!

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7 Comments

  1. This really sucks for both Starr and his audience. I can see if there was something in the TOS that said: Flickr reserves the right to remove content posted by its members on the site or off….

    With “reserve the right” being the key. I can also see how a high-profile site using specific content from Flickr could bring/attach negative association with the host service. It’s a catch-22, really. Flickr is growing by leaps and bounds and will most likely come across more unexpected uses of its service that they haven’t planned for.

  2. I just looked over the TOS. It does have a “reserve the right” statement right in the General Conditions.

    ——————
    General Conditions
    * We reserve the right to modify or terminate the Flickr.com service for any reason, without notice at any time.
    * We reserve the right to alter these Terms of Use at any time. If the alterations constitute a material change to the Terms of Use, we will notify you via Flickr’s internal messaging service (‘FlickrMail’) or via internet mail according to the preference expressed on your account. What constitutes a “material change” will be determined at our sole discretion, in good faith and using common sense and reasonable judgement.
    ——————

    Now my position has changed. Nick should have known that his little gold mine could potentially come to a close at any time. Moreover, I have no doubt that Flickr will go after those other copy-cat sites if they deem them to be inappropriate.

  3. Discfree.com says:

    Nick Starr was nothing but a two-bit pornographer, who was using Yahoo’s resources for his own gain. Innovative yes, but he had to know that the party wouldn’t last.

  4. stewart says:

    I posted this on Nick Starr’s blog:

    Hi Nick – I was going to comment on the Flickrlicious site, but I didn’t see any way to leave comments there.

    I’m not sure what any of this has to do with social networking (??) or Web 2.0: it’s pretty simple. In two parts:

    (1) Flicklicious is a business. Flickr isn’t around to serve businesses, but people – we’re quite upfront about the “for personal use” thing.

    (2) Each Flickrlicious page served ~2-4MB of photos from Flickr. It’s also a popular site. That adds up to gigs and gigs and gigs of transfer a month. Good for Flickrlicious since it saves on bandwidth (and hosting) costs. But it’s bad for Flickr and is an abuse of a system designed to help people get their photos out onto the rest of the web, and not lock them up in Flickr.

    To be perfectly honest, we definitely don’t like the T&A; or XXX angles and we don’t want it associated with the Flickr brand, but that is definitely not the issue. The same thing would happen to an ad-based site serving Flickr photos about horses or sailboats or boogers.

    Carry on!

  5. Shawn Oster says:

    *Yawn*

    You can view it from a “they are targeting us because we show boobs” angle and get all chest-thumpy over it or you can understand that it’s something that grew out of people that wanted to make it easy to share their cool photos with family and friends and not necessarily to become yet another outlet for people to scrounge some T&A.;

    What makes anyone think they have a *right* to post whatever they want or link to whatever they want on flickr? Personally if I was the flickr peeps I’d write into their TOS, “we can do whatever we want” and not be apologetic about it. Oh wait, they do, “we reserve the right to” pretty much says suck it up.

    I love breasts, I love hot women,I have a suicidegirls.com subscription but if flickr wants to stop giving boob-ooglers a free bandwidth ride I’m all for it.

    If flickr gets too much T&A; filtering then some idiot journalist will pick it up, sensationalize it, it’ll get into the mainstream gestalt and when I tell my grandma to go checkout my mom’s 50th birthday party pics she’ll tell me how her friends heard from their kids that flickr was basically a pr0n site and she won’t go there.

    There are so many better outlets to get great pictures of lovely ladies than to siphon off from flickr. As many pro/am photographers that use flickr there are a ton more people just putting up their vacation/wedding/party pictures and I think that is the idea and image flickr wants to stay with, the personal, *approachable*, easy to use, safe space.

  6. I think apologizing after action has already been taken (which seemed to justified IMHO) sets a bad precedent. Furthermore, I completely agree with Shawn’s statement:

    “What makes anyone think they have a *right* to post whatever they want or link to whatever they want on flickr? Personally if I was the flickr peeps I’d write into their TOS, “we can do whatever we want” and not be apologetic about it.”

    I recently dealt with a similar situation, and it just lead to more of the same problems.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “What makes anyone think they have a *right* to post whatever they want or link to whatever they want on flickr?”

    Posting whatever they want – Becuase people pay to use the service and as long as the content isn’t illegal then there should be no problem. Some people don’t find boobs offensive and some people find lame ass family photos offensive.

    Linking whatever they want – there will certainly be people who abuse the system, and I can understand badwidth leeches being pruned.