Flickr Getty Licensing Deal, Code Named “Project Populace” UPDATED, to Launch With Tens of Thousands of Images in the Coming Months

Flickr Getty Deal to Be Limited to 2,500 Images at Launch
iStockphoto’s Lise Gagne and iStockphoto VP for Content Development, Joseph Jean Rolland Dube.

See important update below.

I’m presently at the Microstock Pro Photo Summit in Redmond. Lise Gagne, one of the top iStockphoto sellers as well as an artistic director for iStockphoto just finished speaking. Joseph Jean Rolland Dube, iStockphoto’s VP for Content Development is also on stage.

I asked Gagne and Dube to provide some color on the upcoming Flickr/Getty deal. iStockphoto is a 100% Getty owned business.

According to Dube, the Flickr deal had been in the works for a while before yesterday’s announcement. At Getty the deal was code named “Project Populace.” Dube said that in it’s initial launch the Flickr collection at Getty will only include 2,500 images hand selected by Getty Editors — a tiny fraction of the images available at Flickr or for sale at Getty Images.

“The goal from Getty images perspective is to come up with a singularly different collection that is fresh, completely different, handpicked from the corpus of Flickr,” said Dube. “These images will have nothing to do with traditional stock photography or microstock.”

Given that, at least initially, this Getty Collection will only include 2,500 images I seriously wonder how meaningful or significant an effort this will be. It would seem to me that 2,500 images would hardly represent a meaningful economic effort to Getty, Yahoo or the photographers involved. It also makes me wonder how the community at Flickr might react to this deal. With likely far more photographers at Flickr interested than might be room at the inn for, I would suspect that many Flickr photographers who are not selected for this program might feel slighted at not being included. Even if the initiative only included a single image from 2,500 Flickr photographers, I’d think that there would still be many unsatisfied and very talented Flickr photographers left out in the cold.

On Getty’s website they claim that they serve up over 3.2 billion thumbnail images per month. 2,500 would seem to me to be a mere drop in the bucket in terms of what the company offers.

After his presentation, I asked Dube if and when Getty’s Flickr collection might be extended beyond 2,500 images and he would not comment. Dube would say that one of the big reasons for choosing Getty for the deal was that iStockphoto is one of the best companies in the world at clearing images.

JIm Pickerell, who runs the site “Selling Stock” and publishes a stock industry newsletter also shared the stage with Gagne and Dube. Pickerell expressed concern that Getty might not want to spend the money or time editing Flickr’s large collection and also suggested that existing Getty Pros would probably not like the Flickr deal because they have already been seeing declining sales and this would likely only create more competition for their images.

Of course if Getty did not seriously allow very many Flickr images into their collection or gave them less than equal marketing footing this might not represent much of a threat to Getty Pros at all.

Update: I just received a clarification email from Bridget Russell at Getty Images. According to Russell, the 2,500 photos at launch number that was presented today by Dube is not in fact correct.

From Russell: “You have in fact been given an incorrect number. We intend to launch our Flickr collection in the coming months with tens of thousands of images, with thousands more added to the collection each month.”

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6 Comments

  1. PXLated says:

    My impression – I’ve been on Fortune 500 projects where we’ve looked at 10,000 images for one project with a full-time librarian just to log/sort and keep track of them all – bought 500 – is they will be very discerning. They will look for “photographs” that they feel buyers with budget will be interested in. They will probably not be interested in “pictures”. Unlike most web businesses, they have a long established business model (profitable). They sell quality, not quantity.

  2. David Paul Ohmer says:

    “The goal from Getty images perspective is to come up with a singularly different collection that is fresh, completely different, handpicked from the corpus of Flickr,” said Dube. “These images will have nothing to do with traditional stock photography or microstock.”

    The above statement to me sounds like Getty is trying to find the new artistic, photographic style that the world is waiting for. I think Getty is betting that no one person will do this, but a collection of photographs from Flickr will. With some slick marketing they might pull it off.

    On the other hand the millions of great photos by Flickr photographers won’t make it because Getty would consider them too “stock”. Some photos like a picture of a smiling baby never grow old.

  3. Anonymous says:

    ‘…We intend to launch our Flickr collection in the coming months with tens of thousands of images, with thousands more added to the collection each month…’

    The comment from Ms. Russell is quite interesting. Gettys editors are barely able to edit ‘ten of thousands’ of additional images. So who is going to do this job? Maybe the ‘inspectors’ at iStock? This smells like a Microstock project with an agenda not yet disclosed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    On a separate, much lighter note, Dude’s hair is CRAZY.

    – fireinthesky

  5. Project Populace is not a good project name, it should be Project Money. lol.

  6. […] morning’s launch it would appear that Getty is only offering 4,284 flickr images for sale. Back in July of last year I reported on the collection based on comments made at the Microsoft Pro P… iStockphoto is 100% owned by Getty Images. Dube told us at that time that the collection would […]