Flickr and Getty Images Launch Their Flickr Stock Photography Collection
Earlier this morning Flickr and Getty Images announced the launch of their new joint stock photography offering called “The Flickr Collection.”
“We are thrilled to provide our customers with this ground-breaking collection,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and chief executive officer of Getty Images. “We are impressed with the talent from the Flickr community, and are proud to once again lead our industry in this exciting new direction. We are eager to hear what our customers think, and look forward to their input in shaping this ever-expanding collection.”
I haven’t had a good chance yet to try out the new service but thought I’d offer some of my thoughts on the service here. I just received an invitation from Getty Images to participate in the collection on 95 of my photos, but only yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance yet to either decide what to do or sign up for the service.
My first observation about the new service is that I’m surprised at how limited it is. Out of the billions of images available on Flickr, as of this 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 Photo Summit by Joseph Jean Rolland Dube, iStockphoto’s VP for Content Development. iStockphoto is 100% owned by Getty Images. Dube told us at that time that the collection would initially launch with about 2,500 images. That number was later disputed by Getty’s Bridgett Russell who said that the service would be launching with “tens of thousands of images.” “You have in fact been given an incorrect number,” said Russell last year. “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.”
I contacted Russell this morning about the difference between the 4,000+ images on the site this morning vs. the tens of thousands number reported last year and got the following answer back from her:
“Today, we have more than 10,000 images accepted into the Flickr Collection. Several thousand are available on gettyimages.com today – as you noted – and within the next two weeks, all of them will be available. We are just finishing up some final processing. As a “living” collection, we’ll also be adding thousands of new images each month and Getty Images’ editors will continue to invite Flickr members to participate. “
Although the number of Flickr photographers invited into this program has not been made public at this point, the private “contributor only” group at Flickr currently shows 6,890 members. This is a group that you get invited to when you accept their agreement.
Doing a couple of quick searches, at least as of this morning, in the new Flickr collection you will find some reasonably popular search subjects somewhat sparse. For the search “San Francisco,” the new collection only brings up only 60 flickr images for sale. Another search for kitten (something Flickr of course is famous for) only brings up nine images for sale. One the positive side, it does appear that some of the Flickr images for sale have made their way to first page search results for broader image search requests across all Getty images collections. A search for the term “San Francisco” across all Getty collections shows nine Flickr photos on the first page of 67 pages available for sale. I’m pleased to see that Flickr photos seem to be getting good placement across Getty’s overall search engine.
I suspect that I will probably end up licensing at least some of the 95 photos that Getty has selected of mine to be included in this offering — if for no other reason than to try the service out and see how it goes.
The thing that I like about this offering is that Getty Images, as the world’s largest stock photography agency, has amazing reach. Although I’ve sold lots of stock photos myself, I wonder how much better of a job Getty could do selling them than I can. I also think it’s interesting that as part of the contract with Getty that they also will go after copyright infringement settlements for you on the images that they represent.
What I don’t like as much though is the payout split between the photographer and Getty images. At present the payout grid looks like this:
Rights Managed / Rights Ready Still Images and Footage: 30 percent
Royalty Free Footage: 25 percent
Royalty Free Still Images: 20 percent
I also don’t like the fact that by signing up for the service are committing to a two-year contract with Getty Images. During that two year contract Getty has the exclusive rights to market the images that you offer through them. So, for example, if you have an image that is not selling through Getty and say a magazine wants to buy it for $500 you can’t sell it to them. Of course you could always point them to Getty to buy it, but you would not be able to offer it.
Another issue with this offering is that Getty requires all images included to be registered as “all rights reserved,” even though it would seem that a Creative Commons non-commercial license ought to be sufficient. Ben Metcalfe started a lengthy thread discussion on this issue that you can read more about here. Flickr user Striatic also has a lengthy thread on problems that he has with the Getty contract here. Another interesting conversation (with 94 comments) about the Getty offerings is taking place on one of John Curley’s photos “team getty?” over here.
You can read the official Flickr FAQ on the new offering here. Getty has an FAQ for contributors here. Getty images has a blog post up on the new offering this morning here. There is a private members only group for Getty Images contributors on Flickr here.
Additional reading: USA Today: Online photo services can give shutterbug lucrative outlet. ZD Net: Getty Images, Flickr launch licensing, distribution deal. CNET: Selected Flickr images now sold through Getty.