Recently on CNN, Stewart Butterfield, founder of Flickr, was asked why Flickr doesn’t license rights to its pictures like iStockphoto.
Butterfield answered, “That’s something we haven’t actually started yet but we’ve spent a long time thinking about it. Everyday we see people buying photos from Flickr users, and it’s a very complicated, difficult and frustrating process for both sides. It’s something we’ll be looking at more closely and probably doing some stuff in the next year.”
So will Flickr do it? They would have to develop a system to let users opt in or out as far as participation is concerned. Many might choose not to participate, but a significant number would. Any price is better than nothing so pricing is not an issue and photographers have little to lose.
Flickr might need to develop a system to edit the offering to get rid of a lot of the images and raise the overall quality of those available for purchase, but that would still leave them with plenty of saleable images. Consider a subject area like “China”. Getty has 14,891 images, iStock has 11,156 and Flickr has 1,236,884. If they only retained one out of every hundred images they would probably still have a very powerful offering.
They would have to offer the images as non-released and make the buyer liable if the image was used in a way that required a release. But there are many images where there is nothing to release (a city skyline or nature scene), and lots of potential uses where releases are not required.
If Flickr adds significantly to the available user-generated content, what will that do to the market?
[tags]jim pickerell, Flickr, stock photography[/tags]