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Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer Is Making No Friends In Pro Photography

Posted By William Snyder On June 3, 2013 @ 8:00 am In Business of Photography,Photojournalism | 14 Comments

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Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer said something that was insensitive to some and downright insulting to many.

“There’s no such thing as Flickr pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers. And then there’s everything that is professional photographers – certainly there’s varying levels of skill – but we didn’t want to have a Flickr pro because we wanted everyone to have professional quality photo space and sharing.”

Obviously, she and her crew feel that if everyone has a “professional-level” camera then everyone is a professional. That’s sort of like saying that because I can afford an expensive, computerized keyboard, then I’m a professional musician. Ridiculous!

What It Means to be Photo Pro

To her credit, she did acknowledge that there are “varying levels of skill.” Let’s examine a couple of those “levels of skill.”

  • Make great photos on demand, day in and day out.
  • The knowledge, preparedness and willingness to run towards danger and make story-telling images as John Tlumacki did at the Boston Marathon bombing [2] instead of fleeing like the “citizen journalists” armed with “professional” cameras.
  • Find the perfect image that captures the human drama in a horrible disaster like Sue Ogrocki did at the Moore, Okla., tornado [3].
  • Do all of this under severe deadline pressure and in unfamiliar territory.

And If you want to see what “varying level of skills” look like side by side, check out the original “God Made A Farmer” [4] video versus the professionally produced one [5].

Ms. Mayer and her minions made several disingenuous attempts at praising photographers and photography during the press event. For example; “Photos make the world go ‘round” and “We wanted to bring about a photo-centric world!” But, when you compare what they said to what actually happens on their websites, it’s apparent that calling no one – and everyone – a professional photographer is a focused strategy that serves their bottom line.

Yahoo! Wants All Your Images

The most revealing statement came from Ms. Meyer, “We want ALL of your images in full resolution.”

Adam Cahan, SVP, Mobile and Emerging Products, Yahoo!, said, “We’ve actually brought those photographs into so many different experiences at Yahoo!… So throughout, we always are looking for ways to expose the creators who are giving us those images all around Yahoo! in all these different products.” (The emphasis is mine.)

Notice the language. It’s very friendly and beneficent but what they’re really saying is, “Hey, we want you to post these fantastic, full-resolution photos so we can use ‘em free of charge in all of our products! We’ll give you exposure instead of money!”

It’s All Detailed in the User Agreement

So, how can they do that? It’s right there in the Terms of Service/User Agreements.

This links to the complete User Agreement for Tumblr [6], but here are the pertinent parts:

When you transfer Subscriber Content to Tumblr through the Services, you give Tumblr a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable right and license to use, host, store, cache, reproduce, publish, display (publicly or otherwise), perform (publicly or otherwise), distribute, transmit, modify, adapt (including, without limitation, in order to conform it to the requirements of any networks, devices, services, or media through which the Services are available), and create derivative works of (including, without limitation, by Reblogging, as defined below), such Subscriber Content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating the Services in accordance with their functionality, improving the Services, and allowing Tumblr to develop new Services.

In addition to giving Tumblr the right to do whatever they want with your photos, this also allows them to transfer those rights to the mother ship – Yahoo! – so they can use them however they want in their “Yahoo Services” – which is everything they do – apps, websites, news services, etc.

Below are the pertinent sections of Flickr’s TOS – which also happen to be Yahoo!’s [7]:

…with respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services, you grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable:

…With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available…(Emphasis mine)

What About Copyrights and Embedded Info?

So, now you’ve turned over your photos to Yahoo! so they can use them free of charge with any of their products/properties. What happens then? What about your copyright? What about your IPTC information? Do they stay with your photos?

“We obviously respect copyright,” said Mayer. “When you look at the user-generated sites, like Tumblr and like Flickr, part of this is that people are creating on the platform and their copyright needs to be respected.”

Markus Spiering, Head of Product for Flickr, quickly followed Mayer, “…we care a lot about attribution…at Flickr we always think about how to attribute our users (and) how we can make sure that the work they post onto the Internet is always attributed.”

Perhaps, but actions speak louder than words, as you will see.

One-Click Downloads Make Theft Too Easy

One of the “cool” aspects of the new, high-resolution Flickr is the ability to upload your images with a single click. They also have one-click for downloads along with an option to turn off download entirely.

However, a casual look at the Flickr “More Popular Photos” on the front page of Yahoo! shows that a small but significant percentage of those photographers did not disable the “download” option. What happens when someone downloads those images? According to this study [8], after downloading the image, if you look at the Exif and IPTC info, you’ll find that “…’by’ was (overwritten), (and) all embedded metadata stripped-off from image files”! Definitely not a good way to “make sure that the work they post onto the Internet is always attributed”!

Tumblr is a little better about this. In my quick tests on a student’s blog, the IPTC and Exif info remained when I downloaded an image. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The Logical Conclusion: Your Photos Are Yahoo’s Photos

So, let’s follow this to its logical conclusion; Yahoo! steals one of your images and uses it on one of their products, free of charge – Oh! Excuse me! I mean, “expose(s) the creators who are giving us those images all around Yahoo!, in all these different products.” And if there’s caption/credit info stored in the photo, it will be displayed when you roll over it – and that’s good.

Except for one little thing.

I conducted a test and went through multiple pages on the Yahoo! site. I found that I could easily download any images, including wire services photos. Some images downloaded in web res, some in higher res. But, when I looked for the Exif and IPTC info, poof!, it was gone – even from the wire service photos!

No payment. No info. No attribution. No copyright. Untraceable.

The definition of “professional” in Merriam-Webster reads in part:

“…characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession… participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs…”

So, when you consider the real definition of “professional,” it’s easy to understand why Marissa Mayer would like the public to believe there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers.  

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14 Comments (Open | Close)

14 Comments To "Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer Is Making No Friends In Pro Photography"

#1 Comment By Bill On June 3, 2013 @ 10:22 am

Youre quite a few weeks late to this story. You also failed to provide her updated quote.

Don't use yahoo if you don't like it. Stop trying to use Yahoo to increase hit counts.

#2 Comment By Will On June 3, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

“There’s no such thing as Flickr pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers. And then there’s everything that is professional photographers – certainly there’s varying levels of skill – but we didn’t want to have a Flickr pro because we wanted everyone to have professional quality photo space and sharing.”

What's the difference between Marissa Mayer and this statement of hers? Answer: The statement has already been milked for all it's worth. Also: She already said she was sorry and she didn't mean it like it was interpreted (I.e. taken out of context) *weeks* ago. Beating a dead horse like that isn't good style in my book.

#3 Comment By Eric Hintzsche On June 3, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

Sounds like Marissa Mayer needs to be throat punched.

#4 Comment By GoCatGo On June 3, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

Not only are you late to the story as Bill and Will have said … and failed to include her more recent clarifications … you also misinterpret the licensing agreements (which is pretty much the same as any other social or photo-sharing platform).

"The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating the Services in accordance with their functionality, improving the Services, and allowing Tumblr to develop new Services."

This language limits the use of your photos to what would be required to let the system function … e.g., reblogging. Without the licensing terms as outlined, these services couldn't function.

#5 Comment By Ellen Fisch On June 3, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

So glad you brought this up! Now I'm going to call my clients and tell them that I'm going to use my iphone instead of shlepping around 20 ++ pounds of equipment. You know, just like other professional "photographers." And, I may well post my clients' commissioned work on the Internet in hopes that someone else will pay/notice me again as well, before it gets ripped off @ 300 dpi. After all, what am I working 80+ hour weeks for: time to relax a little after decades of hard work!! LOL! In my opinion, a professional is someone with superior skills who gets out there and does the job regardless of the amount of work or difficulty of the work: EVERY DAY. Of course EVERYONE can be a professional by some standards. Some people think that all that is required to be a professional photographer is a mouth that says they are.

#6 Comment By Christina Lannen On June 4, 2013 @ 9:24 am

Her apology is lame simply because a CEO doesn't give an unrehearsed speech. She needs to fire her speech writer(s).

All creatives should be posting photos only to their own self-hosted website.

#7 Comment By William On June 4, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

Folks,

Read the whole thing, folks.

I wasn't beating a dead horse. This is about far more than her "accidental" slip of the tongue and her soft apology. This is about what they said versus what they do, plain and simple.

In the light of what just happened at the Chicago Sun-Times under the guise of "no more professional photographers", it's important to talk about ALL the issues surrounding her little slip of the tongue.

In short, our work as photographers continues to be "devalued" by the very people who want and "love" our visual storytelling abilities - but they just don't want to pay for it. That's what this piece is about - not just her slip of the tongue or "taken out of context".

#8 Comment By Viktor Nagornyy On June 4, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

It's not a surprise how Yahoo sees content creation, be it photography, video or articles. Yahoo News is considered by many a legitimate news source, contributors to Yahoo Voices can label their articles as news and they can be pushed out to Yahoo News as legitimate news articles - no fact-checking, no proofreading. If editor deems it newsworthy, they'll push it out as is and writer will make money on it. People will consume it as news

Yahoo has no concept of professional vs amateur, and her initial remarks clearly indicate that. Yahoo's actions and services speak for themselves.

Mayer knew what she said, she just didn't expect professional world to have a backbone to speak up and point out her BS.

#9 Comment By Gary Parker On June 4, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

The only thing to do if you use these services is to embed your copyright visibly within the image. Let's face it - thieves will always steal. I accept that as a fact of putting imagery online. Placing your website name & copyright within the image may at least help keep honest folks honest. I hated doing this at first since it messes with image integrity but at least honest folks know who to contact to license a photograph.

PS: got a call for a big ad shoot yesterday - one with a decent budget. Glad the ad agency didn't hear there are no longer any pros out here.

Gary Parker

#10 Comment By Larry Graff On June 4, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

Flickr Pro is a $29.99/annual upgrade to increase your account's storage limit. More storage allows more sets (galleries) at higher resolution.

I have an account because I administer a group whose purpose involves encouraging download and use of our images (and videos) to help publicize our cause. With this new TOS, I will not post anymore personal images to Flickr. And our leadership will seek other, more targeted and ethical platform for our images.

#11 Comment By Dave On June 4, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

yeah, an iphone and yahoo are all that us "pro's" need. Let the phones useless apps worry about making the photos look good...

#12 Comment By Will On June 5, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

Christina Lannen said:
"Her apology is lame simply because a CEO doesn't give an unrehearsed speech. She needs to fire her speech writer(s)."

Please check your facts before hating into the internet: That statement was NOT part of her speech, but rather came up during the casual Q&A afterwards in the context of the old Flickr pro accounts. These days there is no difference between pros and amateurs anymore in regard to required storage space, since *everyone* uploads tons of images nowadays. Hence, there is no need for the distinction between pro and non-pro anymore and everyone gets near-unlimited space.

#13 Comment By David Pimborough On June 10, 2013 @ 9:38 am

You only have to look at Marissa Mayer's flickr page to realise

A. She's no photographer
B. Doesn't care about photography

I abandoned Flickr after one too many image thefts and the couldn't give a stuff attitude from Flickr.

Also find Flickr photos grabbed by Tumblrites then modified and reposted without a by your leave, or posted in one of the many Tumblr porn feeds.

I'll never go back to flickr.

#14 Comment By Kevin On July 2, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

I think it may be time for pros to migrate away from Yahoo and its platforms. One tip I give every up and coming photographer " when someone offers you the letting us use you or your images for free will bring you great publicity and tons of work speak" IT IS TIME TO RUN

Just my opinion I say pros revolt and leave flickr behind with tumblr


Article printed from Black Star Rising: http://rising.blackstar.com

URL to article: http://rising.blackstar.com/yahoo-ceo-marissa-mayer-is-making-no-friends-in-pro-photography.html

URLs in this post:

[1] Tweet: https://twitter.com/share

[2] Boston Marathon bombing: http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/17/us/gallery/john-tlumacki

[3] Moore, Okla., tornado: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/05/20/weather/photos-oklahoma-tornado#3

[4] God Made A Farmer”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuzhwkaNC40

[5] professionally produced one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE

[6] Tumblr: http://www.tumblr.com/policy/en/terms_of_service

[7] Yahoo!’s: http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html

[8] study: http://www.embeddedmetadata.org/social-media-test-results.php

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