Friday, 11 July 2008

Getty to sell images from Flickr

Earlier this week, it was announced that Getty was going to sell photos from Flickr.  From the reports, it seems that the Flickr photos will form part of a new portfolio which will be in the macrostock pricing area.  It has been ruled out that these will be sold through iStock or be sold at microstock prices.

Commission is to be standard commissions rates for Getty photographers which is apparently between 20 and 40% depending on the type of licence etc.

The scheme is to be by invitation and from what I understand, it is on a photo by photo basis, not a photographer by photographer basis.  Many have said that this is going to be an issue because of jealousy at Flickr and it may change the community feel there. 

I see it as a problem but for another reason.  This is based on my experience at iStock.  They want large photos of high quality and if required are model released.

At Flickr, people don’t always upload their largest size as most photos aren’t even viewed as full screen size let alone 100%.

Quality may be as high if not better than iStock but I don’t see an easy way form them to check unlike the the iStock approval process (I will leave them to figure out the technology to do this, but a photo with 100+ faves may actually have noise at 100% or have a sensor spots or a persons face in the background). 

This brings me to my last point which is this new portfolio wont have people shots.  Flickr is a community site so photographers will upload photos of people – however, they wont get model releases for them as they have no current need to.  And since this is an invite only scheme, you are not going to go to the hassle of getting model releases, removing noise etc if the chance of your photo being noticed and invited in is small.

The real benefit in this scheme is for Getty.  If they have buyers for a type of photo, but don't have that type of photo, they will search Flickr on the buyers behalf and then take a 60%-80% commission for selling it where as currently, the buyer doesn’t find it on Getty so goes to Flickr and buys it direct from the photographer.

For more commentary from difference perspectives see:

Lee Torens (microstock photographer) here

Thomas Hawk (Flickr power users) here and here

PDN Pulse (photography news) here

Techcrunch (Tech news) here

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