1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Flickr Teaming with Getty – Good for Copyright Holders?

Yesterday, Flickr announced a new program available to its users – licensing through Getty Images.  Through the program, users can add a “Request to License” link next to their photos.  Viewers who click this link are put in contact with Getty Images.  Getty licenses the photo to the viewer on behalf of the Flickr user and transfers payment from the viewer to the Flickr user.

At first glance, this program may seem like a really good opportunity for photographers.  But Flickr users interested in the Getty program need to think carefully before jumping on board. 

Getty Images is a large, professional, photo clearing house that has been in business for a long, long time.  Although working with Flickr is a foray into the future, Getty is still an institution based on old business models.  This means a lot a lot of legal gymnastics for anyone wishing to participate, as a photographer or a licensee.

You can check out the FAQ section for more information on model license requirements, the 2-year exclusive contract required for the program and other program details.

Beneficial?

As one Getty program user and supporter comments,

“The effort is not minimal. Gathering model releases, unloading full size images, doing any post processing required, filling in photo details, having to book the shot date in about three different places, uploading model releases seperately [sic] for every photo even if you have the same release for 5 photos from one shoot.”

With all this work required to submit photos, plus the restrictions of a two-year long exclusive contract that prohibits anyone other than Getty Images from licensing your submitted photos and photos similar to your submitted photos – yes that includes even you – is there really any benefit to participating?

After all, there really isn’t a need for a third-party intermediary for licensing photos on Flickr.  Every photographer can easily be contacted via Flickr Mail.  Why should it be necessary to ask a third-party for permission when you can already ask the copyright holder directly?  Additionally, many photographers have already granted licenses to use their photos, without the need to contact anyone.

The most apparent benefit, currently, appears to be the vetting.  Photos admitted to the Getty program are thoroughly reviewed by Getty Images and approved for admission to the program.  Knowing that the vetting is already done might make some photo users feel better about the search process for the right image.  However, Flickr has a strong community that can also serve as a vetting process based on how many views, uses and comments a photo receives.

In the end, the program seems to be more of a way for Getty to increase the number of photographers in its pool than to really help copyright owners with licensing.  But perhaps this judgment is coming too early.

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