Busy week for Stock photography behemoth Getty Images. After opening up half of its images to free embedding, making a partnership with EyeEm, they have now announce that they are terminating their deal with Flickr.

What does this mean ? On an individual level, photographers from Flickr who have images on Getty will continue to be represented by Getty according to their agreement. However, Getty will not continue to mine Flickr for new photos or photographers.  Instead, they recommend Flickr users to pick up the free app Moment and try to get accepted like any other photographers. More info via Getty here .

However, the real story is the separation of these two companies after 5 years of collaboration. If you do not remember the story, here it is . Flickr, already acquired by Yahoo but still under the management of its founders,  Stewart Butterfield and  Caterina Fake, were looking into the possibility of opening up the huge Flickr collection to users who wished to license their images. They even had a mock-up as well as a name, Flickr Stock.  By doing so, and assuming a wide adoption rate by Flickr users, it would have been the biggest stock photo marketplace, overnight.

Flickr stock
The Flickr that never seen the light of day…yet

But Getty images stepped in. Probably challenged by the possible sudden competition and probably also convinced they could do a better job ( after all, they had an established client base), they made a deal with Yahoo to be the exclusive representative of Flickr users. Anyone  with a Flickr account could submit images to Getty for review and acceptance in their database, while Getty editors would mine and contact Flick users whose work was deemed of market value. Flickr Stock was killed and Flickr collection was created within the Getty Image vast offering.

The commission structure offered to Flickr photographers was much lower than for traditional photographer ( probably because Yahoo was also taking a cut) which created discontent very early on .  As the years went by and prices of stock images continue to drop, discontent increased, supported by very visible and vocal users like Thomas Hawk.

Which bring us to today. The collaboration is over. Probably because revenue were dropping for everyone involved for various reasons:  Flickr no longer attracts as many talented photographers and photographs ( mostly because its not as attractive as Instagram), image prices are tumbling.  Image stealing is rampant and Creative Commons is very successful.   Time to call it quits.

However, this could also signal that Marissa Meyer has plans to revive Flickr Stock in some fashion. Or that Yahoo has plans to monetize users content via embeddable images with advertising ( sounds familiar ?) Either way, this announcement kept very quiet will certainly open the doors to some very interesting new venture by Yahoo in the photography space. Stay tuned

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur and Managing Director of Melcher System, a consultancy for visual technology firms. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo-based companies with already two successful exits.

1 Comment

  1. The commission structure for Getty/Flickr was not “much lower”. The only reduction was in sales to the country where you live for RM only, where you got 25% less. All other global sales, and RF, the same. The impact on the bottom line might be 0-10% less.

    I get net returns of $25 per picture per year with Getty/Flickr (now Getty/Moment). Would love to know the average net returns at Stocksy, which is where Thomas Hawk urged everyone to go. We don’t know, because they’ve been very quiet about the money side. Yes, they give you 50%, but is it 50% of very little? Probably, because Stocksy’s stated aim was to undercut existing high end RF prices, another race to the bottom from the starter of iStock.

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