Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Getty and Flickr.. a Heavenly Match. Or Not.

Tuesday: It was announced that Getty Images has entered a partnership with Flickr in a deal to license pictures from its members. There have been rumors for a while, and I have heard of some stock agents contacting individual Flickr folks about licensing. The ones I knew where pretty fair deals and within the parameters of stock licensing fees.
Techcrunch says:
"Flickr members will likely try to do anything they can to become a part of the program, which stands to offer them both wide exposure and compensation for their work. Unfortunately, there’s currently no way for a Flickr member to apply to become a part of the program - they need to be “discovered” by Getty’s editors. It’s also hard to tell how lucrative the deals will be for photographers, as Getty has yet to form any partnerships." Read the comments... That's where the action is.
A Photo Editor has a short post, but the comments are worth noting.
C-Net checks in:
"In order to get paid and allow their images to be used, Flickr members must sign a Getty Images contributor contract, which stipulates that the photographer is the owner, and has any necessary model releases and originals. It also outlines the various rates based on size and intended commercial usage.

Those rates, not yet available, are likely to follow some of Getty's standard rates. As part of the deal, the only transaction is being shared directly between the photographer and Getty, meaning Yahoo will not be getting a share of that fee. According to Yahoo's rep, "Getty and Flickr have a separate business relationship.""

I was wondering how this "agreement" might work since Flickr doesn't actually, you know, OWN the images. It has no ability to enter into any agreement on my behalf... none at all. Well, others have noticed this as well. Check out "Thoughts of a Bohemian" for his take on all of this.

EDIT: Link to "Thoughts of a Bohemian" is fixed.

EDIT: Photoshelter has some thoughts:

"Klein stated in a Seattle Times piece that the deal "for us is not significant, but it's strategically extremely important." Flickr GM Kakul Srivastava corroborated this by saying, "From our perspective, on the Flickr side, we're not expecting this will be a huge stream of monetization for our members...The relationship, in the licensing piece, is purely between the photographer - the Flickr member - and Getty Images itself."

So, if it's not really about making money, what is it about? Why would the market leader (which is now held by a private equity firm whose sole goal is to make money) strike a deal in such a public fashion if they didn't intend for it to make money? Why would flickr consent to not taking a transaction fee? What is of such "strategic importance" to Klein?

The answer is in Getty's historical moves. It's about locking out competition from the industry to ensure a continued, virtual monopoly. Getty pays flickr for an "exclusive" deal to be their preferred stock content distributor because they are threatened by an open platform like PhotoShelter. Consider that if PhotoShelter succeeds, not only does Getty lose market share, but they invariably will have to give back more of the profits to photographers because they will need to compete for content."

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