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I've given permission for some of my photos to be used by others and wouldn't mind selling images to people who should be paying. However, I have some big concerns over the Getty / Flickr development.

I think the main one is that the aims of Flickr (basically creating a community of people who love photography and want to share it with others) seem to be completely at odds with the aims of Getty (to become the dominant leader in stock imagery). Flickr's own terms and conditions state that use should be non-commercial:
"Don’t use Flickr for commercial purposes. Flickr is for personal use only. If we find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your account."

Flickr have allowed one company exclusive access to Flickr photographers on a commercial basis, which feels to me like an attempt to dominate a market. Of course, this is now a done deal between Flickr and Getty, but my suspicion is that Getty will be the clear winner. I'm sure that many photographers will gladly sign over commercial rights to their photos and, of course, it's very flattering to be invited to contribute to what is the acknowledged front runner in stock photography, but there are others operating in this field with different and often better terms.

When this was announced back in July I found this from the Photoshelter blog:
Photoshelter is an alternative stock licensing company, so they obviously have an interest, but their article provides an alternative view from the other side of the Getty/Flickr tie-up.

Perhaps if Getty ask about any of my photos I'll take that as an endorsement and then offer them to a company I feel more comfortable with!


It is a difficult one to give a comprehensive answer to. By giving away your photos for free to a company you are effectively putting photographers out of business. This is an issue with music, photography, writing, etc etc... Essentially a big company is making money out of your work.

Harlan Ellison has a good rant about this issue (ironically posted on youtube). Appologies about his use of colourful language.


However, there are times when it is a good thing to give free stuff. A charity asked me if they could use one of my images to promote environmental awareness. My answer was yes - if you send me a copy of the publication.

One of the complaints Jon made recently at ASBO Jesus was that the church doesn't support the arts in the same way as it used to in previous centuries. This isn't just the church, it is across the board. Essentially we are getting to a situation where it is hard to find money for that from any direction. As a guitarist I see record companies unwilling to fund recording artists as there is now a dwindling market for CD's (where the funding comes from). That results in the lowest common denominator being used. You have five mins of studio time, use them wisely. Gone are the heady days of big advances and Axl Rose spending 15 years in the studio. Now we have the talent show and the karaoke track of a 60's hit.

I seem to be rambling. One last thing, the internet and reduced cost of equipment is helping keep things alive through amateurs (did you not mention this last week?). For a relatively small outlay you can buy a DSL and snap away without fear of film processing. You can buy protools and set up a home recording studio. These were the preserve of professionals and now we have access to the equipment. The question is, can we use it? What if we (they, you, me, one) don't have time to become... enigmatic (?).... I'm thinking Hendrix... because we have to pay the bills. What would our future day Mozart or Martin Parr be doing? Call Centre?

Wow that really was a ramble...


i've seen a couple of my flickr images used in on-line newspaper / blog articles, and i had been tickled by it rather than bothered, as they're only snaps and they have been correctly attributed to me.

i opted to use it because, in regard to my images on flickr i don't have an ego, i don't really value them, and am thus happy for people to use them.

but it seems i should be giving it another thought, robb's point about it taking business away from professional photographers is one that i hadn't really considered when i chose to use a creative commons license. and perhaps i should.


No one has ever asked for my pictures, but I ask people all the time if we can use a shot of theirs in church (projection/banners/printed materials/in a web design.) No one has ever said no - even professional and semi-pros. (I think in this era of easy web theivery, they are excited that someone cared enough to ask.)


An interesting question. We have a whole booklet based on Thomas Hawks' photos at SGM Lifewords, and as far as I know he didn't charge us anything for that.

In some ways flickr and the cheap stock sites have undermined professionals. But, as someone who has to source a lot of photos, there's absolutely no question that professional stuff is better. Two minutes on the Reuters page and you realise why the photographers there can charge £300 a photo.

For myself, since I use free stock, I give my own photos away free in return. I use the stock exchange, sxc.hu

steve collins

i agree with thomas hawk on this one. some stuff i've given away and some i've been paid for. BUT i only ever license for single use because i don't want to lose control over the use of most of my images [especially the church photos which were taken on trust that they would be appropriately used]. i was recently approached on flickr by a company who wanted stock use of some of my norway photos. i declined, because the stuff is too personal to be used as commercial decoration [let alone lose ownership of].

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