Flickr’s Major Upgrades

    April 9, 2008

Flickr launched their widely rumored video service today. Videos are limited to 90 seconds in length and 150 MB in size. Only Pro members can upload videos. The video above is one of the first videos on the service from Heather Champ’s photostream. More information from the Flickr Blog here.

The 90 second limit is an interesting one and will likely keep a lot of copyrighted material off of the site. When even a basic music video is over 90 seconds, it will be hard for anyone to really put any majorly infringing material on the site. This would be consistent with Flickr trying to create a more "authentic" video experience than users might find on YouTube or other video sites where more copyrighted non-original material shows up.

Interestingly it seems that Flickr plans to censor the video experience to only include "safe" or "moderate" videos. So far their rules for video seem pretty simple:

"1. Only “safe” and “moderate” video content is permitted. Your “beautiful wife” should not be moving. (Read more about content filters.)

2. Only upload videos you have created yourself."

Videos can be embeded into web pages (as the video above shows by example).

I do think that it is interesting that Flickr seems initially to have chosen not to allow filtering of the video experience. Personally I’m worried that a bunch of crap videos will clutter up my Flickr experience. I was hoping that Flickr might have built an option to allow users to opt out of the video experience. Instead it looks like video will be everywhere that photos are on Flickr without giving users an option to filter out or screen out video from their Flickr experience. I’m surprised that Flickr would not include filtering tools to opt out of the experience with this offering.

Most of the initial comments on the video service from existing Flickr users seem to be negative, especially given the decision to not allow filtering of video from the Flickr experience.

From ozoni11:
"Video is not why I am on flickr. I hope it becomes a very small niche. Don’t get me wrong…I like a good video and often go to YouTube to see one. Just sorry flickr has made this decision."

From discoe: "Why would I ever want video on Flickr? :-( "

From cathycracks: "what made flickr successful was the community of photographers and the photos. not the second youtube."

From AustinTX: "Well, I have been wanting to cut down on the number of contacts I have, any that upload video will be on the list to go. Count me as a naysayer, obviously."

From Patchattack: "absolutely against this. i chose flickr only because it was a photo-only site. i was looking for a photo forum. still photography and crappy 90-second videos are 2 completely different things. and bandwidth? is the entire site painfully slow tonight because of this?"

You can read more comments from the Flickr Help Forum thread on the service here.

A group dedicated to Flickr Video, Video, Video, Video, has already sprouted up where you can view some of the earliest video uploaded to Flickr here.

Although I’m personally not so interested in 90 second videos, Flickr also doubled the sizes that they allow for uploaded photographs on the site. Free accounts will now be able to upload 10MB files, Pro accounts will now be able to upload 20MB files. This is a welcome improvement as many higher-end digital SLRs produce file sizes larger than 10MB.

Another change made by Flickr today has to do with groups. Flickr marks many of the groups or forums on the site as adult only. These groups are NIPSA’d (not in public search areas). In the past these groups were more limited to groups that Flickr or other users flagged as offensive or restricted. Many groups are marked "adult only." For instance, one of the groups where I participate Delete Me Uncensored is marked as adult only. (Go ahead click through, unless you’re already a member you will see what I’m talking about).

Today Flickr changed the way that groups on the site are administered. In the past only groups that Flickr labeled as "restricted" would be NIPSA’d. Now groups that allow not only "restricted," but even "moderate" content will be marked adult only. I think that this is a bad idea. It’s one thing to mark blatantly sexual groups as "adult only." But marking groups with merely "moderate" content as adult only is overkill. It’s like saying that you have to be 18 not only to see an X or R rated film, but that you now have to be 18 to even see PG or PG13 films.

More on this change here.

More from TechCrunch here. More from Mashable here. More from CNET here.

What do you think? Are you happy with video on Flickr or would you rather do without it?