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Getty To Sell Stock Photography Through Flickr

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Yahoo! Inc. – Getty Images and Flickr Announce Exclusive Partnership to Offer New Collection of Creative Imagery Getty Images and Yahoo today announced a partnership which will allow Getty Images to begin marketing select images that Flickr users upload online.Getty to Offer Flickr Images for Sale

"We are excited and proud to be partnering with Flickr to offer our customers even more choice for their projects. Our customers will be able to select and use the best imagery from a fresh collection of high-quality images chosen by us from Flickr’s diverse and prolific community," said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images. "Flickr is the ideal partner as we continue to move the imagery industry forward by offering the broadest range of high quality digital content to our customers."

Getty Images CEO, Jonathan Klein
Getty Images CEO Jonathan Klein

Although the press release issued on the new joint venture doesn’t spell out many of the details of the program, an article over at CNET provides more information as does an article over at the Seattlepi.

According to CNET, photographers interested in participating in the new Flickr collection will "have to simply wait to be contacted."

The Seattlepi reports that, "Flickr users will be able to declare whether they want their images considered for commercial use. Klein said Getty’s customers will likely prefer scenic or creative images, not those of news events." the Seattlepi adds:

"Flickr users, many of whom are amateurs, will be paid in the same manner as professionals if their images are used commercially. Getty customers usually pay between $29 and $200,000 for an image, depending on how freely they may use it. Photographers receive 30 percent to 40 percent of the licensing fee if the customer’s rights to use the image are limited in scope or time, or 20 percent if the image may be used with fewer restrictions."

Personally I think that this partnership is a very promising development, but I’m reserving judgment on its merits until I see more how the deal will actually play out.

What surprises me most about this deal is that in the past Getty has seemed to make a very strong distinction between their "Pro" quality Getty Images photographs, which represents their bread and butter business, vs. "amateur" images which have largely been pushed towards their microstock offering iStockphoto.

iStockphoto sells images for much less than Getty’s traditional stock photography business, typically marketing images at $1, $3 and $5 per image.

It would appear that with this new offering, Getty is going to treat at least some of Flickr’s images as they would their own "Pro" photographer imagery. My own expectation would be that current Getty "Pros" are probably none too happy about having a new horde of "amateurs" jointing their ranks and competing with their own image sales.

At the same point there is simply no denying the quality of imagery that many of these so called amateurs are posting to Flickr, nor the breadth of photography that has been accumulated, organized and ranked.

It will be interesting to see how Getty balances out this conflict and whether or not their new "Flickr Collection" will receive the same marketing emphasis as their own Pro photography collection.

Earlier this year in February when I published an article about what a Microsoft buyout of Yahoo might mean for photography, I mentioned that with Microsoft as the new owner of Flickr that they could possibly use the relationship with Bill Gates 100% owned Corbis, Getty’s largest competitor, to build a stock component to Flickr.

Although this relationship will probably not be significant from an economic standpoint in the short term for either Yahoo or Getty, it is hugely important from a strategic standpoint.

At present, in Flickr, Yahoo owns the largest organized and ranked collection of imagery in the world. By opening up access to much of this collection, Getty stands to dramatically improve image search for their buyers. Whether or not those buyers buy Flickr images or other Getty images this partnership should still create a far more meaningful stock search experience on Getty vs. #2 Corbis and other competitors.

Although Getty’s payout to Pros in the 20-40% range may seem low, with Getty’s marketing muscle in this space and their ability to correctly price imagery at the Pro level this may represent a lucrative new source of income for many Flickr photographers.

The big question though is how seriously Getty will market this collection.

On a personal level I’m very interested in participating in this new partnership and will be blogging about it much more in the future.

More information from the New York Times here. There is also an interview with Getty’s Jonathan Klein and Flickr Chief Kakul Srivastava here.

Flickr has an FAQ up on the new program here as well as a topic on the subject in their help forum here. According to Flickr Community Manager Heather Champ, today’s partnership announcement really is just an announcement that Flickr and Getty have "started dating," with more information coming out, "as we move forward with the development of the platform, etc."

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