Flickr Apologizes For Selling User Photos

Chris CrumBusiness

Share this Post

A few weeks ago, Yahoo's Flickr angered some photographers by selling their work for profit, which it would not share with them. The complaints started, and eventually it became a news story, which gained national attention courtesy of The Wall Street Journal. Now, the company is saying it's sorry, and is changing its plans.

Did you follow this story when it first started? Do you think Yahoo/Flickr was within its rights to do what it was doing? Do you think angry photographers have overreacted, or did Yahoo cross the line? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The company launched Flickr Wall Art, enabling users to turn their personal photostreams as well as over 50 million “freely-licensed Creative Commons images and order hand-selected collections from Flickr’s licensed artists" into prints. Well, some who had photos available under Creative Commons didn't expect their content to be used in this way.

Yahoo appears to have been within the confines of the law, but still, users felt like they were being taken advantage of. Here are some of the comments we received from readers:

Another desperate ploy to make money...

It's bull ... This is exploitation at its finest. Now now Yahoo, trying to gain market share with a stunt like this - I foresee a big drop is flickr photo sharing site ... Pinterest should really ride this wave...

Typical short-sighted big business. How much richer would your photo library be if people had incentive to store their photos there? They could even advertise for the themes they wanted and get thousands if not millions of entries.But if consumers don't walk, or sue, then they will march on . . . I see an emerging business coming out of this debacle.

As one pointed out, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has made comments in the past that didn't sit too well with photographers. She was once quoted as saying, "There's no such thing as Flickr Pro, because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing, really, as a professional photographer."

Either way, Flickr has now apologized, and announced that it's no longer offering these Creative Commons photos through the service. Flickr VP Bernardo Hernandez writes:

We’re sorry we let some of you down.

About a month ago, we introduced Flickr Wall Art to allow our members to order printed photos on wood or canvas. Over the past few weeks, we’ve received a lot of feedback from the community and beyond — while some expressed their excitement about the new photography marketplace and the value it would bring, many felt that including Creative Commons-licensed work in this service wasn’t within the spirit of the Commons and our sharing community.

We hear and understand your concerns, and we always want to ensure that we’re acting within the spirit with which the community has contributed. Given the varied reactions, as a first step, we’ve decided to remove the pool of Creative Commons-licensed images from Flickr Wall Art, effective immediately. We’ll also be refunding all sales of Creative Commons-licensed images made to date through this service.

Flickr says it will be working closely with Creative Commons on programs that "align better" with its community values.

Meanwhile, Flickr will continue to make its Wall Art service available, utilizing personal photostreams and licensed artists from the Flickr Marketplace.

Was this right move from Yahoo? Do you think photographers were rightly upset about what the company did? Share your thoughts.

Image via Flickr

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.