Disgust With Yahoo’s Use of Flickr Photos Without Compensation Of Artists Or Even Permission

Every Story Has A Moral
Every Story Has A Moral.

I’m surprised by the tone-deaf procedure here. Yahoo is pissing off a lot of their content providers. Part of the problem though is that not everyone understands the nuances of Creative Commons.

But she’s not happy about a recent move by Yahoo Inc., Flickr’s owner, to make canvas prints from the photos she and others post to the site, sell them for up to $49 apiece and keep all of the profits.

“It ticked me off that somebody else is selling them when I was giving them away,” said Ms. West, a retired writer in Boxborough, Mass., who goes by “Muffet” on Flickr.

Ms. West is among millions of contributors to the Creative Commons, an online repository of images and writings that their creators allow others to reuse and repurpose, free, under certain conditions. Artists can specify, for example, whether their works can be used for commercial purposes and ensure they receive credit in any derivative work.

(click here to continue reading Fight Over Yahoo’s Use of Flickr Photos – WSJ.)

Yahoo should add getting explicit permission from the artist to this new policy. Yahoo should also share some of the revenue with the artists, even if it was a small amount. If they did those two things, I’d be more supportive. 

There Is Nothing Really To Turn Off
There Is Nothing Really To Turn Off.

For me, this is why I almost always upload photos with a watermark, and resize my photos so they are less than one MB in size. I doubt very much if my low-res jpeg files would be acceptable enough quality when printed, but I’ve never tried, so I could be wrong. 

I also agree with Nelson Lourenço 1,000,000 percent: I don’t mind my photo being used to illustrate blog posts or even news articles, in fact I like it, provided proper credit is given; however, selling prints of my work without sharing the proceeds sounds like exploitation to me. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Yahoo’s plan to sell the images appears “a little shortsighted,” said Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, who left the company in 2008. “It’s hard to imagine the revenue from selling the prints will cover the cost of lost goodwill.”

The Wall Street Journal contacted 14 photographers with Creative Commons-licensed works on Flickr. Eight said they didn’t object to Yahoo’s move and are happy to get additional exposure for their work. “Any amateur photographer would love to have his or her photos hanging on walls around the world,” Andreas Overland, a Flickr user in Oslo, Norway, said in an email.

Six others objected to the company profiting from their works.

“When I accepted the Creative Commons license, I understood that my images could be used for things like showing up in articles or other works where they could be showed to public,” Nelson Lourenço, a photographer in Lisbon, Portugal, said in an email. Yahoo “selling my work and getting the full money out of it came as a surprise,” he said.

(click here to continue reading Fight Over Yahoo’s Use of Flickr Photos – WSJ.)

It isn’t that hard to change your Creative Commons license but again, you’ll have to first do a little research into what the terms mean, as Yahoo doesn’t explain the differences well enough for casual photographers.

Site of the Doctors' Commons
Site of the Doctors’ Commons

Update, of course Thomas Hawk beat me it, writing:

I think it’s important that each photographer fully understand how the license that they are using with their photos online works. It is first and foremost the photographer’s responsibility to understand licensing. Creative Commons is a wonderful and liberal way to share your photos. It’s not for everyone though. You choose how your photos are licensed on Flickr though. By default Flickr licenses images “all rights reserved,” the most restrictive license available. So only photographers who have gone in and changed their license to a more liberal license would be affected by this.

I license my images Creative Commons Non-Commercial. This is one of several variations of the Creative Commons license. This means that people can use my images for personal use or non-profit organizations can use them, but folks like Yahoo/Flickr and others can’t sell them commercially without my permission.

If you are going to license your photos Creative Commons with no restriction, then you ought to be prepared for this type of use. If it’s not Flickr selling them, anyone else can, legally. If you are uncomfortable with this idea, then you should not use Creative Commons without any sort of restriction. If you like the idea of Creative Commons but are uncomfortable with commercial use without being compensated, then consider changing your license to Creative Commons Non-Commercial like I license mine.

I think a lot of people though don’t consider the full implications of the license that they choose and like Stewart I wonder if the revenue is worth potential lost goodwill in this case. Some people will inevitably be put off when they see that the community (and Flickr is as much a community as a company) that is hosting their photos for them is now selling them without sharing the profit or asking for permission. Reminding people to read the fine print of their photo license that they chose without really considering it thoughtfully might not be the best answer to that complaint. People on Flickr LOVE to complain about anything and everything.

(click here to continue reading Thomas Hawk Digital Connection » Blog Archive » The Controversy Around Flickr Selling Creative Commons Licensed Photos.)

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