Getty Expands Flickr Image Sourcing

Getty Images, which has been licensing a selected collection of Flickr images since March 2009, has opened its licensing doors to the Flickr masses.

Flickr members can now "opt in" to a program that makes their images available for licensing through Getty. That doesn't mean Getty will promote the work of every Flickr member who opts in, though. Instead, the agency will simply handle the licensing transaction whenever an image user clicks on a "Request to License" link next to the images of a participating Flickr member.

"Customers have been coming to us asking about [Flickr] imagery that we would never invite into the collection. An example would be an image of an obscure travel location that isn't the most genius picture," says Erin Sullivan, Getty's director of content development. "And some Flickr members get tired of people asking to use their images for free, which happens quite a bit. So this program addresses both sides of that equation."

Flickr members who opt into the program have to make all or none of their images available for licensing through Getty; they can't just make selected images available.

When a user requests a license for an available image, Getty determines a price based upon the usage parameters. The Flickr contributor then accepts or declines the deal. If they accept, they receive 30 percent of rights managed sales, and 20 percent of royalty-free sales. (Getty doesn't offer images from the Flickr collection as microstock.)

Previously, Flickr members were able to make their images available for licensing through Getty only by invitation from the agency, after Getty editors reviewed and approved the Flickr member's work. Getty licenses those selected photos as either RM or RF images through its Flickr Collection, which now contains more than 100,000 images.

Sullivan says Flickr accounts for "a decent percentage" of Getty's stock photo library, but professional photographers are still its primary source of images, especially for business images and other subjects that require extensive production.  "Flickr is a good source for subjects like travel and food, but it's never going to be a place where you get everything you need for a library," he says.

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