May 21st, 2013

Forget Tumblr: Yahoo! Has Big Plans for Flickr

Like most of the media world, I assumed yesterday’s Yahoo! press event in New York City’s Times Square would be about the company’s purchase of the blogging site Tumblr. Imagine my surprise when it was actually an announcement about the redesign of the photo-sharing site Flickr, which Yahoo! purchased in 2005. In hindsight, the event’s decor should’ve given it away:

Flickr-Yahoo-Press-Event-NYC

© Meghan Ahearn

After New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg finished speaking, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer got down to business, announcing that one of her goals has been to make Flickr “awesome again.” Yahoo! SVP of mobile and emerging products Adam Cahan took over to highlight the three changes Yahoo! has made: offering one terabyte of free storage for every user; launching a new Flickr user interface that focuses on the photos; and launching a new user interface for Android-powered devices (Flickr already relaunched new UIs for iOS and PC systems).

In a world where things are usually discussed in megabytes and gigabytes, a terabyte is unique—and Cahan said as much. He equated that amount of storage to uploading over 500,000 photos at full resolution (which is how all Flickr photos will now be displayed). But it got me thinking: If everyone gets a free terabyte, what do Flickr Pro users get? The answer is: Nothing—because Flickr Pro accounts don’t exist anymore. Previously, Flickr Pro users paid for a number of special features, including unlimited photo and video uploads. The free terabyte does away with the need to purchase more storage, and the other perks are folded into the regular accounts.

So how does Flickr plan on making money? A little digging around on the site showed there are three account options for users to choose from: Free; Ad Free at $49.99 per year, which offers the same services as Free but without the ads; and Doublr at $499.99 per year, which is the same as Ad Free except users get two terabytes of storage. This suggests the plan is to make money by selling advertising, which is already being displayed on the Flickr site.

At the press event, Flickr’s Head of Product Markus Spiering went over some of the site’s new features including the revamped photo stream, improved slide show functionality and the new background color for the images (black). He seemed most focused on the new social aspects of Flickr, highlighting how easy it is to share Flickr images on various social-networking sites, and encouraging brands and institutions to create Flickr accounts. Is the ultimate goal to make Flickr some kind of hybrid between Facebook and Tumblr? It certainly seems that way, especially with functionality like People in Photos, which allows users to tag friends and family in their photos.

A day later, now that everyone’s had a chance to poke around the site, the new user interface appears to be what Flickr users have the most beef with. Cahan and Mayer touted the fact that the redesign does away with the negative white space, text boxes and blue links, and displays all images at their full resolution. After we posted the redesign news on Twitter and Facebook last night, a couple of PDN’s followers commented that they didn’t like the new interface. Those comments pale in comparison to the pages and pages of comments on the Flickr help page, which complain about everything from the new background color to the images being displayed at such a large size, it’s hard to navigate the site.

But complaining goes hand-in-hand with redesigns. I’m more curious to see what Yahoo!’s next step is because it’s almost as if they’ve just realized they have a treasure trove of imagery at their fingertips. Take for instance, the new Yahoo! Weather mobile app. The background of the app displays a Flickr image that matches the app user’s location, time of day and current weather condition. So, for example, if you access the Yahoo! Weather app in Brooklyn, New York, on a rainy morning, the image displayed will show you a photo of a rainy New York City morning, previously taken by a Flickr user. To help populate the app with images, Flickr created Project Weather, asking users to submit their own images to be displayed on the app.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning of seeing Flickr images everywhere you see the purple Yahoo! logo.

January 4th, 2013

Rep. Nancy Pelosi Defends Doctoring of Press Release Photo

Photo Courtesy Nancy Pelosi/via Flickr

Photo Courtesy Nancy Pelosi/via Flickr

© Cliff Owen/AP

© Cliff Owen/AP

 

The hand-out photo that the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave to the press yesterday featured all 61 female representatives of the newly sworn in 113th Congress. The problem was: Four of the representatives shown in the photo came late to the photo-op, and were Photoshopped into the photo after the fact. According to Poynter, the doctored photo was uploaded to Flickr and also emailed to news outlets with a note from a spokesperson in Pelosi’s office that said, “Please note this version has the four Members who were late photo-shopped [sic] in.”  The four late arrivals were dropped into the back row of the group photo.

The AP released an undoctored photo of the scene, without the four missing representatives. It was shot by Cliff Owen.

At a press conference yesterday, Minority Leader Pelosi defended the release of a Photoshopped photo. ABC News reports that she said the representatives who posed for the photo were too cold to wait for the latecomers.

“It was an accurate historical record of who the Democratic women of Congress are,” Pelosi said. “It also is an accurate record that it was freezing cold and our members had been waiting a long time for everyone to arrive and … had to get back into the building to greet constituents, family members, to get ready to go to the floor. It wasn’t like they had the rest of the day to stand there.”

Questions linger about this photo doctoring incident, however. Questions like: Why does any news outlet still run hand-out photos, especially when there’s a wire service photographer on the scene? And: Should we trust members of Congress who don’t have the sense to wear coats when they go outside in Washington in January?

May 4th, 2012

New Pinterest Credit Feature Does Little to Protect Pinterest Users

Several days ago, Pinterest announced a new feature that automatically credits and links back to content that Pinterest users re-post from Vimeo, YouTube, Behance and Flickr. The announcement was part of Pinterest’s campaign to counter perceptions that copyright infringement is part of its corporate DNA. But the announcement amounted to little more than window dressing, and could give Pinterest users a false sense of security.

Pinterest, as we pointed out in a recent story, puts all the liability for infringement squarely in the lap of its users. The service enables those users to “pin” content from anywhere on the web onto a virtual bulletin board. Average users don’t realize that what Pinterest encourages them to do–copy and re-publish digital content without permission–is a copyright violation. Not surprisingly, Pinterest doesn’t go out of its way to make that clear to its users.

The automatic credits and link-backs to Vimeo, YouTube, Behance and Flickr don’t give users any added protection. For one thing, content owners post videos and photos to those four sites expecting–no, encouraging–others to share their content. In other words, most people who use YouTube, etc. would sooner thank Pinterest users for re-posting (“pinning”) their digital files than sue them for infringement.

A real accomplishment on Pinterest’s part would be to add a feature that automatically credits and links back to every item re-posted by a Pinterest user. That might satisfy content owners who don’t mind others re-posting their photos, etc. as long as they credit the owners. And it might help people who object to having their content used without permission discover the unauthorized uses and put a stop to it: They could send a take-down notice to Pinterest, and demand payment from the Pinterest user who violated their copyright.

That would be bad for Pinterest’s business, of course. But Pinterest risks little by its very limited credit/link feature, which could ultimately hurt Pinterest users by sending them a dangerous message: that it’s OK to “pin” content without permission as long as you give the copyright owner credit.

That isn’t the case, as any copyright lawyer will tell you. Copyright law says you can’t re-publish a work without permission from the copyright holder. Giving the owner credit is no substitute for permission. Pinterest still has much work to inform its users of their legal risks, and help those users protect themselves.

Related:
Copyright Watch: The Liability-Proof World of Pinterest