Flickr Rolls Out A New Commercial Licensing Program To Compete With 500px And Others

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Yahoo-owned photo-sharing and storage site Flickr announced this morning the rollout of a new licensing program aimed at the service’s members who are looking to have their work discovered, featured on prominent news sites, including Yahoo’s own properties, as well as generate additional income through commercial licensing. Some photographers may receive a message from Flickr’s curators via Flickr Mail inviting them to the program, while others can sign up to to be considered.

Flickr describes the program as a new way for photographers to “partner with photo agencies, editors, bloggers and other creative minds who are seeking original content.” On the accompanying Flickr marketplace website, Flickr lists media brands like The New York Times, Reuters, Gizmodo, Monocle, and BBC among the partners, as well as Getty Images.

However, we’re hearing that Flickr’s relationship with Getty is strained because of this program, as essentially Flickr has pulled in-house what Getty used to do for them.

In addition, Yahoo says it will also look for ways to help showcase these photos on its own properties, including Yahoo News and Travel, plus Tumblr. And there may be opportunities for connecting photographers with original photo assignments, promises this morning’s announcement, but further details were not provided. [Update: Yahoo says that current opportunities here include its work with the San Francisco 49ers and Live Nation.]

The blog post points to a page on Flickr’s website at flickr.com/marketplace, which today only offering sparse information about the new program. However, the “Marketplace” site could hint at a larger vision ahead for Flickr, which could be looking for a way to better compete with other photo sites catering to the semi-pro and professional photographer crowd.

To be clear, Flickr has always offered tools that allow photographers to designate how their work is to licensed, as with its Creative Commons program. But this new program now sees Flickr becoming more actively involved with those focused on the commercial photography market.

The move comes at a time when a number photography and stock photo sites are making changes of their own to tap into the the growing audience of photographers who are looking to share their work online and have the opportunities find them, instead of the other way around. In more recent months, for example, Fotolia launched Dollar Photo Club to target the microstock photo market, and Getty rolled out updates to its iOS apps, including iStock, to better compete on mobile.

Meanwhile, 500px has been establishing itself as a go-to destination for professionals looking to host online portfolios and commercially license their work. In February, the site launched its own commercial licensing program called 500px Prime, which promised not to join “the race to the bottom” with licensing fees that start at $250 and go up, with 70% of the proceeds going directly to the photographer.

Adds 500px CPO (Chief Photography Officer) Evgeny Tchebotarev, “what’s more, 500px Prime is the only photo stock platform that gives buyers demographic tools, such as ability to target search to photos that appeal to men or women or to different continents and countries.”

It’s unclear what sort of licensing fees will be provided with Yahoo’s new program, or if that will be up to the individual photographer to negotiate. [Update: Yahoo tells us that the payment structure will depend on a number of factors, including the type of license, the type of photo, etc.]

We’ve asked Yahoo for further information about its “Curated Connections” program, as the blog post calls it, and will update with those details, when and if provided. More to come.

Update, 7:30 PM 7/29/14:

Flickr says that prior to this program, photographers could work directly with Getty Images to license their work, but it now has a new arrangement with Getty that allows Flickr to work directly with its creative community to provide the licensing and monetization opportunities. Through this relationship, while photos enrolled in the program cannot “currently” be browse on the Yahoo site, they will be available through Getty’s distribution platforms, including gettyimages.com and iStock.com.

“We are excited to begin a new relationship with Getty Images through its Image Partner program, whereby we will continue to supply content to Getty Image’s market leading audience of photo buyers,” a company rep said in a statement.

A Getty spokesperson added:

We are very happy about our new relationship with Flickr. Through our Image Partner program, they will supply images to our websitesgettyimages.com, istock.com andthinkstock.com under the Flickr name. Given Flickr’s unique community and content, and how their curation is aligned with our other top image partners such as BBC Worldwide and National Geographic, we are excited to broaden the relationship across all our properties and business models. These images will be made available to our 1.5 million customers worldwide to license for their creative pursuits. For images licensed from Getty Images websites we will pay a royalty to Flickr, which they will then share with the photographer.

Correction: 500px Prime pays 70% to photographers; article updated to reflect.