Recently, I was having breakfast on a travel project with a colleague of mine. He asked of me "what's the big deal with Flickr? I don't get it. I don't see the benefit of being there, of taking the time to be on it. It's just for people to share their family photos, right? What does it help we professionals?" I reponded, telling him that Flickr is not just that, and that friends, prospective art directors, and so on, can make you a "friend", and then, whenever you post new photos, they turn up on their Flickr page. It's friends and these prospective clients are choosing to want to be alerted when you add photos, and it's all automatic and shows up on their own page straightaway! Further, properly tagged (think Keywords, Check here, for Stan Rowin's insights on this and a link to a report with even more information), people can find the photos, and get in touch with you, or, maybe, mis-use your photo.
Stan has other insights on Flickr here, but how do we, as professionals, not only leverage the value of Flickr, but also encourage fair and just use of our work there? Enter the Flickr Licensing Awareness Working Group, which has, as it's mission:
We are a collection of photographers on Flickr who are concerned about the fair and legal use of our creative work.If you want to be on the front of the curve, knowledgeable about what's going on out there, for example, the RF site 123RF had their Flicker API revoked (as reported here), because they wanted to commercialize Flickr, further, consider "Speculation about when Yahoo's Flickr, the world’s most popular photo sharing site, might enter the micro-stock business has surfaced in stock photo industry circles" as reported on AboutTheImage here. Further, StockPhotoTalk discusses the cancellation of the API here, just days after reporting the plug-in live here, and speculated almost a year ago that Flickr may well enter the commercial stock photography business, as reported here.
Flickr is intended to be a photo-sharing site. However, the term "photo-sharing," while ambiguous, does not imply that material on Flickr is freely obtainable by either registered users or non-users without first gaining consent by the creator or owner....Many photographs, images and other works on Flickr are either full or partially copyrighted by their owners. Copyright laws are in full effect on Flickr and should be respected...Flickr gives its users the ability to indicate images that are more freely available by applying Creative Commons...Flickr was not intended to be a stock photography site. If you wish to use someone's image, words or an idea, please make a personal connection with the artist and ask permission first....We are here to bring awareness to copyright issue.
Certainly, the time is right for professional photographic organizations to engage this issue. The tipping point has arrived and I am more than happy to engage and assist, where beneficial. The LAW Group has several links to the obvious - Flickr policies, Yahoo policies, and links to report abuse/mis-use on the site. It's a beginning. However, I encourage everyone to engage this issue, to become familiar with what Flickr can do for you, and what the risks are, and could be. Join the Flickr group and become a part of the process.
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.