Flickr launches limited photo licensing program, keeps the terms under wraps


posted Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 3:16 PM EDT


Yahoo-owned photo sharing service Flickr has just followed in the footsteps of rivals such as 500px, announcing that it is getting into the stock photo business. If you're a Flickr user, though, you may find the program rather opaque.

For one thing, it's apparently not open to all Flickr members. Doubtless looking to save its licensees the hassle of sorting the wheat from the chaff, Yahoo is limiting access to the program to certain hand-selected photographers. That's perhaps understandable, as filtering through a million cat photos and snapshots of endless meals to find something more fitting of a glossy magazine would be a thankless task that might persuade potential licensees to stick with more tightly-curated stock libraries. Still, it means that you can't take part unless you can first persuade Yahoo that you're worthy.

That's bound to be a disappointment to some Flickr members who've been hoping to consolidate their licensing and photo sharing in one place. Perhaps a bigger issue, though, is that the company provides almost no information about what the program you're considering signing up for is all about.

Sure, there's a little feel-good talk about how Yahoo's "curatorial team will provide assistance, outreach and connectivity to help you get your photos licensed", and perhaps even "try to connect you with original photo assignments". But the really important details -- on what terms your photos can be licensed, how much licensees will be paying, and what cut will go to you -- is conspicuous by its absence. Apparently if you want to find out, you'll first have to get yourself an offer to join the program.

Be that as it may, the program is open for applications now -- and if your photos are particularly popular, there's even a chance Yahoo will be reaching out to suggest you join the program, rather than your having to make the introduction. If you're a Flickr member, it's probably worth a try, if only to find out whether the company's as-yet-unknown terms are something you can live with.