This stuff has me a bit perturbed, and I need to write it down, to ‘cleanse the soul’ so to speak.
So, if Getty is picky about choosing images (they don’t want everything on Flickr, just the top 0.001% or so, right?), then doesn’t that assume that there is really great stuff on Flickr? To answer my own question, yes there is great stuff on Flickr, but there shouldn’t be.
It is really, really easy to rip off other people’s images from Flickr and do what ever you like with them. Flickr provides an API, which allows casual programmers to systematically download any and every image on Flickr, usually in original size if I understand correctly, and do what they like with them. For example, selling them as cell phone wallpaper images for $2.00 each, or selling prints on eBay for tens if not hundreds of dollars each.
I DO NOT POST MY BEST WORK ON FLICKR. I doubt I ever will. Even what i do post is 600px max on the longest side and/or has a watermark on the image. I can set my image license to All Rights Reserved, lock down the Flickr permissions, and STILL see my images on some wallpaper-selling web site without my prior knowledge. Flickr is awesome for sharing and participating in a photography community, and I enjoy that very much, but that sharing needs to be limited to the visual sense only, not copying. Like I tell my kids, look with your eyes not your hands. Unless I mark an image with a Creative Commons license that allows that kind of thing.
I know many people put superb professional-quality work in very high resolutions up on Flickr, and I know many of them just don’t care. That’s fine, I guess; free will and all that. But I wish they wouldn’t, because it makes it more confusing when those of us who do care try to put our foot down and prevent anyone else from profiting from our work without permission. Now along comes Getty looking for world-class images on Flickr.
I know Getty will never come knocking on my door asking to use my images, and that’s fine. They’re looking in a pool of imagery that is easy to steal from, yet they’re looking for images they can own if not at least profit from. My spider-senses tell me there’s something not quite right here.
Sorry, mindless rant. It probably doesn’t even make sense. Suffice it to say that Flickr is not a safe place to keep your good images, and this liason with a stock image company sounds like copyright lawsuit heaven to me.