Flickr today announced a program for users to license their original photography to photo agencies and editors, but Yahoo has remained tight-lipped about how the system will work. Though it wasn’t entirely clear from the initial announcement, the company says photographers will be paid—though it’s not clear how much.
“Photographers will of course be paid when their content is licensed,” Flickr spokesperson Ana Braskamp told VentureBeat. “The rights to photos licensed will depend on the type of license, and that will clearly be communicated to our photographers.”
The program, called Curated Connections, was announced this morning in a blog post by Flickr curator Liz Lapp. It seems designed to compete with 500px, a site that passes on 70 percent of the proceeds from licensed images to member photographers.
“Flickr’s curators are searching for exciting and credible opportunities for you to share your exceptional photography,” Lapp wrote. “They will reach out to you via Flickr Mail and provide details on Flickr’s licensing program.”
The rise of the euphemistically termed “gig economy,” which has reduced many freelancers to working for less than minimum wage with no benefits, casts a shadow over services that promise to provide income for the self-employed. Journalists and photographers have been squeezed by the phenomenon as well, with prominent publications including The Atlantic opting to pay reporters in “exposure” rather than a check.
Consciously or not, the announcement evokes that mentality, promising nebulously to “try to connect you with original photo assignments.”
Reached by phone, Lapp was not able to provide details about the program.
TechCrunch reports that the program has frayed relations between Yahoo and partner Getty images, where there is concern that Curated Connections is insourcing the service they provide to Yahoo. And in April, Flickr lost head of product Markus Spiering to EyeEm, another photographer marketplace similar to 500px.
Flickr, owned by struggling early web giant Yahoo, has worked in recent years to compete with slick photo sharing tools on Facebook, Google+ (where Google has courted professional photographers with some success) and by upstart competitors like 500px and EyeEm. Last year, the photo sharing service redesigned its web interface around a wide, high-detail display, and it has recently updated the search, editing and upload features of its iOS and Android app.