Getty Images becomes client of Flickr and UGC

Oct 27, 2011
photographic agency
user-generated images
content industry
Getty Images taps into Flickr's user-generated content, turning photographers into potential freelancers and signaling the rise of crowdsourced content.
Last week, Getty's purchase transformed all Flickr users into potential freelancers for the renowned photographic agency. Getty bought 250,000 images from Flickr. It's the first time a large number of user-generated images (the so-called UGC, or user generated content) have been sourced this way. Crowdsourcing is increasingly becoming a part of the content industry - now, quite literally.
Here's how it works: photographers who use Flickr can join Getty's catalogue. The chosen photographs are selected by Getty editors for an initial group of 250,000. This bucket of content will be regularly updated with new photos. The selected photographers can submit more material to Getty for a closer look at their work.
The initiative is fantastic in itself, but it represents more than just that. Getty's decision acknowledges that UGC is not only commercially viable but also interesting. Curating services will certainly be needed, but the widespread nature of feed systems will ensure user-generated material is no longer necessarily considered amateur. Great content producers are hidden and may start to capitalize on their talent. According to specialized press, another Getty deal could be in the works with Facebook, for its images.
Crowdsourcing is not the cannibalization of content production. It is the elimination of many of the gatekeepers that turn certain markets into exclusive areas, production fiefdoms that belong to a select few. The creation of large-scale content by a large number of users is, apparently, the obvious path to generating the amount of content that digital media need. Realizing this is just a matter of common sense.

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