Flickr – The Next Stock Photo House?

Photo by GAVATRON @ Flickr, Some Rights Reserved - See Flickr Page
Yesterday a well known restaurant here in Toronto, Sassafraz, quite literally went up in flames. 29 fire vehicles & 135 fire fighters worth of flames to be exact.

Being the news hound that I am I immediately checked out one of the local TV station sites where, about an hour after the fire started they finally had exactly three photos up, all pretty much showing the same thing.

Unsatisfied, and in a whim of “I wonder if….”, I pulled up Flickr and typed “Sassafraz” into the search field. Up popped a dozen photos of the fire, some of them far superior to what the media had released up until that point. (See current results here – there’s now 2 and a half pages of photos). If I were a professional news photographer this would send a shiver down my spine.

I brought this incident up last night at the TorCamp get together as, what I considered, a good example of just how much things are shifting in the media space. Some discussion was had around Scoopt, who takes consumer/non-professional photos and try and license them to mainstream media – They also have just started making a push to try and get Flickr users to proactively start feeding them photos.

Then someone asked the question that had never occurred to me – “Why hasn’t Flickr gone down that route?”

When you stop and think about it Flickr is sitting on top of a gold mine of material – what would it really take for them to essentially add a “License this Photo” to the photo view (alongside the “Blog This” etc.). There’d be some upfront work in sorting out license agreements (Exclusive/Non-Exclusive/Length of Terms etc.). People could opt out or not enable the feature on their photos if they wished but if they distilled it down similar to what the Creative Commons guys did it could be a really sweet addition to their suite of products that allows both themselves and the users earn some extra bucks. I know I’d be more inclined to try it out.

(Photo by Gavatron)
  • Kyle MacRae

    Hi there

    Nice to know you’re talking about us! :)

    We’re working with Creative Commons right now to offer a kind of integrated licence that lets you protect your work non-commercially (CC’s main strength) but also clicks through to Scoopt should you want your content to be licensed commercially. We’ll then handle sales and licensing on your behalf.

    Details on the Creative Commons site here:

    (although in fact I don’t think the metada clickthrough is working at the moment)


  • Editor

    We managed to get there with our Toronto Web TV Host and filmed the whole thing. You can view it at the following URL:

  • Gavan

    Hey! That’s my photo! *grin*

    Funny that I’ve stumbled on this because I’ve often wondered the same thing. You mention Scoopt, so I went to have a look. I’m not sure how I could manage to have a Flickr and a Scoopt account at the same time. Flickr seems to be about community, Scoopt is about making money(?).

    I was at the fire for the photography angle rather than a scoop…