Windows Vista & Flickr

Jeffrey found this link.

Many of the wallpaper images included with Windows Vista were generated by amateur photographers, with a large number being sourced through flickr. I presume, like so many other image buyers trolling flickr, that they didn’t pay the photographers, and instead just offered them the glory of being included in Vista. Why? Because licensing costs for image reproduction and worldwide rights for many years is expensive.

So, is the Microsoft cheap, or are the existing licensing models inappropriate for this type of usage?

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Allen Murabayashi at 3:44 pm

    Long, thanks for the info. The larger point is that Hamad wasn’t compensated at a market rate. I’m inferring this point (and maybe incorrectly) from Ms. Lam’s statements that they didn’t want to pay “professionals” for the images. He spent 10-12 days shooting, and taking off work in the process. Then, I presume, he did a rights buyout on the images. That’s a fairly substantive project. Now clearly the advent of digital photography have made images like his more of a commodity (Don’t get me wrong, they are great looking, professional-quality images). But if he wasn’t compensated at a “fair” rate, then the market is exhibiting inefficiencies. So again, I ask, is Microsoft exploiting people, or are existing licensing models for something like a screen saver out-of-date?

  2. Thomas Pickard at 7:06 am

    I have thought about your initial post on and off for the past couple of days. To answer your question, I think that we need to actually take a step back and look at what is happening before the licensing step takes place. In my mind, what we are seeing is an increase in the availability of photography from non-professionals who do not understand the value of what they are creating. To a certain extent, the licensing part is suppose to reflect the value part. That is, people that understand the value that their work brings to their client, will license accordingly – whether it is a wall paper or a point of sale image. But if we have what appears to be an ever increasing market of suppliers (amateur image makers) that are willing to provide images for rates that are below what pro photographers historically charged, then yes, there are inefficiencies in the market. And if my memory of economics serves me correctly, then there will be an adjustment in what is paid for the usage of images. There has to be. Given this, I don’t think Microsoft can be blamed for exploiting people (I never thought I’d be defending those guys!). Instead, Microsoft is doing what any smart business should do – finding just as good imagery at cheaper prices. In this case, via Flickr and amateur photogs that do not understand the value they are bringing to the client with their imagery. Or if they do, they are prepared to do the job at a cheaper rate because hey, they have a full-time job and don’t depend on photography day to day to put the food on the table. When you really think about it and consider the stories floating around about big corporations sourcing some of there imagery through places like Flickr, it would seem to be that there is actually a new market of suppliers that has been created. Or put another way – if you are a business that requires image X, who cares where you get it from – whether it is Getty, Flickr or by hiring a photographer to shoot the pics. At the end of the day, that business has a photo requirement that it needs to meet. So to answer your original question, yes, I do think some existing licensing models are out of date. I would have thought that RF images was proof of that. IMHO, as more ‘suppliers’ of imagery become available through more diverse means, it will become more of a buyers market which has the potential to push prices of certain image types down. Where the licensing model will continue to work, is when organisation want imagery that only a pro can produce. In that case, the value will (hopefully) be reflected in the license. Thomas

  3. Paul Freeman at 1:01 pm

    In the UK a recent poll of people’s “dream jobs” listed “Photographer” as number three on the list. It’s ironic that the burgeoning of distribution of amateur images means that so very few of them will ever be able to make a career out of photography. As they say “Pop will eat itself” I’ve come across the same logic in commissioned work. One minor ad agency I’ve worked for tried to source a student to shoot a project for them on a pro-bono basis. Presumably the ad agency was working for free too? To the college tutors this probably looked like an excellent way for a student to get a break. But what is the point, if they can never earn a living as a photographer because the clients are too stingy to pay a living wage? I’m glad I’m well “advanced in my career” as I suspect that the logical end of this process is that many young photographers may end up working in call centres to fund the production of their free imagery.

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