Flickr explores further commercialisation

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Flickr explores further commercialisation

Photo sharing site considers helping amateur snappers to sell their creations.

The Flickr photo-sharing website is considering the launch of a service that would facilitate the sale of users' pictures to publishers and other interested parties. 

Pictures from the Yahoo-owned service are regularly used by news media firms, and have sparked interest from graphic designers who want to use them as stock photos. 

Flickr was one of the main sources of images after last year's terrorist bombings in London, and more recently at this week's military coup in Thailand. 

But amateur photographers typically do not know what prices they should charge for their pictures and can struggle with collecting payment.

"There is a huge amount of friction here," Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield explained yesterday at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters.

"There is obviously a lot of demand for photos to be used in that way and we could reduce that friction."

He added that the service would be separate from the main Flickr site and stressed that Flickr has no intention of launching a stock photo service.

Butterfield would not elaborate on details of the proposed service and stated that the plans are "highly speculative".

Yahoo could charge a convenience fee for a photo-selling service, offering the provider an additional way to monetise the Flickr service.

The company currently sells advertising on Flickr's main and search pages, offers photo printing services and has a sponsorship deal with Nikon. Users can also upgrade to a premium account that offers unlimited storage.

To further popularise its service, Flickr is lobbying camera and mobile phone manufactures to integrate a Flickr uploading option in digital cameras and camera phones.

The recently launched Nokia N73 and N93 media phones are the first devices in the market to offer Flickr integration. 

Digital cameras could connect to the service through the Wi-Fi radios built into the devices.

Butterfield also showed off an early test model of a memory card with an integrated Wi-Fi radio currently being developed by Eye-Fi. 

It plugs into a regular SD memory slot of a digital camera and instantly uploads all new pictures to a blog, Flickr account or some other online storage service.
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