Flickr = Censorship

16 05 2007

Flickr = Censorship

Just when the outrage over the theft of Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir’s photos by Only-Dreeming was beginning to calm down, Yahoo/Flickr finally reacted.You’d expect that they stand by their paying customer, who got her pictures stolen precisely because she decided to use Flickr to showcase her work, enriching the Flickr website in the process and ultimately benefiting Yahoo as a corporation. But no, instead they behaved just like you’d expect a soulless, gutless, dumb corporation to behave: they stood by another corporation, who probably had its lawyers send Flickr a nasty letter, and screwed the individual customer!

They might have later apologized for this, but what’s a private apology worth, especially considering that Rebekka’s original post, with 450+ comments attached to it has been deleted, apparently forever?

I think Flickr should realize that only by protecting, as much as possible, their users’ expectations of copyright enforcement, they can have their community grow beyond amateurs like me, whose pictures nobody would ever think of stealing and reprinting, into the realms of professionals and semi-professionals, like Rebekka. Maybe they aren’t interested in this kind of audience, but while it’s true that 99% of pictures on Flickr are of the users’ cats, it’s probably people like Rebekka, with millions of views on her photostream, that draw interest, attention and traffic.

Digital photography is a revolution, and Flickr is at the forefront of this revolution. They should do whatever is in their means to make it even bigger. This does not mean that they should start scouring the interwebs for evidence of theft, but when such evidence is presented to them (and admitted by the thieves themselves), they shouldn’t just hide it.

As a paying member of Flickr myself, I am going to write them a polite letter, asking them to restore the original picture page with all its comments, and to do a public apology. If you use and love Flickr like I do, you should do the same.

Update: a public apology by Stewart Butterfield has been posted here. I would have preferred a more prominent place and it still looks like in won’t be possible to restore the original picture, but I commend Flickr for admitting they did the wrong thing this time.

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4 responses

16 05 2007

Came across this initially on and it’s going to be very interesting to see how it plays out. The issue with unauthorised use of images on Flickr and similar photo-sharing sites is becoming more and more prevalent and is one that these sites need to address..

17 05 2007
Torsten’s weblog » The flickr appology

[…] Thomas and Ugo have blogged about the whole Rebecca story. I’ve sent a message to flickr and today I got back an answer. Hello, […]

19 09 2007

they censored me, too. i was informed of having been reviewed as “safe,” but apparently i embarrassed staff member Michelle of flickr when i posted all the details to her thoughtless, unwarned and unwarranted deletion of one of my photos and then she deleted my whole damned account. Please read the details at my blog:

19 09 2010
Building the social network |

[…] seen how users can revolt and how social network providers can stick to their guns, while others play the censorship card. While taking a stand on either side of the issues here is not within the scope of this post, it […]

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