Do Flickr's APIs protect its users enough?

When picking Flickr or any other photo site, it's important to understand not just its pricing scheme, reliability, and how well their user interface works but, as importantly, the underlying priorities that drive all sorts of design choices.

Over atPlagiarism Today, Jonathan Bailey notes:

A recent post by photographer J.M. Goldstein raised a very interesting question about Flickr and its API, namely whether or not Flickr was policing its API well enough and doing an adequate job protecting the rights of photographers and artists that post to the service.

I would have thought the answer was obvious. No.

Or, perhaps more accurately, Flickr has apparently decided either deliberately or as a matter of generalized neglect that providing its users with more sophisticated and granular tools to protect their content isn't a priority.

While there is much that I like about Flickr , it's simply not the best service if you want to carefully control who accesses your photos and exactly how they can access them. SmugMug and PhotoShelter are two services that have put far more thought and effort into this aspect of their respective sites.

Speaking personally, I still use Flickr anyway. The price is right--$25 per year for a Pro account which gives me unlimited storage and uploads. While I would prefer to secure my photos a bit better, doing so isn't really all that important to me given that I don't sell them.

So, while the criticism seems valid enough, it's also part and parcel of Flickr's emphasis on sharing and community over tight user control of their creative product. When picking Flickr or any other photo site, it's important to understand not just its pricing scheme, reliability, and how well their user interface works but, as importantly, the underlying priorities that drive all sorts of design choices.

About the author

Gordon Haff is Red Hat's cloud evangelist although the opinions expressed here are strictly his own. He's focused on enterprise IT, especially cloud computing. However, Gordon writes about a wide range of topics whether they relate to the way too many hours he spends traveling or his longtime interest in photography.

 

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