Flickr and Getty are teaming up:

The great folks at Flickr and Getty Images are joining forces to build a platform that will enable the creation of a first class collection of royalty free, rights ready, and rights managed photographs that will debut later this year.

The catch is that the program won’t be open to everyone. At least not initially:

Getty Images’ photo editors will identify photos that they would like to feature in the collection and reach out directly to members of the Flickr community via a new platform that we are developing for them.

Why not build an open platform any member could elect to participate in?

A standard of quality is needed but there are other ways to accomplish that without pre-selection by a staff. Flickr has developed numerous tools on their site to help users find and highlight images of value. Why, after spending all that effort on proving that the pool of talented amateurs is so incredibly vast, do you elect to go so positively closed? Why ignore all of those tools, all the work you’ve done? Why revert to the old model?

Worse, Getty is not the photographer’s friend. They often price photography out of the reach of many projects and budgets. Whereas two years ago I used to use Getty for my stock photography needs, today I’d rather search Flickr and fire off an email to negotiate a price with a talented amateur. The quality of work you can find on Flickr, for the price, is one of the best deals on the web.

I can’t make predictions about how this will play out. Flickr has proven themselves time and time again as an innovative and community focused site. But the recent departure of the site’s founders leaves me worried that without them, that culture will change.

This interview between Jonathan Klein, CEO of Getty, and Kakul Srivastava, GM of Flickr, isn’t exactly encouraging:

Srivastava:

From our perspective, on the Flickr side, we’re not expecting this will be a huge stream of monetization for our members. For some it might be, but that’s not really the driving force.

Klein:

So yes, it is competitive, but what it also is doing is it’s bringing this body of imagery within the established ways of doing things in our industry, which is also protective to photographers. I think photographers would be much more concerned if 2 billion images from Flickr would find their way into microstock.

The interview reads as though the community is completely secondary to this discussion.