updated 08:25 am EST, Sat December 22, 2012
Free three months Pro usage includes unlimited uploads
Photo-sharing site Flickr is offering its free users an upgraded trial membership at no charge for a limited time. Messages sent to users under the subject line "Merry Flickr" state that users will gain three months of access to Flickr Pro automatically, and comes shortly after Instagram caused a public outcry by altering its terms of service to reveal that the company could use members' content in advertising.
Flickr users who accept the Pro offer will be able to view their entire photo library instead of the last 200 images; can upload unlimited numbers of photos; can download originally-uploaded high-resolution photos, and also upload and play unlimited HD videos to the service. The upgrade requires users to click a banner on the website or within the mobile app, and does not require any form of payment or an automatic renewal before the trial run ends on March 22. Accounts will automatically revert back to their original status, though users can opt to pay $7 per quarter or a flat $25 per year to continue their Pro membership if they wish.
The timing of the offer appears to capitalize on the recent user uprising on Instagram, caused by a change to its terms of service. Originally, Instagram changed the user agreement to make clearer that it could potentially sell users' images stored on the site with no compensation offered to the user, a language change more than a policy change -- but one that has since been reverted back to the previous phrasing.
What many Instagram users may not understand, however, is that the ability of Instagram to use photos without compensation in advertising is still there, as it has always been. The company, which is searching for a sustainable business model, has clarified that although the agreement allows them to "sub-license" photos without payment or notification, it does not plan to do so, and will more thoroughly change the language in that section to reflect this at some future date.
Other services, such as Facebook, also have given themselves the right to use uploaded content as they wish without payment, such as in ads to promote the service. Flickr, by contrast, has taken a different approach: the company facilitates an optional "Creative Commons" license for user photos to aid in non-commercial sharing without copyright issues, and also features a program run in conjunction with Getty Images, allowing users to make photos available for consideration to purchase. If selected, the users receive payment for images sold through the stock photography company.