Friday, August 14, 2009

Flickr photos on sale report by Jim Goldstein is shocking!

It’s not Flickr’s fault to start with. And no photos of users that were marked “Private” were compromised. But however this incident is sure to raise a few eyebrows of Yahoo and it’s API licensing authorities.

The issue was that when users upload their photos in Flickr they mark it either “All Rights Reserved” or under one of the categories of “Creative Commons”. This is to ensure that before downloading the users can be aware of the rights held by the owner of the photo. But the API used by MyxerTones (a mobile entertainment site) had a bug which led to downloading of several photos from Flickr regardless of their licenses and sent to several mobile phones of users to be used as wallpapers! 
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One of the victims was photographer Jim Goldstein. He elaborately described how one of his photos were used through this process in another site. But what seemed frustrating that his efforts to resolve the issue through Yahoo went futile. His article clearly demonstrates his efforts.  

The main issue that is of concern and should be addressed by Flickr or the API developers here is that they adhere to the guidelines set by Flickr at all costs. Not following it would lead to trouble. Like when a Flickr user has explicitly set his settings that no one can download his photos in full resolution except himself, using a faulty API anyone can download his photo in full resolution, which will not be possible in the Flickr website. So clearly this API has not been built following the rules and regulations set by Flickr.

Such APIs therefore clearly needs to be tested and then released else such mistakes are bound to happen. What could be a bad news is that unscrupulous developers might make such APIs for their personal benefits and download plenty of photos for their personal use, in which case the APIs may forever stay in the dark and continue to reap harvest. However, testing the publicly released APIs and keeping them debugged would go a long way to calm the photographers out there.

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