This year, Flickr was bought from AOL, er, I mean OAth by SmugMug.
The new Flickr is changing their account policy for free accounts to a limit of 1000 photos/videos. The original Flickr was at 200. No problem, they want us, the users, to be the customers and not the product. They also need to operate in a way that is sustainable, and by do so they are giving an incentive to get a paid account (they call it “Pro”).
But there is one important detail, hidden in the fine print of another page:
Free members with more than 1,000 photos or videos uploaded to Flickr have until Tuesday, January 8, 2019, to upgrade to Pro or download content over the limit. After January 8, 2019, members over the limit will no longer be able to upload new photos to Flickr. After February 5, 2019, free accounts that contain over 1,000 photos or videos will have content actively deleted — starting from oldest to newest date uploaded — to meet the new limit.
After February 5 they will delete content, just based on date. What about these projects of the commons? What about these accounts of people that left us? They will be erasing a large cultural heritage, just like that, not taking the responsibility of stewarding the content they acquired. I think this is a bad move for them. It feels like a breach of trust ; it is perfectly ok to prevent upload on any unpaid account over 1000, but deleting it, it is not. Also they are voluntarily crippling something they need: inertia that the traffic drives, making the service more popular.
Just as a side note, my Flickr account is still under the threshold, there is currently no risk, until Flickr decide to change the limits later.
Creative Commons are working with them to mitigate the loss of some much Creative Commons material:
Flickr is one of the most important platforms to host and share CC licensed works on the web, and over 400 million of the photos there are CC licensed – representing over a quarter of all CC licensed works on the web.
And I know the Internet Archive team will be working hard on trying to mitigate the disaster.
Please, please, Flickr, don’t delete the content.
Update: it seems that there is a program to exempt institutions from this. Don MacAskill, SmugMug CEO donated 100-years of Flickr Pro to the Internet Archive, even though it is covered by the program. Also Cory Doctorow agrees with my suggestion. This is not a reversion of the delete policy, just a mitigation for the Commons.