Unintended Consequences

Well what a day that’s been. Who’d have thought that innocently using the public flickr api to display public images on a personal website could cause such aggravation!

The issue arises from the fundamental flaw in flickr in that public images appear in all the rss feeds and default searches even when the owner has marked them as all rights reserved.

Now call me picky, but there seems an inherent conflict with uploading images to a public web service, marking the pictures as public, and then indicating that they are all rights reserved.

It seems to me that Flickr should take steps to prevent images that are all rights reserved from appearing in any feed unless they are being accessed by the owner’s api key. That would stop the problem dead and might encourage photographers to make more use of the creative commons licenses which give perfectly enforceable protection against commercial exploitation which is why some people seem to be so tetchy about it all.

Now I have no wish to offend anyone, so I spent the entire day coding a much more sophisticated feed for the photography page that checks the licence of each image to ensure it is not rights reserved. However, there are two unfortunate consequences of this.

The first is that the photo page is now much slower as instead of a single API call, I have to make over 72 to check rights and owner details of each image. I would implore Flickr to expose this information as standard in any API call that retrieves a result set of photos or simply stop protected images being exposed in the API.

Secondly, and more seriously, due to cross domain policy issues, I now have to proxy all the images through my server which means my bandwidth costs will rise, possibly to the point where the service has to dropped.

I think it would be a shame to have to drop it for that reason, however I may be left with no choice.

Hey ho …

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