Flickr just expanded Pro tools — but free users may have to delete some photos

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Flickr no longer offers free users a free terabyte of space. Prykhodov / 123RF

After Flickr changed hands earlier this year, moving from Yahoo to SmugMug, photographers no longer have to wonder what changes, exactly, are in store for the photography platform. On Thursday, November 1, Flickr launched a slew of improvements including enhanced image optimization, simpler sign-ups, and new limitations on free accounts.

For users on Flickr’s free plan, the storage is now determined by the number of images (or videos), not the amount of space they take up. Instead of a terabyte of free storage, users on Flickr’s free plan will now be capped at 1,000 photos or videos. Flickr is giving free users with more than 1,000 images until January 8, 2019, to pare down their image collections.

Of note, users on free accounts who have uploaded photos with a Creative Commons license before November 1, 2018 will not see any of those photos deleted, even if they have over 1,000 Creative Commons images. Similarly, photos in the Flickr Commons collection, which have been provided by institutions, will not be deleted. Going forward, free accounts will not be able to add more than 1,000 Creative Commons photos without first upgrading to a Pro account.

Flickr says Yahoo’s decision to expand free account storage to a terabyte started changing the landscape of the platform, bringing users that used the platform for storage and not members of the photo-sharing community. Flickr says that more photographers know how many photos they shot, while few knew how much data they actually had taken up, sparking the move from a storage limit to one that instead limits the number of files. A majority of free users have less than 1,000 images while a majority of Pro users have more than 1,000, Flickr says.

Flickr says free membership still allows for the same community participation. “Unfortunately, ‘free’ services are seldom actually free for users. Users pay with their data or with their time. We would rather the arrangement be transparent,” Flickr said in a press release.

Flickr’s Pro subscription, which comes to about $50 a year, continues to offer unlimited image storage at full resolution and ad-free browsing, but expands a few other options as well. Images are now better optimized for any screen, up to 5K. Subscribers will also see priority support and advanced statistics in the mobile version. Starting next year, video playback time will increase from three minutes to 10 minutes. And the partnership programs that give subscribers discounts to other products will expand to include Adobe Creative Cloud, SmugMug portfolios, and Peak Design gear.

For all users, login and sign up is now simpler — Flickr says the top request for users after the acquisition was to allow for sign-ups without a Yahoo email address. Users can now create an account with any email, and existing users can also change the email address associated with the account. 

The acquisition has also allowed the team to devote more resources to fighting spam. Flickr says users may have already noticed less spam over the last month as the company began implementing an artificial intelligence-based system designed to track spam behavior.

With the changes, Flickr is offering a 30-percent discount on the $50 subscription for the first year for users who upgrade before November 30.

Updated to include recent information on Flickr Commons and Creative Commons photos.

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