Flickr has changed its policies so that users outside the US will not have their photos peremptorily deleted, but will have the opportunity to respond and get them restored. The change represents a victory for award-winning British author and comedian Dave Gorman, who took on Yahoo's photo-sharing site after one of his images was deleted.
It would be nice to report that the change was announced via a blog post or in another prominent way. Instead, it was made in a help forum comment by Xerxes2K (staff). He wrote:
"We want to let you know that we have implemented a global change in the standard takedown process that will benefit the whole Flickr community going forward. "When a photo is removed from the site based on a notice of alleged copyright infringement, we will temporarily show a placeholder and the member will have an opportunity to respond before the image is made unavailable. "If the alleged copyright infringement is found to be fraudulent, the image in question will be restored, and the photopage will look like before."
America's DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) requires service providers such as Flickr to tell American users that their material has been removed, and also gives them the chance to dispute the claim and get it restored. This is important, because if a Flickr photo is simply deleted, it loses its comments and breaks links to that image from across the web.
UK-based users, not protected by the provisions of the DMCA, were treated differently, as Gorman learned when one of his photos was deleted. He could re-upload it, of course, but the links had already been broken and the comments lost.
Gorman wrote about the problem at length on his blog, and I reported the story here on 16 March: How Dave Gorman fought Flickr over a deleted photo. Yahoo's European press officer Caro Macleod-Smith was extremely helpful in responding to the issue and raising its profile inside Yahoo.
In a new post, Gorman concludes: "it's taken a while but I'm delighted to say that the story now has a happy ending. I'm pretty chuffed about that."
Dave Gorman has won, of course, but so has Yahoo.
It's hard to get the attention of giant websites with tens of millions of users, but sometimes it happens, there are worldwide benefits, and everybody ends up smiling.