back to article Photobucket says photo-f**k-it, starts off-site image shakedown

Photobucket is cracking down on people embedding on third-party websites images it hosts, until now, for free. The photo-slinging internet elder now says that anyone who wants to use its service to display photos it hosts on other pages – such as signature banners in forum posts – will now need to open up their wallets and …

Anonymous Coward

Put your stuff into the cloud, they said. It's easy, they said. It's safe, they said.

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Unhappy

Put your stuff into the cloud, they said...

...'they' being the cloud sellers, of course.

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Holmes

...until it isn't because stuff changes which you weren't told about before and/or didn't expect!

That includes free/cheap being a temporary illusion, like a drug dealer temporary giving freebies to create a pool of future addicted customers, cheap printers (but expensive ink), or socialist Ponzi schemes like a state national health service or a state pension scheme!!!

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Anonymous Coward

bypassing their advertisement revenue gets you a paddlin'.

Our customers are leaving us because our servers are glacial and we need to buy more rack space and fiber bandwidth leading to a cut of the budget for employee salaries and perks.

For what reason? To support the use of ad-blockers?

Fuckin' freetards ruin things for everyone else.

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Has "...a drug dealer temporary giving freebies to create a pool of future addicted customers..." ever really happened outside of fiction or a New Model Army song? Genuine question - from experience I never saw this happen and I could see this model be easily exploited by existing drug users. Yes, I'm sure there'll be an isolated example that was, or could appear to be, this - but did this ever happen wholesale?

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Anonymous Coward

@Infernoz

You are the winner of one of my very few down votes.

Let's dissect.

"free/cheap being a temporary illusion"

If it's temporary then you must state that from the start.

"like a drug dealer temporary giving freebies"

Not sure how many drug dealers you have known in your life but they don't give away freebies.

"cheap printers (but expensive ink)"

You do know you can fill them yourself?

"socialist Ponzi schemes like a state national health service or a state pension scheme!!!"

You are a Tory that reads the daily mail and I claim my five pounds.

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FAIL

"That includes free/cheap being a temporary illusion,"

You were on an upvote until...

"or socialist Ponzi schemes like a state national health service or a state pension scheme"

This statement tells us you are

a)Probably an American

b) Definitely an Ahole.

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Re: "That includes free/cheap being a temporary illusion,"

A national health service is just about the only viable and effective way to provide one. If it is private you effectively get held to ransom over your health. How much are you willing to pay to carry on living a worthwhile existence with full mobility and a functioning body? Politicians (and people like the OP of the "socialist" rant) don't seem to get how the main things a society (and economy) needs are healthy, educated workers and a minimal legal framework within which everyone can operate. Minimal because things will find a natural equilibrium provided abuse (or lobbying) is not tolerated.

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In a complete about face...

Not necessarily "Tell you what I'll do, I'll make the first one free..." but definitely first time buyer discounts.

#TrueStory

I've slept on Justin Sullivan's sofa.

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Re: "That includes free/cheap being a temporary illusion,"

@John Smith 19

c) Probably consuming too much Tylenol.

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"socialist Ponzi schemes like a state national health service"

Every first world country on the planet other than the US manages to have one. And they all have better healthcare and pay less for it.

There is a film you need to watch to help cure your ignorance: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4897822/

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Anonymous Coward

Yes

Yep. I'm a cop and I regularly deal with people that have been given free drugs to get them hooked / keep them in the circle in which they find themselves.

Although, to be fair, the majority of these people are either rehabilitated drug addicts (other druggies don't like to see people get out the gutter, so they'll give them free stuff to bring them back down) or girls going into the sex trade as a way to keep them in check.

So, yes, it does happen, a lot sadly.

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Every first world country on the planet other than the US manages to have one. And they all have better healthcare and pay less for it.

Yep: Cost of healthcare vs life expectency - by country

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Yes, very much so.

Just look at the manner in which UK Students are drip fed debt as part of the long term plan to ensure 'credit' is seen as both normal and a good thing... it's all interest free to start with, then when you are so far in there's no hope to climb back out, they hit you with the fees and interest for the next 20 years or more.

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hmv

Not surprising.

I do wonder what the life expectancy would be amongst USians who can afford health care; not that it's a reasonable system to say: "You're poor. Go away and die in a gutter."

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"Just look at the manner in which UK Students are drip fed debt"

It seems perfectly fair that the privileged / likely high earners directly pay for their choice of education. Many other countries also do this.

" it's all interest free to start with"

No, it's at the RPI + 3%. So relatively low.

"they hit you with the fees and interest for the next 20 years or more."

You only have to pay if you earn more than £21K a year. And because it's over a long period with low interest rates, the payments are relatively low...And if you have not paid within 30 years, it gets wiped.

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Unhappy

Re: "That includes free/cheap being a temporary illusion,"

> "..a)Probably an American.."

Ehh.. I doubt that. Pretty much everyone I know and have spoken to over the last three years is of the mind that the for-profit medical insurance model is not keeping costs down, and when we here can read of insurance CEO's paying themselves millions and kicking back billions in stock valuations and dividends to the Idle-class investors.. brought to them by taxpayer subsidies.. Even the rich folk with their gold and platinum-plated insurance plans are getting hit with soaring costs - now that the Millennials are creeping into the medical need picture by coming down with costly with chronic diseases 25 years ahead of schedule..

Keep your ears open, outside of the beltway or Fox news, most that still have to work for a living are grumbling that its getting close to time for a Single Payer here in the US of A.

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That other countries have better healthcare is a myth.

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That's rubbish. The US records live births as the baby being alive at birth. Almost every other country in the world records live births only if the baby survives 24 hours. This greatly skews the statistics against the US but nobody mentions it when throwing around these bullshit graphs.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes take your images elsewhere. Except of course there are very few services that will allow you to do this for free. And indeed why should they?

Totally bored by the sound of whining freetards.

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Anonymous Coward

What the hell are you talking about? There are literally hundreds of websites and services that host images for free. Imgur should be a really obvious one.

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Anonymous Coward

There's also a huge gulf between free and $400/year. I'd bet a bunch of those people would've ponied up for $5-$10/month.

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It would also be substanitally cheaper to get some low level vps share with cpanel plugins. For 30 quid a year you get your own email, gallery and even silly amounts of storage.

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Yep

I would be happy to pay $60 a year to just push some pics around but I guess I'll just go elsewhere.

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There's a difference between paying your fair share and extortion

It's all true and fair that Photobucket had a right to expect some payment for something they have been bearing for free for over 10 years. So how about they charge what it is actually worth? A full-on web site hosted by a professional service wouldn't cost more than $100/year, and you could host your photos on it and link them to forum posts to your heart's content. Photobucket demands $400 for this service?

Why? Because they know that millions of their free customer have embedded links to those photos far and wide that will not work anymore. Even if you take all your photos elsewhere, you still have to edit all those posts you have made for years, and in many cases, you won't be able to edit a post that old because some forums don't allow that.

Photobucket is EXPLOITING that fact by demanding an exorbitant fee. If they wanted people to pay up finally, they could easily have initiated the plan with a series of warnings and a fair price for the service based on the level of your usage. People with 2GB free accounts are not storing enough, nor generating enough hit traffic, to warrant a $400/yr charge.

Whining freetards? Hardly. They are people who know when they are being fleeced. Just because it was free before doesn't give Photobucket the right to massively overcharge because they know they are the only place people can use if they want their old online posts to work.

As for me... I AM one of those people mad enough to edit all my old posts. So I am making liberal use of forum search features to find all my linked images based on the directory strings in the filenames that have "photobucket" in them, and then replacing those links with the new photo locations (where I have already moved my photos). I will rehost all my photos to my own website (for which I only pay $100/yr thank you very much).

Photobucket will be gone in a year. Nobody who is willing to pay for their service would choose $400/yr over full web hosting for $100/yr. And anyone who wants a free service certainly won't pay $400/yr.

What selfish idiots. If they had only warned us and asked for some reasonable charge, even $50/year, they would have turned a mass of freeloaders into low-end paying customers and generated revenue. Now, they will generate nothing but their own demise.

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Re: There's a difference between paying your fair share and extortion

Well for me life is too short and I can't be arsed to do that.

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LDS
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Re: There's a difference between paying your fair share and extortion

Given the price asked, it looks they really want those people go simply away.

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Re: There's a difference between paying your fair share and extortion

I suspect there's an opportunity for someone to step into this space with reasonably priced hosting, and to allow linking to your photobucket account to enumerate your existing photos, then do all the internet searching for links for you, giving you a report on what you need to go and edit. It then moves them all the pictures over and you're done.

Not seamless, but probably as close as you're going to get.

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Unhappy

"I'd bet a bunch of those people would've ponied up for $5-$10/month."

That's the question of what constitutes "fair" pricing.

If you make money off the internet, shouldn't you pay something back to the internet?

Obviously that depends on how many people who use the service do make money, and what "something" should be.

IIRC $400 is around the Adobe subscription level for their tools.

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"There's also a huge gulf between free and $400/year."

Quite. They could easily have done something more reasonable for free accounts like just replaced the images with adverts 50% of the time so as to not totally screw up years of internet content....

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Totally bored by the sound of whining freetards.

How much did you pay to make this witty comment on El Reg?

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Re: There's a difference between paying your fair share and extortion

They might want those users to just go away, I'd agree with you based on their pricing structure.... but "those users" probably make up 80% or more of their user base. I don't know anyone who uses Photobucket for anything else than dumping pictures to put on a forum.

So a huge drop in advertising revenue, a huge drop in page visits, their name is just going to go the way of FriendsReunited and Bebo. A very odd move.

$400 definitely sounds like "get off my land" rather than "would you mind just giving us a bit to help towards our costs please?"

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Nothing of course.

But I suspect the AC who posted this expects a service commensurate with the amount that was paid.

I.e. none!

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Re: There's a difference between paying your fair share and extortion

"Just because it was free before doesn't give Photobucket the right to massively overcharge because they know they are the only place people can use if they want their old online posts to work."

On the contrary. It's Photobucket's service and they most definitely have the right to charge customers whatever they like for it. Just like their customers most definitely have the right to decline and go elsewhere.

Your old online posts won't work? Well that's life. When you post on forums you don't own using images from websites you don't own and don't pay for, under what sense of entitlement do you get to demand that both retain your content in perpetuity?

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yes to both of you. expectation culture demands that stuff stays free FOREVER!

you can either a) continue moanning about it or b) use imgur and tell other people.

choice is yours people

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Re: "I'd bet a bunch of those people would've ponied up for $5-$10/month."

There is no such thing as 'fair pricing' - people will pay what they are willing to pay. PB's pricing scheme is suicidal.

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Anonymous Coward

First they block adblock users and now this. I'll be sure to pop some champagne when they go out of business in a week. I really don't know what these morons are thinking when literally hundreds of other services exist that host images for free and have been doing so for years. Oh well, at least we still live in a time where being stupid gets you killed.

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Anonymous Coward

Photobucket was always the scummiest image host

They wouldn't let you directly load an image without being redirected to a spammy frame.

Imgur, being vastly more modern and cooler have a separate sub-domain for direct image links.

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Rattlesnake in a pinata...

Oh, that's good! May I use that in a subordinate's performance review?

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Re: Rattlesnake in a pinata... @jMcPhee

"Boss, why are you asking me to break a pinata, instead of just telling me about my performance results?"

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Have they tried...

turning it off and on again?

As in the site simply not serving those images for awhile, and then noting to enquirers that 'free' does have limits. 14 years and the users aren't amazed that the site is still there, might just need a little moola and 'free' has limits? It never occurred to them that they hadn't ever actually supported the delivery of their pictures?

Common sense has become noticeably rare.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have they tried...

Fr33 st00f pl0x

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Re: Have they tried...

" It never occurred to them that they hadn't ever actually supported the delivery of their pictures?"

Unfortunately many people don't understand how electronic devices like computers and phones work, even before you throw the internet into the mix. They seem to view them as magic boxes. And why shouldn't the magic within those boxes be free - after all, it's magic, right? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

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Re: Have they tried...

If they've looked at the ads that have been served up, they've supported the delivery of the pictures. It may or may not be enough to allow the company to make money off of it, but they *have* supported it. And I'd hardly call $400 a year "a little" money, particularly when the cost has always been zero in the past.

The question is one of how much bandwidth is being served up per ad view. Embedded images don't get much of a chance to display ads to the viewers; it's the uploader who sees them while using the web interface for that purpose. If he's running a business on eBay and has a lot of people viewing images hosted by PB, that could easily be costing them a considerable amount of money without any chance at a return, and I don't blame them for wanting to monetize that or put a stop to it.

On the other hand, the person who simply uses it to upload images to various web forums is probably not going to be anywhere close to the kind of bandwidth that would justify paying that much.

I've been using Photobucket for years for hosting images on various web forums that don't offer that themselves. I don't know when I created the account, but it was years and years ago (probably when I moved off of my dial-up account with its personal web space; I always used that before I used PB. That was a LONG time ago!). I would not be surprised if my PB is almost as old as the site itself. In that time, I've probably used it a dozen times to upload at most a megabyte's worth of images for posting on a low-traffic web forum, ultimately to be viewed a few dozen times. Maybe half a gigabyte total over ~10+ years. Very, very low volume stuff, and seldom used (but always the go-to when I needed it). It's been a couple of years since I used it last.

Is all of that put together worth $400, let alone ten times that? Ten years of service would have cost four thousand dollars, and that's if it was only over ten years. I think $4000 for 500MB of cumulative bandwidth is a bit much. Of course, that's probably close to the minimum anyone who embeds would use it for, but that's just the point-- who does this high price target? It's clearly not me.

For people using $400 worth of bandwidth in a year, whatever that may be, it's obviously an appropriate price. Is that the typical amount of bandwidth their embedding account holders are using, though? I would find that exceptionally difficult to believe. It would seem to make more sense to have a certain ceiling per month that will continue under the free plan, with a cost per gigabyte above and beyond that baseline.

$400 just isn't a reasonable price. That's a "we're trying to kill off any demand for this service so we can get out of the business" price. If that's the goal, I would rather have them come out and say so rather than slap a completely asinine price on it and kill demand that way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have they tried...

"Embedded images don't get much of a chance to display ads to the viewers;"

Doesn't sound very smart to me. They could easily have gone two routes: used their tag design to include two images, one an ad; or spend a little image-processing time to embed ads in copies of the uploaded picture which would then be served. Either way would mean viewers see ads (and the second way can't be blocked without blocking the payload--Ka-CHING!).

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Re: Have they tried...

"14 years and the users aren't amazed that the site is still there, might just need a little moola and 'free' has limits?"

I only recently discovered a BBC 5Live show called "Outriders", a now defunct tech magazine show. I downloaded all the podcasts and listen in the car. Every now and then there's something particularly interesting and the interviewee gives a URL. Once I get home, or pull over for a break, I have look and most of the sites are now gone or something quite different to what was described on the show. IIRC the show ran from ~20011 - ~2014, so not that long ago.

One that especially comes to mind is artfinder.com. According to the interview, it was to be the art equivalent of an MP3 download/streaming site with as much as possible being free ot low cost downloads of images of artwork. Looking at it now, it's little more than an online shop, nothing is free and none of the images are of any decent resolution and are made as difficult as possible to access.

Like many interesting and altruistic projects, they rarely last long with their original intentions, either because the funding model was badly formed in the first place or because they growed and growed enough to become attractive to the money men (and women)

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Thumb Up

Re: Have they tried...

That, I think is an accurate assessment of the situation: I too used PB very little - though I do think I may have an account from the very start - I am not certain anymore, once they started deleting the nude paintings I had been sharing with an art group - nothing obscene or pornographic - but skin was definitely out, so I bailed and switched to a yahoogroup which is going on 13 years now. I really don't know how the company managed to hang on this long with such a limited business model - it's as relevant to me now as MySpace (of which I do still have an all-but abandoned page). You're most likely correct: Photobucket is looking to bail on image-hosting.

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Re: Have they tried...

I agree with most of what you say but '$400 just isn't a reasonable price' is crap. It just isn't a price you are willing to pay. So you won't and you will go elsewhere. And most likely PB have destroyed their business by demanding it.

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Paris Hilton

Pulling The Rug From Under People's Feet

Does this approach work in the commercial online business world?

It'll be interesting to watch this space :)

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