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We had an idea for starting a ecards service and were looking into the possibility of populating our site using photo/artwork APIs. Due to legal reasons, Flikr probably won't work, although I've started to scour the web for other options.

Basically we just need two functions

  1. the user should be able to browse the site's collection and choose a picture

  2. we should be able to recall and render a specific picture on our site. From there we should have no problem building our application. The main obstacle is that we're lacking content at the moment.

I haven't been able to find too many examples of this being done, so I was wondering if anyone here might know people who have done something similar to what we're trying to do, or know of any leads that might be able to help us out. Suggestions for other APIs that are out there, or forums/communities that might be able to point us in the right direction are also welcome.

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What are the legal reasons which prevent you from using Flickr? It sounds like you have a legal problem which you are framing as a technical one. Which other sites won't work for you due to legal issues? – blueberryfields May 25 '11 at 21:12
The site will likely become commercial in the future, which can cause some issues regarding copyright and usage of their content. Picasa's Term of Service is kind of unclear, Photobucket looks more lenient toward what we were doing, so we may end up using those if necessary. Other sites have content but lack the framework that we're looking for (API), so it can't be used. I asked here since this is a relatively new technology and I thought the contributors here would be familiar with what's happening in that world right now. – Ryan T May 25 '11 at 22:17
Users will still be able to use their own photos if they log in to Flickr, right? Taking photos from a site which doesn't explicitly put their photos in the public domain is problematic in the best of cases - each country and each state, even, may have different rules about this. Are you sure you're facing a technical problem here? – blueberryfields May 26 '11 at 0:13
I guess you could be right, though I would think that sites devoted to artworks would be more open to these types of usage since it can act as a promotion for the artist also. Either way we need a platform that would let us aggregate a lot of images, preferably for free or at a fairly low cost since we don't have a large budget to work with right now. In all honesty I've been looking around for a while now but don't know if there is even such a thing yet. – Ryan T May 26 '11 at 1:56
@Ryan T - whether the site is commercial or not has no affect on copyright. If you don't have permission to publish something on your site, you shouldn't be doing it. I don't think any of the major sites (Flikr, DeviantArt, etc) will ever allow something like this as I don't think their users would. – TZHX May 26 '11 at 12:45

What you're looking for probably doesn't exist. Your best bet is to find a method which automates users' import of their own images, and allowing them to migrate them from other sites. For example, a user might log on to your site and ask you to import their images from Flickr, explicitly giving you permission to use them as you see fit in the process.

Otherwise, you might want to look into stock photo companies, which can provide you access to large numbers of photos at a price - though, I think you'll have a hard time convincing them to let you compete with their business model.

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