Kodak Gallery breaks the cardinal UGC rule: Let users own their stuff

I recently had a problem with Kodak Gallery. I made the mistake of using them for some photos about six or seven years ago, when I didn't know any better. Someone at Kodak has decided to make a buck off of this mistake, and the mistake of hundreds of thousands of other poor souls who also became Kodak Gallery users. They said they would delete our photos if we didn't buy a bunch of stuff.

I spent a couple hours writing a simple ruby script that let people download their full Kodak galleries without resorting to paying exorbitant fees to get an Archive CD. Or in the case of one user, NINETY archive CD's.

Here's the comment I received earlier from a Kodak Gallery user named Deepak Jain this evening that blew me away:
I've been using Kodakgallery since 2003 (when there weren't many options and I figured Kodak was a good enough name to stay around). I didn't even mind buying stuff form them until photographs became passe.

I even tried to buy their Archive CD except their system can't process > 40,000 images via Archive CD.

They keep canceling my order without comment. [ed: emphasis mine]

(Current photo storage: 62.532 GB Used,
219 galleries,
Your Archive CD Pricing:
Number of Photos: 42666
Cost of your CD: $667.85 FYI).

Works like a champ. Send me an address and I'll send you some beer or money or something.

It's one thing to charge, and it's another thing to charge a user $700. But to not even be able to process that order is incompetent and absurd. To be honest, I made the same mistake. I thought Kodak was a good enough brand. Evidently good enough to eat 70 gigabytes of cherished photos and require an open source ruby script to extricate it.

Deepak, I'm glad the script ended up being useful for you. User generated content sites of any kind should heed this rule: Let users download their data. Making a buck is fine, and in fact necessary. But when you're dealing with people's memories, do not hold them hostage.


18 responses
Well said Garry.
Wow, that's absurd indeed!
But take a look at one of the internet's powerhouses when it comes to photo sharing: Flickr.
To this day I know not of an easy solution to download all of your photos in original quality from the site.
So, is there any place out there (free or affordable) that lets you upload your pictures and download them, in an easy intuitive (i.e. non 3rd party app needed) way?
I had the same experience a month ago, but I luckily I didn't have that many photos on their site. It got me furious to the point of deciding never to use a Kodak product ever again. I think its outrageous to threaten to delete a user's data without even giving them a way to download the data without paying some outrageous fee.

Anyway, I say good riddance. Switch to flickr, picasa, shutterfly or any of the other BETTER services out there.

thanks for the info Garry and most of all thanks for the last paragraph!
but this is ,may be, what we gone have to face from all services providing "in the clouds" services from now on and the early future.
Who knows?
Gary .. .any way to get this to work on the Mac?
Given how highly I regard you and the Posterous team I didn't think it was possible for you to go UP in my estimation, Garry, but you just proved me wrong. Well done, Sir!
Yvette -- actually yes, the ruby script should work just fine on a mac. Just paste it into a text file named downloader.rb, edit the place where it says username and password, then in Shell, go to that directory and run "./downloader.rb" and it will download to the same directory its in.
I can't stand Kodak, I will never buy anything from them. Their software for the pc is invasive. I always go back to Flickr for backing up pictures. For the yearly price it is the best deal out there and I have access to several sizes to embed IMHO.
A friend of mine had the EXACT same experience, albeit with a less-steep charge for getting the CDs from Kodak. $700... unreal.

Check out his story here, along with responses from the guys at Kodak : http://www.tagsmith.org/2009/05/28/dear-kodak-stop-holding-my-pictures-hostage/

I hope they've learned their lesson- no one wants their pictures held hostage...

Thanks Gary. I get "permission denied" when executing the script - is there something you can think of that I may have done wrong? I changed the username email and password to that of my kodak gallery.

try typing "chmod 755 ./downloader.rb" before running "./downloader.rb"

I was running Tiger, so I had to do some updating of ruby and rubygems before it would work. I can help you with that if you need it.

When I ran it, it died after about 26G which tells me that Kodak may reset something before everything can come down. I am probably going to modify the code to either pick up where it left off or multithread to get everything it needs down.

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