Photobucket ticked off a lot of people by sneakily disabling photos its users had posted to other sites, then demanding $400 a year to make them show up again.
And after a couple weeks of building resentment, the image hosting website finally responded to the complaints.
Photobucket's stance? We had to do this because we're making no money, and if you don't like it you can take your photos and leave.
Photobucket says it's expensive, generates no money
The whole reason users were mad is because Photobucket didn't make it very clear this was happening. They said the terms and conditions were being updated, but didn't include any mention of disabling hotlinking unless you paid $399.99 a year.
Hotlinking, aka third-party hosting, is when you upload an image to Photobucket, then use it directly on another site.
This was pretty common for people selling stuff on eBay or Amazon, and for lots of bloggers. Many were unexpectedly greeted by this on their site instead of their actual photos:
As Photobucket CEO John Corpus explained in a release, three-quarters of the company's costs come from people hotlinking to images, but not paying anything to do so. Third-party hosting generates zero revenue for them.
Photobucket, he said, generally relied on advertising to make money to cover those costs. But the rise of ad blockers plus other changes in advertising have made their model "no longer sustainable."
So they've made third-party hosting part of the top-end subscription plan, at a price they call "competitive."
Don't like it? Go elsewhere
Photobucket emphasizes everyone still has access to their own photos, and can download them any time. (Directions to do so are here.) The change only affects seeing your photos on another site.
So if you're unhappy with the new $399.99 a year plan to hotlink?
"Photobucket users who elect not to subscribe to the Plus 500 plan are always able to access all of their photos and migrate to alternative solutions if they so desire," the company's release says.
Corpus said early results have been good (which means he probably hasn't been checking Photobucket's Twitter mentions), and called the decision a "path to a more sustainable business model."
So do people forgive Photobucket?
Lol come on.