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Author Topic: 5 yr conttributor: just sharing some experience  (Read 5873 times)

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« on: October 12, 2011, 15:00 »
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I started contributing in 2006 and wanted to share a disappointing experience. Not to spread any negative publicity about shutterstock but to make my opinion known. earlier this year I had a 4000 strong portfolio, mostly photos and illustrations. Shutterstock one day removed 1500 files from it due to 'non creative content'. This was because they thought images rendered using the filterforge plugin did not represent any creative content. I was disappointed but somewhat agreed with them because many contributors were using filterforge to create massive amount of similar renderings.
 In a following submission I included two more filter forge files as I thought they were somewhat original and took some time to create. Apparently shutterstock  did not like it.

The following day I received an email notice that my account has been suspended and I need to contact shutterstock. Well i tried to contact them. By email...no reply. via the site..no reply. via fax..no reply. via US mail..no reply
This was the part that really dsiappointed me as unprofessional conduct. if you need to close an account of a contributor that's fine. but not replying to communication that is just purely unprofessional. For example, I needed a confirmation that my account is permanently closed and I can make my photos exclusive on another site. Well...no way to get any communication from shutterstock. That was followed by account closure in BS which is now owned by shuttertock.

My communication did not dispute the action to close my account, the terms clearly state they can choose to do that at any time. The terms interestingly also state they can keep any accrued royalties, which I had about $500 worth. Well, now I will owe taxes on money that shuttesrtock will keep. That's not that big of a deal but the real disappointing part was the lack of communication. Any account closure anywhere (bank, investment, etc) is always done in writing. Any formal action against a contributor should also be done in writing. not at shutterstock...what a disappointing experience. thanks shutterstock!


« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2011, 15:46 »
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Try calling them.
1-866-663-3954

« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 15:57 »
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Try calling them.
1-866-663-3954

Pro, thanks for the suggestion. The phone number is not for contributors. it is for buyers only and they do not transfer calls, discuss contributor matters on take messages at that number. The first day i tried to call they said the website is the only way of contributor support. I've pretty much given up on that account, I just wish things would have happened in a different way.

« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 17:24 »
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"...The terms interestingly also state they can keep any accrued royalties, which I had about $500 worth. Well, now I will owe taxes on money that shuttesrtock will keep..."

I don't see how you can owe taxes on money which was not paid to you. I can't tell from your profile where you live, and I am not a tax attorney, but I think I can pretty much assure you that if you live in the US you do not have to pay taxes on microstock earnings which you never received.

« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2011, 19:51 »
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"...The terms interestingly also state they can keep any accrued royalties, which I had about $500 worth. Well, now I will owe taxes on money that shuttesrtock will keep..."

I don't see how you can owe taxes on money which was not paid to you. I can't tell from your profile where you live, and I am not a tax attorney, but I think I can pretty much assure you that if you live in the US you do not have to pay taxes on microstock earnings which you never received.

As is the case all around the world.

Slovenian

« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2011, 04:13 »
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"...The terms interestingly also state they can keep any accrued royalties, which I had about $500 worth. Well, now I will owe taxes on money that shuttesrtock will keep..."

I don't see how you can owe taxes on money which was not paid to you. I can't tell from your profile where you live, and I am not a tax attorney, but I think I can pretty much assure you that if you live in the US you do not have to pay taxes on microstock earnings which you never received.

As is the case all around the world.

Not true. In my country every company that send another a bill (to pay) automatically pays the 20% tax and it doesn't even matter if the other doesn't pay you. It's absurd, but that's how it is.

« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2011, 07:10 »
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^^ I didn't understand what you are talking about exactly, but the very basic principle of tax is you pay taxes on what you PROFIT.
No profit=no tax.
If the tax was pre paid in advance by one mean or another you could get a tax return at the end of the month/year.

« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2011, 07:14 »
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^^ I didn't understand what you are talking about exactly, but the very basic principle of tax is you pay taxes on what you PROFIT.
No profit=no tax.
If the tax was pre paid in advance by one mean or another you could get a tax return at the end of the month/year.

I suspect what Slovenian is talking about is VAT or sales tax (not income tax which is what matters in this case).

« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2011, 07:26 »
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If you get money from abroad, it is exempt from sales tax or VAT as far as I know.

Ed

« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2011, 07:53 »
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In the U.S., individuals are on a cash basis of accounting.  If you don't receive the cash, then you don't report it as income.  If Shutterstock sends you a 1099 and it does not tie to the cash you have received, then you need to dispute that 1099.  I don't know the tax laws abroad.

If your company is on an accrual basis of accounting, then you have the opportunity to write off bad debts and take them against income - again, not paying taxes on that money.

I'm sorry to hear that your account was shut down and I'm surprised that an account closure at Shutterstock also created an account closure at Bigstock.  That tells me that they aren't running them as two separate companies.  Interesting.

Slovenian

« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2011, 08:10 »
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^^ I didn't understand what you are talking about exactly, but the very basic principle of tax is you pay taxes on what you PROFIT.
No profit=no tax.
If the tax was pre paid in advance by one mean or another you could get a tax return at the end of the month/year.

I suspect what Slovenian is talking about is VAT or sales tax (not income tax which is what matters in this case).

Indeed, my mistake, since my comment wasn't (fully) relevant

Carl

  • Carl Stewart, CS Productions
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2011, 10:28 »
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As much as I appreciate Shutterstock's business model, web site design, and the daily sales that I get there, it's frightening and disconcerting that they would take this kind of action with no communication and no recourse.

nruboc

« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2011, 10:58 »
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.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 11:02 by nruboc »

Uncle Pete

  • Evidence please...

« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2011, 11:32 »
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"In a following submission I included two more filter forge files as I thought they were somewhat original and took some time to create. Apparently shutterstock  did not like it."

Are you having a problem because they warned you and you got caught or because they don't answer fast enough and in writing?

I think their support needs to perk up a bit and start responding and being available to artists, especially in situations like these where an account has been closed for problems with breaking the rules. I'd also think that the files sold have nothing to do with the future submissions and they should pay out and close the accounts, if they feel the accounts must be closed. You earned it from legitimate files and sales.

As for the last question, NO you don't have to pay taxes on money that was never paid to you. Of course I'm assuming that SS and BS will file a W-2 or income report at the end of the year, even for a closed account?

Fine mess isn't it?

If you finally do get an answer, please come back. It's always difficult to read a case like this and then never have the conclusion.

How long ago did all of this happen, you don't say if it's been a day, month, week or what?

« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2011, 12:10 »
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Race, this happened about 2 months ago. No I don;t have anything against Shutterstock, they are running a business and doing what they can. I'm a little bitter about the lack of communication and professional conduct but that's something you see just about anywhere these days. if I ever get an update from them ( like a letter from my dead uncle...) i will post it. I am also curious to see what's going to be on my 1099s from Shutterstock and Bigstock. Of course if it is incorrect I probably won;t bother to try and contact them.

« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2011, 00:43 »
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to me, only someone who is stealing other images to sell is serious enough to get banned. For most contributors, a suspension of few days in shutterstock is a loss enough to stop them. Most are there to earn a few bucks. Taking away all the remaining earnings isn't a good karma..

There are many ways to improve business but shutdown a contributor in this way just doesn't sound promising.

« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2011, 09:52 »
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I can say that 6 months after Shutterstock stated they will reply I have not heard from them...My statement still stands, this behavior is unprofessional. No reply to email, no reply to fax, no reply to US mail in writing (!). Phone? Don't even think about it if you are a contributor. Any business I have ever dealt with has in internal process of replying to to written mail..that's just part of doing business. I can't imagine Shutterstock being a part of an association such as BB or any other that has standards for conduct. if they did, well Shutterstock does not seem to be adhering to these standards.


helix7

« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2011, 10:22 »
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...Shutterstock one day removed 1500 files from it due to 'non creative content'. This was because they thought images rendered using the filterforge plugin did not represent any creative content. I was disappointed but somewhat agreed with them because many contributors were using filterforge to create massive amount of similar renderings.

In a following submission I included two more filter forge files as I thought they were somewhat original and took some time to create. Apparently shutterstock  did not like it.

The following day I received an email notice that my account has been suspended...

So you had filter forge content removed, which I would think would be a clear message that such content is no longer acceptable. And then you immediately submit more filter forge content. Sorry, you're not getting any sympathy from me. Frankly I think you deserve what you got.

And I have doubts that you've even tried to call them. SS is pretty easy to get on the phone with, I've had no trouble talking with a rep, and I've had no trouble getting email responses either, usually within a day or two. I suspect that you haven't really given enough of an effort to get this resolved by phone, and your emails may be given a very low priority since you blatantly ignored the new policy about filter forge images and opted to just do whatever you wanted to do and upload more of them.

Your behavior was unprofessional, and a 6-month (or longer) time-out isn't unreasonable if you ask me. They gave you fair warning about the change in policy, you spit in their faces, and now you want them to respond faster to your requests to reassess your own poor behavior and violation of their rules? Come on.

velocicarpo

« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2011, 10:45 »
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...Shutterstock one day removed 1500 files from it due to 'non creative content'. This was because they thought images rendered using the filterforge plugin did not represent any creative content. I was disappointed but somewhat agreed with them because many contributors were using filterforge to create massive amount of similar renderings.

In a following submission I included two more filter forge files as I thought they were somewhat original and took some time to create. Apparently shutterstock  did not like it.

The following day I received an email notice that my account has been suspended...

So you had filter forge content removed, which I would think would be a clear message that such content is no longer acceptable. And then you immediately submit more filter forge content. Sorry, you're not getting any sympathy from me. Frankly I think you deserve what you got.

And I have doubts that you've even tried to call them. SS is pretty easy to get on the phone with, I've had no trouble talking with a rep, and I've had no trouble getting email responses either, usually within a day or two. I suspect that you haven't really given enough of an effort to get this resolved by phone, and your emails may be given a very low priority since you blatantly ignored the new policy about filter forge images and opted to just do whatever you wanted to do and upload more of them.

Your behavior was unprofessional, and a 6-month (or longer) time-out isn't unreasonable if you ask me. They gave you fair warning about the change in policy, you spit in their faces, and now you want them to respond faster to your requests to reassess your own poor behavior and violation of their rules? Come on.

The contributors behaviour was unprofessional? This type of response is surely based on emotional rejection of truth. Random account closure and hiding a valid Phone number for Contributors is unprofessional. Beyond that, SS`s  rules are very random and unclear....like: "
if you use this Filter we close your account and destroy a large part of your income without even talking to you, and if you use that filter, everything is ok, but we won`t tell you before..."

SS is unprofessional. Not the Contribotur who DID NOT VIOLATE ANY TERMS. Period.

helix7

« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2011, 10:56 »
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SS is unprofessional. Not the Contribotur who DID NOT VIOLATE ANY TERMS. Period.

SS has always stated that the artist must be the creator of everything in their images. Using filter forge was always sort of a gray area.

Even if it was allowed, they changed the policy and gave everyone that used filter forge fair warning. The OP decided to continue uploading filter forge-generated images AFTER the policy change. I'd say that's a clear violation of terms.

ShadySue

« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2011, 11:26 »
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SS is unprofessional. Not the Contribotur who DID NOT VIOLATE ANY TERMS. Period.


SS has always stated that the artist must be the creator of everything in their images. Using filter forge was always sort of a gray area.

Even if it was allowed, they changed the policy and gave everyone that used filter forge fair warning. The OP decided to continue uploading filter forge-generated images AFTER the policy change. I'd say that's a clear violation of terms.


The FilterForge (I had to look it up: always something new to learn) FAQ says clearly, "You can use the Filter Library filters for commercial or non-commercial purposes as long as you don't violate the law or someone else's rights. "
http://www.filterforge.com/wiki/index.php/10q
I am saying nothing about this case, except that if it's true that SS has held onto outstanding money that is pretty bad.

« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2011, 11:52 »
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My apologies, I did not mean this to be a thread of bad mouthing shutterstock. I will send a note to the administrator to see if this thread can be deleted as it does not seem to produce much productive discussion.

« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2011, 11:56 »
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it is stated in the faq that shutterstock can take the remaining earnings and earnings from your bigstock too, if a contributors was put under suspension? and is suspension means a close down of account? or it is a suspension of months?

and in the faq it mentioned a contributors may need to put back status that need to resubmit 10 images as contributors again, but it is not what is happening..

velocicarpo

« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2011, 14:09 »
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SS is unprofessional. Not the Contribotur who DID NOT VIOLATE ANY TERMS. Period.

SS has always stated that the artist must be the creator of everything in their images. Using filter forge was always sort of a gray area.

Even if it was allowed, they changed the policy and gave everyone that used filter forge fair warning. The OP decided to continue uploading filter forge-generated images AFTER the policy change. I'd say that's a clear violation of terms.

Wrong. Read their terms. Artists are allowed to use 3rd party tools when the license of the 3rd party allows it. The named company explicitly allowes the use of their filters in stock. Read and think before you write.

Here are the lines from the Shutterstock agreement:
"e.  if the Submitted Content consists in whole or in part of design elements, fonts, clipart, sprites, vectors, brush tools and the like that are included in design programs (e.g., Photoshop, Daz, Illustrator) by uploading such Submitted Content to Shutterstock, you warrant and represent that the end user license agreement, terms of service or the equivalent license held by you does allow you to incorporate such elements in Submitted Content created by you, and to license such Submitted Content to Shutterstock for the purposes set forth herein;"
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 14:11 by velocicarpo »

helix7

« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2011, 14:28 »
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Item 14 of those same terms states that "...Shutterstock reserves the right to modify these terms at any time and to notify you by an announcement on your login page of the modifications. You agree to be bound by all such changes."

They changed a policy, icholakov was notified, the change was ignored, hence the suspension. More than justified and well within the rights of SS to do so.

Do you seriously believe that ignoring a change in policy and continuing to upload content that you've been told not to upload is ok?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 14:32 by helix7 »


 

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