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Author Topic: Strange Suspension by Shutterstock - is This Normal?  (Read 12377 times)

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Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« on: July 14, 2016, 01:08 »
+2
This morning I woke up to this message:

Quote
Dear Leo Blanchette,

Shutterstock, Inc. ("Shutterstock") has discovered that an image or images in your portfolio appears to have elements that are copies of another individual or entity's work and, therefore, belong to that individual or entity.

The original image is believed to be a clipart illustration from Microsoft Office '95.

Your image(s) are attached to this email.

Currently, we have suspended your Shutterstock account. Prior to taking any further steps, we are inviting you to respond to this claim.

At the minimum, please let us know:

a) where, when and by whom the image(s) in question was created;

b) how you obtained the idea for the image; and

c) what program, if any, was used to generate or modify the image(s)

If it turns out that the claim is without merit we will not take any further action and your account will remain active.

Please respond to this email within three (3) days. If you fail to respond by said date with the information we outline above, your Shutterstock.com submitter account may be closed.

Regards,


Shutterstock Compliance

ref:_00D301GgSC._500a019nzlI:ref

See attached image (you might have to log in to see it)

Oddly enough, the image that was claimed to have been lifted (or copied?) was not included. Google searches do not reveal anything similar. So I'm in the dark as to what they are talking about. Its just a claim that it's copied without any reference to the supposedly copied work.

I'm not against the idea that little faceless humanoids might chance to look like other faceless humanoids in the clipart world, but this is one of my oldest images, derived from the orange people, which have always had a fairly solid / unique place in the micro world.

What image are they referring to? Certainly the pen is my own work, and the red woman was just recolored from the orange version.

I can almost assume that this was probably a mistake by an overly-automated process or perhaps a trigger-happy employee? Maybe a competitor trying to make trouble? Anyone else been through this? I'd hate to lose this account for nothing.



Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2016, 01:24 »
0
Adding to the trouble, my latest images (which are actually among the best, and good sellers) seem to have been deleted as well, the only ones remaining being the upload batches I did 6 months ago with my last illustration run

http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-94784p1.html

EDIT:

While my portfolio seems to be docked on the public end, there still seems to be my latest images in the system http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=444514033

Unfortunately I don't live/breathe microstock like I used to so I don't know if this sort of thing is typical.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2016, 01:31 by Leo »

« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2016, 03:27 »
+5
I guess you just have to answer their questions and hope that satisfies them.....not sure what anyone here can say.
"b) how you obtained the idea for the image" is a funny one I guess there is a line between near copy and "inspired by". There are very few completely original images imho.

« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2016, 03:37 »
+5
I can't believe they only give people 3 days before closing an account.  There are many times when I don't go on the internet for 3 days and I could lose my account over something that is a mistake.  How can that be fair to contributors?

Leo, you said "Certainly the pen is my own work, and the red woman was just recolored from the orange version."  So are you also certain the orange version of the woman is your own work?  If that is the case, you just need to explain it to them.  Hopefully this is just a case of it being such a common thing to illustrate that it's almost impossible not to have some similarities.

Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2016, 03:55 »
0
I can't believe they only give people 3 days before closing an account.  There are many times when I don't go on the internet for 3 days and I could lose my account over something that is a mistake.  How can that be fair to contributors?

Leo, you said "Certainly the pen is my own work, and the red woman was just recolored from the orange version."  So are you also certain the orange version of the woman is your own work?  If that is the case, you just need to explain it to them.  Hopefully this is just a case of it being such a common thing to illustrate that it's almost impossible not to have some similarities.

I guess you just have to answer their questions and hope that satisfies them.....not sure what anyone here can say.
"b) how you obtained the idea for the image" is a funny one I guess there is a line between near copy and "inspired by". There are very few completely original images imho.

We'll have to see. Other than "yes its my work, no I didn't copy it" there is nothing I can do. Without a reference image behind the accusation I'm just sort of left with a "defend yourself!" but no obvious reason, except there exists somewhere in microsoft clipart 1995 which is not actually presented. Its sort of like having accusations brought against you but with no proof and the accuser hides, but the judge insists that you defend yourself against a claim that is not entirely clear.

I'd like to know if any of you internet gurus (besides myself  ;)) could possibly find which image they are referring to. I've been ripped off many times and you can find my work for free all over the internet due to it's being stolen. I don't bother chasing anymore, but getting accused of stealing is a new thing for me (other than an obvious scam regarding a dragon I did). There is only so much a person can do in this business (or tolerate for that matter)
« Last Edit: July 14, 2016, 04:03 by Leo »

« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2016, 04:10 »
+1
Answer their questions and show them your original files.

Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2016, 04:21 »
0
Answer their questions and show them your original files.

That I've done :D unfortunately its just a vector but all explanations have been given.

« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2016, 04:32 »
+3
SS suck at this. They are the slowest to respond to legit infringements and often come up with bizarre rulings on non legit infringements.

One illustration is similar to a piece of clip art from a two decades old piece of software?  and they want to suspend a very long standing contributors account with a previously unblemished record? really?

Best of luck getting this sorted. I hope they take a good look at this and rethink. If Microsoft is putting on the thumbscrews they need to just delete the one illustration.

Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2016, 04:49 »
+1
SS suck at this. They are the slowest to respond to legit infringements and often come up with bizarre rulings on non legit infringements.

One illustration is similar to a piece of clip art from a two decades old piece of software?  and they want to suspend a very long standing contributors account with a previously unblemished record? really?

Best of luck getting this sorted. I hope they take a good look at this and rethink. If Microsoft is putting on the thumbscrews they need to just delete the one illustration.

I'll let you know what results. Personally I've been watching artists like CubeBrush https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKtu_JtQCY0yryIy6zK4ZCg and have been turned on to a career outside microstock. The guy even worked at blizzard (I love their art) so this little issue is just a little nudge to start redirecting.

I'll get back in a few days. I must have sent them 5 responses through email and support. Hopefully it gets through.

« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2016, 10:23 »
+7
Im sorry to hear that Leo.

It looks like a completely unfair suspension, and i hope you can solve it soon.

In the other hand i want to comment that with almost 100 million images at SS and almost 1 new million images per week the chances of a new uploaded image looking similar in concept or design to a previous image grows exponentially (just a comment, I know that is not the current case).

Good luck with your issue.

Best regards.

Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2016, 15:56 »
+8
Scary indeed, but things are ok now.

Here is response:

Quote
Dear Leo Blanchette,

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.  We take copyright infringement seriously and when there is a claim we take every measure to thoroughly investigate.  Based upon the agreement you consented to when becoming a contributor, we retain the sole discretion to suspend accounts that may have infringing content, until matters are resolved.

Uploading has been turned back on and your account has been reactivated.

Regards,

Shutterstock Compliance

If nothing else the iron fist on the matter really shows what can happen to an actual plagiarizer, so that is good. The same system would crush a pirate in a second if they had undeniably stolen my work, so for that I am thankful.

Mostly I was concerned I would become collateral damage by a giant system not tuned for the details, but the end result is that they did a proper inspection and recognized the legitimacy of my image.

That being said, and nothing against Shutterstock in particular - I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS BUSINESS LOL


« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2016, 16:02 »
0
Lets be fair sounds like the did a good job on this the system worked though you were unfortunate to be singled out...someone jealous of your work I wonder?

Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2016, 16:43 »
+2
Lets be fair sounds like the did a good job on this the system worked though you were unfortunate to be singled out...someone jealous of your work I wonder?

I doubt anyone is jealous of my work. Problem is though (as you elude to) these systems which are sincerely intended to be legitimate are often weaponized by competitors just to cause damage. Even now I have to watch and see if my images will suffer a search decline due to their temporary deactivation.


« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2016, 17:23 »
+5
Scary indeed, but things are ok now. ..


Glad it's been resolved, but given how long you've been with SS, I'm surprised you didn't get more considerate treatment. Not to say that longstanding contributors couldn't do wrong, but it's pretty clear they're not just in this for a few quick bucks made from stealing other's work.

Makes me wonder if they're testing out some new automated scanning of work (rather than you being reported by someone who thought you stole their stuff or who wanted to hurt you to favor their own work). I don't recall anyone complaining about this sort of thing recently (which you think would happen if a new tool was casting too wide a net).

Did they explain anything about the allegations made? Seems like due process principles would include a right to know the charges and see the evidence against you...

Tror

« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2016, 17:48 »
0
Some years ago I knew a guy who received the same mail (exactly same wording). He was an illustrator too, a new contributor and from a poor country. He asked me for help. They revealed to him the file in question and I thought SS is crazy. The illustration was the same subject but both very different to each other and definitely not a copy. The account got suspended and he never got it back. For no reason IMHO.

Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2016, 18:14 »
+2
Hi JoAnne! Hope you are well!

These days I'm happy to settle for the lesser evil. Copyright can be very enigmatic and subjective the same as any other specialty area of law. I try to stick with the usual rules and hope for the best. In the end its who can stack the most money on the scale of justice, especially when it comes to the cryptic laws and expensive lawyers who interpret them. Its a bonus I've even made it this far as an artist I suppose.

Regarding showing the image:
Quote
We are hoping you can provide concrete answers to these questions, and they do not require comparison to any other image. 

Most agencies can drop you with or without cause (according to their fine print) so its a bonus that it even worked out, and for that I'm thankful.



Leo

  • http://www.clipartillustration.com

« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2016, 18:26 »
+2
I do try to stay out of MSG, so I'll close on this note:

If anyone can ever find the image in Microsoft Clipart '95 that is supposedly very similar (possibly identical to the point that a source file would be demanded) please post it here.

I'd like to see if any such image exists, at least for my own curiosity.

Thank you,

Leo


« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2016, 19:10 »
0
I don't recall anyone complaining about this sort of thing recently

Shutterstock did a similar thing to sweetsixty last month (6/2). She/He posted about it here...

Topic: Shutterstock Termination

« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2016, 19:17 »
+3
I don't recall anyone complaining about this sort of thing recently

Shutterstock did a similar thing to sweetsixty last month (6/2). She/He posted about it here...

Topic: Shutterstock Termination


There was no real info there about the type of problem that prompted closure beyond one poster saying they thought that was use of public domain imagery without crediting it as such. If that's the case, that's a bit different from suspected plagiarism or copyright infringement.

« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2016, 04:11 »
0
Great news!!! This really was on odd one. So glad you got it sorted in the end!

« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2016, 15:34 »
+1
I've had a semi similar experience once as well http://www.microstockgroup.com/shutterstock-com/weird-compaling-from-shutterstock-someone-else-is-claiming-my-images/
Person claimed I took their face and merged it with someone else's body. Thankfully for me I was both photog and the model so it was easy to fix.

If you are curious though ask them for the reference if they are claiming you copy.  Hopefully they provide it to you so you can compare.

« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2016, 23:37 »
+3
Shutterstock's policy seems to be to suspend accounts upon receipt of any suggestion of infringement, even those that aren't based on much solid evidence. It's a bit frightening that seemingly anyone can get anyone else's account suspended with just an email and an accusation.

Shutterstock does also work with contributors to resolve these issues when the contributor is innocent. But there's no recovering lost earnings during the suspension while the investigation takes place.

« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2016, 09:54 »
0
Shutterstock's policy seems to be to suspend accounts upon receipt of any suggestion of infringement, even those that aren't based on much solid evidence. It's a bit frightening that seemingly anyone can get anyone else's account suspended with just an email and an accusation.

First time I hear about this - and frankly it's scaring me quite a bit! Is this only Shutterstock or are any other agencies known to handle suspected copyright infringements in a similar way?

« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2016, 11:53 »
0
Think though of the possible implications of if they don't react strongly.
At that point couldny that open up SS for liability if they continued to sell the image after being notified of copyright infringement. It's much the same as any normal dmca notice. Remove the possible infringing file to limit liability per the dmca and then investigate from there. And even if it's a case of obvious they are full of the what fell out of the back side of a cow they are going to do some sort of investigation so they have that paper trail showing they did look into it hence asking the artist in question. Plus it is also following the dmca by giving way to allow the artist to counter which is what is required to at least take SS out if the loop of liability. You gave counter notice now SS can legally put the image back up and liability now falls on you not them


 

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