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Author Topic: Nearly 1,000 fake accounts selling stolen photos discovered.  (Read 2959 times)

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« on: February 22, 2024, 05:49 »
+14
Good morning, I wanted to share with you a document showing almost 1,000 fake shutterstock accounts where stolen photos and images are resold.
The problem unfortunately does not only concern Shutterstock but also other sites, which is why I preferred to post in the general forum.
Currently, an Italian photographer named Antonio Gravante is conducting a tough search for the fake accounts and has managed to shut down many dozens of them by contacting Shutterstock directly. Unfortunately, the process is long and complicated.
He seems to have much better luck with Adobe, which is much less complicated and more responsive.
As you can see in the document (continuously updated), the links in red are those currently closed, while those in blue are still active.
I recommend that you check the presence of your images and in case report the problem further to Shutterstock.
The reality is that many thousands of stolen images are regularly sold, depriving the real authors of their earnings.
I hope you find this report helpful.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N1oYYhfCVKP4llm7aC7GSeWjjs4DFhLcb3QWAT2kcXw/edit


« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2024, 06:01 »
+8
Thanks Gualtiero,
I hope there is more participation from everyone, it's about protecting our work and our copyright.

If you want to follow the updates, friend me on Facebook: newbielink:https://www.facebook.com/antonio.gravantestockphoto/ [nonactive]

« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2024, 06:04 »
+10
What is happening at Shutterstock is desperate and frustrating. There are many accounts with stolen photos. They only delete the photos that are reported and those accounts with stolen photos are still active. We need more participation

« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2024, 09:14 »
+8
AI does so many great things. Why not use it to detect these thieves? I don't think it's difficult ...

And then I believe that to enter these agencies from now, you have to pass a very tough entry test of 100 images, to guarantee quality for subscribers and to guarantee REAL contributors.

90% of Shutterstock images are snapshots or stolen images. The quality of the offer has deteriorated a lot.

« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2024, 09:24 »
+9
It is absolutely incomprehensible to me - especially in times of ever-improving AI - why newly uploaded images are not compared with images already in the database during the review process. This could be an automated process.

New images (also mirrored) could be checked as easily as with the google reverse image search.

Perhaps there is a reason why not much emphasis is placed on this.

If it is discovered that someone has an account with stolen images, the account will be closed and the money that has not yet been paid out will certainly be withheld. The return of money that has already been paid out may also be demanded. So it's a win-win situation for the agencies because they get the money for selling the images but don't have to pay anything to the contributor.

And the contributor who actually took the image does not receive any compensation anyway.

Conclusion: Accounts with stolen images and videos that are discovered are a lucrative source of income. Therefore, the effort to prevent this is non-existent.

« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2024, 09:58 »
+5
On a simple search I found three thieves using my pictures on Adobe Stock. Two of them have already been blocked.
That's right, it's not a complicated process, I don't understand why these companies don't do the process automatically during reviews.

 >:(

« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2024, 10:24 »
+5
Shutterstock doesn't do anything to find those thieves.  It's always us contributors finding them and reporting them.  It's ridiculous Shutterstock allow this to keep happening for years.

« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2024, 10:30 »
+8
We have to start protesting, otherwise there will be no difference between closing the account and not earning anything anymore. The customers are there and the photos are useful, the rest is lies. The problems are oversupply, free photo sites, scammers, and agencies with cheap memberships with unlimited downloads.

« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2024, 04:02 »
+7
A big thanks to the efforts of Antonio Gravante who had more than 500 accounts of stolen images removed from Shutterstock, great work!  You can see in the initial link the progress of his work, in red the accounts removed and unfortunately the increasing number of fraudulent accounts discovered.

« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2024, 05:17 »
+2
It is absolutely incomprehensible to me - especially in times of ever-improving AI - why newly uploaded images are not compared with images already in the database during the review process. This could be an automated process.

New images (also mirrored) could be checked as easily as with the google reverse image search.

Perhaps there is a reason why not much emphasis is placed on this.

If it is discovered that someone has an account with stolen images, the account will be closed and the money that has not yet been paid out will certainly be withheld. The return of money that has already been paid out may also be demanded. So it's a win-win situation for the agencies because they get the money for selling the images but don't have to pay anything to the contributor.

And the contributor who actually took the image does not receive any compensation anyway.

Conclusion: Accounts with stolen images and videos that are discovered are a lucrative source of income. Therefore, the effort to prevent this is non-existent.

Yeah, sounds like a disgusting strategy of a further increase of earnings. Brutal, what a mess this industry had become. I would never ever invest time of producing real photos anymore.

« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2024, 06:24 »
+4
A big thanks to the efforts of Antonio Gravante who had more than 500 accounts of stolen images removed from Shutterstock, great work!  You can see in the initial link the progress of his work, in red the accounts removed and unfortunately the increasing number of fraudulent accounts discovered.
Yeah big thumbs up to the efforts of Antonio Gravante!

« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2024, 07:12 »
+1
Great work Gualtiero! Didn't someone in the past have a wack a mole program and SS punished that person instead of the thieves?

« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2024, 07:53 »
+1
Part of the reason it seems to be "encouraged" - is it appears to be part of the blackrock/vanguard "strategy" to get people to "demand" a "digitalID". (I.e., id2020.org).
If they "let" people steal (usually east indians/different culture, considered "good business" if you can steal someone's stuff and get away with it) - then people "demand" to be "protected", and "voila", "digitalID" (and the digital ID is actually really really bad, because it is a control mechanism designed to take away people's income if they "disagree" or say something against a "govt" entity, i.e., what happened last 4 years).

That's the 'bigger picture' view.

And I also do agree since the agencies seem to just 'keep the income' if it is reported - it is a 'bonus' for them.

So in terms of what should be done...

a) Keep getting those accounts that steal shut down.
b) Get pressure on the agencies to give the income to those whom it was taken away from.

I'd say what this guy is doing is very good, making a public database of stolen accounts.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2024, 08:10 by SuperPhoto »

« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2024, 12:41 »
+6
Thanks to Antonio Gravante! Really wonderful hard work he's doing.

It's so weird that the agencies all say they are strict about having a policy that rejects "too many similars" and then they take thousands of identical images!

It seems like it should be easy to set up an automatic check to prevent identical images from being uploaded but perhaps it would also grab too many similar photographs? Like landmarks taken from a similar position much as you often find similar but not identical images when you do a google images search? That would then require a human to check - and I suspect the agencies pay reviewers poorly requiring them to get through as many images as possible in the shortest amount of time, so adding this burden would require the agencies to pay reviewers more - or to have a separate review process that checks for identical images paying for that part of the review separately - that would seem the fairest way.

We certainly deserve to have this kind of review to protect our work, which has already been so devalued by the concept of microstock. It's the least the agencies can do considering we bear all the costs of production and keywording.

DigitalID sounds like a great idea but then I live in a country where I can't imagine my government punishing me for what I post. I can see how it could be dangerous for those who are not so fortunate to have their work identified. I assume that's what @SuperPhoto is referring to? Or am I missing something. If it's widely available but voluntary, wouldn't that avoid the problem?


« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2024, 04:14 »
+4
Just to update the post, the fraudulent accounts discovered so far number more than 2,000, and we are only talking about photos for the time being, illustrations and videos have not been considered. The problem is huge, remember that every image that is stolen and sold takes money away from you. If you find any of your images in fraudulent accounts ALWAYS report them to Shutterstock.

« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2024, 06:26 »
0
« Last Edit: July 10, 2024, 09:59 by zebra007 »

« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2024, 10:53 »
+6
thief https://www.shutterstock.com/g/MARENZO

Shutterstock should be ashamed of themselves for just bailing on any sort of rigor in their inspection process.

Aside from the obvious unlikelihood of such a diverse, high-quality, varied subjects with only one of each, a google image search of two items from the first page of results quickly found two different contributors with those images uploaded to Adobe Stock (and given the image numbers they were uploaded waaaay before December 2023

https://stock.adobe.com/images/sunset-in-sedona/175570428

https://stock.adobe.com/images/blumenwiese-hintergrund-panorama-sommerblumen/157514845

Given how easy it would be to pay close attention to uploads from new contributors, just for the first xxx uploads, what evidence is there that Shutterstock care's about excluding stolen work from their collection??

Edited to add that these two (probably more) are from other SS contributors and I just followed the links from the "similar" images in the thief's portfolio. SS's own technology is showing them that the images are already in the collection and they still accept them!

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-illustration/corner-panoramic-yoga-studio-white-wooden-2296191615
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/panorama-scenic-forest-fresh-green-deciduous-276530603
« Last Edit: July 10, 2024, 11:42 by Jo Ann Snover »


zeljkok

  • Non Linear Existence
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2024, 17:35 »
+2
Agencies will close thief accounts if they are reported, but otherwise do little to prevent fraud because there is nothing in it for them.  They get 85% (or whatever) regardless if asset has been downloaded from original creator port or stolen port.  As simple as that.

« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2024, 18:08 »
+1
They will close thief accounts, but dont they require it be reported by the copyright holder? They generally wont delete accounts if I notice a problem with someone elses images.

Agencies will close thief accounts if they are reported, but otherwise do little to prevent fraud because there is nothing in it for them.  They get 85% (or whatever) regardless if asset has been downloaded from original creator port or stolen port.  As simple as that.

« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2024, 02:54 »
0
Agencies will close thief accounts if they are reported, but otherwise do little to prevent fraud because there is nothing in it for them.  They get 85% (or whatever) regardless if asset has been downloaded from original creator port or stolen port.  As simple as that.

OK, but they are knowingly selling stolen material, legally are they not worried?

« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2024, 03:18 »
0
You could probably get more attention from Shutterstock, if you sue the buyers or the stolen images. Stock image users are supposed to give credit to the author, so you'll find credit lines such as "Thief name / Shutterstock". Those buyers don't have a valid image license as they bought stolen good. After you sue them, they will sue Shutterstock for the damage  :D

« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2024, 03:57 »
0
Complicated and very hypothetical...besides, the buyer is unaware of the problem, why involve him?

« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2024, 04:17 »
0
Shutterstock doesn't do anything to find those thieves.  It's always us contributors finding them and reporting them.  It's ridiculous Shutterstock allow this to keep happening for years.
It is not hitting their income. Chasing thieves - yes, additional expenses.

« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2024, 04:24 »
+1
Complicated and very hypothetical...besides, the buyer is unaware of the problem, why involve him?
Yes complicated, but you should also be able to receive a large damage compensation (it's based on the laws in your country though - I think if you're based in the US, you'll have a very large one).

Yes, the buyer is unaware and Shutterstock doesn't care about thieves (they get their commission either way). So what else can you do? Besides the buyer can sue Shutterstock for the damage inflicted and also make a win out of this. Shutterstock will try to make the thief contributor pay, which is probably going to be difficult with most of them - but in any case they will suspend their account.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2024, 12:11 »
+3
You could probably get more attention from Shutterstock, if you sue the buyers or the stolen images. Stock image users are supposed to give credit to the author, so you'll find credit lines such as "Thief name / Shutterstock". Those buyers don't have a valid image license as they bought stolen good. After you sue them, they will sue Shutterstock for the damage  :D

You can't sue a buyer who downloads the image in good faith, based on the promise from SS that the images are safe. You might sue SS, but I'll bet there's something in the TOS that says, you can't.

As I've suggested and others have as well, the answer is a class action suit, but first someone has to find an attorney who's will to take the case on a contingency. If there's enough money is taking the case and getting their percentage, this would be a done deal. Either none see the potential or the chance of winning are too slim.

Last of all, maybe petition the US justice department to investigate ShutterStock for not protecting our rights and images. The only reason SS isn't responsible is, they claim to be monitoring and catching the illegal activities. If someone can prove, that SS is unresponsive and neglecting their duty, that would wake up the agency to check for stolen images and thief accounts with sincerity.


 

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