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Author Topic: Selling POD stuff, are there any rules?  (Read 3982 times)

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« on: December 25, 2020, 05:11 »
+1
Here's an example of one of my images being sold as prints, phone covers etc.  No watermark, no reference to any stock agency, no reference to artists or licenses. 


https://www.amazon.com/Hitecera-Lichen-Growing-Willow-Artwork/dp/B08MQMMHV6?th=1

https://www.amazon.com/Yellow-Lichen-Growing-Willow-Compatible/dp/B0895MHFC9?th=1

Would you consider this legitimate? 

This image has never been sold as EL and I am not selling it on any POD site. 

This is not the first time I have found my images sold in dubious sites, as wall papers, wall art, towels etc., but usually there is some trace of a stock agency licensing the image.  This time there is none.

So how can you tell if someone is selling POD stuff of your images legally or just stealing from you?  Are there any strict rules for this kind of use of images? 

edit.  Searched a bit more Amazon for this image of mine and  found several other brands and sellers using this image in similar ways.  Google image search does not find these but if I search for the title of this image I have in Alamy I find several sellers in Amazon.   Like this one

https://www.amazon.com/TinYida-Yellow-Growing-Hanging-24X12In/dp/B08925N9QX?th=1

All are recently launched and all are under different brands.  Some are private persons and some are companies.   











 

 






« Last Edit: December 25, 2020, 07:36 by henri »


« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2020, 07:22 »
+1
D.F.HEIM CONSTRUCTION INC.
Ships from United States.
Sold byD.F.HEIM CONSTRUCTION INC.
Just launched


Contact them and ask them where they got your photograph.

« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2020, 08:36 »
0
Thanks, I contacted one on the sellers already through Amazon but have not received any answers so far. 

I know mine is just one particular case of possibly illegitimate use of images and as such not so interesting.  But this is Amazon and it is possible to leave negative seller feedback and contact Amazon.  That might make a difference here. 

But mostly I would like to known what is legitimate and what is not when selling others images as PODs.   How do you recognize an illegitimate POD use?  Contacting the sellers makes no sense unless you are pretty sure the use is illegitimate.  if you have a lot of images in a number of agencies (I have about 10.000 in various agencies) it is not any more possible to track the legitimate uses. 

 



 

« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2020, 09:22 »
+2
If you have not had an extended license sale, report the theft to Amazon. 

« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2020, 10:29 »
0
Thanks Hannafate

Can you tell me why you are sure that this is a theft?  I also believe that this is a theft but how can you tell a legitimate POD from illegitimate?  What is it exactly in my case that makes it a theft?

Does the seller of the POD need to buy EL before the print is purchased by a customer?  Or the coffee mug? 

Can the seller use just RF subscription license to put the POD on sale?  Or can the seller of the POD just use the free image option of SS?

I know I have my images all over the POD market without EL licenses but I believe these are mostly some sort of affiliates of agencies and only resellers of the agencies.  I believe these are mostly legitimate PODs as the images must be uploaded from agencies every time the POD is sold and that way I get my 10 cents or whatever. 

So how can I tell for sure that my images are being stolen in this case?  If there is no way to know for sure without contacting the sellers in each and every case then this is a dead end and waste of time.



 
   





Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2020, 12:39 »
+2

Can the seller use just RF subscription license to put the POD on sale? 
 

What site did they download from, they are not all the same.

« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2020, 14:27 »
+1
I am selling images on many sites so there is no way I can tell from which site they downloaded.  This is at the heart of the problem.  If the POD seller gives no info about anything, the artists has no way of knowing from which site the images originated.  All the info I have is that they are selling my images as PODs with no mention on the original site/artist/licences.  If no one can tell, based on all this info, whether the PODs are legitimate or not, there is really very little point in trying to chase the illegitimate uses or thefts. 

I am trying to ask the wider question here.  How can you tell if someone is selling POD stuff of your images legally or just stealing from you?  Are there any rules for this kind of use of images?   

 








« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2020, 17:43 »
+2
As far as I know, rule is that reselling usually is not allowed with standard license. Just try to find pricing on sites where you are uploading, there are usually short explanations or conparisons of licenses.

« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2020, 18:02 »
+3
Quote
   How can you tell if someone is selling POD stuff of your images legally or just stealing from you?   

You cant. Assume every one of your images has been stolen, because they more than likely have.

The only way to know has already been mentioned. If you are selling at 5 sites, look on those 5 sites for an extended license sale. If you have none, then someone either bought a standard license and is using it illegally, or someone actually stole it and is using the image as their own.

Welcome to the wild, wild west of royalty-free.

If you are selling on many sites (more than 5), you have probably lost control of your property.

I have been selling images since 2004. I am down to one site now, Adobe, but I imagine my images are all over creation for free by now. No wonder sales suck.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2020, 18:06 by cathyslife »

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2020, 18:49 »
+2
There are some micro sites which seem to rely on this sort of vendor to be honest and purchase an EL (or equivalent) if they actually sell something. So you need to know from where the vendor acquired the image, then whether that site has this sort of deal. So it could be legitimate, or maybe not. However, if you charge in accusing someone if illegality where there is none, some agencies could take a dim view of you hassling a legitimate user and ban you. Check your contracts with all the sites you sell that image through and see if they have a clause effectively giving them first dibs on chasing up infringements.

Of course, if the vendor would reply to you, you'd be able to check the situation with the agency they claim to have the deal with.

Good luck getting this resolved.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2020, 19:27 by ShadySue »

« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2020, 21:41 »
+6
A long time ago, agencies started to allow image resellers - prints, wallpaper or other merchandise - to display images from the agency without paying any royalties up front. If an image sold, each print/mug/whatever would generate a regular license sale.

Fotolia was the first to do this, I think, and their reasoning (when contributors complained about this) was that an individual could purchase a license and then get a print made for themselves without paying an extended license fee, so this was no different. If a vendor wanted to mass produce multiple copies of an item for sale (like a print or wallpaper) then they had to buy an EL.

Policing the scheme is obviously an issue, and I only recall one occasion when a couple of contributors put the arrangement to the test by doing a couple of purchases.

I'm guessing that any POD site you now see is following the display via API/purchase a standard license for each product sold model. Sometimes you can see the  watermark to know whose API they're using.


« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2020, 05:55 »
0
I mailed one of the sellers in Amazon and they replied that all their images come from "the net picture library".  When I asked them for more details they claimed to have bought the image from Shutterstock.  They also removed the image from their shop even though I didn't ask for it.  I checked my SS site and it has been bought once from SS a couple of years ago with a standard subscription.  I didn't mail the other 5 Amazon shops also selling PODs of this image.  They could all make similar claims or just not bother to answer at all.

Jo Ann is most likely right.  Embedded images are the rule here and if no watermark is required, nor mention of agency/author, the artist has no way of knowing whether a POD use is legitimate or not.   

As ShadySue said it might not be a very good idea to make accusations without proofs.  It would be quite hard and time consuming to prove anything and even if I managed to prove something I can't see any rewards coming my way.  And if no purchase of a license is necessary before a POD is sold, proving is still more difficult if not imbossible.

Sorry for this gloomy view and thanks for commenting.






   






« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2020, 06:47 »
+3
I mailed one of the sellers in Amazon and they replied that all their images come from "the net picture library".  When I asked them for more details they claimed to have bought the image from Shutterstock.  They also removed the image from their shop even though I didn't ask for it.  I checked my SS site and it has been bought once from SS a couple of years ago with a standard subscription.  I didn't mail the other 5 Amazon shops also selling PODs of this image.  They could all make similar claims or just not bother to answer at all.

Jo Ann is most likely right.  Embedded images are the rule here and if no watermark is required, nor mention of agency/author, the artist has no way of knowing whether a POD use is legitimate or not.   

As ShadySue said it might not be a very good idea to make accusations without proofs.  It would be quite hard and time consuming to prove anything and even if I managed to prove something I can't see any rewards coming my way.  And if no purchase of a license is necessary before a POD is sold, proving is still more difficult if not imbossible.

Sorry for this gloomy view and thanks for commenting.






 

I mailed several of these shops, and never had any problems. I usually (80%) get a reply telling me when and where they purchased the image, and I can check. If it's not an EL, I just tell them they need an EL to sell the product, so they either delete or they buy the EL. So in some cases it is worth it (for the EL) but for me it is also worth it just to know they don't profit of my work.

If I don't get a reply I just file a DMCA notice, in case they have the license they can file a counter notice but most of the times they delete the product.

I am always very polite in the e-mail without being accusatory.

« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2020, 08:04 »
0
Thanks for your comment zsooofija.  Which agency are you writing about?

Reading what others have written there seems to be different views on whether the POD shop needs to buy ANY kind of license BEFORE they actually sell the POD.  Also these deals seem to differ from agency to agency.

Which agencies require ELs before actually selling PODs? 

It would interesting also to know which agencies require no license of any kind before actually selling PODs?  Or just standard license?

 

 




 

« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2020, 12:36 »
0
Thanks for your comment zsooofija.  Which agency are you writing about?

Reading what others have written there seems to be different views on whether the POD shop needs to buy ANY kind of license BEFORE they actually sell the POD.  Also these deals seem to differ from agency to agency.

Which agencies require ELs before actually selling PODs? 

It would interesting also to know which agencies require no license of any kind before actually selling PODs?  Or just standard license?

 

I don't know which agency offers standard license for resale on merch, I know some do, but I don't use them (vecteezy and some other almost free sites). I hope none of the big ones.

I know about AdobeStcok, Vectorstock (I disabled ELs because it's too cheap),Dreamstime and Shutterstock (not selling there anymore). At least these I remember in relation to these cases of misuse. People usually wrote back, that oh, they didn't know they need a special license, they thought standard is fine blabla.. 

It's not about accusing anyone, it's about asking a question. I don't see any problem with that, especially because in very few cases they did have the proper license (like 5% or something).

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2020, 12:59 »
0

It's not about accusing anyone, it's about asking a question. I don't see any problem with that, especially because in very few cases they did have the proper license (like 5% or something).

Just check the policy of each agency. iStock certainly takes a dim view of contacting buyers or abusers ourselves, it's in the contract:
"iStock reserves the right, at your expense, to assume the exclusive defense and control of any matter otherwise subject to indemnification by you, and in such case, you agree to cooperate with iStock's defense of such claim." (non-exclusive agreement)
The only contact I ever made with a buyer was within the past year when I found my image, exclusively sold on iStock. being used as a book cover, but credited to Shutterstock. I did a quick search on SS and couldn't find it, but it was at a time when a lot of stolen images were being found on SS and reported here on msg, so I contacted the publisher and said I only sold the image via iS, and I'd be interested if they could tell me where they had found it on SS. It was a genuine error by an outsourced image researcher, but they volunteered the iS receipt anyway.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2020, 15:52 »
0

It's not about accusing anyone, it's about asking a question. I don't see any problem with that, especially because in very few cases they did have the proper license (like 5% or something).

Just check the policy of each agency. iStock certainly takes a dim view of contacting buyers or abusers ourselves, it's in the contract:
"iStock reserves the right, at your expense, to assume the exclusive defense and control of any matter otherwise subject to indemnification by you, and in such case, you agree to cooperate with iStock's defense of such claim." (non-exclusive agreement)
The only contact I ever made with a buyer was within the past year when I found my image, exclusively sold on iStock. being used as a book cover, but credited to Shutterstock. I did a quick search on SS and couldn't find it, but it was at a time when a lot of stolen images were being found on SS and reported here on msg, so I contacted the publisher and said I only sold the image via iS, and I'd be interested if they could tell me where they had found it on SS. It was a genuine error by an outsourced image researcher, but they volunteered the iS receipt anyway.

Not that it matters much, because image theft and misuse is everywhere and we are pretty much unprotected legally.


Shutterstock Contributor Terms of Service 12 b

Copyright Infringement Claims

    You hereby grant Shutterstock the right and authority to take such steps as Shutterstock deems commercially reasonable to protect Shutterstock's rights in the Content.
    In the event that you believe that a Shutterstock license to your Content is being misused, you shall take no action against a Shutterstock licensee without providing notice of such misuse to Shutterstock and receiving Shutterstock's prior written consent to such action.

https://submit.shutterstock.com/legal/terms?language=en_US

Also for the RF license: You cant use the photos in products that you will then resell on a retail model, like a POD site. Someone would need an EL for POD sales. However as in the earlier posts, someone can advertise a product, lets say a large print, using our SS images (and many other sites that have API partners) to display the product for sale, and must pay for the license if they sell that product.

Like it or not, we have to understand that someone legitimately using our images as a partner re-seller, can't sell them, if they can't show them to a customer? The same as a website licensing our images, has them all displayed, people making a product also are allowed to show samples and examples.

The complication of that is, for PODs how do we get notified and how does a partner get monitored for sales? What? Trust? Ha!, nope it's a loophole and complication. They can't sell if someone can't see it, they don't have to license in advance, so we can't track sales. Hopefully they only have small size example until they get an order and then pay for a legal download. We can hope that the websize examples aren't good enough or large enough to make finished products.



« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2020, 16:51 »
+4
Shutterstock Contributor Terms of Service 12 b

Copyright Infringement Claims

    You hereby grant Shutterstock the right and authority to take such steps as Shutterstock deems commercially reasonable to protect Shutterstock's rights in the Content.
    In the event that you believe that a Shutterstock license to your Content is being misused, you shall take no action against a Shutterstock licensee without providing notice of such misuse to Shutterstock and receiving Shutterstock's prior written consent to such action.

https://submit.shutterstock.com/legal/terms?language=en_US



Real life example:

About a year ago I found one of my images in a calendar (a printed calendar for sale in a book shop). It was credited to "dirkr/shutterstock". But it had never been sold with an EL at shutterstock.
So I tried to contact shutterstock about that. It took me several tries to get the message to someone other than just their useless "community support".
My message included a photo of the calendar in question, with my photo and the credit line showing. Plus I included the information of the publisher's website (with contact information) that I had looked up.

A few email back and forth with shutterstock ended with them saying they did not have enough information, so they couldn't do anything. But they told me that I could contact the user of the image myself...

Quote (from shutterstock's email): "we investigated the use of your image, and could not locate its source to Shutterstock.
Please note that as the copyright owner of the image, you may send a notice to the user of the image(s) to remove the unauthorized usage."

I did, they apologized and said they made a mistake, and it took me only two email to agree on a payment of 100 for the usage.

Win-win, more money for me and less cost for them, compared to them buying a regular EL at shutterstock.

What did I learn from that?
- shutterstock doesn't care, even if they could make money out of following up infringement cases. No surprise here.
- if I find an image in use, where the right license hasn't sold (that case is rare enough), I will follow up myself.

« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2020, 18:18 »
+2
Ok, I didn't know about these terms, thanks for pointing it out @ShadySue and @Uncle Pete. Shutterstock and istock can go ahead and punish me  ;D . I really think they have more important tasks (like how to rip off contributors even more).
BTW, it's a joke SS asks you to contact them before. They reply after several weeks, sometimes months, and the answer is usually not related to the question.

« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2020, 00:57 »
+2
Amazon is complete fraud  ;D they check nothing about sellers before putting up their products in their sites 😂😂

« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2020, 07:09 »
0
Amazon is complete fraud  ;D they check nothing about sellers before putting up their products in their sites 😂😂

That is true, but who checks sellers these days? Do you know any PoD or microstock site that do check the products/content? I don't.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2020, 10:41 »
+1
Amazon is complete fraud  ;D they check nothing about sellers before putting up their products in their sites 😂😂

That is true, but who checks sellers these days? Do you know any PoD or microstock site that do check the products/content? I don't.

Mostly I agree, the PODs do not check and most that I've seen, hide behind DMCA and do nothing. You have to file the claim. I haven't had the problem but some others here have reported sellers can file a counter claim and block us from our claims. Frustrating.

True most agencies don't seem to check in advance. How would you expect them to check the entire WWW for similar images? Agencies on their own have hundreds of millions of individual still images. I'll admit that some of those millions are the same images, but considering every upload and 150,000 new a day, for example, how do they check, every image? How would you do that if you were an agency?

Last, believe it or not, some agencies actually do check.  :) Here's a rejection I got recently:

Rejection Reason

    Image found on one or more stock agency sites and may infringe on another person's intellectual property rights.


Meaning they checked for similar and found similar on other agency sites. In fact I checked and found similar, but not the same as mine. I used a newspaper image from around 1872, which is fine and free to use, out of copyright. But because similars were found, using an image search, mine was rejected. Mine was not copied, and of course  ;) mine is much better.

My objection is, that these POD places don't try to protect us, even when we make a claim. The agencies try to block us from contacting their customers, and I can see why, because of false claims and harassment, but then the agencies don't really do anything to help or protect us, much of the time?

Why bother filing or finding misuse if they - PODs and agencies - don't even try to help? Of course we're unhappy. Another part of this is, anything on the web can and might be stolen from us. The only place things are safe is by never trying to sell them. So we are stuck. Either have everything protected at home and never make a sale, or take the risk and put it up on the web for download.

There will be thieves and misuse.

« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2020, 07:02 »
0
"Also for the RF license: You cant use the photos in products that you will then resell on a retail model, like a POD site. Someone would need an EL for POD sales. However as in the earlier posts, someone can advertise a product, lets say a large print, using our SS images (and many other sites that have API partners) to display the product for sale, and must pay for the license if they sell that product."

Uncle Pete, is this your personal opinion or can you give a link for this info?  I didn't find any mention of PODs in Shutterstock TOS.

SS has a lot of affiliates, re-sellers and partners either selling directly or marketing SS content.  Displaying embedded images from SS is naturally OK but displaying SS images with no reference to SS/artist is something else.  If clicking the image takes you to the original image in SS then everything is just fine.  I understand that with PODs embedding is problematic and so are watermarks.  But the images must be, in my view, linked to SS if PODs are based on standard licenses per each purchase because otherwise there could be no control of PODs.  If a POD site sells once, buys standard licence and receives original image, then SS could not control the POD site anymore.  SS could be losing money. 

So it would make sense for SS to require that either displayed images are embedded from SS or the reseller buys ELs.  Both of these cases are OK and necessary for marketing.  Both of these cases would also allow the artist to spot thefts.  But the problem is PODs where there is no reference to original agency/artist/license - no ELS and no embedding.  Like the cases I described in my first post to this thread.     

It would be nice to find any info SS has itself released about rules concerning POD sites.   

« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2020, 07:11 »
0
"Also for the RF license: You cant use the photos in products that you will then resell on a retail model, like a POD site. Someone would need an EL for POD sales. However as in the earlier posts, someone can advertise a product, lets say a large print, using our SS images (and many other sites that have API partners) to display the product for sale, and must pay for the license if they sell that product."

Uncle Pete, is this your personal opinion or can you give a link for this info?  I didn't find any mention of PODs in Shutterstock TOS.

SS has a lot of affiliates, re-sellers and partners either selling directly or marketing SS content.  Displaying embedded images from SS is naturally OK but displaying SS images with no reference to SS/artist is something else.  If clicking the image takes you to the original image in SS then everything is just fine.  I understand that with PODs embedding is problematic and so are watermarks.  But the images must be, in my view, linked to SS if PODs are based on standard licenses per each purchase because otherwise there could be no control of PODs.  If a POD site sells once, buys standard licence and receives original image, then SS could not control the POD site anymore.  SS could be losing money. 

So it would make sense for SS to require that either displayed images are embedded from SS or the reseller buys ELs.  Both of these cases are OK and necessary for marketing.  Both of these cases would also allow the artist to spot thefts.  But the problem is PODs where there is no reference to original agency/artist/license - no ELS and no embedding.  Like the cases I described in my first post to this thread.     

It would be nice to find any info SS has itself released about rules concerning POD sites.

I am trying to keep the original question alive: How can you tell if someone is selling POD stuff of your images legally or just stealing from you?   
 

« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2020, 08:49 »
0
Amazon is complete fraud  ;D they check nothing about sellers before putting up their products in their sites 😂😂

That is true, but who checks sellers these days? Do you know any PoD or microstock site that do check the products/content? I don't.

Mostly I agree, the PODs do not check and most that I've seen, hide behind DMCA and do nothing. You have to file the claim. I haven't had the problem but some others here have reported sellers can file a counter claim and block us from our claims. Frustrating.

True most agencies don't seem to check in advance. How would you expect them to check the entire WWW for similar images? Agencies on their own have hundreds of millions of individual still images. I'll admit that some of those millions are the same images, but considering every upload and 150,000 new a day, for example, how do they check, every image? How would you do that if you were an agency?

Last, believe it or not, some agencies actually do check.  :) Here's a rejection I got recently:

Rejection Reason

    Image found on one or more stock agency sites and may infringe on another person's intellectual property rights.


Meaning they checked for similar and found similar on other agency sites. In fact I checked and found similar, but not the same as mine. I used a newspaper image from around 1872, which is fine and free to use, out of copyright. But because similars were found, using an image search, mine was rejected. Mine was not copied, and of course  ;) mine is much better.

My objection is, that these POD places don't try to protect us, even when we make a claim. The agencies try to block us from contacting their customers, and I can see why, because of false claims and harassment, but then the agencies don't really do anything to help or protect us, much of the time?

Why bother filing or finding misuse if they - PODs and agencies - don't even try to help? Of course we're unhappy. Another part of this is, anything on the web can and might be stolen from us. The only place things are safe is by never trying to sell them. So we are stuck. Either have everything protected at home and never make a sale, or take the risk and put it up on the web for download.

There will be thieves and misuse.

I don't expect agencies to check for thieves, I just said they don't. But I would expect them to act when contributors point out stolen content, and I expect them to delete the whole portfolio, not just the image in case.

Your example is probably one in a million with the agency that does check.

Why bother filing misuse? I personally bother because I would like to be paid for my work. And I do see the point, because this usage (PoD or resale on merch) requires an EL and I sold tens of thousands of regular licenses but only a couple of hundreds (max a thousand) of ELs over the last 12 years, so I think the chances they indeed bought the EL are pretty small. I never file misuse for uses that are allowed by the regular license.

I am not saying everyone should do that, I just said what works for me.


 

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