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Author Topic: What's the limit of stolen images to be shut down??? fritzkocher issue  (Read 29714 times)

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« on: October 05, 2009, 10:26 »
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Exactly.

What do you think would be an adequate number of stolen images in your portfolio or ripped off photographers until an agency will shut you down?

For over a week now a friend (seriously it's a friend and not me) is trying to get an agency (of the Big 6) to shut down a blatant thief who ripped off images from at least 4 other photographers.

After copies of his images were removed along with his entire portfolio he is now back online (without claimed images from my friend).

Further "research" (thank you Tineye) showed that 4 more photographers were ripped off by the same person.

Now get this:

Although the agency already started removing the other photographer's images from the culprit's portfolio he is still selling other stolen material.

Don't even think about starting with stuff like "It's up to the agency to decide if it's actually copyright infringement or just a similar image" BECAUSE:

I layered the images in Photoshop and they are 100% identical plus it also involves exclusive photographerS from an agency that shall remain nameless.

This is a significant issue for all involved.

But out of interest  I just wanted to know if I'm just over reacting...
« Last Edit: October 06, 2009, 20:28 by click_click »


« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2009, 10:29 »
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Quote
What do you think would be an adequate number of stolen images in your portfolio or ripped off photographers until an agency will shut you down?

One

« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2009, 10:51 »
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Do yo mean stolen or plagiarazed?

« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2009, 11:10 »
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Do yo mean stolen or plagiarazed?

I mean downloaded, modified in Photoshop (simple plugin change) and re-uploaded.

Or downloaded and used as a part of another composition consisting out of other stolen images.

With plagiarized I understand that he took someone's concept and re-shoot it himself. That is not the case here.
He downloaded the images of others, modified them (slightly) and is selling them as his own. The changes are so slightly that even Tineye picked it up...
« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 11:13 by click_click »

« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2009, 11:23 »
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One .. punishable by public flogging.

« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2009, 11:26 »
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Please name and shame both the thief and the agency in question (especially the latter). Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2009, 11:35 »
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Coincidentally ever since this thread went live, the portfolio is gone at the agency in question.

Here is the link to his 123RF portfolio:

http://www.123rf.com/portfolio/fritzkocher/1.html

Some stolen images are still online there...

Check if yours is in there.


« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2009, 11:35 »
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We'll see how things turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised today when I got a quick response to a claim that a contributor had taken an image of mine and used it with minimal changes (a blurry background in one case and a few other background elements in the other) as if it were his own.

The portfolio has been suspended pending investigation. I wonder if there are other "composites" made with copyrighted content in the portfolio - I was kindly alerted by another contributor to this misuse.

One inadvertent mistake might be forgivable, but when you have over 1,000 images in your portfolio you'd think something like this isn't a beginner's mistake. Even from the agency's point of view, how can they continue offering work from someone who doesn't want to honor other contributor's copyright?

« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2009, 11:40 »
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...I wonder if there are other "composites" made with copyrighted content in the portfolio...

Yes he did.

I already contacted the copyright owner of the basketball which was used in some of his compositions.

« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2009, 11:44 »
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I just contacted Fotolia about three images from the same contributor that I found in his portfolio there (Dreamstime was the agency that I referred to earlier in my first post). I pointed out to Fotolia that Dreamstime had suspended his portfolio pending investigation and that I expect them to do the same).

I have also contacted 123rf about 2 of the images they have for sale. I wrote to iStock's compliance enforcement about this too, so I hope they can help get this guy taken care of.

Thanks for the heads up on this.

« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 12:05 by jsnover »

« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2009, 12:12 »
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Life would be so much easier if all the agencies would take advantage of Tineye's API to check for duplicates right during the review process.

But that's just an impossible thing to ask...

« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2009, 12:13 »
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Once ......and too bad it's so difficult on the world scene to take these scum-eating thieves to trial!!

And yes,  he/she should be named and so should the agency hosting him/her AND... the agencies where they came from.  This gives us all a heads-up alert to protect ourselves.  Some agencies are swift at slamming down on this sort of thing while others couldnt be bothered.  Those that cant be bothered should be known to us. I for one would pull my port,  why would I support their profits when they couldnt care less about mine?
   Those that support us, as SS recently did for me and others by catching even legit buyers abusing the system,  I commend and and thank and support.  Those that don't..."  hey, couldnt care less about me,  hasta la vista, baby".
    One thing I am so tired of doing is having to waste time searching for stolen work.... like this moron with almost 1400 pix.  And I sure dont have time to put my upteen thousand pix thru tineye...  sad.
   Thanks for the info, click X2.    8)=tom
« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 12:19 by a.k.a.-tom »

« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2009, 12:17 »
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Life would be so much easier if all the agencies would take advantage of Tineye's API to check for duplicates right during the review process.

But that's just an impossible thing to ask...

Maybe they do, I don't know... but I've discovered links to stolen images of mine, with its thumbail (At tin eye), and when opening these links the image was already deleted.

« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2009, 12:19 »
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Maybe they do, I don't know...

They don't...

Otherwise I wouldn't be posting this...

« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2009, 12:30 »
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I checked his portfolio at BigStock, Shutterstock and StockXpert. I didn't find the images that infringed (me) at BigStock and SS, but I did at StockXpert. I have notified them (and iStock with an update) - it should be fairly straightforward to get the guy's work pulled from another Getty company, one would think.

In looking at his SS portfolio, there are lots of obvious composites. It'd be worth people having a quick check for their own stuff. Let's try and get this practice stopped, not just one or two infringing images removed and the guy gets to continue doing it with new material.

« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2009, 12:45 »
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We'll see how things turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised today when I got a quick response to a claim that a contributor had taken an image of mine and used it with minimal changes (a blurry background in one case and a few other background elements in the other) as if it were his own.

The portfolio has been suspended pending investigation. I wonder if there are other "composites" made with copyrighted content in the portfolio - I was kindly alerted by another contributor to this misuse.

One inadvertent mistake might be forgivable, but when you have over 1,000 images in your portfolio you'd think something like this isn't a beginner's mistake. Even from the agency's point of view, how can they continue offering work from someone who doesn't want to honor other contributor's copyright?

If the agency has a decent lawyer advising them, then the response from DT is the one that they should take - and quickly. None of the agencies can afford the potential liability of breaching copyright by knowingly allowing a contributor to do this sort of thing. If its brought to their attention, and they do nothing they lose all defenses against becoming liable themselves for breach of copyright.

Its one thing for an individual to do it - chasing and suing individuals for breach of copyright can be difficult, but an agency that has a regular revenue source and a place of business becomes a sitting duck for a potentially expensive law suit - the procedures they have in place for dealing with these sorts of complaints would be very relevant in determining liability and potential damages.

Its one thing for this thing to happen - in some respects its unavoidable, but to let it go on without taking action is every plaintiff lawyer's wet dream.

« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2009, 12:47 »
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........Let's try and get this practice stopped, not just one or two infringing images removed and the guy gets to continue doing it with new material.

Amen.  When this type of thing is found... AND..IT IS KNOWN LEGITIMATELY/PROVEN THAT THESE ARE INDEED THIEVED IMAGES...  all agencies that can be found with a thief on it should be notified. If clowns like this were continually having the ports pulled..   in time it would be no longer profitable for the idiot to upload thousands of images to new agencies.... and at  a point,  there wont be any agencies worth uploading to due to poor sales...
      too bad there couldnt be some  Las Vegas  kinda set up that profiles card counters and is shared by casinos around the world...  similar deal with these thieves.

      Any agency that would only pull one thieved image and leave the rest of the port intact.... shouldnt be in business. Where's their brains? Do they actually think they guy only took that ONE image and otherwise is an honest person? I dont want to do business with them.  8)=tom

« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2009, 12:49 »
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I contacted (via iStock site mail) the owner of an elephant image that fritzkocher has used in images on SS and FT with other backgrounds. This guy clearly has no shame and the number of problems indicate willful behavior not an inadvertant mistake.

Not what I had planned to do with my morning, but I'll contact anyone else I happen to notice being infringed. The more of us contacting the agencies about this the sooner they'll realize they have to do something about it.

« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2009, 12:53 »
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I contacted (via iStock site mail) the owner of an elephant image that fritzkocher has used in images on SS and FT with other backgrounds. This guy clearly has no shame and the number of problems indicate willful behavior not an inadvertant mistake.

Not what I had planned to do with my morning, but I'll contact anyone else I happen to notice being infringed. The more of us contacting the agencies about this the sooner they'll realize they have to do something about it.

I just sent an email to SS about the elephant...

I think they will sort it out

The kicker is, that SS let him come back online after being taken down for a bit.
Never seen that before...

« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2009, 13:00 »
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I contacted (via iStock site mail) the owner of an elephant image that fritzkocher has used in images on SS and FT with other backgrounds. This guy clearly has no shame and the number of problems indicate willful behavior not an inadvertant mistake.

Not what I had planned to do with my morning, but I'll contact anyone else I happen to notice being infringed. The more of us contacting the agencies about this the sooner they'll realize they have to do something about it.

I just sent an email to SS about the elephant...

I think they will sort it out

The kicker is, that SS let him come back online after being taken down for a bit.
Never seen that before...

I've always found Jon to be a straight shooter, but honestly that's just not right. To let someone come back without checking their content for more of what they got removed for is sloppy.

I'd bet that the statue of liberty composites aren't legit, but it's harder to check as there are so many shots of that and finding a unique element in a shot not so easy. I think I'm going to go and do something else for a bit so I can calm down.

« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2009, 13:25 »
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I contacted (via iStock site mail) the owner of an elephant image that fritzkocher has used in images on SS and FT with other backgrounds. This guy clearly has no shame and the number of problems indicate willful behavior not an inadvertant mistake.

Not what I had planned to do with my morning, but I'll contact anyone else I happen to notice being infringed. The more of us contacting the agencies about this the sooner they'll realize they have to do something about it.

I just sent an email to SS about the elephant...

I think they will sort it out

The kicker is, that SS let him come back online after being taken down for a bit.
Never seen that before...

:o

Well I hope that nobody who has had their images stolen can afford a decent lawyer, or there goes any chance of an increase in royalties from SS for a long time.

Letting somebody like that back on, rather than taking proper remedial action is just inviting potential litigants to sue you. Lets not mention the liability from clients who download images in good faith - a host of disclaimers in your supply agreements won't absolve you from an action for negligence in many jurisdictions. 

This sort of thing just shouldn't be the sort of thing that sites forgive - the potential for liability is just too large. I'm often amazed by how little regard some established companies have for basic risk management.  The best time to hire a lawyer is when you're setting up systems to avoid risk - not when you've already got a problem.... its much cheaper that way!

« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2009, 13:34 »
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:o

Well I hope that nobody who has had their images stolen can afford a decent lawyer, or there goes any chance of an increase in royalties from SS for a long time.

Letting somebody like that back on, rather than taking proper remedial action is just inviting potential litigants to sue you. Lets not mention the liability from clients who download images in good faith - a host of disclaimers in your supply agreements won't absolve you from an action for negligence in many jurisdictions. 

This sort of thing just shouldn't be the sort of thing that sites forgive - the potential for liability is just too large. I'm often amazed by how little regard some established companies have for basic risk management.  The best time to hire a lawyer is when you're setting up systems to avoid risk - not when you've already got a problem.... its much cheaper that way!

Well said, but...

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF MICROSTOCK

I've seen it too many times happen that thieves get their payouts (up to the point when they are exposed) and then either get warned or kicked out (creating a new fake account).

In most cases they don't reside in the same country like the agency so legal actions ARE NOT taken.

Even if they live in the same country it is wayyyy too expensive to hire a lawyer. Mostly the damages per agency are in the lower thousands which makes it not even worth pursuing those numb nuts.


« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2009, 14:49 »
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I looked at half of his portfolio and I don't see anything from me there - does it mean I am not worth stealing?  :'(

I think the first report might not lead to an immediate closing of the account, but then if the report is real the agency should close the account and (maybe then even do that) report that to other agencies.  Merely deleting a couple of infringing images is not a correct attittude.

A plain copy is easy to spot, the problem with edited material however is that one can claim rights if the change is significant, isn't it? "Significant" is a very subjective thing.

« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2009, 15:01 »
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Hey Click! Actually I've been a contributor for a while now - long enough to know how these things work and happen to have a career before MS that is relevant to the subject as well ;)

Actually I'm talking about people potentially suing the agencies not the fraudulent contributor - I realise these people are hard to track down, and its not really my point. An agency is allowed to host our images because we grant them a license to do so.

In the event that the host a photographer's work without authorisation from a fraudulent contributor and receive license payments for that, then they're actually in breach of copyright themselves. In this situation they would still be liable to the copyright owner for any profits that they have collected from the unauthorised use of the copyright holders work, but its unlikely that they'd have to fork up major damages.

If this happens innocently and the agency takes steps to fix the problem they have a defense to the breach of copyright that would hold up in most jurisdictions. If they don't take adequate steps, then they're potentially opening up a can of worms for themselves.

You may think its unlikely that an agency would get sued - but what happens if the copyrighted material happens to be part of an exclusive collection held by - say Getty or Corbis - or a high profile RM photographer?

« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2009, 15:07 »
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I looked at half of his portfolio and I don't see anything from me there - does it mean I am not worth stealing?  :'(

I think the first report might not lead to an immediate closing of the account, but then if the report is real the agency should close the account and (maybe then even do that) report that to other agencies.  Merely deleting a couple of infringing images is not a correct attittude.

A plain copy is easy to spot, the problem with edited material however is that one can claim rights if the change is significant, isn't it? "Significant" is a very subjective thing.

This whole thing is BS (not your post madelaide!).

123RF will warn those idiots if it happens one time! They will NOT take the portfolio down if a stolen image has been used in compositions!!!
I do NOT understand that.

I have never ever seen that a removed portfolio at Shutterstock got reinstated ALTHOUGH the thief had stolen images in his compositions. It happened this time and after repeatedly informing Shutterstock his portfolio is now offline again!!! Question is for how long?

Dreamstime also removed the port and reinstated it although many other stolen images were still in the portfolio.

It is obvious that reported images will be compared, deleted and then the portfolio will be reinstated. Why? I have no clue. It's already a breach of the terms and conditions we all agreed to.

So the agencies do NOT look at any other images in the portfolios to make sure that other content may be affected from violations or not. It seems it takes to many human resources to do so.

This places our original images at high risk as mostly only the copyright owners will report violations and not unaffected competing photographers.

Although Tineye offers an API for commercial use it appears that none of the stock agencies are using it to prevent duplicates form being added to their collections. Probably also too expensive.

Again, I feel that the agencies don't do enough to minimize the risks of this happening.

Fritzkocher has sold over 2000 images on Dreamstime which roughly breaks down to $2000. He also sold images on Shutterstock, 123RF, Istock and Bigstockphoto (maybe somewhere else as well).

I think it's safe to say that he made around $5000 from this. He got most of that money transferred to his Paypal.

Commissions that were paid to him AND the agencies. Those commissions are not seen by any original artists who got ripped off. The culprits won't be legally enforced to pay anything so it's a Win/Win/Lose situation. Culprit wins, agency wins and original creator loses BIIIIIG TIME!!!!

This is extremely lousy and I think the microstock industry needs to seriously work on this issue to stay in serious business for the near future.


 

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