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Were SS right to shut down the weekly Thieves Thread Update Project?

Yes
2 (3.9%)
No
45 (88.2%)
Don't know
4 (7.8%)

Total Members Voted: 50

Author Topic: Shutterstock suspicious accounts "wackamoles" update  (Read 10462 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2019, 09:52 »
+2
Small update:
-----

All-time summary:

Total moles identified to date: 468

Total moles wacked: 236

Summary for week ending Feb 3:

Moles wacked (by SS) from Jan 27 - Feb 2: 116

Moles pending: 105

https://forums.submit.shutterstock.com/topic/96349-thieves-thread-update-week-ending-feb-3-468-so-far-flagged/

Highest praise for you, and finally somehow getting their attention. I only got two shut down last year on my own, you've done an outstanding job. And I realize that some people on the SS forum have been contributing to your collection as well.

If the crooks found that they can't profit, hopefully the word will get out and they will do this less. If the claim of locations are true, those people are probably using fake IDs or borrowed IDs and could be the same group behind it. I mean, once they can't profit, we could get rid of a repeating person or orginization and get the profits to the correct artists.
 


Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2019, 10:08 »
+1
Small update:
-----

All-time summary:

Total moles identified to date: 468

Total moles wacked: 236

Summary for week ending Feb 3:

Moles wacked (by SS) from Jan 27 - Feb 2: 116

Moles pending: 105

https://forums.submit.shutterstock.com/topic/96349-thieves-thread-update-week-ending-feb-3-468-so-far-flagged/

Highest praise for you, and finally somehow getting their attention. I only got two shut down last year on my own, you've done an outstanding job. And I realize that some people on the SS forum have been contributing to your collection as well.

If the crooks found that they can't profit, hopefully the word will get out and they will do this less. If the claim of locations are true, those people are probably using fake IDs or borrowed IDs and could be the same group behind it. I mean, once they can't profit, we could get rid of a repeating person or orginization and get the profits to the correct artists.

I think they'll just go to another agency. I haven't done any research at the likes of iStock or Adobe Stock but I'm sure they have their own issues with theft, however, they probably have better systems in place to flag similars, etc (I'm assuming).

Most of their keywords are so terrible that not sure they'll ever get sales. Then there's the 3-month payment probation. I can't see how doing this can ever be worthwhile and hope they start to realise that it's really fruitless. Some have decent Photoshop skills and should just focus on that instead of looking for shortcuts.

Even though I started the initiative, this is a team job and really appreciate those that are taking their time to find these moles. I need to stress that nobody, including myself, is getting paid a cent for this.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2019, 19:24 »
0
Can you change the name to "Wack-a-dolt"?  :)

Yes we assume, but it seems there's no member program working on other sites. Probably because SS is biggest, they attract the most of the easy money crooks. I have reported totally off photos on iStock, they are still there. I mean keywords that are irrelevant and none match the image at all, not nit picking.

Oh I almost forgot the entertaining part of this, the descriptions. That would make a good collection before they go away. I should have started last month before we lost a couple of the best and funniest.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2019, 17:10 »
+5
Update:

Total moles identified to date: 463

Total moles wacked: 235

Summary for week ending Feb 10:

Moles wacked (by SS) from Feb 3 - Feb 10: ZERO (0)

Moles pending: 101

Great work everybody, except SS!

https://forums.submit.shutterstock.com/topic/96415-thieves-thread-update-week-ending-feb-10-463-so-far-flagged/

« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2019, 17:30 »
0
Summary of last week (week ending Jan 27):

Total moles identified: 250

Moles wacked (by SS) from Jan 20 - 26: 120

Moles pending: 130+ (new accounts identified today)

https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/2019/01/27/update-why-shutterstocks-copyright-infringement-problems-should-concern-you/

Complete list:

https://forums.submit.shutterstock.com/topic/96297-thieves-thread-update-week-ending-jan-27-251-so-far-flagged/

Small victory but huge huge challenges ahead...

Thanks

« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2019, 17:31 »
+1
Typical of SS I could have predicted they'd get bored of actually doing any real work on this.

I'll make a tongue in cheek prediction ~ you've seen the last of SS deleting thieves accounts.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2019, 17:34 »
+4
Typical of SS I could have predicted they'd get bored of actually doing any real work on this.

I'll make a tongue in cheek prediction ~ you've seen the last of SS deleting thieves accounts.

Yeah, I'm kinda bored too...

« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2019, 17:41 »
+4
Typical of SS I could have predicted they'd get bored of actually doing any real work on this.

I'll make a tongue in cheek prediction ~ you've seen the last of SS deleting thieves accounts.

Yeah, I'm kinda bored too...

I can imagine you would be because you are not being paid to do this and its obviously something those people in the Empire State should have been doing in the  first place!

If I were you I'd send Jon Oringer a PM on his FB account! Pointing out they are aiding copyright thieves and leaving themselves open to legal action .

See if the guy can put down his guitar long enough to actually see what his minions are allowing to happen.

« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 02:59 by Sammy the Cat »



« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2019, 17:37 »
0
what?

https://www.shutterstock.com/g/CharoensilpPhotoData?page=17&section=1&sort=popular&search_source=base_gallery&language=en
I can't begin to understand why anyone would create this and how they could ever be accepted. Totally bizarre. Is there any possible explanation?

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog


Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2019, 11:53 »
+2
what?

https://www.shutterstock.com/g/CharoensilpPhotoData?page=17&section=1&sort=popular&search_source=base_gallery&language=en
I can't begin to understand why anyone would create this and how they could ever be accepted. Totally bizarre. Is there any possible explanation?

Is that the same one who drove through the city with a GoPro set to 1 frame per second and uploaded all of them?

I still want to know how or why SS ever accepts those. And if it's someone different why they accept the 19,000 blurred backgrounds?

« Reply #38 on: February 11, 2019, 12:47 »
+3
what?

https://www.shutterstock.com/g/CharoensilpPhotoData?page=17&section=1&sort=popular&search_source=base_gallery&language=en
I can't begin to understand why anyone would create this and how they could ever be accepted. Totally bizarre. Is there any possible explanation?

Is that the same one who drove through the city with a GoPro set to 1 frame per second and uploaded all of them?

I still want to know how or why SS ever accepts those. And if it's someone different why they accept the 19,000 blurred backgrounds?
The only thing I can  think is money laundering ie using an account to transfer dodgy funds cross border?

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #39 on: February 13, 2019, 10:29 »
0
what?

https://www.shutterstock.com/g/CharoensilpPhotoData?page=17&section=1&sort=popular&search_source=base_gallery&language=en
I can't begin to understand why anyone would create this and how they could ever be accepted. Totally bizarre. Is there any possible explanation?

Is that the same one who drove through the city with a GoPro set to 1 frame per second and uploaded all of them?

I still want to know how or why SS ever accepts those. And if it's someone different why they accept the 19,000 blurred backgrounds?
The only thing I can  think is money laundering ie using an account to transfer dodgy funds cross border?

Interesting angle. Someone buys a subscription then only downloads from people with these trash collections. Wouldn't that kind of throw up a flag for SS? I mean say I have someone in another part of the world, buy a subscription and download the limit from mine, for a profit. Or as your idea money laundering, break even, gets the money back somewhere else. But then there are records of the transactions, as expenses on one end or earnings on the other.

Still I wouldn't discount something else going on, beyond stupid uploads of useless files that will never sell, or absurd reviews that miss thousands of blurred backgrounds created by a PS action. How does that guy with the driving through the city get all that passed?

Or did you have some other way that these accounts are somehow tied to money laundering? I don't see it.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #40 on: February 17, 2019, 13:17 »
+6
All-time summary:

Total moles identified to date: 448

Total moles wacked: 337

Summary for week ending Feb 17:

Moles wacked (by SS) from Feb 3 - Feb 17: TWO (2)

Moles pending: 111

This is my last week doing this as it's apparent that SS don't give a fk about this project with only two wacked moles after 2 weeks. I and others helping out obviously have way more important things to do with our time. If anybody else wants to pursue this apparently fruitless task further, please be my guest.

Perhaps I'll re-continue if I see SS pull their weight. Meanwhile the number of thieves keeps growing...

https://forums.submit.shutterstock.com/topic/96484-thieves-thread-update-week-ending-feb-17-448-so-far-flagged/

« Reply #41 on: February 17, 2019, 15:29 »
+4
All-time summary:

Total moles identified to date: 448

Total moles wacked: 337

Summary for week ending Feb 17:

Moles wacked (by SS) from Feb 3 - Feb 17: TWO (2)

Moles pending: 111

This is my last week doing this as it's apparent that SS don't give a fk about this project with only two wacked moles after 2 weeks. I and others helping out obviously have way more important things to do with our time. If anybody else wants to pursue this apparently fruitless task further, please be my guest.

Perhaps I'll re-continue if I see SS pull their weight. Meanwhile the number of thieves keeps growing...

https://forums.submit.shutterstock.com/topic/96484-thieves-thread-update-week-ending-feb-17-448-so-far-flagged/

Its the culture in these organisations ~ a manager comes round says "we have a problem" they work furiously on it for a week or two then the manager stops checking and they go back to their laissez faire attitude.

You are right they don't give a f.u.c.k and the only thing that would make them give one is for a major law suit or government legislation


« Reply #42 on: February 17, 2019, 18:22 »
+5
I think informing the buyers may be more productive or the press and the shareholders.  If the 111 pending moles stole 10 images each and the images were sold 5 times each (legit and stolen), that's 5550 buyers who don't know if their images are infringing the legitimate copy holders rights or not.  Tracing 1% of the buyers and informing them of their dilemma would have 55 irate people knocking on Shutterstocks door.
 If my estimates are a little conservative and the thieves stole substantially more and they were all good selling images (who would steal a duff one?) then the numbers grow exponentially, 500 thieves, with 100 images, selling 50 images each. That's 250,000 buyers not knowing if they bought from the copyright holder or not, and a potential indemnity bill of $10,000 per image = $2,500,000,000. 
Now even those numbers might be a little on the low side given that 448 moles were found in a month without the tools that Shutterstock has at their disposal.  I think that if you can find reasonable estimates, not my guesstimates, the press and shareholders would have a field day with such numbers and wonder why Shutterstock choose to ignore the issue, not good for our sales short term, but would put the market on a proper footing.

« Reply #43 on: February 17, 2019, 20:38 »
+2
@obj owl -- I think you are being naive to think more than a small handful of the buyers would even care.  From their point of view, they are protected by purchasing from SS.  They don't really care beyond that, and are not likely to go very far out of their way to raise a fuss.  At most, you might get a few of them to sign a chain letter complaining.  That letter better not take more than 30 seconds to handle though, or you have lost them.

Same with SS stockholders.  If you cannot show that SS has a large legal risk with a potentially expensive lawsuit, then it is not likely you will get any traction there.  Those people want SS to be profitable, and if they can double-sell the same item with no additional cost, well, that is a win in their books.

Though I wish Brasilnut would continue jousting with windmills (every thief removed brings the chance of my making another sale a little higher), but I can certainly understand why s/he is giving up.  The windmills keep spinning, and not paying very much attention to the knight with the lance...
« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 20:41 by mindstorm »

« Reply #44 on: February 18, 2019, 03:03 »
0
what?

https://www.shutterstock.com/g/CharoensilpPhotoData?page=17&section=1&sort=popular&search_source=base_gallery&language=en
I can't begin to understand why anyone would create this and how they could ever be accepted. Totally bizarre. Is there any possible explanation?

Is that the same one who drove through the city with a GoPro set to 1 frame per second and uploaded all of them?

I still want to know how or why SS ever accepts those. And if it's someone different why they accept the 19,000 blurred backgrounds?
The only thing I can  think is money laundering ie using an account to transfer dodgy funds cross border?

Interesting angle. Someone buys a subscription then only downloads from people with these trash collections. Wouldn't that kind of throw up a flag for SS? I mean say I have someone in another part of the world, buy a subscription and download the limit from mine, for a profit. Or as your idea money laundering, break even, gets the money back somewhere else. But then there are records of the transactions, as expenses on one end or earnings on the other.

Still I wouldn't discount something else going on, beyond stupid uploads of useless files that will never sell, or absurd reviews that miss thousands of blurred backgrounds created by a PS action. How does that guy with the driving through the city get all that passed?

Or did you have some other way that these accounts are somehow tied to money laundering? I don't see it.
Yes I was thinking along the lines you said. I  think its unlikely but not completely implausible by making the collections so huge it might make the activity less visible plus if you are not looking for something you won't find it. SS seem to have a habit of not looking for things or some of these collections or those of image thieves wouldn't exist.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #45 on: February 18, 2019, 06:19 »
+7
Quote
Though I wish Brasilnut would continue jousting with windmills (every thief removed brings the chance of my making another sale a little higher), but I can certainly understand why s/he is giving up

I'm not quitting.

I'm pessimistically waiting for SS to start pulling their own weight. They did OK in the first weeks but have recently completely stopped taking this seriously...and so have I. But I would encourage others to keep going in my absence, it's not rocket science as one thief usually leads to another in the "similars" results.

Let's see how this pans out.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #46 on: February 18, 2019, 20:31 »
+4
Quote
Though I wish Brasilnut would continue jousting with windmills (every thief removed brings the chance of my making another sale a little higher), but I can certainly understand why s/he is giving up

I'm not quitting.

I'm pessimistically waiting for SS to start pulling their own weight. They did OK in the first weeks but have recently completely stopped taking this seriously...and so have I. But I would encourage others to keep going in my absence, it's not rocket science as one thief usually leads to another in the "similars" results.

Let's see how this pans out.

Maybe hard work, but you are the first one to get action instead of lip service. I think you have the gratitude of many of us. No you don't get paid for the hard work, but I personally thank you.

PZF

« Reply #47 on: February 19, 2019, 04:10 »
0
Really pleased you are not giving up!!!  :))))

« Reply #48 on: February 19, 2019, 10:06 »
+7
All-time summary:

Total moles identified to date: 448

Total moles wacked: 337

Summary for week ending Feb 17:

Moles wacked (by SS) from Feb 3 - Feb 17: TWO (2)

Moles pending: 111

This is my last week doing this as it's apparent that SS don't give a fk about this project with only two wacked moles after 2 weeks. I and others helping out obviously have way more important things to do with our time. If anybody else wants to pursue this apparently fruitless task further, please be my guest.

Perhaps I'll re-continue if I see SS pull their weight. Meanwhile the number of thieves keeps growing...

https://forums.submit.shutterstock.com/topic/96484-thieves-thread-update-week-ending-feb-17-448-so-far-flagged/

Its the culture in these organisations ~ a manager comes round says "we have a problem" they work furiously on it for a week or two then the manager stops checking and they go back to their laissez faire attitude.

You are right they don't give a f.u.c.k and the only thing that would make them give one is for a major law suit or government legislation

I think SS has been straddling a very thin line for a very long time now. I also think it's only a matter of time before a major law suit does materialize due to Brasilnut's very public exposure of the problem. All it might take is for a well known photographer finding that their work has been stolen and offered up for sale. From there all it would take is their lawyer discovering the true extent of the problem during their research and realizing that there are many many more potential clients involved beyond just one. Class action.

It wouldn't take a team of paralegals very long to scour the forum archives for evidence showing not only SS's complete awareness of the issue, but also its failure to act quickly in addressing it - if at all. Of course their entirely defensible position will be that they are merely a global platform for people to sell their work, and can not be expected to research every image accepted into their database for possible copyright infringement. They will point to their contributor agreement to show that every contributor warrants that the copyright is their own and that any wrongdoing or misrepresentation is therefore the sole responsibility of the contributor. Honestly, fair enough. What I think they would have a very hard time defending at this point is what is they have been allowing for so long within their own database.

There will be some potentially embarrassing questions asked including exactly how many infringing images are in the database, why existing technology wasn't enabled which could easily ferret out these images, as well as perhaps the most embarrassing one - where did the sales revenue from these stolen images actually go? Was any effort ever made after the discovery of suspect images and deleted accounts to identify and contact the original copyright owners and at the very least turn over any sales revenue? Depending on the findings it  could answer the question many of us are naturally asking ourselves - is Shutterstock actually complicit at this point or not?

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #49 on: February 19, 2019, 10:35 »
+3
Quote
There will be some potentially embarrassing questions asked including exactly how many infringing images are in the database, why existing technology wasn't enabled which could easily ferret out these images, as well as perhaps the most embarrassing one - where did the sales revenue from these stolen images actually go? Was any effort ever made after the discovery of suspect images and deleted accounts to identify and contact the original copyright owners and at the very least turn over any sales revenue? Depending on the findings it  could answer the question many of us are naturally asking ourselves - is Shutterstock actually complicit at this point or not?

Great points above.

As a publicly-listed company this goes to the very heart of corporate responsibility and directors' duties. Stakeholders rely on corporate information to make investment decisions. There are currently 440,000 active accounts generating quarterly sales of $165.46 million (source: https://www.fairfieldcurrent.com/news/2019/02/14/165-46-million-in-sales-expected-for-shutterstock-inc-sstk-this-quarter.html). Can someone guarantee that 5% of those contributor accounts are NOT fraudulent and an unspecified amount generated from those accounts is NOT a "proceed of crime"? If 5% were proved to be fraudulent, how would this affect their reputation and stock price?

SS are of course regularly audited. These past few weeks myself and others have provided auditors with more than enough evidence of the scale of the fraud going on almost unimpeded. SS will probably just do enough to cover themselves until something huge, as stated by DavidK above, occurs. Plaintiffs may find difficultly in claiming for lost profits as I doubt that any of these fraudulent accounts generate much since they're so badly captioned/keyworded, however, there may be other types of claims available. 

I should probably keep going to maintain the momentum so it's brought (again) to the forefront of their attention or at the very least, well-known sources. Just need to find the time and motivation - I've spent about 20 mins on this today and already flagged some 15 accounts, with the help of others. I'm sure if SS devoted 10,000 hours of manpower they would be able to flag at least 44,000 suspicious accounts, which would be equal to at least 1% of their total number of contributors. Simply hire interns based in India, which ironically is where most of the fraudulent accounts are based.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 10:45 by Brasilnut »


 

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