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Author Topic: iStock Stirs the Pot Once Again  (Read 15054 times)

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« on: August 25, 2006, 09:55 »
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To all of you that currently, or plan to, use models in your photos.  SUBMITTER BEWARE!

Here is a story that you might find helpful.

====

A photo of an elderly gentleman sitting in a chair was used in an ad for a strip club.  In the ad, he is shown holding dollar bills, sitting in front of a topless girl that is stripping, with sex toys everywhere around him.

The photographer of the image was very concerned for the elderly man, since she thought that iStock would protect her images from "sensitive" situations such as this, and never thought that iStock would allow something of this nature.  She asked that they remove the image from the design, but it was denied.  She was very disheartened by the whole thing and has decided to remove the image from the site for future purchases.

Many other photographers, including some of the major players, have decided to join suit and remove their images with models.

Some of the major issues seem to be the following:

1. The IS TOS (Terms of Service) (@ http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php) state that it is prohibited to use an image of a model in a manner that (a) would lead a reasonable person to think that they endorse a business, or (b) depicts them in any way that would be offensive or unflattering.  The ad obviously violates both.

But IS has decided to provide a lot of legalese that basically says that the TOS are ambiguous at best and that they are the only ones that can decipher the TOS and decide whether the use of an image is breaking the TOS.  This has upset a lot of people.

2. If the TOS don't protect against this sort of situation, then what does it protect against?  If a child were placed in the ad instead of an elderly gentleman, would IS have stepped in?  Is topless not enough?  What about bottomless from the rear?  What are the constraints?  Once again, IS has evaded the question with a bunch of legalese.  So nobody now knows how an image can or can't be used.  Basically, the TOS is worthless.

3. Even if an image is obviously breaking the TOS, how can IS even enforce it?  With IS in Canada, photographers around the world, and buyers everywhere in between who has jurisdiction?  For example, if an image of a model's face is placed over a nude body and then placed on a porno site in another country, how can it be enforced?

4. There are images in the IS database that are insensitive in the first place.  Images of sexual body parts, homosexuals kissing, etc.  How can an insensitive image be used in a sensitive way?  Once again, no answer from IS.

IMO, iStock should have stepped in and at least tried to go after the buyer to remove the image.  This would have showed that they truly do care about their "community" of photographers.  Their silence on this shows their true colors.  The TOS is there to protect them and nobody else.

This whole topic has obviously opened a lot of eyes to how IS operates.

And to top it all off, IS has locked the thread.

To view the original image, go here:

http://www.istockphoto.com/forum_messages.php?threadid=38581&page=1

Here is the ad:

http://www.istockphoto.com/design_spotlight_fileview.php?size=3&id=6588[/img]

Here is the website that used the ad:

http://www.electricdisco.com/index.php?page=home


« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 10:12 »
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I saw this on istock as well.

I would say i have to strongly agree with you StockManiac.

If istock was ever going to step in and say something was over the bounds of acceptable i would think this would be such a case.  Sticking someone in a strip bar would surly be against their terms of service posted which state that
Quote
use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner
that (i) would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses
or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause,
association or other endeavour; or (ii) that depicts such person in a
potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to
mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied
sexual activity or preferences
, substance abuse, crime, physical or
mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be
reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person
reflected in the Content;

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2006, 10:48 »
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I find this problem a bit unnerving.  We all know that the most successful portfolios have models in them (just look to Phildate or Lise Gagne!).  We need some assurance that our models won't be abused.  The Istock admins didn't find the design offensive, but I did--I find strip bars demeaning and offensive in general.  More important, however, is that there is a general lack of older/elderly models in places like Istock.  This kind of design, and the Istock response, will not help in that regard.

Regardless, one crucial point that came out of this debacle is that we should use professional models, rather than family and friends.  A professional model's job is to be photographed, regardless of the use of the image.  The only difference here is that the model doesn't know where the image will be used.  It could be argued, though, that the model often doesn't know how or where the image will be used.

« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2006, 11:59 »
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...one crucial point that came out of this debacle is that we should use professional models, rather than family and friends.

Yes, but microstock does not fit will with this financial model (no pun intended).  Hiring professional models for microstock doesn't make much sense, unless you are one of the big hitters, since it requires that you pay them.  With 20 cents royalty on an image, that doesn't make financial sense.  You would have to literally sell thousands of images just to break even with the payment for the model.

One of the reasons that family and friends are used is because of the fact that you don't (usually) have to pay them.

Also, at least one or two of the buyers on that thread voiced their opinions on this matter as well.  They said that the microstocks had "real" looking people in their images (as opposed to professional models in professional poses) and that was something that helped the microstocks stand out.  If this "realness" is lost, then a great disservice will be done to the microstock industry and buyers will return back to the macrostocks from whence they came.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2006, 13:12 »
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I agree with what you say, in principle.  But, I'm finding models aren't really hard to come by.  The people in my portfolio (not many, I admit) all agreed to sit for free.  I just do environmental portraits, so I don't have to bring them into a studio--not that I have one ;).  My contacts on other sites say they rarely pay a model, unless it's for a commissioned shoot.  Apparently, lots of people want to model and will do it for free, just for the experience.

I intend to post flyers at the local university to get some models.

Good luck, and let me know how and if you get any good models.  I'm new to this, and I'd like any possible advice . . .

...one crucial point that came out of this debacle is that we should use professional models, rather than family and friends.

Yes, but microstock does not fit will with this financial model (no pun intended).  Hiring professional models for microstock doesn't make much sense, unless you are one of the big hitters, since it requires that you pay them.  With 20 cents royalty on an image, that doesn't make financial sense.  You would have to literally sell thousands of images just to break even with the payment for the model.

One of the reasons that family and friends are used is because of the fact that you don't (usually) have to pay them.

Also, at least one or two of the buyers on that thread voiced their opinions on this matter as well.  They said that the microstocks had "real" looking people in their images (as opposed to professional models in professional poses) and that was something that helped the microstocks stand out.  If this "realness" is lost, then a great disservice will be done to the microstock industry and buyers will return back to the macrostocks from whence they came.

amanda1863

« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2006, 14:11 »
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The pro model versus using family is an interesting sticking point here.  If I got anything out of the discussion (which I spent all day reading yesterday) it really seems to me as if it is the beginning of a bigger divide between hobbyists and "professional microstock".  Anyone else get that out of it?

« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2006, 14:49 »
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I don't see the problem. Its a tastfullly put together ad in my opinion. There is no nudity visible except for the bare back. I would love to see one of my pictures used in that ad. And please don't play the "have compassion with this elderly man" card. Elderly people aren't as prutisch as you might think. What makes you think its a strip bar anyways? It looks like a nightclub to me. The ad anounces upcoming events and the featured artists. Alot of nightclubs use pole dancing images to send out a sexy vibe. Or am i missing someting here?

« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2006, 15:03 »
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Or am i missing someting here?

You're definitely missing more than "something".

I don't see the problem.
Whether you see the "problem" is not the question. The ad breaks the iStock TOS in more than one way, and iStock did nothing about it.

What makes you think its a strip bar anyways? It looks like a nightclub to me.

Call it whatever you want. Some people will even call it a "gentlemen's club".

Here is a direct quote from the site. Please note that I had to clean it up slightly by adding asterisks (*) for the family audience:

"Electric Disco. Electro mashup music for wankers and prancers once a month. Hot girls. Hot guys. Sex on the dancefloor. Party pashing. Getting loose. Get it out. Get it on. Get with it. Drink. Drink. Drink. Vomit. Drink more. Come and listen. Come dance. Come get naked on the dancefloor, but only if youre hot. Come have a drink or two. Come and get your freak on. Come heckle the DJs. Come get your flirt on and maybe even leave early. With someone else. Or even two people. Drink. Dance. Smoke. Flirt. F**k. Cough. Spew. Bump. Grind. Laugh. Cry. Gargle. Go home satisfied. Come back next month!"

grp_photo

« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2006, 16:56 »
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The add is well made nobody denied it. I wouldn't have a problem with it either. BUT its against the TOS that is for sure. And if you look at the original picture of the elderly man you easily can imagine that it could be a problem for him or his relations.
I mostly shot people but i don't have a single picture with recognizable persons on microstock i feel responsible for the people i photograph and therefore microstock is not the right place for it.
That said i made 31,50 Dollar on Stockxpert today so you still can make some money with microstock even if you don't have recognizable people in your microstockportfolio.(the new prices on stockxpert are great  ;D).

« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2006, 17:39 »
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I don't use models, though I would like to because of the potential earnings, but I wouldn't feel comfortable to use them in RF images because of such possibilities.  Or I would at least tell them this might happen (and I would include some wording about that in the model release to protect myself). 

But it is a pity that IS took this position of protecting the buyer rather than the photographer.

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2006, 17:57 »
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Yeah well is suppose people could have other feelings about whats apropriate and what not. I would have found it inapropriate if the man was naked, or having sex or something. The TOS should give some clear examples as to what is allowed and what not. I don't see how the current TOS ferbids this kind of use, even if some of you would like it to.

There is nothing special or inapropriate about a bar. People go to bars to get drunk and have sex. Thats just the way it works. The site is very honest about that and thats what attracts most young people these days. I'm not saying i agree with this type of social behaviour but its not for me to judge.

Stockmaniac, you may have a problem with these sort of bars but if most people don't then doesn't that mean its not inapropriate and maybe you are a bit of a prute? You can't even type the word fuck. Whats so horrible about a word. Everybody says it and everybody does it. Don't be so hypocritical an start seing the world the way it is.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2006, 18:03 »
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Getting a bit personal, aren't we?  And by the way, it was me who doesn't like stripper bars.  They degrade women.  And, you can tell me to get real all you want and it won't change my mind.  That ad was sexist and it was inappropriate to include an elderly man.  Period.

I'm done with this thread.

« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2006, 18:14 »
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The typical its degrading for women speach. Those women chose to do what they do. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean they can't do it. If you don't like it don't go there. Its only people like you who degrade them by talking about it the way you do. I'm sure 80% of the people end up going to a strip bar at least once in their lifetimes so don't treat it like its some sort of taboe. Its like porn, everybody hates it and the woman are sluts, but still 95% of the people watch it.

There is absolutely nothing degrading about the ad. I've seen more nudity on istock itself then in the ad so how can they lable it as inapropriate?

« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2006, 18:21 »
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I don't see how the current TOS ferbids this kind of use, even if some of you would like it to.


As was said at the beginning of this thread:

The IS TOS (Terms of Service) (@ http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php) state that it is prohibited to use an image of a model in a manner that (a) would lead a reasonable person to think that they endorse a business, or (b) depicts them in any way that would be offensive or unflattering.  The ad obviously violates both.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 19:19 by GeoPappas »

« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2006, 18:27 »
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i don't see it that way, clearly istock doesn't either

« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2006, 18:46 »
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People go to bars to get drunk and have sex. Thats just the way it works. (...) Don't be so hypocritical an start seing the world the way it is.

People consume drugs, people kill, people steal, people make wars, people lay landmines, people use illegal immigrants as slave workers, people are racist, people are pedophiles, people beat their children.  That's just the way it works, however I think most of us would be concerned if the confidence people who model for us had on us may be shaken due to image misuse.

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2006, 18:58 »
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It may sound...but I am thankful about two things

1. That I never got admitted at IS.
2. That I don't shoot people for stock...

Call me silly, stupid or whatsoever, better missing out a couple (or more) of $$$ but having a good sleep... SY

« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2006, 19:17 »
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I just started thinking about shooting models.

I'm starting to rethink that strategy.

« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2006, 19:21 »
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i don't see it that way, clearly istock doesn't either

Maybe you don't see it that way because you are a designer, or maybe because you don't have photos with models in them.

But either way, I'm glad that you joined the conversation and gave your opinion because it shows that the iStock TOS are worthless.  The Internet is global and cuts across many different religions, cultures, etc.  What is offensive in one country is acceptable in another.  So how can anything be defined as "over the line"?
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 19:31 by StockManiac »

« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2006, 20:20 »
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1. The IS TOS (Terms of Service) (@ http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php) state that it is prohibited to use an image of a model in a manner that (a) would lead a reasonable person to think that they endorse a business, or (b) depicts them in any way that would be offensive or unflattering.  The ad obviously violates both.


The first part, (a), is ridiculous at best. I'm not even sure what they are trying to say here because the whole point of advertising with a person is to associate the model with the product/service to make people want to buy.

The second part, (b), is too subjective to be really meaningful.

I'd toss the first part out and just go with the second and since I don't find it offensive or unflattering it doesn't violate the TOS.

The add is well made nobody denied it.


I would deny it. It's not very good, no regard for lighting angles so most of the people and products in it don't feel like part of the image.


« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2006, 21:21 »
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I for one am very surprised and disappointed at the response from istockphoto.  I disabled all of my model-released photos (eighty or so images) and will not be uploading any more. 

« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2006, 00:25 »
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People consume drugs, people kill, people steal, people make wars, people lay landmines, people use illegal immigrants as slave workers, people are racist, people are pedophiles, people beat their children.  That's just the way it works, however I think most of us would be concerned if the confidence people who model for us had on us may be shaken due to image misuse.


What a rediculous response. I was clearly speaking of things that almost everyone does and that doesn't involve hurting people.
1. The IS TOS (Terms of Service) (@ http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php) state that it is prohibited to use an image of a model in a manner that (a) would lead a reasonable person to think that they endorse a business, or (b) depicts them in any way that would be offensive or unflattering.  The ad obviously violates both.


The first part, (a), is ridiculous at best. I'm not even sure what they are trying to say here because the whole point of advertising with a person is to associate the model with the product/service to make people want to buy.

The second part, (b), is too subjective to be really meaningful.

I'd toss the first part out and just go with the second and since I don't find it offensive or unflattering it doesn't violate the TOS.


exactly!

« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2006, 01:40 »
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I myself thought about uploading images with faces on it, but now I too am not sure if I will start with that. Sure some people would have no problemes with that, but I know tons of people who would not like to be in such an advertism. Especially many old people are often more sensitve about that.
This old guy might not, but who knows?? I for myself would not want be in such an advertism, if I had been a model. I guess I will stay with penguins..

« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2006, 10:04 »
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Just my two cents worth...

The foundation of the TOS is very subjective since the medium (internet) has no definite boundaries. What's right for one country might not be right for another. However, the TOS' intention, although weakly defined, is to protect the model. I guess for this scenario, the first person who should actually define whether the ad was offensive or not, is the model himself (the old man). If it's ok with him, even if his friends or relatives says otherwise, then there is no problem. He was not offended. Whether others thinks they would be offended if it had happened to them, it has no bearing since the model involved was not.

Unfortunately, based on what I have already read in the forum there (although I haven't read all) the photographer was still undecided to tell the old man how his photo was used because he was unsure how the old man would react. I hope he decides soon, lest the old man found out from others. In my opinion, that would increase the possibility that old man would react negatively, especially if the person who would relay the message also has negative opinion on the matter.

Regards.

amanda1863

« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2006, 14:16 »
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While everyone has their personal moral grounds from which to judge this particular incident, what it comes down to is that the official response from iStock states that while this may be a gray area, they (and their in-house lawyer) judge this to be within bounds as far as their EULA. I think the more legal contracts you read you will find that the language is often purposefully vague, in order to accommodate the infinite variety of situations that may come up. There is no possible way to cover every scenario that could happen, which is why in the legal world contracts are defined in terms of concepts rather than straight forward examples.

On the whole iStock's License agreements, models releases and TOS are very much in line with the industry standard and you will find similarly worded agreements at other stock houses from microstock sites to Getty, Corbis and Alamy.

One of the things to keep in mind when deciding to participate in creating Royalty Free stock images for sale on the Internet is that it is very much a business when it comes down to legalities and licensing. While it starts as a hobby for almost all in the microstock industry it is most definitely a business when you sell that first image, which is something that I don't think some people fully grasp at the beginning due to low commissions per sale and the community feel of many of these sites.

As has been pointed out several times in this thread, everyone's threshold for what is acceptable use is a bit different, and if you are considering doing model released shots for Royalty Free use you may want to do some more in depth research on what can be considered fair game. If you're not comfortable with the wide variety of uses it may be a more viable option for you to search out some rights managed agencies and consider different licensing models.

Another alternative to consider is to take the time and effort to find semi-pro and amateur models who are overall more tolerant of how their images may be used and often more knowledgable about the field than your average joe or your family members. (Added bonus: you don't have an emotional connection at this point.)

 Before anyone starts screaming that this is microstock and the industry doesn't support the kind of money for shoots that involve pro models, there are lots of options out there that almost guarantee you a model for free, such as trade for prints or CD. There are almost as many models trying to start a career as photogs which is a great thing for the new-to-stock group that can't pay an hourly fee not knowing if they will make their money back.

One more thing to consider, (and then I will shut up!) is that contributors on iStock who are considered the "super-stars" of microstock now and have thousands (literally) of sales per week, started out in relatively the same boat that everyone does. A lot of them started with a comparatively medicore portfolio made up of self portraits and family/friends snapshots. The one thing they have in common that has caused them to really excel above the rest of the bunch is their constant improvement and pushing of boundaries and the fact that they approach it like a business and have from the start even when they were making ten cents a download.

It seems to be a well proven theme that moral opinions and emotions don't tend to mix well with business. It's like mixing science and psychology. One is cut and dry the other is subjective and often immeasurable. ;)


 

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