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Author Topic: Dreamstime and Pixmac Investigation  (Read 23596 times)

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red

« on: July 19, 2011, 07:03 »
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FYI - DT just announced this regarding the Pixmac investigation -

Update:
Going back to the issue reported a few months ago:

Our contributors will receive their due earnings resulting from sales made by this former partner. Once the earnings balance is adjusted accordingly, the contributors will be notified by e-mail. Some of you will see changes in their balance so make sure you check the e-mail for such notifications.

Our action taking has been aimed at ensuring that the contributors' royalties are correctly awarded and the sales correctly reported. This has been achieved and as mentioned, many of you will see adjustments in their balances and sale reports.

At the same time, we will continue auditing and making sure there is no further infringement that can bring financial or image damage to our community. Our Alliance and partnership program has been launched to increase exposure and sales and has been thought as equitably beneficial for all parties involved: contributors, agency, partner. While we act fair, we expect the same response. At this point, we can only say that we are very disappointed by the unexpected outcome of one such partnership and consequently we'll do our best to prevent similar incidents in the future.


Original DT thread is here http://www.dreamstime.com/thread_25551
MSG discussion is here http://www.microstockgroup.com/pixmac/pixmac-no-longer-a-partner/
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 07:04 by cuppacoffee »


« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 07:14 »
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Well, that is good news for the contributors who were infringed upon. Glad to hear something was done to correct the wrongdoing.

So if agencies are willing to financially compensate, I take it that there was actual infringement going on, and it wasn't just a case of "politics", as Pixmac keeps saying.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 09:02 »
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Are they friends again?

I didn't understand anything in that response that stated the latest relationship between Pixmac and DT, did you?


« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2011, 12:27 »
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I wonder if that is why I got this email today

Quote
$1.93 amount have been added to your account, resulting from Alliance and Partnership sales for the following images from your portfolio:

A shame there was a misunderstanding / errors ... nice to see that Dreamstime is double checking their accounts.

« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2011, 13:57 »
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I wonder if that is why I got this email today

Quote
$1.93 amount have been added to your account, resulting from Alliance and Partnership sales for the following images from your portfolio:

A shame there was a misunderstanding / errors ... nice to see that Dreamstime is double checking their accounts.

Yeah, I got something similar this morning. Now I know why.

This is still a mess because we don't know (and most likely we will never know) who of the two companies made a "mistake". Whether it was Pixmac not reporting sales to DT or DT not paying us for sales occured at Pixmac.

This is not good for either reputation. I'm disappointed and afraid we will be just left with an icky gut feeling...

« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2011, 14:21 »
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This is not good for either reputation. I'm disappointed and afraid we will be just left with an icky gut feeling...

The thing is that everything is relative. People make mistakes every day. The difference is between those people that try to fix and learn from the mistakes and those that are silent to the issues or try to blame others. One example for all is this: "What if we as agency sell an image to a customer that uses the image in a wrong way?" It would be wrong, but do we have any chance to find it out if it's on the other side of the world? Or do we always have enough information about the scale of such misuses? Probably not. Should we cry or scream?

The only thing you can do towards agencies and we can do towards customers is "Watch and learn." The world is changing, technology is changing, culture is different in every country etc. We can either work together to become stronger together. Or fight with each other to make each of us weaker. Everybody has to choose the preferred approach to his/her live. At Pixmac we try to stick to fundamental rules of crowd-sourcing where the crowd has the power and Pixmac is only it's tool. Sure not all our steps were the right ones, but that's when one tries to innovate and push the product forward.

« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2011, 17:38 »
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This is not good for either reputation. I'm disappointed and afraid we will be just left with an icky gut feeling...

The thing is that everything is relative. People make mistakes every day. The difference is between those people that try to fix and learn from the mistakes and those that are silent to the issues or try to blame others. One example for all is this: "What if we as agency sell an image to a customer that uses the image in a wrong way?" It would be wrong, but do we have any chance to find it out if it's on the other side of the world? Or do we always have enough information about the scale of such misuses? Probably not. Should we cry or scream?

The only thing you can do towards agencies and we can do towards customers is "Watch and learn." The world is changing, technology is changing, culture is different in every country etc. We can either work together to become stronger together. Or fight with each other to make each of us weaker. Everybody has to choose the preferred approach to his/her live. At Pixmac we try to stick to fundamental rules of crowd-sourcing where the crowd has the power and Pixmac is only it's tool. Sure not all our steps were the right ones, but that's when one tries to innovate and push the product forward.

What's "relative" about our image sales not being reported properly ??? You and DT were responsible for proper tracking. It certainly wasn't my job.

Imagine how you would feel if your bank told you: We're sorry to inform you that during the bank transfer of your last paycheck an unknown amount of money disappeared but we're doing everything possible to make sure it won't happen again.

So now you know that two banks that dealt with your funds were involved but you don't really know whose fault it is and all you get is a message stating that they're trying not to have that happen again. At first, no one even says anything about what's going to happen with the missing money, or if you will ever see it.

The ironic part is that since the banks (or agencies) have thousands and thousands of customers, the money keeps rolling in - for them. But you're still left in the rain with a stale message that doesn't really help you at all. Their business keeps flourishing while you're the one suffering consequences for actions that were out of your control.

I would have loved to open a stock image agency 4 to 5 years ago. No idea if I would have managed to get it off the ground but my only serious concern was the security of accounts and the tracking of sales along with the proper accounting. I knew back then, that it will break my backbone if I screwed up with contributor's money.

This has happened now and DT and Pixmac both lost a lot of my trust.

When it comes to money, mistakes can lead to very serious consequences and I think you cannot expect people to feel different about their hard earned money when you announce that you made mistakes in the past and learned from them.

The world keeps on turning no matter what and the amounts that have been paid out now are small (for me at least), so I could just "move on". But for some reason, I keep looking at the big picture and I know that if you add it up some tens of thousands if not hundred thousand dollars had originally been scammed.

I really wonder if either one of the parties involved would have come clean if the contributors wouldn't have caused "such a riot"...

Now the cat's out of the bag and there are not a lot of other options but to apologize and say it will change. If you or DT wouldn't have done that, they could have shut their doors for "accidents" like this.

As for Pixmac being the tool, I'd say this: Any agency is somewhat of a tool, it's supposed to make the distribution easier for the contributor and they get paid for this. But on the other hand that tool also has a lot of control. Starting with the way the content is being chosen, displayed, sold and credited. That's 100% up to the agent and the contributor has no control whatsoever besides being a part of it or not.

Not to mention the accounting and the transfer of funds and as we can see it appears that the agencies still have a lot to improve.

Pixmac and DT may have all the best intentions but they also have to understand that besides the fight between them and the blaming of who did what wrong there are thousands of contributors watching and in the end, sorry for repeating this, we won't know who did what wrong. According to the message in the OP, DT claims that Pixmac made the mistake and I'm sure Pixmac will call it the other way around.

At this point, I don't care anymore.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 17:45 by click_click »

« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2011, 01:27 »
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Ok, thank you click_click and pseudonymous. Both of you are right in describing the problem, none of you have a solution.

I'd like to ask you one thing. What would you do in our position? Close the business? So every time an agency does a mistake (intentional or not) it should be closed? Even big agency that made a mistake, or policy change? How many agencies would remain? Who will be selling the images to customers? Your neighbor would probably not kill you if you had explained what happened. He would probably tell you you're a looser, but after few years when you learned that doing that was not right, he would come back to you.

Running an agency is a complex thing. It would be amazing if the only thing we would care about was accounting. The reality is that the first thing you care about is where to find the money to feed the whole chain. The second thing is how to make the product better for the customer. I just want to say that it's easy to say "you did something wrong" but it's way more difficult to show us "your agency" that does everything right and still is effective. I'd buy you a bottle of your favorite drink at least, if you create "a perfect agency."

Some people need definitive solutions. I know that there's no definitive solution. There's no agency that will be "clean" forever as there are people in every agency and people are not perfect.

Btw. As for the bank example. We did a mistake. We explained what happened (2 blog posts, many forum comments here) and we returned the money to the contributors.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 15:54 by zager »

« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2011, 03:00 »
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I'm confused. In baby language - was the problem that earnings were being unreported?

« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2011, 03:26 »
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Why is it so hard to be ethical?  You said 'There's no agency that will be "clean" forever as there are people in every agency and people are not perfect.'

Can you not implement a system of checks and balances to counteract this problem?  Or are you saying all agencies are inately corrupt and there's no solution for it?

We do all make mistakes, but the kind of mistakes where our earnings go in your pocket requires something more concrete than an apology.

You think the solution is for us to forgive you fast - but it's up to you to prove we can trust you, isn't it?  What are doing to guarantee this doesn't happen again?

« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2011, 03:44 »
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Why is it so hard to be ethical?  You said 'There's no agency that will be "clean" forever as there are people in every agency and people are not perfect.'

We're trying every day.

Can you not implement a system of checks and balances to counteract this problem?  Or are you saying all agencies are inately corrupt and there's no solution for it?

It's there now. But as the system keeps changing (new features) new issues keeps entering our work. So we fix one issue, work a few months on the innovation of the product and once someone makes a mistake or just not realize that feature X influences feature Y another problem approaches us. It's in every agency, but not all of the problems get public.

We do all make mistakes, but the kind of mistakes where our earnings go in your pocket requires something more concrete than an apology.

I understand that. And that's why I try to explain everything. Talk to you guys here and work on a solution to prevent such issues in future. Be sure that the cost of the issue was high. Not only in money, but also in time and the most important thing: We lost trust. I know that there's no way we can take back time, so the only thing is to tell you as much information here as I can.

You think the solution is for us to forgive you fast - but it's up to you to prove we can trust you, isn't it?  What are doing to guarantee this doesn't happen again?

You're right. We've been investigating this internally. We've implemented several new control mechanisms. We've returned the money to contributors and I've launched the Fair Stock Agency initiative to clearly state the issues that might happen to any agency in future. I'll be working on this in the future and will try to avoid any such problems in the future.

As I told you guys before. I'm clever enough to realize that without each of you on our side we're lost. I'm not going to do any activity that would result in negative buzz or loose of trust. Sure I can't avoid new issues to approach us, but I'll definitely try to be open and honest.

« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2011, 04:00 »
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You're right. We've been investigating this internally. We've implemented several new control mechanisms. We've returned the money to contributors and I've launched the Fair Stock Agency initiative to clearly state the issues that might happen to any agency in future. I'll be working on this in the future and will try to avoid any such problems in the future.

As I told you guys before. I'm clever enough to realize that without each of you on our side we're lost. I'm not going to do any activity that would result in negative buzz or loose of trust. Sure I can't avoid new issues to approach us, but I'll definitely try to be open and honest.

Nice response : ) 

The Fair Stock Agency initiative sounds really interesting. Will it help strengthen the rights of contributers?


« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2011, 04:51 »
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The Fair Stock Agency initiative sounds really interesting. Will it help strengthen the rights of contributers?


I hope so. Here's more:
http://www.fairstockphotoagency.com/
http://www.microstockdiaries.com/can-a-voluntary-code-of-conduct-make-a-difference-in-microstock.html


it's a start : ) ... are you going to widen its scope in the future? 

For a start there are so many problems with account closures.  How about a statement that no account can be closed if it doesn't break the terms and conditions?  Closures can be so arbitrary, with no robust appeals process.

« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2011, 04:55 »
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it's a start : ) ... are you going to widen its scope in the future? 

For a start there are so many problems with account closures.  How about a statement that no account can be closed if it doesn't break the terms and conditions?  Closures can be so arbitrary, with no robust appeals process.

I'm watching the issues of other agencies. The Fairstock initiative is still in early stage, so for now I'm gathering information and adding people to the list so I know what we have and then I have some ideas in what direction would be the best with it...

« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2011, 05:33 »
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it's a start : ) ... are you going to widen its scope in the future? 

For a start there are so many problems with account closures.  How about a statement that no account can be closed if it doesn't break the terms and conditions?  Closures can be so arbitrary, with no robust appeals process.

I'm watching the issues of other agencies. The Fairstock initiative is still in early stage, so for now I'm gathering information and adding people to the list so I know what we have and then I have some ideas in what direction would be the best with it...

Sounds a bit faffy. The best direction is fairness, if the name of the initiative is anything to go by.  If it's going to be the kind of initiative that will only use its little finger, and tentatively at that, will it really get anywhere beyond a PR bonus?

« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2011, 05:40 »
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Sounds a bit faffy. The best direction is fairness, if the name of the initiative is anything to go by.  If it's going to be the kind of initiative that will only use its little finger, and tentatively at that, will it really get anywhere beyond a PR bonus?

My impression that forcing someone to do something is not going to work. So the best approach would be to write down basic rules (done) and then make agencies and contributors get a bonus when they follow the rules. It's a positive motivation.

The actual form could be, for example:
1. Better revenue split for contributors who support/follow the Fairstock rules
2. Auditing agencies as independent entity and ranking them
3. Taking actions together in case there's a fraud or wrong behavior
4. Being implemented in the purchase process of each agency and reporting summarized data
5. Rejecting contributors from all agencies once he's stealing/copying images of others etc.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 05:42 by zager »

« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2011, 06:44 »
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Zager, in today's world you cannot put a muzzle over contributor's mouths for anything unless you make them sign a non disclosure agreement which I doubt anyone would sign.

People talk and they will let others know if things appear to be wrong with an agency.

Often I post agency related issues here before I report them to the agency directly, simply because I want to know if I discovered an account specific issue or a sitewide issue.

Can't you understand that if I discovered a sitewide issue, that all other contributors should be informed as well BEFORE the agency can react to make it look like it never happened? If money has been withheld for whatever reason and I know about it I think everyone should know.

After what happened with DT/Pixmac I have even more reason to inform others first before contacting the agency. Sorry but that's how it works these days.

Also, I'm not saying that you are not doing your best to do things right. I'm sure Pixmac stuff is working hard to get things right.
But don't forget that some people won't forget the past and will be more cautious and won't be trusting Pixmac ever again.

A solution you want? What am I supposed to do here? I'm not running Pixmac, nor do I get paid to advise Pixmac what to do in terms of business decisions.

One thing I can say is that big companies that had "accidents" happen, sometimes caused them to shut down because of them. Sometimes there is no solution to carry on the business.

For instance, sorry for using another analogy again, I won't ever be buying a Toyota for the rest of my life. Whether the faulty brakes fiasko was indeed their mistake or not, it's the way how that issue hit the news and Toyota's response that didn't create any confidence for me in the way they do their quality control.
Perhaps Toyota did learn from it and is maybe building the best cars in the world now but still, it scared . out of me since I was close to buying one and therefore switched to something else.

That was a serious incident for Toyota but like I said other companies didn't get so lucky and had to shut down.

I'm not saying Pixmac should shut down, I'm just trying to paint the picture for you how many of us feel towards Pixmac, regardless of how hard they/you work on improving things.

Same thing with iStock, they lost many of our trust (even years ago), so I'm not expecting a whole lot from them anymore. Fotolia is also on the black-list of a bunch of contributors so you're not alone...

« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2011, 06:44 »
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I'm inclined to believe it was an honest mistake and appreciate they are trying to correct it by giving us back what they owe us.
Isnt  it exactely that what istock is doing since the famous site revamp? "Accidentally pushed code early" so that EL bonusses got lost, glitches in the software causing contributors to get 0 royalties for months, etc etc.  They dont apologise about it but want us to thank them for the retro payments too.
I really hope that is what happened, and pixmac got pretty unlucky it was DT, an agency valued pretty high by many of us (or at least before the similars policy ;)) that outed the mistake.
If this is what happened they already payed a very high price for it, a tainted name is something that will haunt them for a good while.
At least they show good will and decent communications about it... i have yet to see that from the other ones i trust far less because of their superior and arrogant attitudes (FT and iS primarily).

If after this i find out you Pixmaccers are frauds im coming over to set your HQ on fire ;)
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 06:46 by Artemis »

« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2011, 07:07 »
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Same thing with iStock, they lost many of our trust (even years ago), so I'm not expecting a whole lot from them anymore. Fotolia is also on the black-list of a bunch of contributors so you're not alone...

Thank you. I'm happy to hear all that. I'll do my best to make Pixmac better and safer. It might bring some of you guys back in a distant future.

« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2011, 07:11 »
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If after this i find out you Pixmaccers are frauds im coming over to set your HQ on fire ;)

Ok. Deal! :-)

« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2011, 01:33 »
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Oh come on -  this is not the way is it?  These things are easily misinterpretable. People don't want to be creeped out in the middle of a trust-building exercise.  Honestly... I'm sure you're intentions were  good but what kind of impression does this give? 

No offense. I just meet a lot of people so it was a bookmark for me to remember who's who. So I can collect the puzzle easily.

lagereek

« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2011, 01:51 »
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Anybody can make a mistake, so what? Ive done severall, so has GM and the Pres of the United States.

no big deal.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 02:11 by lagereek »

« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2011, 02:03 »
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Oh come on -  this is not the way is it?  These things are easily misinterpretable. People don't want to be creeped out in the middle of a trust-building exercise.  Honestly... I'm sure you're intentions were  good but what kind of impression does this give? 

No offense. I just meet a lot of people so it was a bookmark for me to remember who's who. So I can collect the puzzle easily.

I don't envy your position. Everyone makes mistakes.  It's nice that you're making an effort to do the right thing and help improve the integrity of industry - because that's fairly rare. 


 

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