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Poll

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

Yes
3 (3.6%)
No
72 (86.7%)
Don't know
8 (9.6%)

Total Members Voted: 81

Author Topic: Shutterstock suspicious accounts "wackamoles" update  (Read 25759 times)

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Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« on: January 27, 2019, 08:54 »
+18
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...
« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 09:05 by Brasilnut »


dpimborough

« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2019, 08:59 »
+4
Something is rotten in the state of Shutterstock :(

They can spot all sorts of similars in an individual submitters portfolio but don't seem to have the ability to spot it across different ports.



« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2019, 09:35 »
+2
Wow, great job - you are doing a real service to all legitimate contributors by outing these fraudsters.  Although it looks like they often change the color or orientation of the images, you'd think it would be relatively easy for a company like SS do develop automated methods to flag suspicious accounts that could be followed up by a person.  They definitely need a fraud division!

It seems like the same stolen pics are showing up in ports of people from different countries?  Is there an organized web doing this?  Or are people spoofing their country of origin as well?  I assume SS doesn't go after them to recoup the money that was paid out and give it to the copyright holders, but that is what really should be done to minimize the problem and be fair to the true content providers.

In the meantime great work and carry on the effort.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2019, 10:06 »
+5
Wow, great job - you are doing a real service to all legitimate contributors by outing these fraudsters.  Although it looks like they often change the color or orientation of the images, you'd think it would be relatively easy for a company like SS do develop automated methods to flag suspicious accounts that could be followed up by a person.  They definitely need a fraud division!

It seems like the same stolen pics are showing up in ports of people from different countries?  Is there an organized web doing this?  Or are people spoofing their country of origin as well?  I assume SS doesn't go after them to recoup the money that was paid out and give it to the copyright holders, but that is what really should be done to minimize the problem and be fair to the true content providers.

In the meantime great work and carry on the effort.

Thanks. It is really amazing that this has gone so far for so long, bordering on professional negligence really. They appear to be taking action but seems to be too little, too late. :/

These accounts seem similar and linked. There appears to be groups, based in India, scouting 24/7 these scummy free sites such as Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels for suckers who upload and as soon as will download to re-license.

Most worrying and something that I'm keeping an eye on is how I've spotted some fraudulent images within these accounts that are licensed as commercial without releases. I had a few examples but didn't flag them at the time and now can't locate them anymore without taking up a huge amount of time.

This suggests a link suggests possible collusion between QC reviewers and fraudsters, upping the notch. Not making any accusations as don't have evidence to present but will keep an eye on this development.

No idea what happens to earnings from fraud. I assume SS pockets the money as copyright owner is left in the dark. More transparency on this is needed.

« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2019, 11:28 »
0
Total moles identified: 250
Oh, wow! Thank you so much for your hard work! Really appreciated. However it is surprising that it has to be done and reported by someone outside SS. Apparently they have no working algorithms or human power to even bother with this issue.

« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2019, 11:49 »
+3
A few years ago SS was talking grandly about how they were a "technology" company with a big R&D group. 

I think they built a system so automated and so complicated that they can't manage it anymore; and some employees, partners and other 'insiders' have figured out how to play it.  People with access are bringing in other people's stolen portfolios for a price, direct, no 'upload' and no inspection, thousands of images at a time.   They've probably lost enough key development people by now that they're afraid to touch the code, can't take the risk of breaking things, and don't have enough monitoring hooks in place.

Its too late, the ship has sailed... they can't afford to pay new people to look back at 100 million images and decide what's real anymore.  Even if they did, how many of those poorly paid 'inspectors' could they trust?
« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 20:24 by stockastic »

« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2019, 13:11 »
+4
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...

You are amazing doing this
Were it not for your persistence and outspokenness, SS would have ignored this whole matter and just carried on status quo

You should be offered some kind of compensation from SS for what youve done and are continuing to do

So many have bitched and complained about this problem, but until you came along SS did nothing about it
 You sir, deserve much kudos !

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2019, 14:34 »
+2
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...
So many have bitched and complained about this problem

Thanks!

I think you hit the nail in the head there. Most people just complain but don't do anything about it.

What I've done, with the help of others, is not rocket science. Simply created a list with links and updated regularly. There were already numerous links in various threads, all I did was consolidated into one thread and post.

Time consuming: fk yea, but so is bitching with no purpose.

Not sure how long I'll be able to keep this up though as the weather/light will be improving soon and I much rather be out shooting than wacking moles!

Quote
You should be offered some kind of compensation from SS for what youve done and are continuing to do

Not expecting anything, but someone from their management has recently contacted me directly to assist them on improving their anti-fraud processes.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2019, 09:16 »
+3
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...

You are amazing doing this
Were it not for your persistence and outspokenness, SS would have ignored this whole matter and just carried on status quo

You should be offered some kind of compensation from SS for what youve done and are continuing to do

So many have bitched and complained about this problem, but until you came along SS did nothing about it
 You sir, deserve much kudos !

Many of us reported and reported and got back "we'll look into it" or how to file a DMCA if we were the owner. I think bringing the problem to the forum there for everyone to see, not one here and there, but the whole big list of hundreds, got someones attention. Bringing this to the forum was a good way to finally break down the lip service and never actually doing anything.

Exposing how large the problem is, did it. As long as there was an email here and there and a complaint on the forum, we got ignored. I doubt that the threats of exposing this or a class action suit had anything to do with the change. Showing everything about how big the problem is, to everyone, anyone can read the forum right? That's what worked.

I think it was Alex's big list that did the trick.

« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2019, 09:52 »
+3
Absolutely spot on. With Alexandre' s initiative and the hard work of all those involved SS has been effectively  manoeuvred into a position where they can no longer simply  ostrich the problem. I think it has also exposed for all to see an embarrassing hole in their infrastructure which if left unchecked would undoubtedly leave them highly exposed in terms of litigation. One glaring  example that comes to mind is the "berries" shot in one of the threads over there. A shot which returns nothing but the same image multiple times in the "similars" grid in search results. Unbelievable how tenuous their platform really is. Either that or the extent of collusion at some level.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 10:25 by DavidK »

« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2019, 12:50 »
+1
Amazing good Job there Alex !!!

« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2019, 14:44 »
+5
This is one thing that SS is dropping the ball on. I've flagged so many infringers over the years and it's starting to make me numb. People were straight up stealing or tracing my work. It unbelievable how many people out there think it's okay to do this kind of thing. And they all come from the same few countries.

SS need to implement some kind of machine learning into their approval process to automatically flag similars before they get approved. They should ban any contributor who attempts to upload infringing work so that we don't have to deal with this nonsense. For a company with so much money, they have the resources to do this.

« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2019, 16:56 »
0
This is one thing that SS is dropping the ball on. I've flagged so many infringers over the years and it's starting to make me numb. People were straight up stealing or tracing my work. It unbelievable how many people out there think it's okay to do this kind of thing. And they all come from the same few countries.

SS need to implement some kind of machine learning into their approval process to automatically flag similars before they get approved. They should ban any contributor who attempts to upload infringing work so that we don't have to deal with this nonsense. For a company with so much money, they have the resources to do this.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the tech is already implemented. All the major sites have a search visually similar images or footage option. When SS lists similars I don't believe they use a keyword or tag based metadata function. I think it is image recognition. If it's not robust enough maybe they should look at something we are looking at implementing from TinEye. If you don't know who TinEye is you really should.

https://services.tineye.com/MatchEngine

As some have alluded to in another forum, the real question is how so many of these are making it past the review process.

Something else many of you might be interested in is https://binded.com. I dare say a fusion of these technologies (plus others) on a single platform is not far off and is exactly what the microstock industry needs right now.

« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2019, 17:05 »
+1
This is one thing that SS is dropping the ball on. I've flagged so many infringers over the years and it's starting to make me numb. People were straight up stealing or tracing my work. It unbelievable how many people out there think it's okay to do this kind of thing. And they all come from the same few countries.

SS need to implement some kind of machine learning into their approval process to automatically flag similars before they get approved. They should ban any contributor who attempts to upload infringing work so that we don't have to deal with this nonsense. For a company with so much money, they have the resources to do this.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the tech is already implemented. All the major sites have a search visually similar images or footage option. When SS lists similars I don't believe they use a keyword or tag based metadata function. I think it is image recognition. If it's not robust enough maybe they should look at something we are looking at implementing from TinEye. If you don't know who TinEye is you really should.

https://services.tineye.com/MatchEngine

As some have alluded to in another forum, the real question is how so many of these are making it past the review process.

Something else many of you might be interested in is https://binded.com. I dare say a fusion of these technologies (plus others) on a single platform is not far off and is exactly what the microstock industry needs right now.

You're right, it is implemented... on the search side.

I don't know the inner workings of the approval side, but if that tool was available during the approval process, a lot of these thieves would have caught before they had their first approval. Coming from working in a tech company, we have lousy internal tools and there isn't a lot of resources dedicate to it.

« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2019, 04:51 »
+1
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...

Very nice work everybody and Alex for consolidating it all and shining the light on it!

SS should definitely offer you something as you're basically doing their job - for free.

Wondering how many photos have been taken down so far - with these contributors. Are we talking thousands or even millions?

« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2019, 07:52 »
+1
This is one thing that SS is dropping the ball on. I've flagged so many infringers over the years and it's starting to make me numb. People were straight up stealing or tracing my work. It unbelievable how many people out there think it's okay to do this kind of thing. And they all come from the same few countries.

SS need to implement some kind of machine learning into their approval process to automatically flag similars before they get approved. They should ban any contributor who attempts to upload infringing work so that we don't have to deal with this nonsense. For a company with so much money, they have the resources to do this.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the tech is already implemented. All the major sites have a search visually similar images or footage option. When SS lists similars I don't believe they use a keyword or tag based metadata function. I think it is image recognition. If it's not robust enough maybe they should look at something we are looking at implementing from TinEye. If you don't know who TinEye is you really should.

https://services.tineye.com/MatchEngine

As some have alluded to in another forum, the real question is how so many of these are making it past the review process.

Something else many of you might be interested in is https://binded.com. I dare say a fusion of these technologies (plus others) on a single platform is not far off and is exactly what the microstock industry needs right now.

You're right, it is implemented... on the search side.

I don't know the inner workings of the approval side, but if that tool was available during the approval process, a lot of these thieves would have caught before they had their first approval. Coming from working in a tech company, we have lousy internal tools and there isn't a lot of resources dedicate to it.

Good points. I don't pretend to know anything about the SS review process either, but it seems to me that they used to reject on the basis of similar not all that long ago. Maybe I assume too much but if the tech is still there on the search side then why on earth has it been disabled/not implemented on the review side. Too slow perhaps for the sheer volume of images they want to push through now? Too many DB queries for a poorly scaled infrastructure? Who knows, but something is definitely not right. SS is a giant in the industry with arguably the most resources to tackle an issue they were aware of for quite some time now. Ripping off CC licensed images from wallpaper sites or UnSplash etc. is one thing, but uploading content which already exists in their database over and over again is inexcusable.

dpimborough

« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2019, 06:04 »
+1
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...

I don't know how you feel but it looks like Shutterstock stopped deleting the thieves accounts

They probably pay a bit of lip service and carry on their usual head in the sand  approach :(


Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2019, 07:42 »
+3
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...

I don't know how you feel but it looks like Shutterstock stopped deleting the thieves accounts

They probably pay a bit of lip service and carry on their usual head in the sand  approach :(

So far it seems that no accounts on the list have been shut down this week, disappointing.

Will put together a end of week update on Sat night. 

dpimborough

« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2019, 08:04 »
+2
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...

I don't know how you feel but it looks like Shutterstock stopped deleting the thieves accounts

They probably pay a bit of lip service and carry on their usual head in the sand  approach :(

So far it seems that no accounts on the list have been shut down this week, disappointing.

Will put together a end of week update on Sat night.

Maybe you should send  a message to Alex@shutterstock and remind them they are supposed to be doing something as they promised

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2019, 08:24 »
+3
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...

I don't know how you feel but it looks like Shutterstock stopped deleting the thieves accounts

They probably pay a bit of lip service and carry on their usual head in the sand  approach :(

So far it seems that no accounts on the list have been shut down this week, disappointing.

Will put together a end of week update on Sat night.

Maybe you should send  a message to Alex@shutterstock and remind them they are supposed to be doing something as they promised

I'm in direct contact with someone high up within their management and pending an update.

Appears that they're undertaking some changes to their processes. I'm speculating but this may be the reason for the slowdown in wackamoling, while they figure out the best way to tackle this huge challenge.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2019, 17:39 »
+2
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...

I don't know how you feel but it looks like Shutterstock stopped deleting the thieves accounts

They probably pay a bit of lip service and carry on their usual head in the sand  approach :(

They've started wacking them again.

Just counted 15 big accounts (500+) shut down and at least 96 smaller ones.

dpimborough

« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2019, 17:51 »
+2
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...

I don't know how you feel but it looks like Shutterstock stopped deleting the thieves accounts

They probably pay a bit of lip service and carry on their usual head in the sand  approach :(

They've started wacking them again.

Just counted 15 big accounts (500+) shut down and at least 96 smaller ones.

So I see however a lot of the newly deleted still have their accounts up even though there are no images.

The earlier thieves were shut down completely.  I wonder what SS are doing?

It leaves the thieves open to upload more stolen content

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2019, 08:00 »
+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/
« Last Edit: February 02, 2019, 09:48 by Brasilnut »

« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2019, 09:29 »
0
How are you doing this, maybe we can make it an organized effort if we cab get some people to volunteer in this group.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2019, 09:49 »
+1
How are you doing this, maybe we can make it an organized effort if we cab get some people to volunteer in this group.

Yes, lots of people helping out on the thread updates:

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

I do some searching/wacking but mainly consolidating and confirming suspicious accounts. Seems to be working well.


 

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