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Author Topic: What to do about misuse of Shutterstock images?  (Read 12609 times)

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« on: May 15, 2008, 13:29 »
As far as I know Shutterstock buyers are not allowed to use images for larger sized calendar prints (or calendar prints at all) unless they purchase an Enhanced license - is that right?

My sister (who's a Shutterstock contributor as well) found several of her images used in a calendar series printed by a UK company. Those images were definitely purchased from Shutterstock but my sister never got an Enhanced license for any of them. She wrote to Shutterstock support several months ago and they promised to take care of the matter. However, nothing has happened so far. Today my sister saw that even more of her images are being used for the 2009 calendar series.

What can she expect here - nothing?
Has anyone ever faced a similar scenario? Any advice on that matter?

(By the way, this issue probably concerns a lot of Shutterstock contributors as this calendar company buys regularly from Shutterstock and has a large sortiment of calendars with many different topics.)   


« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2008, 13:42 »
I would just suggest (a) contacting SS support again about the new calendar so she can say she's done that and (b) raising the profile of this issue via the SS forums and anywhere else she'd care to post. You need to give people a decent amount of time to do something after you bring it to their attention, but if she's been patiently waiting for "several months" already, then I'd suggest that public shaming is in order.

I wish people would do the right thing without turning up the heat, but perhaps other contributors seeing that SS is doing nothing (or at the very best, doing something at a glacial pace) will get them to move on it a bit faster.

« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2008, 14:09 »
Do you have a link to their website so we can check to see if any of ours are there as well?  If we all put pressure on them and SS, maybe this will speed up the process.


« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2008, 15:22 »
Thank you both for your replies!
Here's the original thread in the Shutterstock forum, the calendar company is mentioned as well, it's www.avonsidepublishing.co.uk [nofollow]

http://submit.shutterstock.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=29395&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=avonsidepublishing&start=0 [nofollow]

« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2008, 15:49 »
Meh, everything is out of stock. Maybe Shutterstock or some other agency already clamped down on this site or something.

« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2008, 16:29 »
Probably out of stock because they haven't printed them yet. Give it a few months ...

« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2008, 16:42 »
Hm... i see two of my Paris pictures on the calendar, and also 100 % sure no EL license was purchased for that.

Patrick H.

« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2008, 16:49 »
I wonder if there is a property release for that shot of the Louvre?  Isn't it one of those copyrighted structures like the Eiffel Tower at night?

I sent a note to someone about a site - I think it was this one - that was selling calendars with his photos.  He knew for certaint that several photos did not have ELs, he was going to look into it - and I remember that he did find that this (I think it's likely the same website) was just a distributor and not the calendar publisher.

« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2008, 20:30 »
The questions is: Is there legal recourse to  make the company pay the price of an enhanced license?

If there is, is there any added benefit after court, lawyer and your time are added in?
Will a stock agency go the course for you on your behalf, and incur the costs?

Cranky MIZ

PS I have never in my 3 years of stock heard of any kind of mutual settlement in cases like these. (That doesn't mean there aren't any)
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 20:32 by rjmiz »

« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2008, 21:11 »
Have you tried contacting them (them being the infringing publisher)? Unlike MIZ, I've seen dozens of mutual settlements in cases like this. If they're a legitimate publisher it normally only takes a call to the publisher's general counsel (or in this case solicitor/barrister) and they'll send my client a check for the normal Getty/Corbis rate.


  • Roadrunner
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2008, 10:07 »
That's the problem with these calendar publishers, T-Shirt designers, Coffee Mug printers and Postcard publishers!  They know there is a very slim chance they will be caught by the photographers, so they relish in stealing use of the images by paying only the subscription rate.  To them it is good good business decision.

For every one who has the time to track all thir images and contact the ;egal departments of such offenders, there are hundreds that are not so adept.  Considering the number of vilolators, there are more getting away with it than getting caught.  Add to that, and some sites can't give your work away fast enough.  This might be the biggest factor in persuading photographers to deal with RM over RF stock.  In fact, some may resort to going back to the old way of doing business - contacting editors for their specs,  and supplying images tailored to tthat magazine.

Consider also how expensive equipment is and how much travel expenses are rising! 

Can't help but wonder how much abuse the photographers are willing to take.  I have had two extended licenses in two years.  I highly suspect that I've been cheated more than once. ::)  The question is - Do the majority of photographers really care?  It seems to be a fact that the way for a large percentage of people tody is to cheat all they can, because there are no penalties other than having to give one or two of those being cheated a small check.


« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2008, 04:38 »
Send SS a sitemail, sit and wait for for couple of weeks, get no reply as they only bother getting back to their photogs when they feel like it (rarely).
Give up, post on the forum about it.
Get told off for posting on the forum and not sending them a sitemail.
Say you did send a sitemail but they didn't bother replying.
Get the thread locked.
Conclude that they don't give a crap about you or your images.


« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2008, 01:36 »
I just did another search on google's blogsearch and was dismayed, but not surprised to see all the same "free vectors" entries that I'd reported to SS several weeks ago. In addition, there were several posts where people were asking in forums for someone who had a SS subscription to sell them a couple of images.

There was a lovely exchange where someone posted that what the person was asking was against the terms of the license agreement and copyright infringement. The answer? "Yeah but this is the Internet."

If SS is trying to shut this stuff down, there's doesn't appear to be any sign of success. Reselling their stuff, or giving it away on sites that i guess gain ad revenue from visits, particularly vectors, seems to be a cottage industry.


« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2008, 03:09 »
This is the sort of stuff I'm talking about when I say that SS just couldn't care less about their contributors.
Why is it that SS suffers from this so much more than any other site out there including the other ones that offer subscriptions?
Yes they are the biggest sub site, but you'd think that would also mean that they had the tightest security as far as stopping people using nicked credit cards etc and the greatest ability to crack down on offenders.
If this was being done then the criminals would be targeting the smaller sites.
To not even bother replying to emails from concerned contributors who have had there work stolen from their site until they are shamed into doing so by forum posts is just astounding. I mean wow, just astounding.
Can you imagine IS or even DT or FL behaving like this?  no way.

« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2008, 04:16 »
I get the impression that SS isn't willing to invest heavily on anything that could make it a really great site - better security, crack down on stolen images, plus a proper tiered pay structure... there's no way they can go on indefinitely without making some decent site changes.

Compare this to IS, who seem to be constantly innovating, making upgrades and site changes (largely for the better) and for exclusives at least, genuinely trying to protect their images.

I know most people look at monthly earnings as the reason to go / not to go exclusive, but these other factors weigh on my mind more and more when considering the best way to help protect my portfolio.

« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2008, 04:19 »
IMHO there is only one answer to stuff like this: Treat the agency like it is treating you. If SS does not see us as serious business partners why should we differ?

To begin with two very simple point:

1. Send your winner images only to those agencies respecting you.

2. Downsample every file to the minimum file size (4MB at SS) before giving it to any shady agency. This would make the usage e.g. for calendars much more difficult and clients looking for quality files would need to move on to more contributor friendly agencies. 



« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2008, 07:58 »
IMHO there is only one answer to stuff like this: Treat the agency like it is treating you. If SS does not see us as serious business partners why should we differ?

To begin with two very simple point:

1. Send your winner images only to those agencies respecting you.

2. Downsample every file to the minimum file size (4MB at SS) before giving it to any shady agency. This would make the usage e.g. for calendars much more difficult and clients looking for quality files would need to move on to more contributor friendly agencies. 

I agree, but I think that given their reaction times to trends in the industry and general unprofessionalism this will only kill their sales rather than making them behave more humanely to their photographers.

They will only start respecting us when they are forced by industry trends to eventually offer per image sales. Then they might start appreciating that they owe their living to us as much as the other way round. At the moment they make less money the more downloads we get.


« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2008, 08:40 »
LOL that is funny everything is out of stock even the Van-Gogh-Calendar  ;D And they really have lots of calendar one of my own pictures even made it to a calendar-cover-shot.
Obviously some kind of action was taken but the money they made from the 2008 and earlier calendars will not be affected and i doubt the photographers will see some refund from this company! >:(

« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2008, 14:36 »
Thank you all for your comments!

Since many of you were wondering about Shutterstock's reaction to this problem (which really seems to affect quite a lot of SS contributors), here's their reply:
http://submit.shutterstock.com/forum/abt29395-0-asc-15.html [nofollow]



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