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Need your help - copyright infringement?


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Dear Shutterstock Community,

I need your help and would like to hear your opinion about a possible infringement of my work.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that a shutterstock contributor is in my opinion excessively copying my work. So far I identified 90 pictures which were copied and the number is daily increasing. When I produce new content this shutterstock contributor creates almost identical copies within three days.  He is not only copying the picture, even the headline and the keywords are identical. The only difference is the color of the background. Here are two examples:

Example 1

My picture: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/symbol-succesful-cancer-treatment-hand-turns-1823140295

His picture: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/symbol-succesful-cancer-treatment-hand-turns-1824717902

Example 2

My picture: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/hand-turns-dice-changes-expression-fossil-1564268371

His picture: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/hand-turns-cube-changes-expression-fossil-1821002273

Is this behavior legal, since the pictures are only 90 % identical? I would like to read your opinion about this. Because I am not sure how to react.

I already sent a Mail to infringementclaims@shutterstock.com with a detailed list of all copied pictures and I received an answer, which sounds almost like a threat to me.

The sentence, which bothers me:

“…If you misrepresent that material is infringing, Shutterstock may terminate your Shutterstock account, or you may face other legal consequences….”

As mentioned before, I am not 100 % sure that this material is infringing. I am almost sure that this behavior cannot be in agreement with the shutterstock guidelines. However, if I am wrong I do not want to face any legal consequences.

So I am very curios to hear your opinion about this. Thanks in advance

Frank

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Unfortunately it's the case that if you choose to go down the microstock RF route, there's little you can do about infringements. 

There are numerous cases here on SS where someone took someones idea and did their own version. The 'Man stacking coins' and 'black and white fist' springs to mind (both where copied by the same perso

@FrankHH Someone could argue that you yourself copied the idea of using "rolling" dice to refer to alternative worlds, and I guess you did. Was it your right to copy this idea, although with your own

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Thats a tough one.  To me its clear he stole and recreated your idea completely in terms of theme, styling and everything else.

If he'd wholesale stolen your image it'd be far easier.  Its a lot harder to draw the line with stealing/recreating a style though.

One thing for sure, make sure you have access to all the original RAW images so that if the worst happens, you can prove you had the originals and had them first.

This *might* be better off asked in the Microstock Group forum where they have a section on copyright issues and are generally more clued up than here.  I cant provide a link here as its against the T&Cs but google will find it.

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There are numerous cases here on SS where someone took someones idea and did their own version. The 'Man stacking coins' and 'black and white fist' springs to mind (both where copied by the same person) and unfortunately you can't claim copyright for an idea, so your claim is unjust and if I where you I would retract it as a copyright claim.

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@FrankHH Someone could argue that you yourself copied the idea of using "rolling" dice to refer to alternative worlds, and I guess you did. Was it your right to copy this idea, although with your own implementation? Of course it was. Now the guy went a bit further, by copying the exact world that you used, however his implementation of your idea is significantly different from yours, he just copied the idea, not the precise implementation. So I agree with @MJD Graphics. Just get over it, don't waste your time, and think that between you and him, you are the indeed the creative mind. If you have a good idea, in photography or other fields, there will always be someone who will be inspired or copy and unless there are very strong copyright grounds for a lawsuit and time, money and skills to pursue the matter, little can be done about that.

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Shutterstock does not close the accounts of outright thieves. Alexander Rotenberg used to fight against thieves, but not all accounts were closed.
In this case, you can see that your idea is copied, the position of the hands and words. But I understand the shutterstock position not to consider it a theft. If such claims are accepted, then all participants will be accused of plagiarism. As a result, only the very first microstock participants will remain. For example, who first came up with the idea of rearranging letters? Who was the first to draw and make a collage of a running businessman on the stairs. I made a tape in the style of a police officer and signature coronavirus on various buildings in the United States. Sales skyrocketed, and a week later the idea was copied, a huge number of people repeated it, and sales fell.
Be philosophical. The quality of your photos is higher than that of your imitators, which means they will buy your photos. And you are creative, come up with something else.

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It's a pity you can't get in touch with that person. Don't see Facebook or anything like that. He probably doesn't even notice that you know he's copying you.
The least Shutterstock can do is send the man an email, a warning.  
A half year ago you could make an admin aware of this topic. Now, I fear, it doesn't make much sense. But maybe @Kate Shutterstock can do something about this. After all, it is not only about many photos, but also texts that are copied.

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He is not copying you, he is imitating you.

You can't claim infringement, because there is a possibility that he simply had the same idea you did.  It happens a lot.

It's annoying, but a fact of creative life.

There are going to be more photographers using this idea. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Darla Hallmark said:

He is not copying you, he is imitating you.

You can't claim infringement, because there is a possibility that he simply had the same idea you did.  It happens a lot.

It's annoying, but a fact of creative life.

There are going to be more photographers using this idea. 

Ports have been closed by Shutterstock in the last few months because they had too many similars between their photos.. In essence, these are also similars. Shutterstock shouldn't be happy about that. The photos could be rejected as too similar.

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Its not rare, again look in the FB groups where you have the basic system of:-

(i) someone posts a daily/monthly earning chart showing a decent return.

(ii) floods of people ask "Wheres your profile? What sells?
(iii) People find said profile, see what appears popular and copy it.

Thats excluding those who simply download and steam the image directly to reuse of course.

Very common in specific regions of the globe.

Fortunately, however the hell Shutterstock's "Top images" algorithm works, it certainly doesn't list the most popular images in any sort of order so you cant tell directly by looking at that per contributor.

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Thank you all for your valuable feedback. It seems that I have to accept this situation. But I have to admit that this is difficult, when I see how much time I spent to get ideas or to find suited keywords. I see that this person follows my account daily and copies almost every day my best ideas including keywords. He started to copy my work since this summer and is very productive over the last weeks.

I found in the shutterstock guidelines the following sentence “…being inspired by an idea is acceptable, it is never acceptable to copy someone else’s expression of an idea”. I ask myself, if my examples are acceptable (copying the description, copying the keywords and replicating the picture) which other examples are not acceptable?

Anyway, thank you all for your opinion.

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8 hours ago, Thijs de Graaf said:

It's a pity you can't get in touch with that person. Don't see Facebook or anything like that. He probably doesn't even notice that you know he's copying you.
The least Shutterstock can do is send the man an email, a warning.  
A half year ago you could make an admin aware of this topic. Now, I fear, it doesn't make much sense. But maybe @Kate Shutterstock can do something about this. After all, it is not only about many photos, but also texts that are copied.

I also wanted him to know that I recognized that he is copying my work. And I think I found a way. I see that he is following my work daily (since he copies it daily). So I produced this completely odd picture which is including a part of his User Name: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/versions-typical-slavic-name-hand-turns-1824900989

The picture is accepted and online, so now he knows that I know. I will see if he cares or not.

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1 hour ago, FrankHH said:

I found in the shutterstock guidelines the following sentence “…being inspired by an idea is acceptable, it is never acceptable to copy someone else’s expression of an idea”. I ask myself, if my examples are acceptable (copying the description, copying the keywords and replicating the picture) which other examples are not acceptable?

 

Shutterstock don't even crack down on stolen images - so they certainly don't care about imitations.

1 hour ago, FrankHH said:

I also wanted him to know that I recognized that he is copying my work.

He's from Russia ....!

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1 hour ago, FrankHH said:

I also wanted him to know that I recognized that he is copying my work. And I think I found a way. I see that he is following my work daily (since he copies it daily). So I produced this completely odd picture which is including a part of his User Name: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/versions-typical-slavic-name-hand-turns-1824900989

The picture is accepted and online, so now he knows that I know. I will see if he cares or not.

It makes no sense and why such difficulties. He has a link to Facebook in his profile. He is from Belarus. Better write directly and say what you want to say.

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3 hours ago, FrankHH said:

I also wanted him to know that I recognized that he is copying my work. And I think I found a way. I see that he is following my work daily (since he copies it daily). So I produced this completely odd picture which is including a part of his User Name: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/versions-typical-slavic-name-hand-turns-1824900989

The picture is accepted and online, so now he knows that I know. I will see if he cares or not.

OK now post something along these lines:

word-lawsuit-made-brown-wooden-letters-l

 

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23 hours ago, FrankHH said:

I found in the shutterstock guidelines the following sentence “…being inspired by an idea is acceptable, it is never acceptable to copy someone else’s expression of an idea”. I ask myself, if my examples are acceptable (copying the description, copying the keywords and replicating the picture) which other examples are not acceptable?

Based on this, I do believe that you have a valid claim. This person is most definitely not just inspired, but is copying your expression of the idea. I would be mad as a hornet if this was happening to me.

If I was you, I would pursue the infringement. How quickly you'll get a reaction from Shutterstock is a whole different question. Unfortunately they do not much seem to care about such issues.

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15 hours ago, FrankHH said:

Thank you all for your valuable feedback. It seems that I have to accept this situation. But I have to admit that this is difficult, when I see how much time I spent to get ideas or to find suited keywords. I see that this person follows my account daily and copies almost every day my best ideas including keywords. He started to copy my work since this summer and is very productive over the last weeks.

I found in the shutterstock guidelines the following sentence “…being inspired by an idea is acceptable, it is never acceptable to copy someone else’s expression of an idea”. I ask myself, if my examples are acceptable (copying the description, copying the keywords and replicating the picture) which other examples are not acceptable?

Anyway, thank you all for your opinion.

 

 

i don't think you have to accept the situation.  The only problem is your recourses are really expensive.  This would be an interesting court case, it could be landmark for creators like you.  Problem is the world doesn't really support you.  You need to find an organisation that will be your voice, seem as when Naruto took to get his rights upheld.  

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