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Images being stolen from Getty, API, etc.
Brian Westerholt, Photographer
Kannapolis | NC | USA | Posted: 1:53 PM on 10.22.13
->> In addition to all of the other issues contributing to the demise of the professional photography industry, there is a huge problem that does not seem to be getting much attention - passwords being sold to access Getty, API and the like. My business partner just got back from covering Instructional League and Arizona Fall League baseball in Phoenix, and he witnessed autograph collectors with images from our company (the images were not downloaded from our PhotoShelter archive), and in talking with some of the players, they said not only do they show up day after day and get stacks of photos signed, they GIVE photos to the players as well. I just did a search on eBay for one particular Wake Forest football player to see if any of my images were being sold, and sure enough I came across a couple that I had also submitted t Getty last year. I contacted the seller and the reply I received was:

"My friend who is a photography purchased the image from Getty Images so I could get it signed. If there is a problem I will remove the item from my listing. There was no harm meant to be done as I even gave one of these to Michael and he enjoyed it very much. Just let me know. Thanks."

So, someone has the password to Getty, downloads the images, gets them signed, sells them on eBay AND gives them to the player.

I guess what bothers me the most is we try to "play by the rules" and do not sell images to the general public, because we do not have the proper licensing from MiLB, and it's not worth risking having our credentials pulled/denied for a few bucks.

I know this is rampant across all sports - just needed to vent.
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Patrick Fallon, Photographer, Assistant
Torrance | California | USA | Posted: 2:39 PM on 10.22.13
->> Even bigger in the Hollywood/Celebrity photos game. Its widely known that these passwords are used to do downloads and the autograph guys then sell the signed prints.
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Brian Westerholt, Photographer
Kannapolis | NC | USA | Posted: 2:54 PM on 10.22.13
->> I guess Getty figures it's too much of a hassle to change the passwords and have to notify all of their clients? It's bad enough how little they charge for legitimate usage - but they make no effort to stop all of the "stealing" going on from their archives.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 4:09 PM on 10.22.13
->> How are you certain this is an issue of compromised passwords at the respective wires? There are, unfortunately, a number of ways people end up with files large enough to make an 8x10 print.

Certainly it is worthy of investigating the source, but I'd be hesitant to accuse the wires of having compromised web security based on the message you got from a single eBay seller who, let's face it, has reason to not be 100% truthful about the where/how he got the file(s).
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 6:26 PM on 10.22.13
->> Brian Blanco, these are images that have never been published or downloaded from any other site, the only source that has them are these agencies (AP in this case) and it's well known that passwords are bought and sold among dealers.

I know several dealers and "graphers", have asked many times about the process they use to get images and every single time it's the same story. There's a guy who has the password (of course it seems nobody remembers his name or how to get a hold of him, amazing how that works), he will sell you the password if he trusts you for a hefty price - however since most can't afford that hefty price all you have to do is send him the image ID #'s from Getty, AP, etc. and he will download it for you either selling you files or prints, again at a price. Not only do they usually have a password, but several to mask the downloads and just in case one gets shut off they have a backup to stay in "business" of stealing images. In fact I have been asked by them to sell the password to our site more than a few times, of course refusing every single time. So it is most definitely the agencies, and not just Getty, that have security issues.

Brian's above example is just that, one example, I have dozens. Earlier this year at an autograph show where the team I shoot for had a table set up not only were images everywhere for sale, usually signed, one dealer showed me a stack of my images he got from AP that he was using for a private signing that weekend with one of the star athletes that was supposed to be in attendance. I uploaded the image earlier in the week and he had 16x20's, 8x10's ready to go days later, the image was an old slide that had never been digitized until that week. So either he broke into my house that he has no clue where it is, scanned an old slide, sent to Adorama (yes that's the lab he used), and put it back all while I slept, or he just downloaded it from AP, which is exactly where he told me he got it from.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 7:43 PM on 10.22.13
->> Mike,

I'm more than a little familiar with the way the wires work and issues surrounding their site security. I'm also quite aware of the problem of people making pirated prints of our work as it happens to me too.

I'm not saying it's impossible or that it never happens. What I'm saying is that assuming that every case of finding one of your frames printed as an 8x10 at the flea market doesn't automatically equal a web security breach. Furthermore, naming specific agencies and calling them out as having security breaches, without solid evidence to support such a claim, and then suggesting that they're unconcerned about it is not something I'd be that quick to do on a public message board. Other people's mileage may vary.

You say "It's well known that passwords are bought and sold among dealers." Is it really "well known" or "often said" because those are two different things. It may very well be the case, but I'd need a bit of evidence before I'd publicly call any agency out... but again, that's just me, as a journalist I like facts.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 8:13 PM on 10.22.13
->> Oh and Mike, I don't want you to get the impression that I didn't appreciate, or believe, the information in your post. I did. It's just that I think these things can be more productive if they start as a group discussion to get to the bottom of a problem rather than (not your post) a blanket accusation.

-Blanco
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Pat Lovell, Photographer
Bloomington | IN | US | Posted: 8:27 PM on 10.22.13
->> If you look around the web, you can find forums that the autograph hounds use to help each other out. People make requests with the image id # and site that has the image and members with passwords will message them privately. The requestor will pay a fee and get the image(s) that he wants.

The sale of passwords isn't the big problem (although it does happen) the problem is people abusing their membership privileges to the big agencies. Especially, big companies with several employees that have access to their accounts.

These forums aren't easy to find but, they are out there.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 9:14 PM on 10.22.13
->> Brian, nobody is assuming every occurrence is because a lack of security, the OP was out of frustration it seems in which I can't speak for that instance and can only speak of my personal experiences. I've seen them taken from articles online to one guy who was scanning baseball cards and cropping out the border/design making 8x10's to sell (you can imagine the quality). Frankly they will steal images from anywhere they can!

However, not sure how many more facts you need when you have one of the guys who is stealing them from the agencies standing in front of you telling you how he gets them, showing you stacks of your images that nobody else has. What more solid evidence do you need when he shows you exactly how it's done? This is like pulling over a guy in a stolen car, he confesses to stealing the car, tells you where he got it from and how, then saying no, need more facts.

Yes, it is most definitely well known this practice goes on, at least among the 'graphing community. I was curious as to how many people actually have the passwords so called one guy who I know has them, he told me most of the time it's you know a guy - in other words Joe Sixpack has the password and he will send you images that you request (digital or prints) for a price, or maybe free.

Just one example, here's an OLD thread on one of the many boards...
http://idolforums.com/index.php?showtopic=437070

Not much of a secret going on here, and though it's an old example here these type threads are common on autograph boards unless the moderators choose to police it, I know of one board that finally decided to ban members doing it and the practice at least on their forum died off. In the above link my favorite is post #31 - he'll give you credit for getting him images from their site, and we thought we were alone!

Any time I find images, report it privately, agree there.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 9:23 PM on 10.22.13
->> Wow, I had left that post unsent for an hour and just saw your follow up. I agree, preferably it's better to address issues in a different matter. Also want to add the guy who I talked with said he doesn't think it's a big deal because by getting them signed he's creating a different product than just the photo alone. Apparently I love car analogies, tried to explain to him just because you have a player sign a stolen car doesn't make it legal.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 10:02 PM on 10.22.13
->> @Mr. Blanco •
As Mr. Lovell pointed out, passwords aren't a problem. In fact, the folks selling the prints could very well be downloading the images themselves.

It took me less than ten minutes to set up an account with Getty, find a current NFL photo and get an editorial licensing fee for one time, interior use at $333. If I had $350 and the time the waste, I could download the image and probably find a buyer of the high-res file in a day or so for $500. The buyer needs only to sell 60 to 70 prints, depending on their lab cost, at $9.99 to break even. Both Mr. Westerholt and Janes' experiences related in this thread isn't really that unbelievable.

The sadder fact is the chances of getting caught violating the Getty license is slim to none which is why the back alley market continues to exist. One would think if there was deliberate pursuit by the agency representing the artist or the artist themselves going after those violating their copyright - sellers, labs and printers, account holders - the practice would be extinct. Given the brazen pervasiveness, subculture and backroom infrastructure, I wouldn't expect the practice to disappear any time soon.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:13 PM on 10.22.13
->> Clark,

I think you're misunderstanding my posts. I never said that their experiences were unbelievable. Quite the contrary. Nor did I ever say that compromised passwords were the problem. Your post actually backs up what I was saying; that there are LOTS of ways people get these images and calling out a wire for having a breach of security AND suggesting that they don't care about said breach, all on a public message board, should maybe be avoided without facts to back it up.

That, and that alone, was my point.
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Brian Westerholt, Photographer
Kannapolis | NC | USA | Posted: 12:02 AM on 10.23.13
->> Brian Blanco - you are correct. My second post (my reply to Patrick Fallon's comment) was not based in fact and I probably should have worded it differently. My goal was to start a discussion on this topic, and I failed miserably. I will go back to just lurking on these message boards.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 3:17 AM on 10.23.13
->> No Brian, please, be active on here. Discussions like these are important. We might just be better served if we approach it from a different angle that's all. In fact, initial post and others' follow ups has brought to light some important issues. Thank you for that.
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Chad Lightner, Photographer
Mount Juliet | TN | US | Posted: 11:03 AM on 10.23.13
->> Hi everyone, new guy here. Just to chime in on this....I have a couple of images on istockphoto (owned by GettyImages) that I upload about 5 years ago and hadn't really touched my account since then. Just out of curiosity, this morning I did a tineye search for my images just to see where they'd pop up. Well, I found my images on photos.com (owned by GettyImages) Canada. So I'm wondering where in the istockphoto agreement that I signed up with, where it says they can sell my photos through their other partners/entities - without my knowledge (ie. without paying royalties for them)... I'm a little perturbed....Just griping. I've sent them an email asking the same question...

Just wanted to chime in.

thanks
Chad
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Landry Major, Photographer
Woodland Hills | CA | USA | Posted: 12:18 PM on 10.23.13
->> Getty reps my archive and I have had many instances of illegal usages that I have found, including a magazine cover in China. I go through the proper documentation with Getty and nothing ever happens. I have yet to have Getty legal go after a claim.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 2:33 PM on 10.23.13
->> "... where it says they can sell my photos through ..."

My guess in the contract you signed you might find language similar to this is in your contract Chad: "... hereby agree, consent, and authorize [the agency], our executors, agents, subcontractors, partners, subsidiaries or assigns, ..." That's where ;-)
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 2:46 PM on 10.23.13
->> @Brian
I think the key phrase is "...having a breach of security...."

I understand the point you were trying to make. You are looking at breach as in unauthorized access to the agency's computer network. However, it is also breach of security in that the photographer's images are being obtained, then subsequently used, without compensation nor the requisite permissions. If an unauthorized individual can obtain an image and use it without properly licensing it, how secure is the distribution system?
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Rick Yeatts, Photographer
Dallas | TX | USA | Posted: 12:48 AM on 10.28.13
->> I've seen fans show up with stacks of MLB 11 x 14 prints from Costco
and you can tell they were shot from the photo wells. I wondered how they can in possession of files of that quality. Players do sign though I seen some players look for the official MLB logo and refuse to sign.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 1:22 AM on 10.28.13
->> There is a company called Photo File that has official licensing with the NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, NFL, etc. and colleges to sell sports photo prints online and through Costco warehouses. Don't know the sources of the imagery.
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Thread Title: Images being stolen from Getty, API, etc.
Thread Started By: Brian Westerholt
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