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Mike Brooks

Pinching photographers' keywords - time to call it out.

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Since joining Alamy I've always put my name as a keyword. Now and again it leads to an irrelevant image popping up in a client search, but I can live with that. 

This morning out of curiosity I entered my name into the Alamy search engine - along with a particular geographical location and / or the word 'travel' and was intrigued to discover other contributors' images showing alongside my own. Upon looking at the images I was more than a little surprised to discover my own name appearing in their list of keywords! Clearly the parties involved had somehow scooped up my keywords from any relevant image and used them without bothering to read what was there, or perhaps imagined that the tag 'michael brooks' related not to the creator of the image but to some fact within the picture. Either way they managed at a stroke to expose themselves as being involved in what I think is a pretty shabby practice - wholesale copying of other contributors' keywords.

 

I know that copying the keywords is no guarantee that the offender will magically acquire the ranking - and sales - enjoyed by his/her chosen target. As we all know what matters is how you sequence the keywords - which thankfully Alamy does not disclose. Nevertheless  those who indulge in this practice are evidently adept at extracting the keywords attached to a photographers' image and are happy to continue doing so as long as the system provides them with the opportunity to do it. I will now report all this to Alamy and request that they consider some way of preventing this 'job lot' copying of keywords. I will post again when I have received a response.

 

In the meantime, however, I am happy to share with you the handiwork of four contributors that I've so far found to have copied my keywords. Below is a single example from each, though I could have included many more.......

 

Contributor: Tomasz Koryl / Alamy Stock Photo 
Image ID: RCAP6J
 
 
Contributor: pocholo / Alamy Stock Photo 
Image ID: P534C8
 
 
Contributor: travelstock44 / Alamy Stock Photo 
Image ID: P53KD7
 
Contributor: Michal Sikorski / Alamy Stock Photo 
Image ID: RT44XP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps for those whom English is not their first language this is a convenient work around. Not saying it's right but for some maybe the only way to annotate.

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I must admit that when I first started with Alamy I used to do this a little. It seemed such a no-brainer in terms of saving time from having to laboriously type each one. I would have been happy if people had copied my keywords, after all, they are just keywords. Now I feel much more confident keywording independently and haven't resorted to nicking other people's. I know there are some keywording websites that we can use but they are not nearly accurate enough.  Perhaps, if English is not your mother tongue, it is understandable that people resort to this time-saving tactic. I for one would have no issue with someone using my keywords, on the condition that they didn't mind me using theirs when I needed to. If it saves us all time is it such a wrong thing to do?

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39 minutes ago, Gordon Scammell said:

Good man.  100% support on this.

 

well done - call them out - very poor behaviour - some people just don't give a ....

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Great,  one feels silly if using a lot of time keywording and then somebody just pinches them.

 

Some years ago the key words were hidden.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, Sultanpepa said:

Perhaps for those whom English is not their first language this is a convenient work around. Not saying it's right but for some maybe the only way to annotate.

 

- or too lazy to grab the opportunity to develop their English, which is absolutely necessary to deal with images and texts professionally online.

 

English is definitely also a foreign language to me.

 

Niels

Edited by Niels Quist
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I did the same as the OP a while back. And found out I'm on Shutterstock also - as a keyword. (I do not contribute there.)

So if you find out your keywords are being used here by somebody else, maybe widen your scope and see if you or your keywords turn up somewhere else as well.

Actually I don't mind the stealing that much.

What I do mind is that in Google these images came up first in my search. Ahead of my own. And on Alamy also some came up above my own.

These are the ones on Alamy.

 

wim

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The problem is not the person who steals the keywords but Alamy for having a system which allows it to happen. 

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Copy the "name" seems to me exaggerated. I don't think that a person's name is difficult to distinguish.

English is not my first language, maybe my fifth language, I worked hard to have my keyword list and I keep learning every day ("Keywording" is a good opportunity to learn).

 

On the other hand, hiding the keywords may affect the SEO. MHO

 

Andre

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13 hours ago, regen said:

The problem is not the person who steals the keywords but Alamy for having a system which allows it to happen. 

 

Err.....no, I think the person hoovering up other photographers' keywords is most definitely the problem. It's sloppy and unprofessional behaviour which I believe other hard-working contributors should not have to tolerate. The fact that the system allows it to happen is certainly a real concern, which is why I am seeking a response from Alamy as to how it can be tackled from their end. 

 

15 hours ago, wiskerke said:

What I do mind is that in Google these images came up first in my search. Ahead of my own. And on Alamy also some came up above my own.

 

Wim - same here. Talk about adding insult to injury.

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Keyword spamming is 1 of biggest evils in this industry. But how do you address it?  One take is IS approach of "total control" where they maintain keyword database so you can not specify anything they didn't approve;   this would certainly solve the problem above as contributor individual names would not be in, but still doesn't prevent spamming and leads to all sort of other nonsense.

 

Hiding the keywords would address stealing, but not spamming.  Better approach that goes straight to the bone is "stick method".  Three strikes and you are out.  If you are caught spamming / stealing etc:   1) Warning  2) Temporary Ban  3) Permanent Ban.   Would take some effort in the beginning, but as soon as word spreads out  everyone would start playing by the rules.

 

 

 

 

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On 06/04/2019 at 12:56, Jansos said:

I must admit that when I first started with Alamy I used to do this a little.

That's just downright plagiarism !

 

On 06/04/2019 at 12:56, Jansos said:

If it saves us all time is it such a wrong thing to do?

Yes it is, there is no excuse.

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I am sure that when I joined back in 2008 that there was something in the T/C relating to this sort of practice, and if found Alamy would take action.   

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Verified

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43 posts

Images: 6471

Joined Alamy:11 Mar 2015

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Posted yesterday at 09:19

   On 06/04/2019 at 19:29,  regen said: 

The problem is not the person who steals the keywords but Alamy for having a system which allows it to happen. 

 

Err.....no, I think the person hoovering up other photographers' keywords is most definitely the problem. It's sloppy and unprofessional behaviour which I believe other hard-working contributors should not have to tolerate. The fact that the system allows it to happen is certainly a real concern, which is why I am seeking a response from Alamy as to how it can be tackled from their end. 

 

Agree entirely- If it was a professional agency run by professionals for professionals. But it is not. Its a crowd sourcing site trying to maximise profit by taking on anybody who can pass the most basic of tests. Many of these people who pinch keywords do not even know its wrong and its up to alamy to spell it out. If you upload material which does not meet their guidelines then you are punished-why? because they recognise that it will hit their bottom line.

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2 hours ago, Liam Bunce said:

I am sure that when I joined back in 2008 that there was something in the T/C relating to this sort of practice, and if found Alamy would take action.   

 

There certainly was - and a good deal more recently than that.  Can't find it just now, and I'm not sure if it's ever actually been enforced?

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1 hour ago, losdemas said:

 

There certainly was - and a good deal more recently than that.  Can't find it just now, and I'm not sure if it's ever actually been enforced?

Like other things with Alamy they probably will not have the time to chase it up.

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2 hours ago, Liam Bunce said:

Like other things with Alamy they probably will not have the time to chase it up.

Then why on earth ever pretend to state it as a policy? 

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Other agencies positively promote "borrowing" other peoples' keywords as does this tool.. https://microstockgroup.com/tools/keyword.php

I think it's kind of just one of those things you have to accept and live with. I think it does take the mick a little when people include another photographer's name though.

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6 minutes ago, Matt Ashmore said:

Other agencies positively promote "borrowing" other peoples' keywords as does this tool.. https://microstockgroup.com/tools/keyword.php

I think it's kind of just one of those things you have to accept and live with. I think it does take the mick a little when people include another photographer's name though.

 

I have a vague feeling that Alamy perhaps preferred this at the time the keywords became visible. An agency would probably benefit from it.

 

But I still don't like the idea of making an effort with this and then just be copied.

 

 

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On 07/04/2019 at 21:33, Tony said:

That's just downright plagiarism !

 

Yes it is, there is no excuse.

Could we all not be more helpful to one another by recognising that many of the tags we use could quite easily be shared?  It would save us all a lot of time, particularly newbies!

This forum is after all an area where we offer each other support and guidance and we collectively work to help one another with various issues etc.  Non-native speakers might find it difficult to always be able to find the right word.

I would agree with your concern re copying tags, if the tags were in some way unique to the original contributor and represented something uniquely specific to them. However, I don't think anyone could reasonably say that words such as colourful, red, bright, day, landscape, London, West End etc. are anything other than just sets of random words. If anyone wanted to copy and paste my keywords I  would have no objection. :-)

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I’ve gone to the immense trouble to identify plants and animals, keyword them and save them in Bridge templates so that I wouldn’t have to start from scratch the next time I shot that subject. 

Wholesale copying can get one in a heap of trouble, because sometimes there are only tiny subtle differences between living things and they have different scientific names. I have actually spent a couple of days, hours at a time, trying to properly identify some subjects. I wonder how many images on Alamy are wrongly identified by those who copy tags with no research of their own?

Betty

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So here's the response from Alamy Contributor Relations:

 

Thanks for letting us know.
We do feel sharing and utilising others tags is now commonplace but obviously the tags need to be relevant so we will get in touch and remind the contributor to refrain from using tags irrelevant to the subject and to remove your name.
 That being said we don’t actually recommend adding your own name to your keywords as they should all be relevant to the image otherwise they’ll start appearing in irrelevant search results.

 

So basically it's open season on any photographer's keywords.

 

As for the inclusion of one's own name in the keyword list I can only comment from my own experience, which is that since 2015 I am aware of it popping up in only two views on the Alamy Measures page!

 

3 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

I’ve gone to the immense trouble to identify plants and animals, keyword them and save them in Bridge templates so that I wouldn’t have to start from scratch the next time I shot that subject. 

Wholesale copying can get one in a heap of trouble, because sometimes there are only tiny subtle differences between living things and they have different scientific names. I have actually spent a couple of days, hours at a time, trying to properly identify some subjects. I wonder how many images on Alamy are wrongly identified by those who copy tags with no research of their own?

Betty

 

I agree and it's a point that seems pretty obvious to me.  Both in my original email to Alamy and in my response to the above I pointed out that the widespread appropriation of others’ keywords will invariably include many irrelevant tags and keywords that can only lead to a sub-optimal experience for clients when searching for specific images.

 

And for many photographers here there remains the issue of having their work 'shared' without their knowledge or consent. When you extend your keyword choices beyond the general or the superficial and begin to embed words which are the result of research or some particular knowledge or expertise on your part then you are providing a value added component to your image which - one presumes - will render it discoverable in a focused search. Allowing lazy / careless contributors simply to grab those same keywords nullifies any benefit that might otherwise accrue from such diligence and labour. It seems to me a tad unfair - but clearly nowadays that is a notion as unfashionable as it is naive.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 06/04/2019 at 12:56, Jansos said:

 I know there are some keywording websites that we can use but they are not nearly accurate enough. 

I don't know the one you linked to, but at least two of the best known keywording tools work by analysing similar images across various sites, particularly SS, and trawling the keywords.

Edited by Cryptoprocta
typo

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50 minutes ago, Mike Brooks said:

So here's the response from Alamy Contributor Relations:

 

Thanks for letting us know.
We do feel sharing and utilising others tags is now commonplace but obviously the tags need to be relevant so we will get in touch and remind the contributor to refrain from using tags irrelevant to the subject and to remove your name.
 That being said we don’t actually recommend adding your own name to your keywords as they should all be relevant to the image otherwise they’ll start appearing in irrelevant search results.

 

So basically it's open season on any photographer's keywords.

 

As for the inclusion of one's own name in the keyword list I can only comment from my own experience, which is that since 2015 I am aware of it popping up in only two views on the Alamy Measures page!

 

 

I agree and it's a point that seems pretty obvious to me.  Both in my original email to Alamy and in my response to the above I pointed out that the widespread appropriation of others’ keywords will invariably include many irrelevant tags and keywords that can only lead to a sub-optimal experience for clients when searching for specific images.

 

And for many photographers here there remains the issue of having their work 'shared' without their knowledge or consent. When you extend your keyword choices beyond the general or the superficial and begin to embed words which are the result of research or some particular knowledge or expertise on your part then you are providing a value added component to your image which - one presumes - will render it discoverable in a focused search. Allowing lazy / careless contributors simply to grab those same keywords nullifies any benefit that might otherwise accrue from such diligence and labour. It seems to me a tad unfair - but clearly nowadays that is a notion as unfashionable as it is naive.

 

 

 

Mmmm, seems to me that Alamy are now unable to manage their 'own' product.  The sheer size of the image collection here makes it financially impracticable for them to pursue infringements or licence abuses on their own: without constant reminders from contributors, they don't have the staff or time to dedicate to this (and if you don't alert them, they may never be found in the first place).  So the matter of contributors copying others keywords is way down the list and will now never be addressed.

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