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Archival Images being pirated on eBay


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Hi, I wonder if anyone can help? I have a historic photo library which I have listed on Alamy as archival images. I've just spotted that an eBay seller is offering copies of dozens of my images as well as those of other Alamy members (easily spotted as they have even used the same descriptions on eBay). I'm not sure what can be done? I've contacted the seller to ask where they obtained the images and just got the brush off. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. 

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2 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

 

There is no infringement because the OP has no copyright on them.

Quite right to point that out.

But ebay will probably take them down simply because the images are copied, which is a breach of ebay's listing policy. They don't need to infringe.

Edited by spacecadet
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13 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

 

Okay Mark. Let me build up to it. Perhaps tomorrow when I am wake up.

 

Aren't we possibly missing the 'elephant in the room' point here.

 

That the Ebay seller is making money from direct print sales of low res images?

 

And why don't we from our own pics?

 

Excellent thanks.

 

There is a perhaps another facet to the "elephant in the room" that I hadn't appreciated until this thread. It seems if you have a high resolution retina display, that the Alamy previews have a heck of a lot of pixels in them.... So, even if they are watermarked, for some subject material is would be easy to remove giving a very usable image...

 

I just did some checking on eBay and it looks like the seller has been selling postcards of Alamy images for at least 6 months. So someone should have seen reported sales by now. Maybe they are reported as "Novel Use" sales???

 

There's nothing in Alamy T&Cs to stop us selling prints of our own images. Perhaps the eBay route works well for Vintage images (like those you acquired??) printed on Postcards. I hadn't thought of eBay as useful POD site though. I did once try selling some larger prints on there, but failed to get any interest.

 

Mark

 

 

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Found them.

OP, the one I'm looking at you have as sepia and he has as plain black and white.

Is it possible that you don't in fact own the only existing prints of these images? I ask because I'm looking at 2ADTRDP and your copy appears to have been spotted and his doesn't.

Although the carpenters do look the same.

 

Edited by spacecadet
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2 hours ago, spacecadet said:

Found them.

OP, the one I'm looking at you have as sepia and he has as plain black and white.

Is it possible that you don't in fact own the only existing prints of these images? I ask because I'm looking at 2ADTRDP and your copy appears to have been spotted and his doesn't.

Although the carpenters do look the same.

 

 

I just took a very close look at Alamy H9J296 which is Sepia and this one which is B/W on eBay. I downloaded both files and loaded into PS. I converted the Sepia to B/W using PS default settings, then loaded into layers and created a difference image. IMHO they are to all extents identical except, the eBay image has been cropped to suit a 6x4 postcard and there's a touch of stretching in one area, but tonally they are identical.

 

So, in my opinion, the images on eBay and Alamy originated from the same digital file. The one on eBay has been cropped, converted to B/W using default PS settings and distorted slightly (perhaps to try to ensure the images aren't identical and maybe in the hope fooling a reverse image search?). Assuming AMD created H9J296 by digitising an old print, then I'd say the eBay image was produced from AMD's image. Alternatively both AMD's and the eBay image were both created from a common (third) digital image. 

 

Assuming the former, how did the eBay seller get hold of the file? Legally or illegally? First place to contact = Alamy Contributor Services.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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For me in both examples, and admittedly without downloading and working on them myself, they are the same images. Also in both cases the Alamy images from AMD are not just simple sepia-toned images, they have aged unevenly and so the 'sepia' differs in tone across the images, with clear localised blemishes here and there. It's clearly easy to convert these to B&W and thus hide/disguise this unevenness, though they can still be seen. However creating these uneven 'sepia' images from a B&W original would be extremely difficult. It would also be quite surprising if different copies of the same photos that might still exist would have aged in the same way. Yes, one for Contributor Services.

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THANKS! So I think that's conclusive. For some reason your Alamy privileges have been set to allow you to see images with the watermark removed. Given that you can see un-watermarked images on 2 different computers (Mac and Chromebook), I'd argue that your privileges have been set that way at Alamy. Whether that was due to a deliberate action, mistake, bug or corruption, I have no idea. It's also curious that the IsUserLoggedIn flag doesn't change when logging out. I see the same.

 

Will you tell Alamy or shall I? If it's due to a bug or mistake at Alamy, they ought to check whether accounts are affected too?

 

The only way I can get these values to change was to open an incognito window. It suggests that all of the above is stored in a Cookie on our computers when we log in and doesn't get changed when we log out.

 

PS. On your screenshot I suggest obscuring your user ID as I've no idea if that code is confidential or not.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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Mark,

 

Could somebody change that code to get access? 

 

I think that the OP should contact Ebay and also ask Alamy to contact Ebay to find out how this person got access.

 

Who else out there is getting open access to our pictures?

 

I suggest that you contact Alamy Martk because you know what you are talking about,

 

Well done! 

 

 

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7 hours ago, geogphotos said:

Could somebody change that code to get access? 

 

I'm not sure. I haven't managed to override any of my settings, myself. We need a proper hacker!! I do note there are a couple of websites claiming to provide un-watermarked Alamy images for download and they do indeed seem to work, but the image supplied is only low res. Maybe they provide an automated screen-grab of an Alamy thumbnail (which isn't watermarked) from a very high res screen.  Out of curiosity, how large (pixels x pixels) are the thumbnails when you select the large thumbnail view on Alamy using your large retina display?

 

OK I'll let Alamy know.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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24 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

I0000WP7rwbW1FAM.jpg

 

Preview download above

 

Screen grab of Enlarged image below

 

I0000eygYPdpckWY.jpg

 

Thanks that's useful too, but it's the thumbnail views that I was referring to (the ones that aren't watermarked for anyone) not the previews. I mean the thumbnails that appear all at once when you've entered a search term and have selected the large thumbnail (not grid) view and maybe how big the rollover (not clicked) "zoom" is?

 

Sorry for the confusion.

 

Mark

 

 

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15 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

However creating these uneven 'sepia' images from a B&W original would be extremely difficult

On reflection I do now agree that they must be knockoffs. Only the first one I looked at has the mismatched dust spots but it has the same sepia patches as you describe. In those circumstances I think we must be looking at either a security breach or a former Alamy customer who is abusing privileges. That would probably have to be dealt with by Alamy for breach of contract but it's conceivable Alamy might be liable to the OP. I suppose there might be a faint chance of a computer misuse offence. I can't see what comeback the OP has against the ebay seller, I don't know about unfair profit because there's no infringement, but I'm probably overthinking this.

But it would still be helpful of the OP to say whether or not any of them could have come from a source other than him.

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34 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

But it would still be helpful of the OP to say whether or not any of them could have come from a source other than him.

Yes, it's just possible I suppose that the 'uneven sepia' image might have been widely distributed in that form, as a photographically printed postcard perhaps but the OP would be able to say what 'work' he or she might have done on it that would have perhaps singled it out as their own. The OP has been quiet which is a shame as it would be nice to hear his or her perspective after we've come up with a few ideas.

 

As I've said before, it seems strange to me that anyone would need to see unwatermarked previews, watermarks are fine for layouts and although I can imagine that privileged clients might have the ability to download high res images without purchasing them that process would presumably be recorded whereas there is no record of a screenshot. I couldn't quite read the pixel dimensions but the screenshot that Ian took from his retina display seemed more or less of a resolution that could be uploaded to Alamy with the minimum of upsizing, certainly very useable.

 

(Edit: Removed reference to OP having no images, my bad, OP still has same number of images, mistook for 0 verified posts) 

Edited by Harry Harrison
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1 hour ago, geogphotos said:

My privileges may date from a time a few years ago when I was permitted to download some 'lost' image files. 

Interesting, presumably that would have been high resolution originals though, presumably they're not available to you any more? If the ability to download high resolution originals goes hand in hand with seeing unwatermarked previews then that could explain how it could happen.

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5 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

Interesting, presumably that would have been high resolution originals though, presumably they're not available to you any more? If the ability to download high resolution originals goes hand in hand with seeing unwatermarked previews then that could explain how it could happen.

 

I don't know Harry. I reached an agreement with Alamy that allowed me to download a lot of old files from film scans. That was using the internal system. It just crossed my mind as a possible explanation for my seeing un-watermarked images. 

Edited by geogphotos
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5 hours ago, geogphotos said:

My privileges may date from a time a few years ago when I was permitted to download some 'lost' image files. 

Ah that probably explains it.

 

As agreed I’ve emailed Alamy Contributor Services to let them know, so maybe they will contact you and change your privileges back.

 

Mark

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On 26/04/2020 at 13:36, Harry Harrison said:

Yes, it's just possible I suppose that the 'uneven sepia' image might have been widely distributed in that form, as a photographically printed postcard perhaps but the OP would be able to say what 'work' he or she might have done on it that would have perhaps singled it out as their own. The OP has been quiet which is a shame as it would be nice to hear his or her perspective after we've come up with a few ideas.

 

As I've said before, it seems strange to me that anyone would need to see unwatermarked previews, watermarks are fine for layouts and although I can imagine that privileged clients might have the ability to download high res images without purchasing them that process would presumably be recorded whereas there is no record of a screenshot. I couldn't quite read the pixel dimensions but the screenshot that Ian took from his retina display seemed more or less of a resolution that could be uploaded to Alamy with the minimum of upsizing, certainly very useable.

 

(Edit: Removed reference to OP having no images, my bad, OP still has same number of images, mistook for 0 verified posts) 

In the case of the images that appear to have originated from me, I am confident that the majority of the images couldn't have come from another source. I have the original hard copy photographs of all of the archive images I've uploaded to Alamy, and in most cases I've fixed blemishes, removed rust spots, major foxing etc. I did email contributor services on April 23rd but as yet I've had no reply. Thanks again for all the help. 

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25 minutes ago, AMD said:

In the case of the images that appear to have originated from me, I am confident that the majority of the images couldn't have come from another source.

Thanks for the update, I imagine that you might be able to prove this to Contributor Services in that case, it will be interesting to hear the outcome. As you may have read below, Mark C is also contacting them as any contributor would be very worried if there was any potential for downloading unwatermarked images of a size suitable for reproduction. 

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4 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

Thanks for the update, I imagine that you might be able to prove this to Contributor Services in that case, it will be interesting to hear the outcome. As you may have read below, Mark C is also contacting them as any contributor would be very worried if there was any potential for downloading unwatermarked images of a size suitable for reproduction. 


Contributor services have replied to my email and Ian's "privileges" have now changed.

 

4 hours ago, AMD said:

I did email contributor services on April 23rd but as yet I've had no reply. Thanks again for all the help

 

In my email mentioned to them that you would be contacting them about the eBay images. CR responded by saying "We can deal with Andrew’s enquiry should he get in touch and be able to confirm the images are not available elsewhere."

 

I wonder if they have seen your email? Did you receive the standard automated response, which always comes first when CR receive an email.

 

Mark

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On 26/04/2020 at 14:15, Harry Harrison said:

Interesting, presumably that would have been high resolution originals though, presumably they're not available to you any more? If the ability to download high resolution originals goes hand in hand with seeing unwatermarked previews then that could explain how it could happen.

 

This thread also shows the size of the un-watermarked thumbnails (which all users can see) contain more pixels when displayed on a large high res Retina screen.

On my 1920 x 1080 display the larger thumbnail (i.e. not the grid view) of 2BEMP0K is about 360 x 233. Whereas Ian sees a thumbnail on his retina display which is over twice as big in pixel dimensions. It's not clear to me whether that is a simple upscale from the lower res image, or is truly a larger image. I wonder what happens with the rollover image size? The level of jpg compression is also probably quite high, so the IQ isn't brilliant and the copied image would probably only be suitable for webpage thumbnail use. Don't think this is serious copying threat and watermarking these thumbnails would probably be counterproductive (less sales), so there's nothing more that could be done about it (right click - save image as... is already disabled on the larger thumbnails).   

 

Mark

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40 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

It's not clear to me whether that is a simple upscale from the lower res image, or is truly a larger image.

Certainly Photoshelter advise uploading images of twice the normal resolution for their websites to display on Retina displays so I suspect that Alamy serve up the appropriate sized thumbnails when one is detected. My display is the same size as yours and the thumbnails were around 350 px longest side as you say.

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