500Px In Hot Water For Creating A Chinese Sister Site
Users of the (recently rebranded) photo sharing site 500px, are gathering to protest that Chinese now have access to all of their photos on 500px in seems to be a 500px sister site.
500px user Anne Sorbes came out with an angry post titled “Publication without authorisation” to the community forums stating that she is extremely unhappy with her 500px photos published on Visual China Group‘s (VCG) site:
You allow you to publish my pictures on a Chinese site without my knowing. I confide to you my photos for sale but you do not have the right to publish on another website without my agreement. I have no desire to be part of your Chinese adventure and I want my pictures to be removed from the site before leaving for good
To get an idea, here is a side by side comparison of Anne’s 500px and VCG profiles:
This 3 liner post starter a snowball where users are realizing that they photos has been posted in full to VCG’s site, creating twin profiles for them.
Furthermore users are upset that they have no control over what content is being published to the Chinese site and that photos deleted on the international 500px, are not deleted on VCG. One user commented that even if they remove their profile entirely the photos remain on VCG, while others were complaining on the fact that the photos on 500px were of lesser quality than the ones on 500px, and other complained that they did not choose their cover photo. Others want an opt-in or opt-out option.
500px responded to Anne saying that the VCG link is an early version of what is soon to become a full fledged site: 500px.me.
Thank you for reaching out! It’s a really exciting time at 500px. This summer we received additional investment to continue to grow our creative community and provide even more exposure to our amazing contributors. Over the past few months, we have been working closely with one of our main investors, Visual China Group, the premier content provider in China, to honor the commitment of expanding our community and your visibility as a creator.
You have stumbled upon vcg.me, an early iteration of what will soon become 500px.me. 500px.me is a joint venture between 500px and Visual China Group (VCG). Through our partnership with VCG, we now have an exclusive relationship within China to get photographers great exposure in a region that is typically very tough to penetrate. It also gives the community access to users from China and their creativity and content. The full launch is expected later this year and our team is collaborating with VCG to make in an incredible experience. Stay tuned for more details and please let us know if you have any more questions!
Michael Cameron (500px)
I think that the major outrage is that the move was not fully transparent from 500px’s side. In July 500px shared their new funding round and among other things announced that (marking is mine):
This funding round will enable us to continue to support our rapidly growing community of photographers, be they professional or enthusiasts, with products for discovering, showcasing, and selling amazing content. This round will also open the door to the Greater China market by working with the market leader Visual China Group.
But they did not share that the site is being duplicated into a Chinese domain, and users accidently discovering this for the first time are getting upset.
I am sure that users are not happy with the amount of focus 500px gave their new logo, vs. not having any clear communications on the collaboration with VCG.
We approached 500px for a response and will share it as soon as it comes in.
UPDATE: 500ox shared with us that they have a post explaining the Chinese site. The core of it is that VCG is a beta site for an upconing 500px.me site which will be an inherent part of 500px and not a seperate entity. You can read the core points below, or head to 500px and read the entire message from the CEO:
500px.me is a Chinese localized version of 500px.com, not a separate entity. Through it, current 500px.com users will gain access to a massive new audience, while people living in China will be able to join the 500px community, share their photos, and interact with yours.
The site experience will for the most part mirror the experience you have on 500px.com, with a few changes to optimize 500px for the desktop experience people are accustomed to in China. However, it’s important to note that 500px.me is currently still in beta, and we are working around the clock with our partners at VCG to ensure your work is being shared in the best possible context and quality. The full launch will happen later this year, at which point you will have the opportunity to opt out, and anything you do not share on 500px.com will not appear on 500px.me
[Publication whithout autorisation, thanks for the heads up Mitch]
Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.