500px rebrands in China, photographers turn nasty!


After its rebranding exercise, 500px was suddenly in hot soup after it announced that it is going into China with 500px.me as part of their expansion drive. 

What CEO Andy Yang didn't know was he had opened a door to a hornet's nest. 

As Andy pointed out in the Series B Funding scheme, Visual China Group which poured in the money expects 500px to be live in China. So when 500px started a Beta site to test out the system by mirroring the same content in China as well as their global site, photographers went on a rant to say that they didn't give their permission to go live in China. This is of course utterly stupid since 500px is not blocked in China after checking. 

China a Country for Pirates?

The only reason why photographers feel insecure is that they fear their photos would be stolen. I find this highly amusing as for some reason, photographers do not know that their most precious works are regularly stolen in the western world as well as sites like 500px are not responsible for the content you put up. 

For example, if you have a large screen computer like the iMac, you can take a high resolution snapshot of the screen and it will be saved in TIFF. The snapshot file can then be extrapolated to a larger image when you have the right software. 

To think that by displaying your images on 500px.com versus 500px.me is safer is pure hilarity. 

True. China has as bad rap for stealing anything but if their beef is with China Vision Group, the investor of 500px, then you probably have it coming. First, 500px has already given away your images as free backdrops on Chromecast. You don't get a cent if you get featured. 

China Vision Group is a content company, now owned by Alibaba.com. 

The deal is no different than 500px giving Google a free ride on Chromecast. 

500px.me will remain in Beta?

Probably not after Andy pulled the plug as he was trashed in social media for not seeking permission. 

To me, all this hullabaloo is pointless for the following reasons. 
  • 500px.me is meant to be a Chinese centric site, 500px can still go ahead without the .me prefix and have a dual language login for Chinese users. This means the Chinese site will be a CDN site hosted in China. 

  • 500px is not a well known source for royalty free imaging since their pricing is much higher and the stock image market is going on a downward spiral. It makes no sense to think you can earn less by not allowing the Chinese to view your images. 

  • TTIP and TPPA makes no mention that your images would be protected under their copyright terms. What is protected are Music and Movies, not to mention TV content as well. Again, to think that you will have more copyright protection with these trade pacts is pure fantasy. 

Having to get your permission for 500px to use your images in China is just another layer that does nothing for you as a photographer or your earnings. If you are serious about not having your images stolen, then don't display them on any social site. 

It makes no sense to do so if you know technology well enough to conduct image theft.