15 Oct 2015 500px Launched Chinese Mirror Site Creating Contributor Outrage

500px has today announced the beta launch of their Chinese website at 500px.me, hot on the heels of their new logo launched just yesterday.

The new website is being built in partnership with the Visual China Group (VCG), who lead the company’s recent series B funding round.


The new site, announced via a blog post from CEO Andy Yang, is a separate site, but not a separate entity, and fully localised for the Chinese market.

All 500px content is mirrored to the site, and once it comes out of beta, will include the ability for 500px members to log in and manage their photos and profile.


In the few hours since the blog post went live, the comments section has received over 50 comments, all of which express disappointment with the move and the way it has been handled. Many say they’ve already closed their accounts, and others demand their images be taken down from the 500px.me site.

The comments have various complaints, mostly centred around three core issues:

  • there was no advance notice about the initiative which has a direct impact on members’ photos
  • such a big change requires opt-in, not a retrospective opt-out
  • there’s currently no way to remove images that are already live on the mirror site
  • concerns about the lack of copyright enforcement in China

Community Management

Photo sharing communities have different expectations and priorities to stock photo contributors, though many of the 500px community are both.  Stock shooters are accustomed to distribution deals and understand that, as long as photos are properly protected, the deals are both safe and lucrative.

The way this has been handled is a clear departure from the way 500px is known for honoring and protecting its community.  And while it’s not known outside the company whether recent hires of ex-iStock executives had anything to do with this, people are certainly recognizing the familiar pattern.

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