29 Jul 2015 The Ultimate Guide to Deleting Files on Microstock Agencies

There are a few major reasons why microstock contributors might to want to delete images or even their entire portfolios from a particular agency. Let’s take a look at how easily—or not—this can done in some of the top microstock agencies, and review their policies regarding deleting images.

Agency File Deletion Policies

Deletion policies vary widely among top agencies. Some agencies mandate a minimum availability period for uploaded images—a ‘lock-in’—and you cannot remove them before that period is completed. That is the case for BigStock, which states you cannot request deletion of a file in the first 7 days after submitting it. Other agencies require contributors to acknowledge with each upload that the file will be kept online for a certain period of time (commonly 90 days).

One company with a strict policy is Dreamstime, which requires that the majority of your portfolio stay on the site for a minimum of 6 months. This agency does not offer an option to delete files, only to disable them. Even then, only 30% of the content submitted within the last 180 days can be disabled, so it takes a while to remove a whole portfolio.

Fotolia allows unlimited deletion but keeps deleted images online and available for purchases for 14 days after the removal request. Depositphotos won’t delete images, only deactivate them, and they take up to 30 days from the request date to remove files from the platform.

Some other companies have no such restrictions and allow easy file deletion within their portfolio management tools. This is the case with iStock and Shutterstock.

Although on most of these sites deleted images can take up to 72 hours to be removed from libraries and can stay in the offline platforms for up to 12 months, they do become immediately unavailable for download.

The point where most agencies converge is the lack of a bulk deletion option. One near exception to this is Shutterstock. Their Opt Out feature allows users to deactivate entire portfolios, but this doesn’t delete the files, it only hides them from search and the portfolio gallery, and disables them for downloads.

How to Delete or Deactivate Individual Images

This is how you remove files from some of the big agencies.

iStock: Go to My Uploads and select View My Portfolio. Use the keyword search to find your file. Click on the image you want to delete to display its information page. Then click on Administration, select the option Deactivate File, enter a reason for the deletion, and submit.

Shutterstock: In the Portfolio tab, click on Approval Status, then select Approved Photos and find the file in the batch. If you know the ID number for the file, just enter that in the Edit Photo ID field. After you find the file, you will see a red X on the right edge of the image. Click it to delete the file.

Dreamstime: From the Management Area and select Online Files. Use the keyword search to find the file you want to remove. Click Edit on the file, then select Disable.

Fotolia: Go to My Files and find the Upload Files tab. Images are sorted by date, so you must select an approximated date and browse to find your file. Delete the file using the Remove button.

BigStock: There is no system for users to delete files. If you want to delete one or more files, you have to e-mail a request to the support team with the file number(s) and the reason for deletion.

Depositphotos: Deactivation is done from the contributor page. Select Files: Online files, then find the image by entering a page number on the blank box or browsing by upload date. Click on the Deactivate button.

How to Delete Lots of Files Together

When you need to delete many files—or an entire portfolio—from a library, working file by file is a lot of work, yet most agencies still do not have an efficient system for bulk deletion or deactivation.

However, if you ask nicely, some will actually do it for you. This doesn’t always work, and can depend on what you need deleted. It’s usually easier if you want to delete all files in your portfolio.

Since BigStock doesn’t have any other process, they will delete files or portfolio upon request via e-mail. Other agencies that take care of such requests from contributors are Depositphotos, Shutterstock, and Fotolia.

Shutterstock’s unique Opt Out feature is a handy if you want to deactivate your entire portfolio. While it won’t delete your images, it will take them off the market almost instantly. If that’s what you’re trying to achieve, this function is perfect. To Opt Out, go to Account Settings, find Minimum Payout, and then click on the Opt Out box for the chosen item (e.g. image sales or footage sales). You can later Opt In with the same procedure.

Some agencies have distribution partners who license contributors’ content as well. If the site you submitted to has such partners, you may have to wait for them to update if their distribution is the post-a-hard-drive kind and not the API kind. If you’re in a hurry, sometimes you can have success approaching the partner directly and asking them to remove your files.

A helpful tool for massive file deletion is a Greasemonkey script designed to do so. Greasemonkey is a Firefox and Chrome extension to alter the appearance and functionality of websites and automate repetitive tasks. With a little learning, you can quickly record an action to remove files and set it to repeat.

Some uploading & submission tools, such as Octopus Microstock, also help with deletion.

To sum up: if you need to delete files or your entire portfolio from an agency, keep in mind that it is not always easy, and in some cases it can take a really long time, but there’s always a way.

What’s your experience deleting files?

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