Saturday, September 10, 2011

Luuux and Why You Should Stay Away from It

Luuux (a blogging platform where you can share tips, trends, recruit new members...and get paid doing so) is no strange term in the beauty blogging world. While many associate the site with a video in which a famous Youtube Guru reassuring others ("Not a scam at all. It's totally legit!") with an authentic luxury hand bag in hand. I got to know the site from the all-mighty Google: See? Once in a while, I would be searching for pictures of  products, only to see my own published on sites/blogs with nothing to do with me...Most of the times, (you guessed it) it's the oh-so-legit Luuux.

As a fun-loving and forgiving (Yeah, right...Try to find a person who holds grudge better than I do) individual, I decided that the infringements were unrelated to the site (After all, they did remove the material after I reported the posts...at least the first few times) and not intended by the young-ish, should-have-known-better members until...the name Sandy Tings (20-year-old female from Singapore) kept popped into view.
What I look like on a weekend night - trying to report copyright infringement
To get to know her, let's take a look at her blog entries...A typical Sandy post looks something like this... Short review of a product she uses accompanied by the picture from a beauty blogger. Harmless? Well, not only the picture was hot-linked (hot-link, using the original owner of the picture and the storage space...for your own gain). Right by the source link, instead of linking the beauty blog where the picture is taken. (How hard can it be? It's right below the picture on Google image search!) she "gives credit" to where the picture is hosted/hot-linked, on blogger/Flickr/Google image etc.
 
While the bloggers (whose images are graced by Sandy's meticulously manicured hands)are having their traffic shared unwillingly and no credit for the work. Sandy, on the other hand,  is one step closer from getting her iPad, shoulder pads or maybe menstrual pads for all I (don't) care?

My early encounters with Luuux are (never pleasant but) not unbearably negative, as the team actually removed the first few infringing posts (although they still keep the a thumb nail version of a image, on their site up to this very day, which did generate some Google traffic/ad revenue for them). Reporting infringing post has been relatively easy (stealing is even easier and even encouraged), on their site and can be done with the Flag button on the bottom left of each post...

That's until they stopped caring (about my reports, at least) and Sandy strikes back...Seriously, the girl who I am dealing with has the will power and perseverance of a cockroach (you know, the creature that survives days after its head is being cut off, only starves to death at the end...).
Having been reported for the first few times, Sandy learns from her mistake miscalculation so now (Yes, she dares to re-visit and steal pictures from the blogger who has reported her. She must love my pictures!). The image is being reloaded to Luuux (Thanks for being so considerate!) and the credit is given to...A made-up link. To return the love, I decide to actually get to know her...by reading the content of her blog, while trying to distract myself from all those unnamed stolen goods...

Having read the text she uses to accompanied the (my!) images...her writing kind of reminds me of my own with heavy usage of words like "on sale" and "clearance"(I don't think mine is that bad though),  except it doesn't really make sense. Ok, Nude Lustre is Rosy Pink, on clearance (a best-selling shade in the permanent range) in Singapore and works well with matte lipstick? 

With a little more browsing, it's apparent that all she does is taking pictures and add a paragraph of made-up thoughts (some are influenced by the bloggers whom she steals from, while many others are utter nonsense).

Sweet little Sandy, Hard Candy Glamoflage concealer only has two shades, light and medium (There is not a "Tan" shade that you "massage into your face") . Edit: Ok, there are three shades in the range (my mistake) so Sandy please rub it in your face to your heart's content.
It blows my mind that she is actually a "Top Contributor (Beauty Leader and Trend Setter...)" on the site, for  having published over 1000 posts, most of which contain other people's work along with a paragraph of pure BS. The funny part is that after hundreds of reviews she "has done", most comments are ones like "Pretty color", "Oh I love it!"  and other half@ssed replies of the sort, nobody ever says anything about her signature line "Below to the Source Below".

No Sandy, it belongs to a blogger with rotten luck (Let's hope we will never meet, just imagine how much fun I would have from verbally-abusing you in person) and it was copied and pasted from the source link your just provided. Just in case you need some English lesson from a fellow fobby friend.
If you wonder if she publishes anything that actually belongs to her...(Surprisingly) She does (put some blurry pictures of manicure designs that I don't think you will want to see)! And all these time I thought her disclaimer is copy-and-paste...I was wrong. When images are hers, she expects other to respect her hard works.

"Something is hot in here."
"Oh, it's your hypocrisy. "

Unrelated picture of a campus squirrel - Let's look at something cute for a (page) break...

For people who made it through this far, the post it's actually not about this 20-year-old female (no matter how despicable her acts are). The whole Sandy Tings ordeal is not an incident, but a phenomenon found commonly on Luuux.com. While there are many people who republish other people's content without permission online (I see my own pictures on other sites all the time and guess how many of you asked beforehand? Zero.), Luuux is the only site where many individuals "climb their way up" with mainly stolen content...And most users who read, rate and comment are fine with that.

The whole plagiarism issue has been voiced by several bloggers and I will show you one from MissChevious, a post called  Luuux- Place Thieves Get Ahead (Where I found an interesting comment left by a guy named Todd on the bottom of the page, who spoke in Luuux's defense).

Todd might have done a great job giving some users confidence and/or contributing a slightly more positive image of the site by giving his success story (Care to tell us what your Luuux user ID is? Because I am curious why the heck is a manly-enough-looking , p0rn-loving dude, so active in a beauty-blogging platform) and insider views on how Luuux tries "so hard" to "punish and prevent copyright infringement". Anyway, let's read between the lines...

When you order a prize they do a very lengthy audit of all your post and anything that's found to be in violations gets delete - so that we don't have to pay you if we don't need to. Don't worry though, we will keep your posts up on the site as long as possible because we love sharing great content and the money/traffic it brings until someone reports you. In that case, you are the only one to blame. Because we "do not monitor or control User-Generated Content posted and we take no responsibility for such content" (From their Terms of Use) .

"People are actually wasting all the time and effort stealing because it will just get deleted" -  But for the time frame when the content is posted on our site, Luuux will receive traffic from Google images search, page-views from our lovely puppets users and consequently, revenue from Google Adsence that will not be regurgitated (Well, unless all the affected bloggers report the infringement straight to Google Adsence).

"Believe me, they do work hard to punish and prevent cheating" - Only when such act is called out for, by the victims and/or when the user is trying to redeem the points. Before it happens, stealing sharing is encouraged since it brings us traffic the users have to have a picture (or a video) on each post before it gets published anyway. Taking good pictures is hard, why do it yourself when you can take it straight off the internet?

Finally, here is a message from me (an old fart in the blogging world) to girls who plans to join/are already in Luuux.

1. Profit is not a great reason to blog (interest is) - For most people, blogging is just not that profitable and the measly sum you earn, versus the effort you put into your work, is hardly enough to pay your library overdue fee (I mean public library, not university library where they charge several dollars per item per day), let alone keep you motivated.

2. A middleman takes away your profit
While Luuux does have a great idea/principle behind it (So is that empowering Stila makeup player...and practically anything the As-Seen-On-TV personnel raves about) they only provide a platform so that you guys can fill it with content that attract client for them. You provide the content/traffic - Google Adsence pays them - Then they share the revenue with you (if they have to). You can totally remove the last steps and have Google pays you directly. The same thing goes with affiliate links.

3. "Your content is our content (but we won't help your protecting it)!" - I am not sure if any of you actually read the Term of Use stated on the site but essentially, by joining the site you give Luuux (and their business partner) the right to use and exploit your content for any purpose...
Just imagine your beautiful face on a bottle of  Vasigil

Overall: I am not saying Luuux is a scam as everything is legally-line-out for you, not to mention people are certainly benefiting from the site (If you are a YouTube Guru with thousands of followers, you will certainly have your advantage). You should avoid the site simply because it lacks professional ethics and that the company's principles seem to lie largely upon (Reads: just my observation/opinion, I am not accusing you guys of anything)  misleading manipulation and ill-informed users. Now I think of it, Luuux actually sounds just like the other blogging platform I complained about last year!

I take that all losers start with L, eh?  Sorry for acting all Canadian (I am one, as a matter of fact...and no, I don't live there so please stop asking me where I get this and that in a specific Canadian city. I don't bloody know.) all of a sudden, I will get over it like how I got over the Dick in the Box...

Edited on Monday Sept 12th 2011 - After 9 days, several reports (broken links to report page) and an e-mail straight to their copyright department, the 6 infringing posts are finally deleted and I have received an e-mail from LUUUX universe manager, Jessica. Thanks for everything and let's (we will) keep in touch.

P.S. Sandy Tings' blog is still going strong (now instead of beauty blogs, she has switched to Makeup Alley as her main picture source), so is her signature line "below to the source below".

16 comments:

  1. Nice post ^.^

    I wonder if we should form a Bloggers Against Intellectual Thievery Encouraged by Shuuux -erh- Luuux Alliance? We can put together a list of our names and our blogs, and with all our stolen content we found reposted on Shuuux by its users, and then make a case with Google Adsence. Hey, power comes in numbers you know!

    In the mean time, keep speaking up and speaking out!

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  2. I'm so sorry to read that this has been happening to you. It's such a disgrace and I'm just so appalled. I didn't know much about Luuux previously but now I'll definitely avoid it.

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  3. D.
    But it's more difficult than it seems though because

    1. The sources where Sandy steals from are mostly unknown (unless some conscious luuux reader-who also happens to read the specific blog inform the original writer).

    2. Most bloggers are not familiar with the whole reporting system (I, fortunately or unfortunately got a hang of it...) and they will probably let it slip as long as luuux team delete their own works (which they will do...at least for your first 3 or so reports).

    3. The whole site is indeed, legitimate and legal (they set up their policy that while stealing is indirectly encouraged, it's a certain user's own fault when she put content that are copyrighted).

    And yeah, I will keep bitching until they remove my content (6 of them I just came by, at the moment). If those girls really want LV bag or an iPad, they can share their *censored* for all I care, at least I will have more respect for them making money with stuff/body parts that actually belong to them.

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  4. Haru:
    Sites like that are everywhere, it's just Luuux got very popular with the help of many Youtube gurus (who indeed receive great compensation for promoting the site) and young girls who follow them.

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  5. Ugh. Some people are ridiculous. I love the part where her posts don't make any sense and that she doesn't want her own content stolen, but she's already signed it away to the site. I hope they remove what belongs to you, but for now, you can enjoy the dimming of the feeble light that is Sandy's intelligence.

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  6. Sandrine:
    I am not that mad (who am I trying to kid?) at Sandy, but I am infuriated by how Luuux handles matters like this (then again, they are dodgy to start with. You don't see credible individual paying everyone/going everywhere to say "We are totally legit!") ... Not to mention the indifference by most of their members. It feels like I am in mainland China (where nobody cares about copyrights)minus all the great food!

    I hope the whole site gets kicked out by Google or sued by others because even if they do end up deleting my pictures (7 days, 6 infringing posts, 2 reports on each, one email and so far, no response) somebody else will "share" them again and it will be the same bullshit allover again...

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  7. Oh wow wtf. I hope this gets resolved!

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  8. Well, but between you, me, and MissChevious that's 3 people whose blog content were stolen by Luuux users. I'm sure there are many more and if we get together to ask if people would come forward and provide their their blogpost from which contents were stolen and the subsequent Luuux post where the stolen contents were reposted, we would have a case to come to Luuux. If we can gather enough people, perhaps we can even take it up the Luuux commanding chain. I don't know how far we can get, but shouldn't we try?

    By the way, I just went back to Sandy Ting's post with the picture she stole from my blog and it's still there. I clicked on Report to report again, and to my surprise the "Report" link does nothing but reloading the page. I tried deleting the cookies but nope, again clicking Report would just reload the site. This is the best proof of Luuux's encouragement and even protection of these thieves - they disabled the reporting function altogether!

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  9. D:
    MissChevious only posted about an old version of Sandy, Kelly Brennan, who "didn't know better" ,and stole (not only pictures but also content) from all the big names in the blogging world. Sandy Tings got pretty far, without ticking off any prominent blogging figure by mainly chooses lesser-known so it even harder for us to track the victims.

    On MissChevious's post, there is a flawless, sincere-sounding comment left by a Luuux employee David on her blog post and explanation how the matter was solved within 48 hours and all how all of her "luuux points" were deleted...It's funny because he didn't mention about the ad revenue they have earned from what Kelly Brennan has stolen or how they will give *that* back to bloggers whose content were compromised.

    Anyway, I will see what I can do (I have told several bloggers whose stolen pictures was watermarked/recognized, not all of them cared to even reply me back though...).

    And by the way, the reporting button also stopped working on me, I guess it's their way of saying "If we ignored your request for the first time, we will ignore you when you try again so why bother spamming us?" .

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  10. Haa...I guess if people don't care when their work got stolen then there's n ot much we can do...

    Grrr...so irritating...

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  11. There are 3 shades in glamoflauge haha

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  12. Hi Citrine! Thnx for posting this. As I am starting to blog, I am watermarking all my photos because of that fear of having my photos taken (to take my pictures, upload it, then write my thoughts is very time consuming). But anyways, Luux my a**. They are in it for the traffic and the money. They know it and this is how they operate. You are 100% right about that. I wonder what will it take to take them down? I wonder...

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  13. Michelle:
    I don't know...all I know is that, Sandy has already stolen yet another of my pictures by today...

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  14. I wonder if people ever steal my pictures or writing. Maybe I'm not good enough for that yet but all the trouble you have to go through to have your property taken down is a pain. These jerks can stuff it :T

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  15. Ashley:
    I am pretty sure every blogger has her stuff copied somewhere,some point in time. It's just a matter of fact of finding who did it where...

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