Photographers nationwide have expressed outrage after thousands of their images vanished from image-sharing website fotopic.net without warning. NEWS UPDATE: Fotopic.net heads for liquidation
Fotopic.net users have not been able to access their pictures for several weeks, sparking fears that the company behind the site has hit financial difficulties and ceased trading.
At first it seemed the problem may be technical - because the site has gone down before - but, as the weeks pass, concerns grow for the future of the site.
Fotopic.net is a trading name of Snappy Designs Ltd which is currently registered as 'active' on the website of Companies House.
'I have used the site for a while now and paid a premium subscription,' wrote fotopic user Richard Hall in an email to Amateur Photographer (AP).
'I had uploaded several hundred photos. Still no-one knows what is going on as the site owners have issued no statement.
'I, like many other amateur photographers, now find ourselves in a state of limbo with no idea of what is going on.'
Railway Magazine deputy editor Chris Milner, who has also been hit, told us: 'I know of 1,500-2,000 users of the site who post railway images and some sources reckon 70,000 users are affected.'
Milner warned of the potential risk of copyright breach if the photos 'get into the wrong hands'.
'I'm lucky as all my shots are backed up but others may not be in such a fortunate position,' added Hall.
Another user, Anthony Middleton, said: 'There must be a lot of people out there who have paid a lot of money… only to be cut off without any contact from fotopic.net.'
Snappy Designs Ltd is based in East Sheen, south-west London, according to Companies House which told us there is 'no proposal to strike the company off the register', nor any 'current actions' against it.
Fotopic users' attempts to contact the firm have proved fruitless and none of the numbers connected with the address today were answering when AP attempted to establish contact.
A spokesman for Trading Standards advised us that those concerned should write to the company at its registered address.
The company's East Sheen address has been used for various other company names, one of which has a phone number in the Sheffield area of South Yorkshire.
Snappy Designs Ltd has also been connected to an address in Wakefield.
Having done a search I noticed several users have used this site. I hope/trust everyone will have local copies of all photos they upload to such hosting sites but the amount of lost work/time can be huge.
You'd better be prepared for such eventualities. Do you have a backup plan to protect you against the effects of such events?
When in doubt..... Press the shutter.