Thursday , 24 July 2014
Copyright infringement is serious issue even though tons of people do it. "So what did I do wrong, everyone is selling the same stuff", I hear this ALL the time!

You have all heard it- “My shop on Etsy was shut down for copyright infringement”

Copyright Infringement

copyright

You have all heard it- “My shop on Etsy was shut down for copyright infringement.”

Copyright infringement is serious issue even though tons of people do it. “So what did I do wrong, everyone is selling the same stuff”, I hear this ALL the time! As my mother always used to tell me, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” You may be “jumping off the bridge” if you use copyrighted images on ANYTHING you create, whether it is an invitation, a cupcake, a pillow, etc…. UNLESS you have bought the rights to use the images and usually that is not feasible for most people, therefore you will be guilty of copyright infringement.

And yes, I have had things removed from my Etsy shop and found out that ignorance is no excuse. I had NO copyrighted images, BUT, I had “school spirit” papers which were in collegiate school colors and in each set I had ONE sheet that had wording on it- like “Roll Tide”, “Go Tigers”, Go Bulldogs”, you get the picture- NO mascots, NO logos, NOTHING that I thought would be copyright infringement, because I READ all I could find about that before I made them. Guess what, the Collegiate Licensing Company OWNS the words “Roll Tide” and even “Go Tigers”, yes it is STUPID in my opinion that is considered copyright infringement, but it is what it is and I fought them for three months because Etsy is FULL of people selling copyright infringement images of the mascots, logos and everything else- so why was I targeted?

This is why. They don’t come looking for you. Someone on Etsy, YOUR COMPETITION, most likely, turns you in to the company that owns the rights to the images or copyrights. They don’t turn you into Etsy, Etsy doesn’t care, if they did there wouldn’t be one Disney or Pixar or the million other things that are blatant copyright infringement. The companies DO care, but they aren’t pouring over Etsy looking either, because they would have to hire full time people just for that. (I learned all this dealing with the school papers.) Someone HAS to report you to them for them to act on it.

tractor

 

farm clip art set

Here is another example: The tractor you see is something I had in my farm clip art set. There are NO logos, no mention of John Deere, NOTHING that I had ANY idea would constitute copyright infringement. I live in the city, I just happened to think all tractors were GREEN! Big mistake, someone with WAYYYY too much time on their hands contacted John Deere and reported my tractor. (If you don’t think people will turn you in for the least little thing, even something as ridiculous as this, think again!) I did not have any mention of John Deere- NOTHING! But guess what, John Deere owns the copyrights to green tractors with yellow wheels- who knew? I just happened to put the yellow on it because I thought it looked good. I had to redo my tractor and make it red- who knows who owns the rights to red tractors- but I changed mine to red. It took me three weeks going back and forth with John Deere, showing them the new tractor, to get them to remove the complaint and for Etsy to allow me to put my farm set back up. And, yes, there are dozens of green tractors with yellow wheels still on Etsy.

Just a couple of weeks ago, one of the members of My Friend Beth had their store shut down for copyright infringement. I know others that have had theirs shut down as well, and a few lucky ones have gotten theirs re-opened, but that is rare. One of my members has a friend that got her Etsy shop taken down because the candy she was making infringed on someone’s copyrights. So if you think this just applies to paper or products like plates, etc…. it doesn’t, it is anything that you make that you use someone else’s images for. She then made an even bigger mistake. She started a new shop under a new name and Etsy found out and not only shut her shop down, but banned her from Etsy altogether. She cannot even SHOP on Etsy anymore. They don’t mess around.

dr seuss inspired paper

dr seuss invitation

All of that being said, there are ways to use a “theme” without having to worry about copyright infringement. For example, the image on the left above is of my Dr. Seuss inspired digital background papers and the image on the right is an example invitation that I made using my papers, frames and a couple of free Seuss fonts. There is NOTHING that is copyright infringement, but it still gets the point across that it is “Seussical”. You can put anything you want in the wording on your invitation and that is NOT copyright infringement. Be creative, be imaginative or as Dr. Seuss says;

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

One last thing, even though it could mean your shop being shut down, the MAIN reason you should NOT infringe on other’s copyright is that copyright infringement is illegal, it is just plain wrong, no other way to look at it. I have had my graphics stolen and I can tell you as the creator it is so infuriating and stealing is stealing, no matter what kind of spin you try to put on it. So do the right thing! Don’t use copyrighted images for anything and then not only will you not have to worry about your Etsy shop being shut down or having someone initiate a lawsuit against you for copyright infringement, but most of all, you will be able to have a clear conscience and sleep well at night.

 

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89 comments

  1. There is a lot of bullying around this issue as well. I’ve had shop owners contact me claiming to own the trademark for a certain saying only to find out (when doing my own research) that they own a trademark for something SIMILAR. In addition, I’ve been reported for trademark infringement when the trademark owner only had rights for the saying in certain uses (for example, on coffee cups and apparel) and not for the kind of wall art I make. Etsy refused to research the matter and I had to get my attorney involved. There are many, many sides to this issue. If you are confused or concerned, I recommend doing your own research or using an attorney. Not all Etsy sellers have a good heart where this is concerned.

    • I have a shop on Etsy and they removed one of my item because I used “Pandora-like beads” and they told me I can’t use that name. I posted beads similar to the one mentioned because I saw many stores on Etsy using it and on Ebay too. I told the person who sent me the letter that I didn’t know that because many people use that name for comparison and he should do a search on Etsy so he can see that a bunch of people are using that name to refer to those European beads. I’ve been looking to see it the items of other people have been removed and to my surprise they are still there! I feel discriminated, why me? and all the other people are still there using the name “Pandora” style-like on their items!

      • I get it! I had items removed for using a tag for chan Lu. I Didn’t have it in my description or title. Yet anytime you go etsy and search chan Lu , there are pages of items with chan Lu as a title, description and tags. I understand its hard to keep up, but I’m assuming someone is reporting… So in YOUR case, it is probably someone who felt it wasn’t fair and reported others with the pandora name used.
        Instead of reporting people, I just started warning sellers to remove the chan Lu. Assuming they really didn’t know.

        • Yes! I was thinking on contacting people about Chan lu or another person with “Pandora-like” beads but I guess Etsy reads our conversations, and I don’t want to have any more problems with Etsy, they told me not to contact anybody about the email about Pandora, and now I’m doing it here. I just opened a store and I haven’t sell anything yet. Jewelry-paintings and vintage, I’m so upset and sad about this.

          • I actually did contact Chan Lu to apologize. I felt it was required. I also panicked I’d never be allowed to sell on etsy after they removed my items!
            Chan Lu actually has a fraud department and specific email. Probably how someone reported me. I know etsy didn’t see my item, I’m sure it was reported by another Seller. Shame they’re so harsh and competitive.

      • In 2010 I used to have my own glass beads manufactured for me and I used to sell them on Ebay. I was doing really well until one morning I went to check my orders and found that Ebay had closed me down. The email said it was because I was using the name “Pandora” – my listings were headed “Handmade glass beads to Fit Pandora, Chamilia, Troll bracelets”. Apparently Pandora had made a complaint and such was their threat that Ebay closed down 200 sellers overnight and 2000+ within 7 days. The majority of the sellers only related to the brand name to show what the beads would fit – this is not illegal, I checked with a lawyer – but as he said “how deep are your pockets because theirs will be deeper” – in other words you cannot fight the big boys!

        • The thing is not that Pandora think it’s copyright infringement, its them competing too. If someone says their beads will fit a Pandora bracelet, then that person is not longer buying the beads from Pandora, they’re buying from you. So Pandora kick up a fuss and try to say “Copyright Infringment!” which will long term be profitable because now you have to buy the beads for your Pandora bracelet from Pandora.

    • Etsy is discriminating against small sellers. It is not just other sellers reporting infractions or mistakes.

      I see stores open for 1-2 months selling thousands of dollars worth of mass merchandised products that I see all over wholesale sites.

      I asked Etsy how this could be allowed stating that I didn’t want people to lose their income, but would like the opportunity to sell wholesale products myself.

      I got an enormous runaround and basically a threat to shut me down if I didn’t shut up about it. With thousands in medical bills and a terminally ill spouse, I LIKE to MAKE things, but NEED to make money. I am not the only one who is noticing this. Just read some of the threads on Etsy complaining that Etsy is not shutting those huge shops down after being notified.

      Hundreds or more large shops are allowed to do this and Etsy actually told me that they make “look similar” to mass marketed items and I was badly mistaken, they are hand made items. Sorry, not true. Many of the sellers are not even trying to look authentic and are using stock photos of the mass produced items and selling them for 4 or even 20 times more markup from what they (and I or anyone) can buy them for on wholesale sites. Unfortunately, these wholesalers want a cut and are selling the items for rock bottom prices on Ebay, so small sellers such as myself can’t sell there either and make a profit.

      This is unethical, unfair and discriminatory, period. I JUST got an email ad from Etsy. Guess what was on the page? Photos of products for sale with 5 items out of the 15 or so in the ad that I see regularly on huge wholesale sites. They are not home made replicas or similar items. They are very clearly mass produced items and again, some are using STOCK photos that the wholesalers use.

      In my opinion, sellers who are making a lot, good for them, but what about the rest of us who would like to do the same?

      Yes, keep the handcrafted portion for artisans but allow the rest of us to make a living too! How hard can it be for Etsy to have two different seller platforms?

      I must work from home to care for a family member with advanced illness. We live in the boonies, can’t afford to move, have no family in the area to help so I have no choice but to try to make money online. I’ve had an Etsy store for years and if you read the forums, it is a very difficult uphill battle to sell there with all of the competition…unless you are one of the lucky mass marketers who are not being called out. I get it to an extent…Why would Etsy want to lose the huge profits they are making from their cut of the sales?

      No problem there for those who are artists, enjoy selling on Etsy and can afford to do so as a hobby or for a little extra cash or who are talented and clever enough to come up with products that are doing very well. I admire them and try to do the same. It has not been working for me. I am not a born artist and DO try, but…

      I see sellers who have been on the site for as little as a MONTH making THOUSANDS of dollars by reselling mass produced items and I am lucky to make 50 bucks a week after spending hours making products, taking photos, writing descriptions, etc. Okay, I may not be a great artist, but their scare tactics to shut me down for pointing it out and asking how I can do the same and BE IN COMPLIANCE only to be threatened with shutting me down is downright discriminatory and unacceptable.

      It seems that this may even dare I say…illegal?

      Any suggestions? Any attorneys out there who think this is grounds for a class action lawsuit or something along those lines? I am ready to give up my store just to call them out on their unethical practices and make them sweat to pay THEIR bills. On the other hand, I don’t want to have sellers lose their income. I will contact the BBB at a minimum. Other than that, their blatant lie telling me that I am mistaken and that the items I “believe” to be mass products and “seem” as if they are the same is ridiculous.

      I sent them copies of the wholesale products with stock photos from the wholesalers that are being sold by hundreds of big stores making great profits for their “hand made” creations. The only thing they are making by hand is moves on a keyboard to list mass produced items and transfer money online to pay for bills or vacations from their large profits. After seeing photos, Etsy reps still pretended I had no idea what I was talking about and threatened to shut me down.

      It is sickening. If anyone can suggest a place where I can share this info that may get Etsy to shape up, I’d love to know about it! Since I don’t want to face the wrath of Etsy, I am literally afraid to give my store name and identity. I have tons of medical bills and regular living expenses to pay and literally, as for many of us, every dollar helps.

      • Angelina, I am so sorry this happened to you… it definitely doesn’t sound right! Could you post the substance of the correspondence you received from Etsy, keeping it anonymous? I would really like to see where and how they threatened you in their emails, and this should definitely be reported to the attorney general or BBB.

  2. I was contacted by Etsy, who was contacted by Chanel, for some vintage Chanel pens I had listed. They were a pen set that were scented with Chanel No. 5. Who knew they were knock offs, from the 1960s? They were taken down. Then on my jewelry site, I had a charm necklace with a fireman’s hat and a heart charm that I called “Hearts on Fire”. I was contacted by a diamond company that had trademarked the name “Hearts on Fire”. I had never heard of it, since then it seems like I see ads for it everywhere. I’ve always wondered how the Disney images have snuck under the radar, since I’ve always heard they are real sticklers for their images. Anyway, its not just you – others have had the same happen. We all need to be careful. We wouldn’t want others stealing our ideas and images, so we have to be careful not to use or take theirs. Chin up!

  3. Catherine Todd

    Thank you Beth for a great and informative, if frustrating article. With all these crazy copyrights, are we even going to be able to say, write or design ANYTHING one of these days?

    I understand copyright protection is necessary to protect some things and I hate having my own designs stolen, but in the old days, artists trained under “the masters” and the masters would sign the artist’s work as their own! And this was considered the highest honor! Some cultures still believe this.

    Copyright is a difficult and sometimes dangerous thing. It’s supposed to protect things, as well it should, but lately it seems to have gone crazy. Thank you for the very important information contained herein.

    More and more, I’m glad I don’t sell on Etsy.

  4. You are right Catherine it is difficult, and bottom line, it all boils down to MONEY! No one wants to have their work used if they are not getting compensated for it. Which I totally understand, as I was the victim of this recently in a very bold way.

    Someone stole my graphics from someone’s blog post, and used them on pillows they sold on One King’s Lane. Not only did they not buy them, but even if they had, they would have violated all of my terms of use- but yet they made $2100 on the sale of the pillows- beyond frustrating.

    So in many ways I appreciate the copyright laws and in many ways they are useless. Better safe than sorry I guess.

    • catherine todd

      Beth, I agree but would change one thing in your statement above: “No one wants to have their work used without permission.”

      I’ve had a number of artists be more than happy to allow us to use their designs for the beautiful beadwork we do with the indigenous Mayan artisans here at lovely Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and for NO CHARGE! All but one person has agreed to this via a simple email on my part. The main thing seems to be asking permission and “giving credit where credit is due.”

      My husband is a professional photographer and I can tell you if his work gets ripped off it’s a very bad thing, since this is how he makes his living. Beadwork by artists can be a bit different but again it’s asking permission that counts the most.

      You story about someone making $2,100 on a sale with your designs is more than “frustrating…” I would be really angry about this! Did you go to court over this; or could you? And especially having someone steal your design when it was posted on someone else’s blog. Wow.

      I have had someone on photobucket go through all my photos of our beadwork and post them as their own, and for me to get them taken off this person’s photobucket page would have taken me eons it seemed. Many pages of information I was going to have to provide, half of which I didn’t understand. And I’m pretty smart! So I gave up, and closed all my albums on Photobucket and now only post images which have been watermarked. But the thieves still do their worst!

      This copyright discussion is very important and I am so grateful that handmadeology has given us a forum to post questions and experiences. A lot of necessary information I had no idea about. Thanks to every who has participated here!

    • Isn’t there someway that someone could do a class action against Etsy so they stop the insanity?! One of my items was turned in by a company claiming they had the trademark Smurf. I had a handmade crocheted hat on the Etsy that was deactivated by Etsy. How was I using their trademark? There are 100 Smurf hats on Etsy and they chose me (I only sold one hat!). Why aren’t they going after the big money makers and not the people just trying to sell their crafts for pocket money?
      I would love to see someone stop Etsy from being unfair to sellers. I do not believe in using someone’s copyrights or trademarks but making a hat similer to one I see in the cartoons should not be infringement. It is simply a hobby.

      • I also have my store closed because I make phone cases in cat shapes using glasses and they say it is infringing Hello Kitty property, can anyone that had this experience let me know if I will be sued? It is so unfair, they make us feel, we are criminals, and when searching the word “Hello Kitty” on etsy, I got not only one but 26,000 items being sold and they even use the Hello Kitty name on their title. Also we receive a message stating that it should not share with anybody in etsy, Why?
        Thanks

  5. Beth,
    I am so sorry this happened to you. I do stamping once in a while and I wonder if such things as “Blessed Be” are copyrighted. I like what you are teaching in this article. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    http://watchesbyhelen.etsy.com
    http://helenslightreadings.etsy.com

  6. Catherine, I did say that they shouldn’t use them without purchasing the rights, I guess I should have added “or without their permission”, but for the most part I was mainly talking about all the people that are making and selling invitations, decorations, etc… on Etsy using Disney, Pixar, etc…images- and none of those people will give you permission, nor is buying the rights even remotely feasible for most people.

    I did go see an attorney about the pillows. He is helping me and although he will cost more than I stand to get back, I am not going to stand still for it. Their defense “we found it on a free clip art site”
    1) that is a lie, I searched my images and the EXACT images they used were the ONLY ones shown on the blog post I found AND were watermarked- so they KNOW they did something wrong
    2)even if they did find them on the web somewhere or even a free clip art site, that does not give someone the rights to use them for large wholesale or commercial use- I am sure they just thought whoever they belonged to would never find out. Well, I did- and this person also sells to Neiman’s and Horchow- so let’s just say, she can afford to pay for her graphics- ridiculous!

    Thanks for all your insightful remarks! It is great to hear what other people think about this.

    • Beth, I am so glad to read that you have seen an attorney and are willing to pay to take action – even if you don’t recuperate more than you spend. I ALWAYS stand up for myself, regardless of the money involved. And if I can’t afford a lawyer, I have done it myself – oftentimes even better than paying someone else! These cheaters, liars and thieves have to learn there are consequences to their actions, and it’s not just “profit in their pockets.”

      I can’t believe they dared to sell your design to Neiman Markus and Horchow.. I wonder if you can contact them directly to let them know what is going on? That should immediately cost those thieves any more business there! I imagine you have already done this… let us know how it turns out.

      I am so sorry to read this, though. Given the fact that so many of the Guatemalan artisans use other people’s designs they find elsewhere, and there is little if any enforcement of copyright here (if it exists at all!) I always remind the artisans I work with to change the design somewhat to not steal it from someone else. Copying is a huge problem and I see things copied the very next day when someone comes up with a new design. I don’t know what to do but to try and stay one step ahead.

      The other solution has been to allow people to copy and if they can do a good job, pay them to create the product wholesale for me. I pay the designers a LOT for their new designs as they won’t be able to make much as soon as it’s copied, but at least that way they are reimbursed somewhat.

      I had a company who has taken over museum gift shops all across the country, keep our products for months AFTER taking them off the floor (where they were very successful) and apparently copied them all in China for less! Can you believe it?

      But our designs are not copyrighted in the states and I couldn’t afford to do it, regardless… seems like there’s nothing I can do about this. But another woman has taken the same beautiful handbeaded keychains we make and “written a book” giving instructions and claiming the designs as her own! The indigenous Mayans have been creating these designs for the past 40 years and now this American comes in to claim them as her own.

      So what to do? I really have no idea, except give credit where credit is due, ask for permission, change a design to not copy it to begin with, and take action whenever you can if you are being ripped off.

      It’s hard to stay in business in this ever-increasing competitive market with international access now, but let us know how things turn out with Neiman Markus and your competition rip-off. Can’t wait to see what pans out in this endeavor. And the more I read, the more I am glad that I’m not on Etsy right now. I think it must be a huge design rip-off site as well as sales site.

      Ah, the world would be so nice if not for (some of the) people!

      You wrote: “I am sure they just thought whoever they belonged to would never find out. Well, I did…”

      LOL!!! Good for you!

      “- and this person also sells to Neiman’s and Horchow- so let’s just say, she can afford to pay for her graphics- ridiculous!”

      Amen! Get them kicked out of those sales markets for starters. Let us know the rest of the story as it develops!

      Catherine Todd, AtitlanArts.com

  7. PS: Did you send them a bill for using your WATERMARKED graphics? That would be my first step. Hah!

  8. Informative article, thank you!
    It’s sad, how things are stolen, used and credit isnt given, I think I was more bothered that someone went to all the trouble to find out the color schemes copyrighted by John Deere, just to report you.
    That seemed to me, to be a direct hit from a spiteful person looking for anything they could find to shut you down. Jealous, more than likely. People are mean. Thank you again for passing on your knowledge.

  9. Catherine,

    I have been in contact with them, and I am seeking some sort of compensation but working with my attorney on that, I would like to avoid having the expense of going to court, although I could stand to get more if I do, but I am trying to go the non-legal route first.

    And I did contact One King’s Lane, they didn’t do anything about it either, even after they were informed, so we will be pursuing that as well. She has not sold them anywhere else and said she would not. I hope that will be true.

    It is terrible how people do that all the time, and particularly someone selling your work as their own. Very sad- that is one of the reasons I wanted to do this post- because is infuriates me , particularly when someone uses my work or copies it and it happens ALL the time- but also the mindset that just because everyone else is doing it- that makes it okay somehow. A REAL person drew and created all the designs that people are using without permission and I don’t care if the person was Walt Disney, or Eric Carle- it is still wrong to use other’s people work without their permission or paying for it.

    • catherine todd

      Beth, I applaude you for standing up for yourself, and let us know the final outcome. Has the offender offered to pay you for your work? That would be the best outcome of course, regardless of the amount, along with a written agreement not to use your work in the future without written permission.

      GO TO COURT as a pro-se litigator (by your self). There are many legal letters and forms you can purchase and download online for your state that should address copyright infringement.

      I have rarely used an attorney except in a few cases, and I have always prevailed the few times I have had to go to court as a licensed contractor for unpaid contracts. Usually a notice of legal action and a court date is enough for people to pay up. Take a look on doing it yourself before you spend more on an attorney than you stand to gain.

      Since copyright infringement is a rampant and serious problem, I’m sure there’s lots of info on how to protect yourself online. Let us know what you find.

      Thanks to Rachel for letting us know that people are actually hired to ferret out offenders online and elsewhere. I had no idea! Especially that saying a “Pandora style bead” would be infringement. I see people using brand names and saying “influenced by” all the time. Seemed wrong to me and now I find out it’s wrong to them, too. So much important information here. Gracias!

  10. Why not call out the person by name who stole your designs, showing visuals of your work and the work of the copier along with their distribution channels. Post the information on the web and use key words so that it receives a prominent listing should anyone research that person’s name/company. I don’t think this would be slander if you can visually prove your work was stolen and reused. Embarrassment can be a powerful motivator.

  11. I opened a destash shop to rid myself of my overstock and did have an item deactivated by Etsy; I foolishly called a bead a ‘Pandora style bead’, and someone FROM Pandora complained; so don’t think the big companies won’t come looking on Etsy!
    Until I reworded my listing and got permission from the woman at Pandora (because you’re right, Etsy doesn’t care) could I reactivate my listing. And I know people who work at Disney whose sole job is to look for infringements. They be big, but they be pissed if you use their art! So don’t ever be fooled into think you’re too small and they’re too big; they don’t care.

  12. Another good resource can be found at http://whatthecraft.com/quickie-guide-to-copyright-law/

    It does a good job of explaining how even if you have a good understanding of whether you actually are violating copyright you can still get smacked by Etsy.

  13. Thank you for a great post on this. I have an Irish stout soap in my shop that uses a particular brand of stout. I leave the name off because I contacted thd company and they declined my request. Meanwhile every other soaper on Etsy uses the name. That is frustrating.

  14. Oh my, has it been challenging to be a tutu seller on Etsy! My images have been stolen countless times, and I have filled out more DMCA notices than I care to remember. When one of my images is stolen, the most upsetting thing is how blatant and justified the thieves attitudes are. I have been told that my tutu images are in a different country, and so fare game. What? Also, that my stolen images were feeding someone’s children. Please! I am not responsible for feeding their children.

    I have also had several people kicked off Facebook, sadly because they don’t stop stealing copyrighted images. At this point the amount of time spent protecting copyrighted images can be well beyond what one etsy store owner can manage. The only prevention measures we can take seem to be using low res images, and watermarking them to the point that even alibaba and dhgate won’t bother stealing them. Trust me. Their sellers are probably stealing one of your images right now.

    • catherine todd

      The best advice I had from someone about copying was “let them, then hire them to produce your products cheaper for you!”

      This, of course, won’t work in all situations, but it will work in many. The next important step is to gain MARKET SHARE. That’s the only thing that keeps the copyists at bay. If they can’t speak English, they can’t sell in your market very well, and vice versa.

      Then you can offer to sell them your design instead of taking them to court (if that’s possible), although I’m not sure what the laws are in other countries or if an American copyright is valid in another country. I would doubt it.

      The only worst case scenario is the type of copyist who makes a big sale to a major dept. store. That hurts! And can be a problem in your own individual market. That’s where branding comes in. We little people can’t compete with the big guys, but we can set some standards and find online legal forms to send letters and file in court if need be.

      But more and more we are going to have to learn to SHARE. Now that we have the internet, not much is proprietary anymore. We have many jewelry designs here in Guatemala that I later find in a book or a magazine and who knows if it was “the chicken or the egg?” I have no way of knowing.

      The only thing I know to do for myself is work on my own market, contact people who I believe have stolen my work, and file the legal forms possible in my own country. I can’t do much about anything else, but build up my own clientele and work as hard as I can to keep new, fresh designs coming. And WATERMARK all my images!

      Competition is the hallmark of our economy, which has become world-wide. We can’t stop it, but we can learn to work with it by pointing out that we are the “original” and we use the “best quality” and so on, and also consider giving away our designs after a certain amount of time, asking for credit to author. What else can we do?

      But stand up for ourselves and use the legal system wherever we can. There’s lots of online legal documents that work for whatever state you are in, and you can file pro-se (“by self”) without a lawyer. Go that route if you think you and your market is actually being damaged by competition in your area.

      Otherwise, bless them and let them go and know that no one can move you out of your spot, since the originators always come up with the best stuff! A copy is never as good.

  15. catherine todd

    And trust me, “stealing an image” doesn’t mean they made a sale! It’s the SALES that count! Or look at it like being a teacher, and GIVE BEAUTY & KNOWLEDGE TO THE WORLD!

    And protect your own personal market to feed your own family!

  16. catherine todd

    Rachel, you mentioned having a problem listing as a “Pandora Style Bead.” Not knowing what this was, I did an online search. Thousands of listings for this large-hole bead, including instructions on how to make them! Lots of sellers using this term.

    How could this be a problem? Here’s one example:

    “http://www.the-beadshop.co.uk/beads-c491/pandora-style-beads-c351

    • Good question! Why pinpoint little ol’ me on Etsy, when all I’m trying to do is sell my unwanted beads, and there’s a company out there doing the same thing? It is UK based, so what copyright laws apply there, I don’t know.
      I just think Etsy got scared when the woman from Pandora filed a complaint and they deactivated my listing. They don’t want to be held responsible for my actions.

      • It’s important to understand that Etsy’s policy is much harsher than the actual copyright laws (at least the US laws.)

        In practical terms: If an infringement is alleged, they will remove the item until the copyright holder is happy. NOT until you prove that you are within your rights. It keeps their costs low and keeps them from being nuked to death by court costs from the big guys like Disney.

        That’s why you can’t say “inspired by” on Etsy.

  17. I had a related unsettling experience. I make jewelry with vintage buttons, and one of my necklaces had buttons with motifs similar to Chanel’s logo (back to back, rather than interlocking Cs). Naive and ignorant, I made the mistake of describing them as “Chanel-like,” and consequently received a letter from Etsy, stating that my item had been deactivated. Chanel’s legal beagles had complained to Etsy, claiming violation of their copyright logo.

    A contact email address for the Chanel corporation was provided. I sent an apologetic “won’t ever happen again” email, but never heard back, which I surmise is a good thing!

    Needless to say, I removed all references to Chanel and re-listed my necklace…a valuable lesson learned:)

    • catherine todd

      Paula, thanks for your experience. I had no idea, as I see “Chanel-like” or “gold-tone” or whatever listed all the time. But I can see that the big brands must be checking Etsy, since at least copyright laws are in effect in the U.S. They have a terrible problem with knock-offs all over the world who also cheapen their brand by using inferior materials, etc.

      But I didn’t know legal rights can extend to not adding “like” to a brand name / copyrightten name (s?). I guess they figure they are the only ones who can use their name in any form at all. Good thing we have this discussion board to learn about these things. I’m surprised Etsy doesn’t have a “do and don’t” page about this themselves.

        • Thank you Paula. I swear, this discussion is making me so glad that the only problem I have is people copying our designs! And I thought that was bad enough. We don’t sell on Etsy and now I don’t think we ever will. But what this has all brought home to me in a very big way is that MARKETING and CUSTOMER SERVICE is going to one of the big things that separate the “men from the boys,” or really the good businesses to deal with and the bad.

          Even though I have found people copying my images and jewelry designs, I haven’t seen them being sold (yet) in a big way somewhere else. God forbid I see them sold at Neiman Marcus one day, though. The company that copied all our products in China that we sold in museum gift shops are finding out they can’t produce “museum quality” beadwork, so we may have a chance at getting those customers back. If not, I will brand our work in a better way as I can’t stand the thought of our indigenous artisans losing all their work overnight.

          This is such a huge problem for so many artisans in so many countries, that the countries themselves are passing laws against importing cultural products that have been copied (stolen) from the indigenous culture that originally produced it. I’m going to look into that more, too.

          Did you see the notice I posted about Disney trying to trademark the “Day of the Dead” phrase? Talk about the world going crazy! Something is going to have to give. I don’t know what it will be, but surely becoming the best or the newest or the most innovative is going to be the grease that keeps our exchanges going. Competition is a way of life; we just have to find a way to do it that will benefit all.

          “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.” Dear God please show us The Way.

  18. catherine todd

    Rachel, I can hardly believe that this huge company Pandora would complain about a “Pandora style bead” listing when there are thousands of descriptions just like this! Not just the one link I sent. But perhaps they monitor Etsy in particular.

    It would be interesting to write to the company and ask them what their rules are, or if there is an acceptable way to describe a “large hole bead” that can be added as a charm or strung on a necklace. They make a big deal (as they should) about being “authentic” and it’s important to protect one’s brand and not have it devalued by inferior quality products being mistaken for it (hence Kodak and their copyright on their particular shade of yellow) but in the case of beads, I just can’t imagine.

    Pandora might not be willing to respond at all to questions as to how others should describe their beads, but it’s worth a try. Etsy stinks as far as I can see when it comes to treating their own vendors properly or even correctly. I know it’s a huge market but I’m glad I’m not on there. It’s ruined as far as I can see by copyists, rip-offs and third party sellers. I’m glad Handmadeology has started something new.

    • Well, what can I say? I got an email from Etsy, they wouldn’t help me and told me to write to her at Pandora. I did, and she responded that as long as I change the wording in my listing, we’re all good. They obviously don’t want to be associated with anyone that isn’t Pandora branded or authorized. Their right.
      I dodged a bullet 2 other times, as I had listed 2 others as Pandora style, saw that in my stats as something as being searched. One listing sold before she caught it, and I caught the other and changed the listing before Etsy caught it and deactivated it.
      Big companies do this, as is their right, and they will defend themselves against the counterfeiters and copycats. As Ripley would say, believe it or not.

      • catherine todd

        “They obviously don’t want to be associated with anyone that isn’t Pandora branded or authorized. Their right.”

        Good point, and being an “authorized dealer” or representative means you can expend the same high standards from sellers as the company itself. So there are good reasons for protecting one’s reputation and brand name.

      • Hi Rachel

        The same thing happened to me! I have a shop on Etsy and they removed one of my items because I used “Pandora-like beads” (it was a bunch of beads that I was not using and I wanted to sell) and they told me I can’t use that name. I saw many stores on Etsy using that name and on Ebay too. I told the person who sent me the email ” do a search on Etsy and look how many people are using the name “Pandora-like” or “Pandora style” I’ve been looking to see if the items of other people have been removed and to my surprise they are still there! I feel discriminated, why me? and all the other people are still there using the name “Pandora” style-like on their items!

  19. catherine todd

    sorry, can’t edit / fix spelling:

    “means you can EXPECT the same high standards from sellers as the company itself. “

  20. Lori Lee-Weber

    I got nailed by the Power Ranger people for using Mighty Morphin in my description of my rag rug woven of sheets with the dang Power Rangers on them. I recycle fabric for my rugs and often use kids sheets with popular characters on them. I was a little frustrated that I was being criticized for telling my customers what my rug was woven out of. I still cannot see how that is a copy-write infringement, but I changed the listing. I have not used another Power Ranger sheet again. The whole thing left a very bad taste in my mouth.

    • Lori, how in the world are you supposed to describe what the rug was made out of, if not “Power Ranger” sheets? The sheets paid for the use of the image and name; were you supposed to use that small “trademark” mark perhaps?

      If that wasn’t the issue, how can anyone describe anything that is being recycled or resold? Is there some kind of magic wording that is supposed to accompany a brand name?

      This makes no sense. I wouldn’t want to use anything by Power Ranger ever again, either.

  21. What about using fabric that has the logo on it? Still ok to use that? I thought it was as long as you are reproducing the logo.

    Thanks

  22. By the way, CASE tractors are red. I do not know if they trademark their color scheme the way John Deere does, but you wouldn’t want a repeat…! Good luck.

  23. This article confuses copyright with trademark. Copyright protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. The use of the term ‘Roll Tide’ and the John Deere tractor are trademark violations, not copyright violations.

    It shouldn’t matter how many other people are selling Disney, Pixar and other copyrighted material. You, as a business owner, are responsible for making sure that your individual products do not violate copyrights or trademarks.

    I do not feel sorry for any Etsy seller that gets shut down for violating someone’s copyright or trademark. How many times a day do you hear about an Etsy seller’s images being used without their permission, or their products being copied? Just as you wouldn’t want someone to steal your work, you shouldn’t be stealing someone else’s work. And selling copyrighted materials, or using trademarked phrases/logos, without permission is doing just that.

  24. Since setting up shop on Etsy I was shocked at how frequently my designs have been ripped off. I keep telling myself it will push me to do something new instead of wallow in the misery of trying to protect my designs. It is so frustrating. I grew up in the Southwest United States and cherished the native cultures in this area. When the turquoise jewelry fads in the 60′s and 70′s forced the huge rip-off of native american jewelry designs and styles, I was horrified. The Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, and countless other native americans know this all to well when white, asian, hispanic,and other cultures capitalized on reproducing Native American, jewelry, paintings, and other cultural art pieces and ran all the way to the bank, while the Native peoples were forced out of the market. I don’t know what the answer is other than to try to educate people about their purchases and the source from which they are buying.
    I saw an Etsy site that had the exact photos from JCrew’s dresses with the heads cropped, and being shipped from China……….. not sure what Etsy did about it.

    • Theresa, this is why I don’t sell on Etsy. I don’t have the larger market but I’m not ripped off there. How to keep being ripped off? I have no idea. We used to sell in museums in NYC and now there’s a company that has come in, taken over museum gift shops and they have copied our Guatemalan products in China and taken ours off the sales floor.

      The Guatemalan artisans I work with lost their market and income overnight. What to do? Keep designing new things that will be copied the next day… and increase your sales market and quality control and brand name and protect it at all cost, just like these companies are doing, I guess. But none of it is easy and little of it makes sense.

      But talk about the world going copyright / trademark crazy: Take a look at this! Disney was going to trademark “Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead.” Meaning anyone would have to have Disney’s permission to use this phrase! How is that possible?

      Disney backed down but there are others that won’t. Bill Gates via Microsoft has trademarked many of the our beautiful art classics that have hung in museums for years. He owns the internet rights to these public-domain artworks by the most famous painters in the world, from the last 500+ years. It’s not only insane, it’s criminal.

      UPDATE: Disney Day of the Dead trademark

      “Jesus Iñiguez, Presente.org”
      2:57 PM, 14 May 2013

      Dear Catherine,

      We beat Disney!

      Last week, over ten thousand of you signed a Presente.org petition telling the Walt Disney corporation that Latino culture is not for sale. They heard our voices and announced that they are withdrawing their application to trademark Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead.

      Congratulations!

      By fighting back together we showed corporations that they will pay a price when they try to abuse Latino traditions.

      Below is an image of Disney’s trademark application that Presente.org staff were able to dig up–share it with your friends if you’re as inspired as we are by this big win!

      Share on Facebook.

      Not on Facebook? Share from our website.

      It’s unfathomable to think what would have happened had Disney been successful in trademarking Day of the Dead. Many Mexican and Latin American communities in the US would need permission from the Disney corporation to use the name Dia de los Muertos.

      But because you spoke up, that’s not going to happen. And we sent a strong message to corporations everywhere that Latino culture is not for sale.

      Let’s celebrate this victory–and be ready to speak up again anytime our community is threatened.

      Thanks again and ¡adelante!

      Jesus, Arturo, Gabriela, Kyle, and the entire Presente.org team

      P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.

  25. Julia, how can someone describe the sheet they are using in the recycled rugs they make without using the trademark name of “Mighty Morphin” which was considered a “violation.” Were they missing the trademark symbol or some kind of text?

    You “may not feel sorry” for people who get their site shut down, but many people – including myself – would never guess that describing something for what it is, or using the color green on a clip art tractor could possibly be a violation.

    How do you think people are supposed to describe things? No one can have a picture of a green tractor with yellow wheels except John Deere? I’ve never heard of that, ever.

    What is your suggestion in these cases?

    See Lori-Lee’s comment (pasted below):

    “I got nailed by the Power Ranger people for using Mighty Morphin in my description of my rag rug woven of sheets with the dang Power Rangers on them. I recycle fabric for my rugs and often use kids sheets with popular characters on them. I was a little frustrated that I was being criticized for telling my customers what my rug was woven out of. I still cannot see how that is a copy-write infringement, but I changed the listing. I have not used another Power Ranger sheet again. The whole thing left a very bad taste in my mouth.”

    • Catherine Todd,

      The main problem with using the MMPR sheet is, more than likely, that the fabric is not licensed for commercial use by you, the consumer.

      That means it doesn’t matter if you paid for the sheets retail, at a garage sale, etc., you still cannot use the fabric for anything you are going to sell commercially — it simply *is not* covered in the license granted to the fabric manufacturer by the copyright owner. You can take those sheets (or a sweatshirt or bag) and sell them as-is on a personal basis (garage sale), but you cannot repurpose and sell them as a business.

      Same goes for all collegiate and otherwise copyrighted / trademarked fabric designs. Most have a disclaimer that runs along the edge telling you the fabric may only be used for personal projects / purposes.

      • Thanks for the info, Amanda: “The main problem with using the MMPR sheet is, more than likely, that the fabric is not licensed for commercial use by you, the consumer … That means it doesn’t matter if you paid for the sheets retail, at a garage sale, etc., you still cannot use the fabric for anything you are going to sell commercially — it simply *is not* covered in the license granted to the fabric manufacturer by the copyright owner…”

        I don’t repurpose anything and haven’t had problems with Etsy or copyright, so I’m not sure who this is supposed to be addressed to. Perhaps I asked a question earlier in the discussion? But what you wrote is valuable to everyone here I’m sure.

        The entire problem of copyright and trademark drives home the importance of being creative, creating your own designs, and then having to enter the fray when our own designs get copied. Happens to me all the time, and it is frustrating. We offer so much more in customer service, price, quality materials and unique designs that we so far have been able to “stay ahead of the pack of copycats.”

        It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

      • Thanks for the info, Amanda: “The main problem with using the MMPR sheet is, more than likely, that the fabric is not licensed for commercial use by you, the consumer … That means it doesn’t matter if you paid for the sheets retail, at a garage sale, etc., you still cannot use the fabric for anything you are going to sell commercially — it simply *is not* covered in the license granted to the fabric manufacturer by the copyright owner…”

        I don’t repurpose anything and haven’t had problems with Etsy or copyright, so I’m not sure who this is supposed to be addressed to. Perhaps I asked a question earlier in the discussion? But what you wrote is valuable to everyone here I’m sure.

        The entire problem of copyright and trademark drives home the importance of being creative, creating your own designs, and then having to enter the fray when our own designs get copied. Happens to me all the time, and it is frustrating. We offer so much more in customer service, price, quality materials and unique designs that we so far have been able to “stay ahead of the pack of copycats.”

        It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

        —-

        UPDATE: Oops, didn’t read above at my question posted on May 14, 2013. I did ask the question about using certain materials and designs, in a general sense. I just want to make it clear that our own business is based on completely creative designs and we use nothing that is repurposed or has copyright of any kind. CT

        • And all these problems are one more why we don’t sell on Etsy. We have our own website with watermarked photos and that helps keep the thieves at bay. Doesn’t completely stop them, but helps. Etsy used to be wonderful for real artisans to sell their work, but those days are long gone.

        • No problem! And I meant “you” in a more general sense, as in any artist — sorry for the confusion. :)

          I have to deal with copyright and trademark law at work quite often (as well as with my own personal artwork and creations), so I am generally aware of things like the green body and yellow wheel caps being trademarked by John Deere.

          The average craftsperson or artist may not have had training or experience with these types of laws — I learned about them through art school — so it is easy to see how someone would not realize a violation.

  26. I use Mary Engelbreit fabrics for my fabric covered magnets on etsy, and was worried I might get in trouble, but I checked her website and she encourages using her fabrics in crafts and even for things you will sell. I wish more people/companies were like that!

  27. I’m so shocked that such a thing could happen! I never would have believed something so illogical could be possible, if not for your real life example. I’m sorry to hear that you had to go through such a horrendous experience. Just reading about it has made me see Etsy in a different light. Green tractors being sole property of a single company in the whole world, psshh!

    I don’t know what it is, but another shop’s been shut down because Etsy didn’t believe the owner was building his own synthesizers. He told his story on his tumblr blog and made a very good point that I wanted to highlight. For those whose shops have been closed by Etsy and been asked to prove they made their items, how do you protect yourself? Isn’t that an infringement of intellectual property?

    All of this irrational shop-closing, copyright/trademark madness is really making me think twice about selling on Etsy now.

  28. Great article. I am just beginning to learn about this potential issue- very scary. I have an additional question with regard to Etsy selling. Is it a copyright violation to use the copyrighted term as a key word or in a description? For example, the invitations posted in the article- can you tag them dr seuss style? Or are they only fair game if you do not use Dr. Seuss’ name at all?

  29. Great article!

    Having grown up on a farm, I can tell you that red for a tractor is classic so it makes more sense in your clip art set anyway. I can see John Deere’s point, the green and yellow is what sets them apart from their competition and is part of their branding/marketing.

    I’ve experienced copyright infringement. One time with another Etsy seller. They listed a piece of artwork that was almost identical to one of my pieces. I spoke with a lawyer and then sent the person a Cease & Desist letter (very professionally, no angry rants). Thankfully, the Etsy seller promptly removed the item.

    Also, I have discovered a large corporation using my artwork on one of their products.

    A few days ago, I had someone contact me trying to get me to commit copyright infringement. They showed me a painting from another artist and wanted me to paint the same thing just a different size and color.

  30. I actually believe that Etsy is too lenient on what they allow to be sold from the website. They certainly handle situations after the original artists sends a snail mail, or fax, to notify them of the copyright infringement details, but only then. The site does absolutely nothing to prevent obvious copyright infringement from being profited from. Thousands of people can visit a site, and notify Etsy that the shop owner is blatantly selling reproduced trademark characters from Disney. But Etsy doesn’t do anything about it until they hear from Disney.
    Calvin and Hobbes are very well known characters. But it is lesser known that their creator Bill Watterson, absolutely refused every single offer made to him that didn’t use his characters in the art form he created, which was the comic strip. He turned down cartoon offers, movie offers, mugs, tshirts, etc. The only thing he allowed, was collections of his comic strip to be made into books. Every time you see an image of Calvin and Hobbes on an iPhone case, or a cute coaster, it is Copyright Infringement. It is terrible enough to profit from another artists’ original hard work that it took to get their art well known, but to transform it into uses that the artists themselves refused to profit from, is maddening. Bill wanted his work to remain pure, I know this from reading his books. But, until Mr. Watterson comes along and tells Etsy to make it stop, they will continue to profit from his work, and others like it.
    Etsy once had a name of being a company that introduced consumers to artists that sold their original ideas. But because of their lack of concern for blatant copyright infringements, I will not be creating a store on their site. What protection does the small business have if the big business can’t even get respect?

  31. Beth – any update here or is your store still closed … our recently got shut down (Holmes Stamp) we sell rubber stamps… and holy cow we got to the point of selling alot of them … then in a 2 day period they accused us of very similar copyright infringements … closed us down – its not real fair, and no one to talk to :(

  32. “Fair Use Act” passed in 1976 ammended in 1994 allows an artist to use another’s image in a creative, inspired, or expressive manner. Disney for example: most all of their characters and storylines are that of anothers. They didn’t get permission on all of their works, that’s when fair use act falls into place for them. Unless u are using exact replicas/copys that u didn’t change around and saying that they r your own u should not have got shut down. I for one was ignorant to all of this and firmly belived that u could not use any other image, published work etc., in fact I used to say “oh that’s wrong” and what not. It’s only in recent years that I have been enlightened on these issues, by further research and great sources, disney being one of them (went straight to the horses mouth so to speak :) ). I hope u can get this resolved in a positive way :)

  33. Etsy just closed my shop for copyright infringement. I had been warned before because I used “Pandora Style” when describing my Memory Beads. I changed all instances to “Will fit your Pandora Style Bracelet”. That was a violation as well so I changed everything to “Large Hole European” and that was ok. My mistake was being too busy and cut and pasted copy for a new item I was listing that had a Pandora Style bead as a piece of the bracelet. It was a careless mistake, I immediately took changed the item and sent an apology email. They returned my courtesy email of conformance by shutting down my shop permanently. It took then a week to respond to my request to please reconsider. They will not budge. The shame is, I have done much more in sales using “Large Hole European” than I ever did using “Pandora Style”. It’s like saying Polo Shirt, I am sure Polo wishes everyone would call that style shirt something else. And when I used “will fit your Pandora Style Bracelet” isn’t that like saying that these brand x tires will fit your Ford Truck? How in the world is that infringement? If anything it would spur people to buy a Pandora Bracelet if they didn’t have one. I am just so frustrated since I have built a branding with repeat customers that may not be able to find me. Everyday in my stats on Etsy several people searched for Yonder Star Designs. Hope they find my website.

    • When are people going to go to a lawyer and file a lawsuit individually or as a class-action suit against Etsy? Yes, they “own” everything on their site, but there are consumer protections in the USA. Surely a lawyer can find a few grounds to file a complaint. Plus look into tax laws and more.

      Etsy must be breaking some kind of law doing this and misinterpreting “copyright infringement” as described in Deborah’s story above. These repeated experiences are making me sick. I can hardly believe what I’m reading except I know it’s true, or people wouldn’t be writing. Talk about being helpless under Etsy’s domination!

      • Thank you Catherine Todd for the kind words. I would be interested in being part of a class action law suit. I am so angry right now, I thought we paid our fees to Etsy too work for us and they treat us, their customers, like this? Also, what’s with the auto renew fees if you have a quantity of 100, and someone buyes 3, Etsy charges you the selling fees, plus the auto renew, but your quantity dosen’t go back up to 100. That is illegal.

        • As we were told we are not allowed to discuss this(by etsy legal) I have been afraid to even talk about it. I was also contacted by their legal team and had several items were removed for infrigement.
          I was told my store would be shut down if I did it again. I used “chan luu” as a tag. As mentioned above, people look for a style and they are fortunate to be thought of when people see a stacking leather, beaded bracelet. My mistake was thinking I could tag as long as I didn’t put their name in my description or title.
          I then searched etsy for chen luu and 2500 items came up and i did my best to contact as many of the sellers to warn them to remove the tags.
          While I’m sure sellers are searching and reporting out of anger, I feel we all should work together not against each other. But, some sellers become spiteful and report….as I’m sure that’s how etsy knew about mine…..
          I heard onsie, Disney and so many other names are copyrighted, yet they are all still selling….., its confusing to me.
          I wish you all the best – .

          • Thank you Donna,
            I just received a letter from the 3rd party watchdog company that contacted etsy about me. They apologized for the mistake and acknowledged that I should not have been shut down. I forwared the email to Etsy legal, not sure when or if I will hear back or if they will reopen my shop. I did talk to a lawyer before receiving the email, he said Etsy is completely wrong, without question. There are 1,500 registered items under the name Pandora in some shake or form.

        • Deborah wrote: “what’s with the auto renew fees if you have a quantity of 100, and someone buyes 3, Etsy charges you the selling fees, plus the auto renew, but your quantity dosen’t go back up to 100. That is illegal.”

          There you go! Time for a class action suit. All kinds of major companies have been sued for just this kind of thing, and their legal dept. knows they are doing wrong and just wait for someone to come along and sue them to make them stop. It’s cheaper that way and they know it!

          You can start a petition on a number of websites, and you can also cull names from google searches and ask Handmadeology if they want to participate. (They are connected to Etsy but they do have this blog).

          Start contacting lawyers who do class-action suits. Find the ones who have already gone up against Apple, Credit Card companies and the like. Etsy has deep pockets so it shouldn’t be too hard.

          As far as the person who says they were warned “not to talk about this by Etsy’s legal team,” NOW IS THE TIME TO STRIKE! This is OUTRAGEOUS. Let the world know!

          Tell the lawyers this, too. If we didn’t use the court system, we would be ripped off all the time. Stand up for your own CONSUMER RIGHTS. Etsy is charging you for a service and you are not receiving proper or equal service. Look for a discrimination case as well.

          • I think that in regards to the quantity of items sold, and fees charged, that etsy is charging the seller .20 cents only after the sale is made. I thought that they did not bring the quantity back up to the previous number because sellers posting 100 of an item may now only have 97 remaining available. When you post 100 items in the start, the .20 cents per item selling fee is not yet charged.

            I hope that makes sense. It is rather difficult a concept to follow, and not a common one for Internet sale sites that I know of…

            Myself I feel rather afraid to ‘mess up’ in my etsy shop. A copyright infringement was filed against me from a third party, and I was truly unaware there was a copyright out there (in my case it was an extremely generic three word combo). I did make it right immediately, but do feel that they hold a threat over me that a second misunderstanding could shut me down.

            Not the warm and fuzzy ‘community’ feeling I was feeling when I first joined etsy.

  34. whatever it is we all should stand up and give Etsy a lesson!

  35. My etsy store was closed as well. I do not do copyright anything. But, my competition does and they had me shut down. And because of it, I refuse to pay my fees. My etsy account was in a business name that no longer exists. So, etsy can take my $500+ fees and give it to my competition. She wants the business, she can have the fees!

  36. Lenn,
    Your comment is very confusing. Why were you shut down for your competition copywriting, yet reporting you?

  37. Hi Everyone :) I recently figured out that all of my Items were “Unsearchable” While Etsy looks into my shop. My Items can still be bought and still get traffic but only from outside websites like Wanelo, and google. I emailed Etsy and I got an Email back saying I might need to remove some items but they Never told me which ones! I’m thinking its my tie Dye Nike socks. I’m a little confused though because I am not Claiming that Nike is my own I just Tie dye the socks and Nike makes money from me because I buy the socks before I tie Dye them? If it’s wrong I will understand but I was hoping someone could explain? I know I’m losing money because my items are “unsearchable” and it sucks! I feel so bad for all of that have gotten your shops closed down! I see the comment above from JR saying something about the “Fair Use Act” passed in 1976 ammended in 1994 allows an artist to use another’s image in a creative, inspired, or expressive manner….. and that sounds like what Im doing so I’m gonna look into that. My store link is http://www.dardezliberalfashion.etsy.com

    • I think the biggest mistake people make (Including myself) is not looking into copyright thoroughly ahead of time. Why risk having to start all over selling again somewhere else after putting in all the effort and time to start up an Etsy shop?
      It’s important to be very careful with the fair use act. It has very specific guidelines, and misinterpreting it could mean endding up getting sued. Without a lawyer behind me, I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.

    • I just tried to find your shop. did they shut you down? I just saw another etsy shop selling tie dye nike socks
      https://www.etsy.com/shop/SickSox/sold?ref=shopinfo_sales_leftnav

      They shut my shop down for copyright infringement as well. Is what JR says true ( “Fair Use Act” passed in 1976 amended in 1994 allows an artist to use another’s image in a creative, inspired, or expressive manner.) and has anyone been able to fight back with Etsy on a shop closure? All of my images were used in an expressive manner, and not exact replicas.

  38. I was just shut down for the same reason, Copyright Infringement. The crazy thing was that I didn’t even use the phrase in my listing or product so I’m unsure how I was infringing on anyone. I’ve emailed support, but no response.

  39. Everything has copy write laws but ETSY is a little strict when it comes to it. I’m starting on a new marketplace KWYKPIX.com . I would recommend folks look into that because it costs less than Etsy, they are not as picky and they are with associations to help everyone.

  40. Hi everyone. I’m in the process of starting my Etsy shop (I sell woodworking and wall art, etc.) and am about to post some of my first items. My question is about one item in particular that I make. It’s a wooden wall art cutout (from plywood) with common phrases making up one solid piece (only the negetive space of the letters is cut out) and some words are bigger than others. I’ve seen several items like this all over the place, like anywhere where home decor is sold, and wanted to make my own. After already starting work on this, I found an etsy seller who makes these also. This particular person wrote things in their description saying something like “my designs are copyrighted, so don’t steal them or I’ll come after you”

    So, my question is, is it even possible that this person can claim they own the rights to that style of art, when they just got it from pre-existing design trends? I made it a point to take the time to draw my own font that I will use, and will only be using phrases that no one else already makes similar signs for. The way the design works, the letters all need to be touching to become one solid piece of wood, so in that way, my font lettering slightly resembles his (it’s just basic block letters with the little lines on the ends, like most capitol letter fonts would have), but I purposely didn’t look at any of his pictures when designing them, so my font is a bit different. Does anyone think this could end up being a problem?

  41. i was banned for copyright infringement. I used a movie logo. I had excellent feedback and I begged for reinstatement. They would not consider it. My daughter tried to open a store and sell my items and they closed it down before it opened. How can I open another store without getting closed down and how do they link us? Its like big brother! anyone know?

  42. You do realize that “thing 1″ and “thing 2″ are terms trademarked by Seuss enterprises, right? The invitation you created IS a trademark infringement to sell.

    Also, check up on the differences between trademark and copyright law.

  43. I also had my store closed because I made cat phone cases with GLASES, and they claimed it infringes Hello Kitty, will I be sued, I don’t have money to afford a lawyer, any one passed through this before?
    Please give me some inputs.

  44. My shop was recently shut down, I am a stay at home mom to two kids, this is MY only source of income… According to ETSY’s copyright page:
    “What is not protected by copyright?
    US copyright protects expression. Copyright does not protect ideas. Copyright does not protect facts, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. Copyright does not protect titles, names, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols or designs, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, or mere listings of ingredients or contents.
    Copyright does not protect the mechanical or utilitarian aspects of a design. A “useful article” is an object having an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information. Examples are clothing, furniture, machinery, dinnerware, and lighting fixtures. A useful article may have both copyrightable and uncopyrightable features. For example, a carving on the back of a chair might be protected by US copyright, but the design of the chair itself might not be protected by copyright. Some designs of useful articles may qualify for protection under the US federal patent law.”

    This line stands out to me: “Copyright does not protect titles, names, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols or designs, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, or mere listings of ingredients or contents.”
    Particularly: “names….., familiar symbols or designs..” I used a name from a movie in my item description, Etsy sent me an email and had the wrong movie listed, totally different movie and title… Also I used graphics created in photoshop NOT screen shot or images created by the movie artists, I did use a movie title in the description… At what point is ETSY abusing it’s “Pick and Choose” policy? I would be interested in a lawsuit if started as well, it’s not fair to pick on one small business over any others…

  45. Well, looks like a lot of us have had the take down by Etsy or eBay, and others I assume. I was selling handmade jewelry that was really making me a very good living. I re-purposed some old Chanel pieces and got completely shut down by Etsy. I have contacted Chanel and other designers, to look at Etsy allowing a search section that says , “Chanel in Handmade”, as does all the designer labels that are inspired. I didn’t use the name Chanel, in titles or tags and not even in descriptions, so how did I get shut down? I feel like others, that it was a disgruntled seller that didn’t like my success. Jealous much? I am disabled and was trying to make ends meet while enjoying making jewelry. People are crazy…uh, oh, I think I just infringed on a country song!

  46. Ok every one I have been struggling with this for a while and would like to know if what I’m doing is really leagal. If I buy let’s Say Florida Gator’s SEC Team fabric and I make it into a blanket or some thing since my profession is seamstress work would I be liable for Copy right infringement even if i bought the fabric even though I am not recreating the image?

    • From what I have heard is that, even if you buy the fabric, it is still under copyright infringement because it is for personal use only, and can’t be re-sold.

  47. Yet Another Etsy Seller

    I got a copyright infringement notice a couple of years ago for a knitted item that I had vaguely named after a popular book. It was more just an allusion to the book’s title, not the whole thing. Imagine my surprise when I was told that was a no-no – it was certainly a wake-up call! So I changed the item’s name, apologized to the company that holds the copyright, and they were happy with that, no harm done in this case… phew. I did ask them why there were so many other items featuring the book’s full name, main characters etc. that were allowed to stay up on Etsy but not surprisingly, I didn’t get an answer. Even looking it up again now, I can see that there are thousands of items relating to the book and/or featuring the characters on Etsy. I do wish there was a more consistent approach!

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