Many people know the concept of Etsy; it’s a popular ecommerce website that sells vintage items, manufactured products, jewelry and other trinkets. Since it’s peer-to-peer, anyone can create their own shop and start selling handmade items and crafts instantly.
Unfortunately, in Etsy’s time, there have been many copyright claims and cases for items, images and artwork created and sold outside of the seller’s authority or permission. There are many reasons for the prevalence of copyrighted material on Etsy, but because it’s considered a media distributor under the premise of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), they have a safety net from being directly sued for copyright infringement.
Being slapped with a copyright fee or infringement allegation can become problematic, and affect your shop’s reputation. Let’s explore a few quick stats here:
Etsy: The Facts
- According to The Wire, Etsy is the fifth most-visited marketplace site in the U.S.
- In 2016, there were 16 million sellers and 35 million items listed for sale
- Etsy began allowing manufacturing partners in 2013 (so there’s been an issue of mass-manufactured goods for a few years now)
- Etsy takes 3.5% of everything you sell on their site
Now that you have a baseline, you can take proper steps to do things right – here are a few tips on how to avoid Etsy theft copyright:
Follow Etsy’s Intellectual Property (IP) Policies
Etsy’s Intellectual Property Policy is a central hub that allows you to report infringement, view their trademark policy, get support for intellectual property issues and other general Q&A. Keep in mind none of this is legal advice, and does not replace attorney counsel.
But if you’re wanting to become a seller and don’t want to be slapped with infringement, this is a good place to start.
Don’t Use Artwork That Isn’t Yours!
Copyright law centers around the protection of someone’s creative work – and that includes art.
Don’t use artwork from the Internet without an artist’s permission and then reproduce it on t-shirts, jewelry or other paraphernalia. Doing so is a recipe for disaster in the copyright and trademark realm.
Don’t Walk the Line of Fair Use or Derivative Works
You’re permitted to use creative works under the grounds that it’s fair use, or that you’ve transformed the work enough to have a new meaning or derivative behind it.
An example of fair use would be a parody or commentary; a derivative work would be turning a book into a movie.
Despite this, there’s still risk involved! Consider collaborating with artists on selling materials and establishing a license in order for you both to succeed.
Examples in the News
- In a strange twist, companies allegedly created fake Etsy accounts to order pins and create knockoffs
- An Etsy purveyor had items removed “hawking "Feyoncé" mugs – as this and other sites selling of these items cause confusion and the conduct is “intentional, fraudulent, malicious, willful and wanton”
Staying True to a Brand
Whether you’re selling on Etsy, your own website or otherwise, creative works are attributed to their artist/owner for a reason.
The fact that the Internet has increased the complexity of infringement means you need to be more vigilant than ever against those seeking to profit off of your work – especially on ecommerce sites such as Etsy.
If you’re wondering how to accomplish this, we have some good starting points from our blog. Feel free to subscribe or leave us a comment below!