What Etsy Shop Owners Need to Know About Copyright Infringement

by Molly Kimball, ElephantBeads

BACKGROUND:

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copyright free image source: morgueFile.com

In mid-April, Etsy’s stock went up for sale on the Nasdaq exchange. According to Business Insider, Etsy’s stock increased 88% in value after the initial public offering (IPO). CNN Money noted that Etsy was even out-doing Alibaba and Twitter by early May.

Then, just a month after going public, Etsy’s stock plunged 8% in a single day, and has been declining ever since. The trigger? A report by a Wall Street financial analyst that millions of the items for sale on Etsy might be infringing on copyright laws.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR SHOP OWNERS:

In four words: Etsy is cracking down.

As Etsy shop owners, we must now be more vigilant than ever about infringement practices. Do you refer to an NFL team or a Disney film or character in your title, description, or tags? Now is the time to remove those references. Do you offer a crochet Mickey Mouse hat in your shop? Now is a good time to remove it from your shop or reach out to Disney to see if they’re willing to sell you rights to the ears.

But don’t stop there. Keep in mind copyright claims can be filed by “little guys” too. If you found a cool image online that didn’t claim a copyright, or are simply using a sports team’s mascot – “Go Badgers!” – you may be infringing, believe it or not. Visit the links provided below if these examples sent chills down your spine.

WHERE TO GO FOR MORE SPECIFICS:

Etsy has a very helpful post about avoiding copyright infringement, explaining some of the surprising areas to watch out for, and their own role in enforcing protections. Equally helpful, however, is a post by blogger Beth Picard about copyright infringement, using real (and sometimes VERY surprising) examples from shops that were shut down on Etsy. She explains the process that results in a listing or shop being shut down. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Etsy will ONLY act against shops if they receive a complaint directly from the owner of the intellectual property.
  • Most companies don’t pay people to pore over Etsy listings. But anybody (even a competitor on Etsy) can turn in a shop to the owner of the copyright.
  • The copyright owner can petition Etsy to remove your listing (or your shop, if the issue is widespread).
  • This can happen with no warning – so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Have you had an experience with copyright infringement, from either legal side? Please share it here, as we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

Friday Feature: PrintableMotivation

Note: Today we are hearing from Elizabeth Young, of PrintableMotivation on Etsy. She’s pretty new to Etsy and the DTeam, so let’s give her a big welcome.

Baby Girl Floral Deer Hunting Print

Baby Girl Floral Deer Hunting Print

Photography has always been a huge hobby for me. I absolutely love taking photos. Originally, I used a film camera and a dark room; however, times changed drastically with the digital world. I had to succumb to the new technology, and I am so happy that I did. A digital camera and Photoshop were my new tools that I had no idea how to use.

Starring at the Photoshop application on my computer, I did not know where to start. Do I try to adjust a photo, or do I just start playing with all the buttons? The decision was to play with buttons, because everyone loves pushing buttons when they have no idea what it does. I played around with the tool and realized how much fun I was having making digital images.

My first professional digital image was printed and given as a gift to my mom. She framed it and put it in her kitchen. This image was my Family Chalkboard print:

Family Chalkboard Printable

Family Chalkboard Printable

We were drinking coffee one morning and staring at the print. This started a discussion about how great it would be to be able to motivate people while making my hobby a business. PrintableMotivation was then created.

Each print in my shop is a digital download. My hope is that these images motivate you each and every day.

Printable Scripture Wall Art 1 Corinthians 13:13

Printable Scripture Wall Art 1 Corinthians 13:13

Teaching Thursday: Figuring out what people want to buy

One of the biggest challenges of selling items is figuring out what people want to buy. For a new shop owner, it can be daunting. Etsy has created a couple new tools for sellers to figure out what people are looking for: Find Inspiration and Compare Ideas.

Find Inspiration shows you what people are searching Etsy for.

Compare Ideas lets you type in a couple different search terms (up to 5) and see which ones have more people searching and fewer items already on Etsy — in other words, is there an unfilled niche for your idea?

To find these tools, you need to go to Etsy Prototypes and look for Seller Opportunity Tools. While you’re there, see if there are any other prototypes you might like to try out, Etsy’s always got interesting stuff in the works.

Caveats:

  1. Compare Ideas won’t work if there isn’t a minimum number of searches being done for the phrase you use. (I don’t know what the minimum is, but I got the error warning for a couple of my terms.)
  2. Find Inspiration often has lots of searches for copyrighted items. Be sure you stay on the right side of the law and don’t violate copyright — just because someone wants it doesn’t mean you can make it.
  3. The Seller Opportunity Tools team (which you automatically join and is your access to the tools) has been taken over by people intent on promoting their shops and there is very little discussion of these tools going on. Not a reason to avoid the tools, just a heads-up for you.

Teaching Thursday: The Wonders Of SEO by Miss Tan

Note: Today, we are reading an article on SEO by Miss Tan from MissTanDesigns of the Etsy DListers.

Definition: SEO or search engine optimization is using keywords and phrases to get your online shop or website noticed on search engines.

It sounds simple, and is it. I have had an Etsy shop for three years now and am still mystified by SEO. So, what is SEO? For years, I have searched for the answer to this recent age-old question. I would obsessively read pages of content only to leave scratching my head thinking, what are they talking about? Forums, Etsy groups, and other Etsy sellers tried to help me and I just did not get it. For a while, I thought I would never be found amongst the numerous Etsy shops. I figured I would stick to adding more products to my shop and see if that works. It didn’t.
So last fall, I had a change of heart. Maybe I should go back to this SEO thing. I was cruising through the Etsy forums one day and found numerous questions about SEO. As I perused through each question’s responses, I was getting nothing.  I kept looking and then started to write down what people were suggesting. And this is what I got: put keywords in your titles, repeat those keywords in your tags, and in your descriptions and your views and sales will go up. I thought, “It can’t be that simple.” Yet, it was!
For example, I looked at a particular greeting card I was selling. I would write down every word that I could associate with that card from the design to color. Is the card funny, romantic, sexy, adult, red, has hearts, etc.? I would put those in the title as two or three keyword phrases because most shoppers will look for it like this, i.e. valentine card. Then I would repeat some of them in my description and filled out all 13 tags with these keywords as well. Finally, I would just wait to see if it worked. Guess what? It did!
My views tripled and my sales doubled. I had the best Holiday season ever in 2013. With Valentine’s Day coming, my views are even higher. I never thought SEO could be that simple.
Remember, repeat keywords in title, description, and tags to see an improvement in stats. Plus, read 4 Ways to Improve Your SEO and Increase Traffic.
Good Luck!
 Miss Tan from MissTanDesigns

Introducing Hoalane – June’s Treasury Challenge winner!

Hoalane is the winner of the June DTeam Treasury Challenge, and we are pleased to honor her lovely treasury with a shop profile! In addition, please look for Hoalane’s items in the August treasury challenge entries. The DTeam is taking a one-month break from the treasury challenge to accommodate busy schedules. Enjoy the interview with Hoalane!

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When did you open your Etsy shop?

I opened my shop in March 2011.

How did you transition from making things to selling them?

I just heard about Etsy and decided to see if I could sell my items online. It’s taken some time to work with the photos and figuring out how everything works.

We know that every sale is a fantastic event, but is there a single sale that stands out for you as special?

I cannot think of a particular sale that stands out, but whenever I receive a positive feedback from a happy customer, that’s what makes my day

What is the most important source of inspiration for you as an artist?

I get inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes I’ll see designs from a fabric, or in a magazine and try to think of ways to incorporate it into my designs.

What product are you most excited about right now in your shop?

My favorite product right now is the cathedral veil with blusher decorated with scattered flowers. I just think it’s lovely yet functional because the longer cathedral veil detaches.

Do you sell your creations elsewhere? If so, where? 

I currently only use Etsy and find that keeps me busy.

What one piece of advice do you have for a new Etsy shop owner?

My advice would be to find what works for you, and keep doing it.

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You can also find Hoalane on Pinterest or Twitter.

Pinterest Tips 6 – Promote Yourself

By Angee Perry, ABitCreativeAMP    ♥♥♥    Now that your Pin Boards are organized and attracting other Pinners, you are positioned to begin promoting your content more effectively. Today I will share some additional tips I have compiled from Pinerly about using Pinterest to promote yourself!

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  1. Promote a lifestyle, not a product. People often like the “idea” of something more than the product itself.
  2. Create original content, like an outfit design or a how-to guide etc. Save it to your website or blog, then pin it to your pinboard.
  3. Add a $ value to your board. It will allow people to budget for your product.
  4. Be professional. Respect others and don’t bash the competition. No one likes rudeness.
  5. Thank people for re-pinning your content. You never know, it may spark a conversation.
  6. If you have coupons or promotions pin them onto your Pinterest board. If you don’t have any, create some to be Pinterest specific.
  7. Pin from an individual post not from the homepage of your site. This will target a specific idea or product, giving you more direct traffic.
  8. If someone pins, or repins your content the least you can do is like it. It is better if you like and comment on it. This way when people see their pin, they will see your name and comment also.
  9. Crowdsource: Ask fans to pin images with your product or brand. They’re like mini visual testimonials.
  10. Use Pinterest as a focus group. Put a product out there and see how the response is. It’s a good way to find out what your customers think.

Pinterest Tips 5 – Pin Boards

By Angee Perry, ABitCreativeAMP    ♥♥♥    Your Pins are now carefully chosen and expressive. Pin Boards are crucial to successful pinning, as they help tell the story of what matters to you. Today I will share some additional tips I have compiled from Pinerly about creating Pin Boards that really help your pins POP! My examples here come from successful Pinterest user and DTeamer Elise, from VintageCarolina, as she has created a great collection of Pin Boards.

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  1. Your first description is your board names. Name them well to evoke curiosity and interest.
  2. Create boards to compliment your posts. Draw attention to your post by posting photos relevant to it on your board.
  3. Mix it up with your boards. Create some that are fun and some that are keyword rich.
  4. People follow boards that are relevant to them. Name your boards in a way that will provide information about what is in them.
  5. Create boards that are exclusive to Pinterest followers, that way they will feel they can see things that others cannot.
  6. Match your business to a category. This may seem straight forward, but it is often people don’t fit their content into the right place. Don’t make that mistake.
  7. Create a “me + contributors” board to allow customers to interact with your brand. It makes you much more personal and personable.
  8. Create a board about books and literature you enjoy. It shows people your ideas and thought process.
  9. Use a board to plan something by placing ideas for an event on it.

Pinterest Tips 1 – Give Yourself a Voice

By Angee Perry, ABitCreativeAMP  ♥♥♥ Social media is growing up. We have entered a new stage in which social ratings and opinions are the primary go-to content for shoppers, artists, moms – anybody who is looking for ideas and inspiration. Pinterest has become the latest hot spot for social content. In order to help you share your social media content with more potential followers, I will share a series of tips and “How-To’s” for making Pinterest work better for you that I found on Pinerly.  Many of my sample screen shots come from successful Pinterest user and DTeamer Elise, from VintageCarolina.

The first step in Pinterest success is to give yourself a voice – Express yourself! Here is how: ♦♦♦

    1. Like any social network, it’s important to spend enough time with Pinterest. People need to see you and get to know you.
    2. Create a detailed “authority” profile for yourself. Provide information about yourself and why you are an authority on a subject. People like to follow others who are “subject matter experts.”
    3. Find your Facebook followers on Pinterest. If you can’t find them, invite them. If you have newsletter subscribers, use your email auto response feature to create an email that will invite all your newsletter subscribers to Pinterest. They already like to hear from you…  now they can see your stuff too.
    4. Pin inspirational quotes and images. This will help you find “like minded” followers that will focus on you and your brand.
    5. Speaking of brand: don’t brand your images, brand your descriptions.
    6. Explain to people why you pinned what you pinned. People want to know what your logic is.
    7. Be genuine. Don’t pretend you are a corporation if you are not. Be personal. Be social.
    8. Include sentimental and emotional comments. Consumers make buying decisions based on emotions. Tug at the heartstrings.
    9. Be expressive and genuine with your comments. Don’t just say “nice pin” – tell them why you pinned it!
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