What Etsy Shop Owners Need to Know About Copyright Infringement

by Molly Kimball, ElephantBeads

BACKGROUND:

1-1-IMG_6890

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.

Find the DTeam on Twitter!

Looking for new ways to find out about the DTeam? Search Twitter for #dteam. Here’s a sampling of what you might find:

%d bloggers like this: