Another seller is using one of my photos! What should I do?
Stolen content on Etsy is rampant and frustrating. But there are steps you can take to protect your intellectual property and get other sellers to stop infringing.
[I don’t want to get into discussing the copying of products today, because that is such a vast topic with so many variables and I am not qualified to address all of the nuances. Instead, I will keep the focus on blatant stealing of photos and words.]
First, the most important thing you need to know: Once you fix your work in a tangible form, it is automatically and immediately protected by copyright. (While copyright registration is often recommended because it makes it easier to sue and recover money, it is not required.) So if another seller is using your image or has copied and pasted sections of your product description word for word, then that is intellectual property (IP) infringement.
So what do you do?
Step one: Contact the seller directly through a convo. I always recommend that this be the first attempt at resolution, and Etsy actually requests it as well. While it may be difficult to believe, some sellers are rather clueless about the fact that something isn’t fair game just because it’s on the internet. When contacted, many will act swiftly to do what they should, even if they don’t actually respond via conversations.
And if the seller ignores you or outright refuses to remove the infringing material?
Step two: File an intellectual property infringement report with Etsy. This is a serious thing, so be sure that the situation is definitely infringement and that you can provide proof that you are the rightful owner. (You can’t file a report when you notice someone else’s stolen content on Etsy – only your own.)
For the record, I think step one can be skipped when a seller is stealing photos or other content on a large scale. Being confronted by fellow sellers and scrambling to remove what’s infringing is sometimes just a bandaid. That person may need to be contacted by Etsy to really get the picture of how serious his or her actions are.
How about you? Have you ever had to contact a fellow seller or file a report when you have had your IP outright lifted? Was it resolved?
See you tomorrow for Day 20 of 31 Days of Etsy Seller Q & A.