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Friday, 16 January 2015

Interesting Article on Fair Use and Copyright

There are many many posts on Etsy all the time asking about "can I use this" "can I sell that" "can I say inspired by such and such". Then there are the ones who ask, "I got neg feedback for my items taking too long to ship, the buyer didn't read, blah blah blah" and when you view their items, lo and behold, a store full of Hello Kitty, Disney, Harry Potter, Frozen, Miserable Cat, you name it branded items. Literally, there are 240000+ "disney" items in a search using that keyword alone. I have also seen Breaking Bad drawings, famous people portraits, and unless I want this post to be a novel, I'll quit here.

One that I ran across was a store that has even been open since spring 2012 selling nothing but branded inspired items, from frozen (insert finger and hurl here) to some names I'd never heard of, and has more sales than admirers of the store even lol! Usually it is Way the other way around lol!

Normally, ok, I don't give a ^%$#, let others do what they are going to do and whatever happens happens, the copyright owner has to be the one to complain and do a take down anyway, no 3rd party can report and have them removed form the marketplace. I got better things to do with my time. Then I realized, these millions of not really allowed there items glut the marketplace and take up space and fill pages of searches. Do they bring in buyers that would maybe normally not find and look through Etsy? Don't know, doubt it, as they are focused on finding these branded type items.

Part of the resulting snowballing issue is: there are Always buyers for these types of things, they search the internet for party stuff in these branded themes, costumes, necklaces, jewellery, items from licensed fabrics, etc. and they end up on the site through a Google search often, totally unaware that these items are not really what they should be finding on Etsy. They also have No idea that most of these items are probably copyright infringed items. Granted, some sellers are not even aware that they are violating copyrights with every item they are making and selling, quite successfully usually.

A common issue this causes: buyer buys some licensed item from a store, store gets called out by copyright owner, store gets shut down, buyer has paid but never receives item, can't find store any more cause it is gone, has no gift for their kid's birthday, has to make a claim for their money back with the payment processor. Big mess.

Moral of the story? Don't buy anything that is branded or licensed unless you see a © symbol and the company's info on the seller's about page or buy it from the branded or licensed company's offical site.

OR! And this is a concept! Wow! Buy original hand crafted or designed items  created from original ideas of the many wonderful artists, photographers, jewellery makers, knitters, metal smiths, wood workers, glass blowers, ceramic artisans, felters, recyclers, you name it - on Etsy :-)

This is a Blog article by Etsy's in house lawyer from 2010 that has some good info in it.

Fan Art and Fair Use: One Truth and Five Myths

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