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Copyright Infringement-Why Etsy will Shut your Shop Down

Copyright Infringement

You have all heard it- “My shop on Etsy was shut down for copyright infringement.”

Copyright infringement is serious issue even though tons of people do it. “So what did I do wrong, everyone is selling the same stuff”, I hear this ALL the time!  As my mother always used to tell me, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” You may be “jumping off the bridge” if you use copyrighted images on ANYTHING you create, whether it is an invitation, a cupcake, a pillow, etc…. UNLESS you have bought the rights to use the images and usually that is not feasible for most people, therefore you will be guilty of copyright infringement.

And yes, I have had things removed from my Etsy shop and found out that ignorance is no excuse. I had NO copyrighted images, BUT, I had “school spirit” papers which were in collegiate school colors and in each set I had ONE sheet that had wording on it- like “Roll Tide”, “Go Tigers”, Go Bulldogs”, you get the picture- NO mascots, NO logos, NOTHING that I thought would be copyright infringement, because I READ all I could find about that before I made them. Guess what, the Collegiate Licensing Company OWNS the words “Roll Tide” and even “Go Tigers”, yes it is STUPID in my opinion that is considered copyright infringement, but it is what it is and I fought them for three months because Etsy is FULL of people selling copyright infringement images of the mascots, logos and everything else- so why was I targeted?

This is why. They don’t come looking for you. Someone on Etsy, YOUR COMPETITION, most likely, turns you in to the company that owns the rights to the images or copyrights. They don’t turn you into Etsy, Etsy doesn’t care, if they did there wouldn’t be one Disney or Pixar or the million other things that are blatant copyright infringement. The companies DO care, but they aren’t pouring over Etsy looking either, because they would have to hire full time people just for that. (I learned all this dealing with the school papers.)  Someone HAS to report you to them for them to act on it.

Here is another example: The tractor you see is something I had in my farm clip art set. There are NO logos, no mention of John Deere, NOTHING that I had ANY idea would constitute copyright infringement. I live in the city, I just happened to think all tractors were GREEN!  Big mistake, someone with WAYYYY too much time on their hands contacted John Deere and reported my tractor. (If you don’t think people will turn you in for the least little thing, even something as ridiculous as this, think again!)  I did not have any mention of John Deere- NOTHING!  But guess what, John Deere owns the copyrights to green tractors with yellow wheels- who knew?  I just happened to put the yellow on it because I thought it looked good. I had to redo my tractor and make it red- who knows who owns the rights to red tractors- but I changed mine to red. It took me three weeks going back and forth with John Deere, showing them the new tractor, to get them to remove the complaint and for Etsy to allow me to put my farm set back up. And, yes, there are dozens of green tractors with yellow wheels still on Etsy.

Just a couple of weeks ago, one of the members of My Friend Beth had their store shut down for copyright infringement. I know others that have had theirs shut down as well, and a few lucky ones have gotten theirs re-opened, but that is rare. One of my members has a friend that got her Etsy shop taken down because the candy she was making infringed on someone’s copyrights. So if you think this just applies to paper or products like plates, etc…. it doesn’t, it is anything that you make that you use someone else’s images for. She then made an even bigger mistake. She started a new shop under a new name and Etsy found out and not only shut her shop down, but banned her from Etsy altogether. She cannot even SHOP on Etsy anymore. They don’t mess around.

          

All of that being said, there are ways to use a “theme” without having to worry about copyright infringement. For example, the image on the left above is of my Dr. Seuss inspired digital background papers and the image on the right is an example invitation that I made using my papers, frames and a couple of free Seuss fonts. There is NOTHING that is copyright infringment, but it still gets the point across that it is “Seussical”.  You can put anything you want in the wording on your invitation and that is NOT copyright infringement. Be creative, be imaginative or as Dr. Seuss says;

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

One last thing, even though it could mean your shop being shut down, the MAIN reason you should NOT infringe on other’s copyright is that copyright infringement is illegal, it is just plain wrong, no other way to look at it. I have had my graphics stolen and I can tell you as the creator it is so infuriating and stealing is stealing, no matter what kind of spin you try to put on it. So do the right thing!  Don’t use copyrighted images for anything and then not only will you not have to worry about your Etsy shop being shut down or having someone initiate a lawsuit against you for copyright infringement, but most of all, you will be able to have a clear conscience and sleep well at night.

xoxox,

Beth Picard

Great Graphics

62 Comments
  1. I came across this because I had two items taken down on Etsy the other day. They were hair bows that used an image of an iconic Easter treat in the center. I didn’t relist the items and removed any other items that were trademarked from my shop. I am really worried, though, about being sued or fined by the company. In your experience, as long as I comply with the notice, will the company be satisfied or do they generally still seek damages? I only sold maybe 5 or 6 of these items.
    Thank you!

    • I don’t think you need to be worried about being sued. Most companies send a cease and desist (which is basically what that is when they contact Etsy), and THEN if you don’t comply they could sue you. It is good that you took down any items that you think might be infringing items. You can contact the company through the email they sent you and tell them that you removed the items and will not use them again and would they please remove the complaint with Etsy- that will help you, because then if something else happens and you inadvertently list something that you don’t know might be copyrighted (like the Onesie thing), then you won’t show any complaints against you. Some companies will do that, some won’t even respond, maybe you will be lucky and they will do that.

      Just be careful in the future and try and make sure you don’t list anything else that has copyrighted images and you should be fine!

  2. Hi Beth!

    I have been having a very similar problem with Etsy deactivations and warnings. So far, I have had two infringement notices, both in the SAME DAY. UGH! Now, please understand that I am practically brand new to Etsy, and having bought plenty of items on the site before that violate at least 100 Copyright laws, I thought it would be great to open my own shop and create items I am passionate about.

    In my shop I sell …er… sold, because i have since deactivated all of my listings for fear of being shut down, Jewelry and key chains with Images from popular films and television shows. This includes characters, logos, quotes, etc. All of these items are from extremely popular programs with Big Whig brand names.

    I am very young, and as I said new to Etsy and have never had to deal with anything having to do with Copyrights before. So upon receiving these messages I panicked. I Sent emails to both companies that apparently requested the Items be deactivated stating that I was unaware of any infringement and that I have a disclaimer on all of my items stating that “I do not own any of the images and the customer’s purchase is ONLY for the time and labor required to assemble the items.”

    Overall, EVERYTHING in my shop has someone’s image on it, and I’m not entirely sure what to do here. I do NOT want my shop deactivated, however, if I remove all of my items, I’ll have nothing left to sell.

    Help?

    • HI Aryn,

      First let me say you were smart to deactivate everything if everything has copyrighted images on it. It does not matter that you say you don’t own the images- basically unless you pay for licensing you don’t have a right to use them (and neither does anyone else- even though as you pointed out there are TONS of people that do) but that doesn’t make it okay or right.

      What you need to do is get rid of ALL your items that have images that belong to anyone else- Disney, Hello Kitty, Pixar- ANY and ALL! otherwise you will have your shop shut down eventually- and that is not worth it- and it is better to start over and have a shop to sell things in, than to be shut down and not have the option to sell at all anymore. There are lots of people that sell graphics on Etsy (like me), that have tons of options to choose from and you can come up with your own designs. For instance, you could find a polka dot background and put a monogram on it, or you could use a clip art kid and put a child’s name on it- I looked at your jewelry and you can certainly use other graphics to put other types of things that are NOT copyrighted together to sell.

      I just looked at your sold items and it seems everything you have really does infringe on other’s copyrights, you are really, REALLY lucky they didn’t shut you down! Not only can you not use the images, but you should take “Disney” out of your shop announcement, that is copyrighted, just as the words “Game of Thrones”, “Jack Skellington”, etc… you could find an Etsy graphic seller that has “princess” clip art and use their images (be sure and find one that is NOT selling copyrighted images) and then you can use that princess and put a kids’ name on it and then research whether or not things like “Cinderella”, “Snow White”, etc…are owned by anyone- I think those “names” are in the public domain, but I would check just to make sure, but if you use the Disney Cinderella image and use the word “Disney” ANYWHERE you are going to get in trouble-eventually. Much better to be safe than sorry.

      There are tons of things you can do with your jewelry without using copyrighted images and I am sure you are creative enough to come up with your own ideas and make tons of sales. Most importantly you won’t be infringing on other’s copyrights, you won’t be breaking the law and risk being sued. All in all you will be doing what is right and can take pride in creating your own designs (even if you are using other people graphics that you purchase), and hopefully have a successful shop!! I wish you the best!!!

  3. Hi Beth,

    Thank you for writing this post. I have an invitation business on Etsy and have found this blog post very interesting and helpful. I have tried researching information about copyright infringement and it has been confusing and really frustrating. I had no idea John Deere owns the copyright to tractors that are green with yellow wheels. I have since taken off the green tractor items that I once offered in my shop. I have tried finding information on Etsy in regards to how many strikes it takes before they shut down a shop but have not found any clear answers. I have read the comments that people have posted and it looks like people are saying it’s 3 strikes. Do you know if that is 3 strikes from the same company that is making the copyright infringement complaint? Or is it 3 strikes total from different companies? I appreciate your time!

    Thank You,

    Kelly

    • Hi Kelly,

      I don’t think anyone knows for sure how many strikes, I do know that it doesn’t have to be from the same company. Because I know people that got warnings from several different ones and then got shut down for totally different things. It is hard to know what is and what isn’t copyrighted when it is as vague as the tractor colors from John Deere, but most of the things I see people getting shut down for are pretty blatant copyright infringements. It was smart for you to remove the tractor! I hope this helps a little, sorry I don’t know the answer about how many times you can be warned, but no matter what- better safe than sorry!
      thanks,
      Beth

  4. Hi Beth and all,
    I found this thread very helpful and appreciate everyone’s questions because they seemed to answer some of my own. I recently had a print removed because I used song lyrics, I thought by crediting the artist it would have been less likely for copy right infringement. Guess I thought wrong. Now I am thinking that using the Artist’s name is what drew attention to the fact that they were song lyrics. I also think it was picked up because I was using a promotional site that re-pinned my etsy items and I was getting alot of views. So again a target on my back. There are alot of quotes and lyrics I want to use to make my prints but now I am hesitant to do so. Any insight on how I can avoid having more items removed or worst case, being shut down. Do I have a red flag on my shop now that I have had an IP filed against me? Also, should I be worried that the person who filed is going to sue? I mean it was a $5.00 item, is a big pop star really going to sue a girl making $4.60 off of her song lyrics. seems a little petty if you ask me!! Thanks again for the great article and the helpful info!

    • HI Katelyn,

      I think anything that is copyrighted- even song lyrics, unless they are in the public domain are subject to copyright infringement, unless you have permission to use them. I think there are tons of quotes that are okay to use- but song lyrics– probably not. Since you do have one strike against you, I would remove anything you think could possibly get you into trouble- sometimes it only takes one more. I don’t think Etsy really flags you, but whoever turned you in, could possibly turn you in for other things if there are items that could be in question. I doubt seriously that the artist will sue you, by them contacting Etsy to get you to remove it, that is pretty much the same as a cease and desist. Like you said, I don’t think they are going to be too concerned about your making a few dollars, however if you continued and disregarded their wishes, they probably would.

      Best thing to do is try and find out if the songwriter or artist would allow you to use them, it can’t hurt to ask, the worst they can do is say no. At least that way you would know you were okay, although I would get something in writing stating they said they would allow you to use them for your prints. Otherwise, I would steer clear.

      Hope that helps a little and glad they didn’t shut you down!
      Beth

  5. Hi Beth,

    I have had three IP notices filed against me and I have counter filed in both. In the first two, I purchased art from designers on Etsy such as yourself. (But not you) or used art that was in the public domain. I had the license for the art from the purchase, but the person who filed against me purchased the same art from the same vendor.

    The third time, I purchased art from an Etsy vendor who I corresponded with. Who knew what I would be using the art for. I paid for the art and in the listing it stated, “Once you’ve purchased and received the PDF, you’re free to use it as often as you’d like. I’d only ask that you do not claim it as your own artwork.”

    Several months later, she filed a claim and Etsy removed the items. I filed a counter claim, but do you know if I have any recourse? Have you run into anything like this happening before?

    You aren’t selling exclusivity… How in the world am I supposed to know every one who MIGHT use that same designers art??

    I’d really appreciate any advice anyone has…

    Thanks!

    • HI Jan,

      I am at a loss. Maybe I don’t understand clearly. If you bought things from digital sellers on Etsy, it is possible they sold you something that was copyright infringement to start with. They SHOULD NOT do that, but there are those that do- so if that is what happened, there is really nothing you can do, except steer clear of buying any graphics that might even closely resemble something, so as to be mistaken for copyrighted artwork.

      My next question is how do you know who filed a claim against you? As far as I know Etsy doesn’t reveal that information- and if they were both graphics bought from someone else, unless your design was an exact copy of whoever turned you in- I don’t see how they could file anything. They don’t OWN the copyrights to the graphics and they can’t copyright anything using graphics owned by the artists- regardless of whether they bought them or not.

      I don’t understand what happened with the 3rd one at all- can you explain a little better. What did the seller file a claim about you doing?

      Bottom line, it seems mostly you are talking about graphics you have bought- and NO ONE owns the copyrights to those graphics EXCEPT the artist, and for that reason I am not sure how anyone can report you for anything- this has me so confused.

  6. Hi Beth,
    I’ve just been led to your site via an Etsian post, thanks for all the info very interesting. Thought you might like this http://everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/ especially the last video which talks about copyright and intellectual property rights and what its doing to the world. If you watch each video do keep going until the very end as the producer adds more content just when you think its all over lol
    I thought it was very interesting where a lot of ideas have actually come from and how “we stand on the shoulders of giants”(even that quote was a rehash of a previous one). So it seems the old saying “there is nothing new under the sun” is true or to remix it “nihil novi sub sole” lol :-)
    Oh and P.s the narrator has a lovely voice so its worth watching/listening just for that lol

    • HI Jane,

      Sorry it took me a few days to get to this, I loved watching the videos and it is ALL so true. When I started art lessons, all of my art teachers had us copy different artists to get the “feel” of how it was done and then hopefully move to our own “style”. I think the videos are absolutely right that all the “legality” is making a mess of something that has always been and will always be, nothing is really “new”.

      And you are right, I loved his voice, and the videos were well done, and glad you told me to “keep going” since I thought they were ending a few minutes short of how long they were supposed to be. Thank you so much for sharing this!
      Beth

  7. Hi Beth do you know were I can buy clip art images that I can use in my business?
    Or someone that can make them ?

    • HI Savonne,

      There are tons of places to buy clip art and digital papers. All of my graphics on Great Graphics are able to be used for small commercial use, which I define as you are selling directly to the customer yourself.

      One thing to be careful of is people selling copyrighted images, like Disney or Pixar, etc…do NOT buy these. They don’t own the rights to sell them and even if they did- YOU would have to own the license to re-sell them for things of your own.

      The key is to read the artist’s terms of use. For instance, I don’t charge extra for people to use mine for small commercial use. Some artists do- their graphics are for personal use only and they charge extra if you want to use it for things you make to sell. I don’t allow my graphics to be used for large commercial use (like wholesaling or selling through retail stores). Some artists may do that. Usually there are other things you need to be aware of as well. For instance I don’t allow any of my graphics to be used on fabrics, no pillows, bedding, shower curtains, no printing on fabric at all, because this is something I am pursuing myself ( I do make an exception for pillow cases- a lot of my customers do personalized pillow cases and that is fine).

      There are unlimited resources for you to find clip art and digital paper that you can use for your creations, just make SURE you read the terms of use.

  8. There is still a caveat when using your ‘own’ website – if a copyright holder contacts the webhost/server and claims you are breaking their copyright, your site will get shut down for breaking the terms & conditions of the agreement between you and the webhost.

    • Thanks Denise,

      I do know that is true, however, I think that some sort of proof either from the person holding the copyright or from the website owner proving they are not infringing must be presented, otherwise people could go around contacting hosts “claiming” that hold the copyright to some content or images, or words on someone’s site and have them shut down. I think most companies would send a cease and desist BEFORE they contacted your web host, unless of course they have sent a cease and desist and it has been ignored. Hopefully no one would ignore a cease and desist, and if they do, then as far as I am concerned, they will get what is deserved.

      Most of what I have seen is people that are unaware they are infringing (I am not talking about people copying Disney, Hello Kitty, etc…) more like the “Onesie” issue with Gerber- and for that, I do think it is unreasonable for Etsy to shut their shop down, at least without some sort of warning- and I would hope that before Gerber contacted a web host, they would contact the website owner first and make them aware of the situation and give them a chance to change their wording to not include their sacred “Onesie” word.

      I guess from where I sit- no one can possibly know or spend the time to find out every word that is copyrighted (I am not talking about images), so I think it is reasonable to expect that you should get some sort of letter or email indicating that you have infringed, and then you can take actionable steps to right that wrong. If you don’t, then whether on Etsy or your own website, if the only way to protect their copyright is to shut you down, I guess that is a reasonable action, I do think you get fair warning first.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  9. I have deciding for two years whether to sell my items on Etsy or my own website. I love making my jewelry, I buy things on Etsy all the time, I think Selling my items on Etsy is not for me, This has been an eye opener. Thank you for that. 3Dcart looks like it would be great and they don’t take part of your earnings.

    • HI Lena,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I think as a jewelry seller you would have less trouble with copyright infringement than graphics people. It has a huge audience, but I do know for jewelry there is a tremendous amount of competition, probably more than any other category. You are exactly right about having your own site, they don’t take any percentage of your sales, you have complete control and you can set your own terms for everything. No matter what or where you sell on a venue, you should have your own site, just in case…..

  10. Hi Beth,

    Wow. I just stumbled across your blog post and I am floored at what’s been happening on Etsy. Copyright/trademark infringement is one of those things that Eleanor (my business partner) and I worry about constantly. We don’t want our store to get shut down for reasons that sometime seem rather arbitrary. Thank you for all of your advice, sharing your story, and allowing others to share theirs.

    • HI Rachel,

      I checked out your shop and since you knit (and your things are REALLY cute) unless you start knitting Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty or use the word “Onesie” to describe one of your cup cozies- I think you will be fine :) It’s good that you are aware and everyone needs to be aware that using copyrighted images or yes, even words is wrong and if you are using them on Etsy, it will eventually catch up to you. Thanks for leaving a comment, it’s good to know people are still reading about this and that it helps

  11. Wow! Now I don’t feel so alone, I had my shop closed 11-7-13 literally went to my shop and it said this Seller does not exist. I was like nooo, and in my email it said after multiple copyright infringement notices that my shop was deactivated.

    And I was on etsy for almost 5 yrs, so it is definitely like loosing a job. I am still trying to figure out what is next for me. Luckily I have a Facebook page where I still take orders. I don’t miss etsy butI sure miss all the fabulous customers!

    • Hi Angela,

      I am so sorry that happened to you! I do suggest you get your own website though because Facebook can do the same thing to you for lots of reasons they have in their rules and regulations. I know people this has happened to as well and they didn’t even know they were breaking any rules. If you have your own website, YOU are in control and no one can shut down your website but YOU. Also, you could go to your Paypal account and possibly if you can still get into any part of your Etsy account and get your sold orders and grab the emails of your old customers and direct them to your new website!

      If you want an easy website host, cart, blog, newsletter- all in one, I use 3dcart and LOVE them. It is easy, you don’t have to know any code, their tech support is GREAT and they do a great job of pushing your stuff to the search engines. Here is a link to try it out- (it’s my affiliate link and I have a special deal for people that sign up through me- you get a free month after your first paid month) You can use the free trial to try it out. Let me know if you do sign up and I will make SURE you get your free month. I have referred so many people to them, all my members in My Friend Beth and lots of other because after trying a lot of other hosts, carts, etc… I stumbled on them and have never looked back. They are the BEST!

      I hope you continue to grow your business and don’t look back. Being kicked off Etsy is not the end!

  12. My shop wasn’t shut down but I did have 80+ items removed by Etsy. My shop sells embroidery designs, mainly dealing with sports related themes. Etsy sent me the notice with the name of the company that claimed the copyright. I contacted someone there and they explained that if someone could look at your item and believe it represented “company X” then it was in violation. So, for example, if I had a large navy blue M advertised in an athletic font, people may assume it represented the University of Michigan, even though there was NOTHING mentioned about the school, state or mascot. But if that same M (in athletic font) was advertised but changed to pink ( or another color not used by a collegiate institution) then it wasn’t in violation of the trademark. I was able to get around half the items reinstated but I live in fear of the next time I get reported. I had another violation last week for a generic fleur de lis because I used the term “who dat” (apparently a copyrighted term) in the ITEM TAG.

    And also, I did have my own website as well. The NCAA collegiate trademark management company told me to remove these same items from my website or they threatened to sue me. I ended up just closing the website all together instead of risk them coming after me there too. They also referenced my Instagram and Twitter accounts although technically I don’t think they could have me remove those items as I just posted photos of the designs and didn’t advertise them for sale. They never mentioned my Facebook accounts though, but I don’t know why not. It all sucks, though. It seems the best way to make any money is to copyright all words!

    • Hi Bettie,

      Well the good news is they didn’t shut you down! The NCAA is pretty protective of all their stuff! The University of Alabama (where I happened to go) sent a cease and desist to a lady with a shop in Tuscaloosa who was making COOKIES in with the red A on it. This caused a pretty big backlash, people thought it was ridiculous the University would not let her sell her cookies. Now, the University has a small crafters license you can buy for $100 for the year. You can sell up to 500 items or $2500 worth of goods. Several other colleges like Texas A&M and a few others have done the same thing. I think that is very reasonable and thank goodness they are realizing people would be willing to pay that to make some of the things they want to make and sell.

      I remember the NFL trying to win the trademark of Who Dat- I am pretty sure they lost and also not sure who owns it, but I did know that was trademarked as well.

      Thanks for sharing Bettie, maybe it will keep someone else from getting in trouble with their shop!!! And just always it is better to be safe than sorry!

      Happy New Year!

  13. Beth, I appreciated your posting and the other’s’ comments. I was amazed when looking for some baby shower stuff, to run across a website that has all kinds of Dr. Seuss themed items…with pictures directly from the covers of the books, for example! Wow, such a copyright infringement. See (link removed- no reason to give them free publicity) for example. Amazed with so much stuff it’s still here. Hate to be a whistle blower, but I don’t think this is right. Most of the other people have legitimate complaints about being shut down. Not this person!

    • HI Katy,

      I agree completely! What you referenced is one of the most blatant I have seen and as you can see I removed the link because I didn’t want to give them any free publicity or have anyone going from my website to theirs. HORRIBLE that people just scan the covers of books, or steal them off the web and use it for things they sell. And the seller you referenced also has Thomas the Train, Disney stuff everywhere, almost everything is infringing on someone’s copyright and yet, her store is still open. There is nothing fair about the way these things are handled on Etsy- not fair at all.

  14. I’ve recently had the same thing happen to me. I had my shop shut down (they only shut you down if you’ve had 5 reports on you. They’ll just remove items until then). I never saw notice of the other items but yes, Hello Kitty! I’m not fighting those because I understand that. What is getting to me is what JUST happened to me…

    Anyways – so I had this decal I made that said “TEAM DARYL” with a crossbow that we drew. This was reported by someone, who sent it to AMC and they contacted Etsy yadda, yadda. Thing is, according to the site and copyright law “copyright does not protect titles, names, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols or designs, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, or mere listings of ingredients or contents.” I am battling this like crazy! I’ve reported it to the Better Business Bureau, I’ve contacted the United States Patent and Trademark Office (in case of trademark and not copyright) also the copyright.gov website. It’s a WORD, a NAME, and am image of a crossbow that was created by hand.

    In Etsy policy it states: “If Etsy removes or disables access in response to such a notice, Etsy will make a good-faith attempt to contact the allegedly infringing party (“Member”) so that they may make a counter notification.” They removed the item, sent me an email, it was removed and they never once gave me a chance to make a counter notice.

    I am so tired of this site and wish I could make the money I did elsewhere! My santa hat glasses were ridiculously popular! They go after sellers for not following policy yet they do the same thing. My income is completely gone now and Christmas is less than a month away! Screw these guys. I can only hope everything works out for us trying to fight the policy they do no follow!

    • HI Christina,

      Etsy doesn’t give you the option to make a counter notice prior to removing your item. If they are contacted by someone that claims the copyright they HAVE to remove the item to keep themselves out of trouble. You can then make a counter notice after making sure that you are not violating someone’s copyright. I searched and didn’t see copyright or trademark for “Team Daryl”, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one- there are so many ways to search. If they removed your item you should have gotten an email with information of who to contact about it at AMC, you can contact them find out if your item is in violation of their copyright and find out the details. If it is not, then you can notify Etsy and have them email Etsy as well to remove the complaint and then hopefully they will reopen your shop. You have to get the complaints removed in order for them to do that. I am not sure about the 5 reports, as most people I know who have had their shops shut down only had 3 strikes and they were out.

      I did a search on Etsy and there are a lot of “Team Daryl” items for sale- so I would find out for sure about this and they are all over the web as well if you google it.

      Your santa hat glasses on your new Etsy shop are ADORABLE!! Hopefully you will get some sales there! Let me know what you find out. I read yesterday that the word “Quatrefoil” was copyrighted or trademarked by David Yurman but only applying to jewelry. I find this whole thing so ridiculous. Quatrefoil is a word to describe a pattern and has been around for hundreds of years. This whole copyrighting of words is out of hand- completely!!

      Good Luck and let me know what you find out!

      • Hi Beth:
        Thanks so much for putting this info “out there” for those of us looking for answers, which I am finding are increasingly vague when speaking to Etsy legal.
        Anyway, I was just wondering if you know for sure that Etsy gives you “3 strikes” before they take real action? I asked what their protocol was and they never gave me a straight answer.
        Thanks!
        Allison

        • Hi Allison,

          I don’t think there is a protocol, which is why you likely didn’t get a straight answer. I know people who have had their stores shut down on their first offense with ONE infringing item. Others get 3 or more strikes and stay open. Best practice- try to stay away from anything that could possibly be copyright infringement. I think sometimes it depends on who gets the complaint and what kind of mood they are in- I can’t find another logical explanation as to how and why they do the way they do :)
          xoxo,
          beth

    • Hi Christina,

      Very similar story as you and probably same time. Last month AMC also had a shirt of mine removed off etsy, the shirt had a crossbow and said “Dixon Crossbow Academy”.

      I was shocked because it said nothing about the show or the Characters first name. Bad thing is I see my design now on other sites selling it and I can’t sell mine.

  15. Beth,

    Thank u for your kind words and graciousness!! And thank u for coming to see my little bow shop! :) believe me, without this sense of humor, I’d be like Scarlett…still devastated and trying to make a dress outta curtains!

    Heather
    http://www.sweetsouthernspecial.com

    • You are a hoot!! Keep that great attitude up and you will go far!!! I just sent you an email- but yahoo thinks I am a spammer- so check your spam when you have a minute- I am sure I will be sitting there :)

  16. Same story…different member!! Shut down and banned like the dang Scarlet Letter! All for using “Country Girly”! Country Boy & Country Girl are trademarked…per Etsy legal. I called my clip “girly”. Closed. Banished. I asked them if they would sue John Denver if he were still alive for copyright infringement…everytime he sang…”Thank God I’m a Country Boy”. They didn’t find that funny…I didn’t find losing my bow shop so funny either.

    Heather
    http://www.sweetsouthernspecial.com
    (Build your own site…stop dealing with Etsy!!)

    • Hi Heather,
      Unbelievable!! I cannot believe those words are copyrighted and that you got shut down for that- not funny at all- but you are hilarious!!! What a great sense of humor you have and I LOVE your bows! I am going to pin one on pinterest as soon as I finish writing this- because I want to help promote your new website, which looks great and I am so glad you are venturing out into the great unknown. With your attitude and great sense of humor- you are going to do GREAT!!! Thanks for letting others know that those words are copyrighted too- but I am like you- c’mon…..they should cut people some slack for stuff copyright infringement like that and words like “onesie”. Good Luck Heather, let me know how you are doing!!!

    • I too was shut down by etsy for copyright violations. I had a shop there for 5 Years. I had used onesie unknowing that this had Trademark protection and right after I removed all instances of this word in my 800 item shop, I got pulled for a little romper with Country Boy on it. Devastated is not an overstatement. I was selling up to 40 plus items every day and had that income abruptly yanked. It was suggested to me by someone that I was probably turned in by a competitor since onesie is everywhere on etsy. I could never do that to others even now when I know it is illegal to use. From here my only chance is that I had vigorously tried building my wholesale biz and I am tripling my efforts with that. It is horrible to lose your livelihood and as bad to have your reputation smeared.

      • Hi Kelly,

        That is so terrible!! I have got to look into “Country Boy” and “Country Girl”, I hate to say that I don’t even know what that is, and I am amazed that those words can be copyrighted- images- yes, words- I am so surprised, but I will do some research on that. I do know that they only way Etsy acts on anything is if the company that holds the copyright contacts them- and believe me if the companies were looking on Etsy they would be spending all day, everyday, removing items, so they don’t do it that way. They only act when someone contacts their company (your competitor) and sends them links to the infringing items- then in order to protect their copyright, they have to contact Etsy.

        Personally, since our shops are OUR shops- I think it would be a better practice for the companies to contact the owner directly and ask them to remove the infringing items, and then if they aren’t removed report them to Etsy- at that point, I guess it is fair for Etsy to shut someone down, but NOT when it is because someone has NO IDEA that some “word” is copyrighted. This is getting so ridiculous and infuriates me. I would not think that your reputation has been smeared, an honest mistake and I am sure there are plenty of others making the same mistake unknowingly.

        Thanks for your comment Kelly, hopefully others will learn from your painful experience. I would love to see your website!!!
        Beth

      • Hi Kelly,

        The exact same thing happened to me with the famous word “onesie”. Even though I removed it Gerber kept reporting me and they shut me down! I’m devastated. Got shut down just before the Holidays 10/13. I’ve been doing my research and have checked out other selling venues like Artfire, Bonanza, Storenvy but they are just not as popular as Etsy. There’s not enough traffic. E-Bay & Amazon are all taken over by large China vendors! Their items are dirt cheap with free shipping etc..Dont stand a chance selling there. ;(

        • Hi Lynn,

          I am so sorry that happened to you too, especially before the holidays. I truly don’t understand why some get shut down and others don’t, it makes no sense to me. You are right about the other places not getting the same traffic Etsy gets, but the MOST important thing you can do is get your own website- no one can shut that down. I tell all of my members they MUST have their own site- that way even if their Etsy shop gets shut down they have somewhere for their current customers to go and a place for others to find them. I recommend 3dcart to all of my members on My Friend Beth- it is easy, you don’t have to know code and it works great to push your things to the search engines. It has a built in email sign up, newsletter and blog- and their tech support is great- you can check it out with a free trial- I have used them for my husband’s website and for mine for over 5 years- couldn’t be happier- here is a link you can check it out http://www.3dcart.com/796.html. Don’t let Etsy destroy your vision for your business- you CAN do it without them, it may take a little more time, but you will not have all the worries and you will have ALL the control. Good luck!

        • Lynn: I feel so awful for you, truly sorry :( . They closed my shop on 10/28/13 a day I will never forget. I agree with Beth…hang in there and find other venues and work like the dickens. I refuse to be stopped by Etsy, I built my business they didn’t. Right now I have soured so much about that site they disgust me. Sadly I doubt I will ever shop there again. They claim to be helping the little artisan when in reality they are as fake about that as they are about ” hand-made” gag. We should start an ex-Etsy society.

          Kelly

        • I would like to make a comment regarding the China vendor at Etsy, I have sent them many times conv how come China vendors are selling At Etsy, and never got an answer, it does not make any sense since Etsy claim to be a Handmade Place. I also got my store closed because I make cat with glasses phone cases and Etsy claims I am infringing Hello Kitty property. But, the funny thing is search on etsy the word Hello Kitty and the search will give you 26,000 items being sold, i don’t have money to pay an attorney and don’t know what will happen to me, any input will be greatly appreciated.

          • HI Carlos,

            Unfortunately, I think you are fighting an uphill battle with the Chinese resellers. If you look on the forums, people have been complaining about that for years. I don’t know why they don’t do anything about them, but they don’t.

            As for your experience, since I haven’t seen your “cat with glasses”, I can’t know how closely it looked like Hello Kitty, but if you were shut down, it must have been very close. You have to understand how this works, Etsy doesn’t just pick you out- someone has to report you to the company who’s rights you are infringing on. This is how it works:

            1) Someone, usually a competitor, will turn you in to a company- Disney, Hello Kitty, Gerber, etc…. by reporting that you have infringing items on your shop
            However, there are companies that look for infringers on Etsy, so it doesn’t always have to be someone else turning you, but I think that is generally how it
            happens. The company HAS to take action to protect their copyright.
            2) The company then notifies Etsy. Etsy has to take action because otherwise they would get in trouble with the company notifying them. So they notify the person
            who owns the infringing item and if they have been notified repeatedly (I don’t know how this part works- I have heard 3 strikes, but know of people who have
            been shut down on the first offense) they have their shop shut down.
            3) The shop owner, if not shut down, should remove the infringing items and NOT put them back up for sale. You can contact the company yourself- because you
            should receive an email from whatever company it is when Etsy informs you, and you can beg forgiveness, and ask that they remove the complaint. I have heard
            of people getting their shops reopened once the complaints are removed by the companies.

            As for the 26,000 things being sold under Hello Kitty- what can I tell you- just because other people are doing it, doesn’t make it right. They just haven’t been caught yet.

            As I have said over and over again here, just DON’T use copyrighted material, art, anything that belongs to someone else to resell, unless you have paid the licensing fees for them. That way, you won’t get in trouble, won’t have your shop shut down and will avoid any potential legal hassles. I know there are exceptions, like when no one knew that Gerber owned the word “onesie”, but once you know, you should fix that and not run the risk of having your shop shut down. At least that is my take.

            I am sorry that happened to you Carlos, maybe you can ask Hello Kitty to remove the complaint and get your shop reopened. Just don’t make the same mistake again if you do.

            Beth

      • Country boy was trademarked in 1925, but the trademark has been expired since 2006. I just looked in to it. There are also a handful of songs with the words in them.

        • Jason, it happens all the time- someone turns people in and others are left to use the copyrighted or trademarked items. Again, bottom line, it is not right, legally or in any other way to use things that are copyrighted or trademarked- even if it is “words” which personally I think some of these are wayyyy out of line- like “Country Boy”. Actually there are about 4 live trademarks for “Country Boy”. One is for beer, one for agriculture products and two for clothing, shoes and other things.

          I think the whole trademarking thing is out of hand and if people keep trademarking every word known to man, no one will be able to describe anything, and it is going to be a gigantic mess. Good luck Jason, but you are better off having it removed than being sued :)

  17. A while back I got an infringement notice from etsy and they removed some of my jewelry. The person who claimed I infringed filed the DMCA papers with etsy. What many people don’t realize is that you (I) every etsy user has the right to file a counterclaim. Once the counterclaim is filed with etsy, etsy will most likely reinstate my items. The only way the accuser can stop me is to take me to court (this is the law). The real question everyone should be asking is, “does this accuser have a legitimate claim against me”? What much of the public doesn’t understand is that the accuser can get in as much trouble as an actual offender if they file false DMCA claims without merit or without exercising due diligence before filing the claim. My educated guess it that most DMCA complaints are rubbish and can’t be defended in court. Most small time etsy users don’t have the time or (estimated $20,000) money to pay an attorney to go after you.

    There are obvious cases of copyright fraud on etsy and no one should copy. However, what constitutes copying is something that is very subjective. And it seems that everyone on the internet now days thinks they are Picaso and that their work is original. Obviously, you can’t fight John Deere and win and it’s best to comply in that case. But in the case of small time sellers on etsy that blanket launch DMCA complaints against other sellers, I think it’s time these bullies are stopped and punished by filing the counter notice.

    Within the very near future I plan on filing my DMCA counter notice with etsy. I will post back here when I get the results of my counter notice. I do plan on talking to a copyright attorney first. Yes it may cost me 500 to 1000 to get advise ( my due diligence) but it will pay off by having more sells etc. Over the period of our lives we can all be certain that these DMCA bullies will launch more bogus and impotent complaints against us all, I plan on being educated and fighting back.

    • thanks Charles!

      I agree that there are a lot of people that “claim” someone copied them when that is not really true. However, there are a LOT of people that do copy other artists on Etsy and you are right- they should post a counter claim- great advice!

    • Hi all,

      I found you buy searching under ****Etsy shut down my shop

      interesting to see I’m not alone, been 2+ monthsssssss fighting for them to open my store, talking to brick walls.

      They wasted lots of my time, my work, even my health.

      I feel brick wall has more sense and logic than this E.
      Been there for 4 years, with fantastic feedbacks. Just like that they or whoever they think they are, that my items NOW are infringed?

      It’s ridiculous, think we all have to join and open a case.

      The store is MY store, the work is my OWN work, my OWN idea, my OWN DESIGN, to say they got notices of infringement, infringement of what?? I asked them to send me the # of the infringement, no news.

      My store they burned it down, and not letting me go in?
      They do NOT have the right to stop me working.
      Think this is huge lawsuit.

      Wish you all good luck.
      Please keep me in mind with the lawsuit, let us join and stop these bullies.

      • Hi Jaz,

        If you got a copyright infringement letter from Etsy they should have cited what items and what company’s copyrights you were infringing on. At least that is what has happened with everyone else I know. I don’t know of anyone that just got shut down without being aware of what items they were deeming as infringing items. When you say your own work, did you create all the art, etc….since I don’t know what you sell, it is hard for me to know the right questions to ask-but I still think somewhere they should have sent you a notice of what the infringing items were.

        I know you must be so upset, as are all the others that are in the same boat, but actually since your store is on Etsy- it’s not really YOUR store and they have everything in place to be able to shut you down or do anything they want, anytime for any reason and I am pretty sure they are covered against lawsuits for this reason and have things in place in their terms when you sign up. The only way to have your OWN store is to have your own website. Then you are completely in charge. I recommend 3dcart that is who I use, and who I have gotten a bunch of my members on My Friend Beth to sign up with and they love it- http://www.3dcart.com/796.html this is my affiliate link and if you do sign up with them through this link you will get a free month- be sure and let me know and I will make sure you get your free month.

        I wish you good luck too Jaz- and know you are not alone- not by a longshot!!!
        Beth

  18. My Etsy shop was just shut down and they didn’t even give me a reason. I’ve emailed asking for more details, but haven’t heard back yet. It’s a small shop with pillows. Two of the pillows have the word “love” and “home” cut out in felt and stitched on. I freehanded the words myself. The other pillows are chevron fabric. I’m so frustrated that this happened! And I can’t even purchase now on Etsy. I wanted to buy some fabric from an Etsy store and it wouldn’t allow me to, I had to use my son’s account.

    • HI Susan,

      That is SO WEIRD! Have they ever contacted you before- or warned you about something in the past? That is so strange if all you have are chevrons and the 2 pillows you described- makes no sense. Please let me know when you hear back from them.

  19. I wish I had a better story to tell. I am one of the unlucky ones. It has been too many months, now, and I still can’t bring myself to get over having my shop closed. My livelihood HAS been taken from me. I have no one to blame but myself. I knew I should not be creating character cookies. I take full responsibility for not taking them down from my shop. The truth is, I was so busy working 18 hour days on my dream-come-true business, that it never occurred to me what the results could be. I knew that the big companies could come calling, but my shop? It never registered. I was exhausted and just working to keep up with orders. My goal was to afford help so that I could think straight again. I worked for 5 years to build my reputation and customer base. Now it is at a bare minimum.

    What I can not accept is that everywhere I look, peoples’ shops are full of what I was shut down for. I know that is life. I know all of that. But I still can’t put it behind me. My business was very driven by the search engines on Etsy. I am lost without that exposure. I have researched all of the other marketplaces, but there are no baked goods for sale in them. Etsy grew a wonderful following in that category. I know I need a website of my own, but don’t have the means without the sales. Does anyone have any advice as to where to turn? I would be so grateful for any advice. What platform would help? Thanks for listening…

    • HI Lisa,

      I am so sorry that happened to you. Who would think they would do that to designs on cookies- As for a website you can get one on 3dcart.com for $19.99 a month to start with for 100 products- it is what I use and what I recommend to my members on My Friend Beth, it is easy to use, it is host, shopping cart, blog, everything you need to start- and the tech support is great, they really push your stuff to the search engines- I have been very happy- at least getting started with your own site is better than nothing.

      If it makes you feel any better, Etsy has changed how new people “browse” when they first come in to Etsy- and if you don’t know how to use the search bar- the “browse” is all curated (my guess is all Etsy employees shops) and my views are so far off from what they were last year- and just about everyone I know says the same thing- so my best advice- try out 3dcart- you can even get a free trial and see how you like it and tech support will help you before you ever pay a penny. I hope that helps a little bit- and in the meantime you could try selling your things on facebook, I know a lot of people that have luck that way as well. Let me know if you have questions and how you are doing. I really am sorry.

  20. How did you get your shop reopened? By fighting it with John Deere & having them remove the complaint?

    • They did not shut my shop down, they just removed the item, but I know people who have had their shops shut down, some got them re-opened if they got the company to remove the complaints, others that had been warned before for other infringements never got their shops reopened. As for “fighting” with any company- don’t waste your time, they don’t care- if you infringed whether knowingly or not, they own the copyright and you will never win against them- at least no one I know has ever gotten anywhere trying to do that.

  21. I learned the hard way that I was walking a thin line. I was one of those people who thought…well everyone else does it. I regret that now. I was selling bottle cap jewelry and got shut down for infringment. I started selling other stuff (NOT related to bottle cap and no where NEAR copyrighted) on another site. But now Etsy is getting completley crazy on me. They have shut down my husbands store that was his own personal artwork and had NOTHING to do with my shop. I’m guessing they noticed the matching mailing address? He opened his shop before I was ever shut down. I think its so unfair…. My shop was MY shop… MY mistake. They gave my husband NO warning before shutting him down and banning him from the site. I am so upset about this. Can someone please give me advice on what I can do? the few items I got in trouble for I MAYBE got $10 out of… I would gladly pay that back if it would mean leaving me and my family alone. Its just not fair

  22. Hi Beth thanks that was very helpful. What if I find my images on someone else’s shop or site? What is the best method to approach them if someone copied my images?

    • I would either send them a message on Etsy if they are there or email (or both) them and tell them that they are using your images without your permission. I have had to do this several times. Or if they have absolutely copied something of yours- I would include a picture of your image and the date you created it- and tell them that they are infringing on your copyright. However, if they have changed it in the least bit (I think 20% is the number) then there really isn’t much you can do…but you can always try! I hope that helps!

  23. Good post-
    do you mind if I copy it on my blog and link back to you? Or at least post a link to this on my blog? I’m compiling some copyright infringement stories.
    thanks
    Dottie

    • Thanks Dottie. I would love that- the more people that know better- can ONLY be better for everyone and I would appreciate the back link- send me a link to your blog too!!

      thanks,
      Beth

  24. I was reading a post on this over at handmadeology, I decided to very quickly moved my business from Etsy to my own standalone ecommerce site before they could also find any little excuse to shut me down.

    My sales are strong and best of all I don’t have to go to bed palpitating that I’m going to wake up and someone is going to decide when to shut down my business. You don’t have a real business if someone else can just shut you down like that with no explanation and take away your livelihood!

    I’m at a point my ecommerce sales are doing quite well I can’t afford that to happen.

    I am at piece and feel that this is what real business ownership is about FULL CONTROL.

    Thanks

    • Hi Kathleen,

      Sorry to be so late responding to this- something happened to my notifications and I didnt even see your comment- I do apologize. I think that is so smart to have your own site, so that YOU are in control and you are right, if someone else has the ability to shut you down at any point it is not a real business- or at least it is not YOUR business.

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