Last night, I announced that Etsy appeared to be going through shops and either suspending or closing down shops with copyrighted and/or trademarked items. They also appeared to be cracking down on items that were not handmade. Here’s the deal, any type of removals shouldn’t really be a surprise even if there is an increase in incidences or if this is just business as usual.
So why are so many people upset?
They are upset because their livelihood is being taken away without, at least in their opinion, warning.
Consider this your warning.
I’ve touched on the grey world of intellectual property theft, copyrights, and trademarks only very lightly in previous articles. As a company, The Write Assistant LLC does not endorse any illegal, unethical, or unsustainable business practices and so we do not offer copywriting or SEO services to individuals that are attempting to sell products which contain property they do not own. I cannot tell you how many clients I have turned down over the years. I also cannot tell you how angry this has made some people.
I have been cussed at and told that I am judgmental. I have been black-balled in some communities. The bottom line is simple: If you do not own it, you cannot profit from it.
Besides the obvious question of, “How would you feel if someone stole your design/character/idea?” there is more to this issue. I recognize we are all adults and we all make decisions as to what works well for us as individuals and as businesses. To that end, I would like to encourage everyone to take this latest suspicion of an Etsy sweep with a grain of salt.
This crackdown is not new.
This is not unexpected.
No matter how they decide to proceed, it is their platform and their rules.
Etsy is simply exercising their own Terms of Service. Traditionally, Etsy would only remove listings or suspend/close shops when the original owner of the property reported infringement and they had a three strikes and you are out rule. This is still the case and Etsy is simply going through and catching up with reports. Is it really so surprising that a publicly traded company is now applying a more rigorous approach to enforcing trade laws?
What does this mean for you?
If you have any Disney listings, remove them immediately.
That goes for Paw Patrol, Pixar, and any other popular brand that you do not have explicit, written commercial licensing.
If you use the word “inspired” in your marketing, stop.
The word inspired does NOT protect you. It implies guilt. It implies knowledge. You KNOW what you are doing is wrong. You KNOW you do not own that character or content. You also know that you can get a lot of traffic from using those buzzwords so you are trying to side-step the laws put in place to protect artists, designers, and products.
What about those who say, “Well Disney makes so much money any way!”
I want to challenge you to make your own money. Create your own success. You are smart, artistic, intelligent, and resourceful. I know you can do this. You don’t need to rely on the work of someone else to make yours shine.
For a full list of the Etsy Terms of Service, house rules, and guidelines, I encourage you to visit their sites here:
If you think you might have a product that is infringing, you can search for copyrights and trademarks using the following two resources:
You might still be rather confused by the end of this article, and that is OK. I am here to personally help you. If you would like to have your shop professionally reviewed, I offer a variety of shop critiques and revisions all of which can be reviewed directly here:
In light of how many responses received, I am even offering a limited engagement coupon code for everyone that has done their due diligence: