Etsy Shop Shutdowns

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!”

So what?

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:



  1. 6-6-2019

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  2. 2-24-2018

    I am appalled and disgusted by the number of Etsy shops that are selling PDF & regular patterns claiming that they are their own designs. Instead of contacting Etsy at all I go straight to the designers or Copyright owners directly. Some of the most stolen patterns on Etsy are from Just Cross Stitch Magazine. During Christmas time on shop owner who has nearly 3k in sales was selling all JCS Ornament Designs claiming she designed them, She didn;t even bother to even change the colors or any part of the design except a couple were facing the other way. Other stolen and illegally sold patterns are Mirabilia, Nora Corbett, Martina Weber of Chatelaine Designs, Disney, Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc. There is an eBay seller selling mainly Mirabilian & Nora Corbett PDF patterns and the shop has over 3k in sales. I reported the shop to eBay over a dozen times in 3 months and I even called eBay. I got fed up and that is when I decided to email designers & companies directly. I emailed their legal departments when the information as available on their websites. I am a designer myself, not in the league of any of the above mentioned yet, but I know if anyone was making money off a pattern I worked hard to design I would be furious. We all must try to do our parts. If you see an illegal copyright violation report it to not only the site but the designer’s or company’s website. Email them they can handle it better. The selling sites do not care as much because they are making money off of the item so they shall we just say are not as motivated as the designers and companys being robbed!

  3. 2-21-2018

    What about those Etsy stores that sell downloads of Japanese books craft that are still under copyright? I have contacted the store owners about this and have been told that they have permission from the authors, but this is due to faulty Facebook translators. I have reported the stores to Etsy several times over the past few years, but Etsy has done NOTHING to stop them. This is hurting the designers, some Japanese designers have already stopped publishing their patterns.

  4. 12-11-2017

    I’m working on designing and printing my own fabrics using my own illustrations of popular celebrities. Is this considered an issue of infringement? I can’t quite find any information on this type of inquiry.

    • 12-13-2017

      I would recommend consulting with a small business attorney familiar with the use of celebrity likenesses. Ultimately, if this is what you are going to build a business around, you need to invest in legal research and protection before proceeding.

    • 2-24-2018

      I am almost positive this is a violation. I know for a fact it is if the celebrity is dead. You cannot profit off the images of dead celebrities unless you obtain a license to do so. So, I would imagine it is the same for celebrities who are living.

  5. 10-12-2017

    this is a wonderful post

  6. 10-12-2017

    I plan on making dolls that are inspired by Indonesian folklore. Would it be okay to include the folktales with the dolls (not selling them, but including them with the dolls), or would this be illegal?

    • 10-13-2017

      Folklore is generally safe (it is public domain), but you should always do your research before launching any new product line.

  7. 10-5-2017

    Hi there – I’ve read through the entire thread and haven’t seen this question addressed:

    I draw/paint photorealistic portraits, taken from online publicity images of TV and book characters. Usually work of this sort comes under the name of ‘Fan Art’. I did not take the photos that are my source material, nor do I have permission to use them (from the TV network? movie studio?), but the drawings I make based on them are my own original work.

    I’ve shown and sold my Fan Art publicly and have had no issues thus far. I’m tempted to offer prints/original artwork on Etsy. I am not looking to monetize/resell the images that someone else took, but instead to offer the drawings that I myself made, based on those images.

    I’ve chatted with a few folks who swear that so long as the artwork I offer is my own and I created it, I’m not in danger of infringement. Would you please help shine some light here? I don’t want to do the wrong thing.

  8. 9-19-2017

    I purchased two Paw Patrol patterns for hats on Etsy in November of 2016. I went to download the patterns again today and could not find them in my purchase history. So I went searching and found that her shop is also closed on Etsy. From your experiences, is it normal that they would remove the patterns I purchased as well, without refunding my money? Do you know if I have any recourse with them? The PayPal transaction is so long ago I don’t think I can do anything with them. I’ve reached out to the author via her Facebook page but she is not responding.

    • 9-19-2017

      I think, considering the length of time, you may be out of luck for this transaction. It is highly possible they were shut down for selling content illegally.

  9. 8-29-2017

    Why would they remove my listing for a 1975 U S Navy belt buckle plus other vintage U S navy military patches from WW2 and Vietnam wars.

    • 8-30-2017

      That’s a good question, Jimmy. I would recommend reaching out to Etsy Help directly to find out why they removed your listings.

      • 8-30-2017

        Etsy would not help at all So I contacted The U S Navy trademark office as Etsy suggested. If someone makes a complaint to them against your shop They contact Etsy and have your items removed no matter if they are legal because they don’t have time to check each item. Even if you are liscensed with them to sell hand made items and someone complains they don’t check they just contact Etsy to remove your items. The U s Navy trademark office is definitely being run by a bunch of idiots.

        • 8-30-2017

          I think this highlights the importance of having your own website. I’m sorry you had that experience.

  10. 8-4-2017

    I used to be in the “that company makes so much money what does it matter?” club myself. I even once went toe to toe on Etsy with someone from Harley Davidson legal. I had a 4 dollar bracelet with a shrinky dink Harley logo and I just COULD NOT believe they would harass a poor innocent housewife over such a thing. Looking back, I can’t believe what an uninformed, spoiled brat I was. He was even kind enough to contact me directly instead of reporting me… Later, as I began to see some success as an artist and an author… And I began to have my own works pirated for someone else’s profit… Ooooooh. Yeah, turns out that sucks. And it turns out that when the giants like Harley, or Disney, or Metallica, or Taylor Swift, or EL James go after it… They’re not greedy. They’re like my own big brothers and sisters protecting me from intellectual theft, because I certainly don’t have the ability to fight it on my own! I noticed a RASH of sales of Princess Leah fan art sales after Carrie Fisher’s death and I have to say, it truly disgusts me. If y’all think it’s ok, well, I just hope you never have to know the feeling of someone else making bank off your work, of God forbid, your death.

  11. 12-9-2016

    So using fabric like paw patrol toy story ninga turtles to make hats cannot be sold?

    • 12-9-2016

      Unless you have a commercial licensing agreement, you can’t sell those items. Purchasing the fabric alone is, in most cases, a personal license only.

  12. 12-5-2016

    I make signs and magnets out of scrabble tiles and trays. It that an issue for me?
    Thanks for your help.

  13. 12-4-2016

    I sell digital cut files for vinyl cutters on Etsy. My files are MY creations. In July 2016, I received a notice that another Etsy shop filed several complaints against my shop because I copied her designs. I filed a counter notice and was able to relist my designs after 10 business days, but since July 2016, and as of yesterday, December 2, 2016, this shop has filed over 200 complaints against my shop. All have been countered and now relisted with the exception of the 4 complaints she made for trademark infringement and a counter notice can not be filed for trademarks. This shop is clearly harassing me and Etsy has no policy in place to protect me. Etsy will not confirm or deny a shutdown, but as of December 1, 2016, this shop is no longer on Etsy. Although she is no longer on Etsy she is still filing complaints against my shop. It is clear in this woman’s messages that she is harassing me, but Etsy does nothing. I get that “Since Etsy is a venue they can’t offer legal advice” or any other type of determination regarding this matter, however, I feel the system is broken because there is nothing in place to protect false claims against a shop owner. I am having to file a lawsuit against this woman in order to be able to run my business in peace. The cost of litigation is approximately $5,000.00 a month. Of course, it is possible that I will be reimbursed for my legal fees, but a this point I feel it is so obvious what is going on that Etsy should protect me instead of responding to my emails with a vague response of “Since Etsy is a venue they can’t offer legal advice…” along with links to the copyright policy.

  14. 12-3-2016

    Thank you so much for your response!
    One more question..
    What if those paintings are PUBLIC domain?!
    Is it ok then?
    Thank you for your help!!

    • 12-3-2016

      I would recommend you do your research for each and every potential product. Public domain is *usually* not an issue. That being said, I am not a lawyer and so I don’t want to give any specific advice further than what I’ve already identified simply because it is beyond my scope.

  15. 12-2-2016

    I was thinking about making hand embroidered wall decor of famous paintings such us scream by Munch.
    Is that ok?!
    Thank you!!

    • 12-2-2016

      I would recommend researching each piece to see what types of legislation are in effect for each.

  16. 11-22-2016

    I use a number of designer fabrics to make handmade bags etc, I use the designers name and the name of the fabric design in the listing and description of the product. Do I need to delete these and change them.

  17. 11-21-2016

    I create Disney princess inspired halo braided wigs . If I name them something else and take away the “Disney princess inspired”. Is that ok? Each wig is created by the theme of the princess. I have a FACEBOOK business page as well as an etsy shop, both are fourlittlegiggles.

    Kind regards

    • 11-21-2016

      If those “inspired” wigs are using the same color schemes as the Disney princesses then you are capitalizing off of an interpretation of a character that is not public domain.

  18. 11-16-2016

    I sell Monopoly tokens as a supply for altered art or jewelry, Monopoly money which I make into tiny envelopes and also Scrabble tiles for making jewelry pendants or fridge magnets, etc.

    Are these listings allowed?


  19. 11-15-2016

    What about using the word ‘disney’ in an etsy tag? So it’s not in the product description itself or the name of the product but say I use it as a tag to help people find things. I’m guessing that would be a no no? Thanks 🙂

    • 11-15-2016

      That is very much against the Etsy Terms of Service. Consider it this way: What if you created a very popular cartoon character and all of a sudden tons of random people online were tagging THEIR products with YOUR name and YOUR content. They just want people to see their stuff! How would that feel?

    • 11-15-2016

      And really, what is it you are trying to “help people find”? If the item is a Disney knockoff, the item itself is illegal, not just the tag.

      • 11-16-2016

        True! Thankyou for the clarification. My products are not knock offs, but i have for example a handmade Cinderella themed item. It is not Disney Cinderella, more the fairy tale itself and takes no characters or images from Disney, however by using the tag ‘disney’ I thought it would help people find my item if they liked Cinderella and looked for Disney inspired items. I certainly see where you are coming from though. I have since removed the tags in question so as not to get into a mess with Etsy. I did look at the terms of service but given my item is not specifically Disney them to me it’s a grey area! Better to be safe than sorry anyway.

  20. 11-14-2016

    Copyright and Trademark have different regulations, and are NOT interchangeable. Companies like Disney have Trademark protection on their characters, fonts, stories, quotes, images, etc. To reproduce and sell them requires a license from Disney, which is expensive and NOT for the average crafter. You can make anything you like to sell from a fabric with a copyrighted pattern, but you need a license to make and sell something from a fabric with Trademarked images. SOME companies do allow crafters to use their images, but they are few and far between. If you are using an image, quote or idea that you did not create, you are breaking the law and you can be closed down at any time. This is NOT just an Etsy rule, it’s the law in any selling venue, including craft shows and flea markets. The Tabberone example is NOT a legal precedent, – it is a case that was settled out of court. If you choose to violate the law, you will probably get caught sooner or later. Why do it?

  21. 11-13-2016

    Two questions. 1. I saw where someone trademarked the word “one”. So I can’t sell a onsie or shirt with that word on it? 2. I have a sweatshirt that says, I solemnly swear I am up to no good. A quote from Harry Potter, but an original design by me. Do I need to take that down?

    • 11-15-2016

      Even though you may have come up with a unique design, you didn’t come up with the quote and you are selling merchandise based on the brand recognition of another so that would need to be removed.

  22. 11-12-2016

    Bottom line. If you choose to use a trademarked character or copyrighted anything to make and market your item, are your pockets deep enough to defend yourself in a long drawn-out lawsuit against one or multiple companies that may come after their cut of your profits? Will first doctrine pay your lawyer fees or will you have to sell your house?

  23. 11-12-2016

    Printed Mint and many other companies offer products such as mugs to have an artist’s illustrations printed on. I’m using this company for just that purpose and plan to sell those mugs in my Etsy shop – with my copyrighted images on those mugs and on notepads. Is this an issue??

    • 11-12-2016

      Susan, as long as you’ve been approved by Etsy to work with an outside manufacturer, that’s not a problem. Etsy just wants to be sure that the seller is involved in the design or making on some level. I’ve been thru this process for 1 item and it’s pretty easy, just a bunch of questions and some photos. You can find a link to the Outside Manufacturing application on Google or thru Etsy Help.

  24. 11-12-2016

    I make items using repurchased vintage designer clothing.
    What is the rule for using fabric from vintage designers clothing? Can you list the item you make from the fabric with the designer’s name? Can you use the words ‘inspired by”?

    • 11-12-2016

      Lenora, if you’re cutting up the clothes to make stuff (not clothing), I would just make it and list it. Don’t name the designer or line or anything related to the original item because you’re not selling the original item.

      If you’re restyling designer clothing to create your own clothing to sell, that might be a bit iffier. If you take a chance on this, don’t use the designer’s name because you’re not selling *their* clothing.

      Do not use the words “inspired by.” That only proves that you know that you’re essentially copying (to some degree!) someone else’s design.

      • 9-8-2017

        Clothing designs are not copyrightable. The art as printed onto cloth could be. It would seem that if it is legal to make your product from cloth which was itself from a vintage product then it would be legal to tell people where the cloth came from. You can’t copyright fact, which would include the fact about the origin of the cloth.

        The names of designer’s might be trademarked, as might the names of clothing lines. I think ultimately it’s protected first amendment speech in the United States to be able to relay a fact, but it might not be worth the lawsuit should a trademark claim be made. You’d have to be ready to deal with that and the legally might well rely on the exact wording used. Any implication that you are affiliated with the designers you mention could well put you into dangerous ground. Again, it may not be worth mentioning such designers if you have to surround your item listing with disclaimers and such.

        I’d agree with Tana. Just don’t do it. Safer and easier.

  25. 11-12-2016

    What is the rule or law regarding upcycled items. I make items using the fabric from vintage and designer clothing. Can I list such items as being made from “ABC (designer’s name) fabric? Or can I use inspired by?

  26. 11-12-2016

    I sell accessories for elf on a shelf. All are original handmade items. We don’t call them elf on a shelf but call it elf coffee. Has the word elf been copy written? Why can’t I call it elf sleeping bag or elf coffee? They threatened our shop but we use nothing that says elf on the shelf, no pictures of an elf just elf size.

  27. 11-12-2016

    I would like to start selling football team signs like, “Go Cubs Go”
    “Go Broncos”, etc. Would that be in violation?

    • 11-12-2016

      Mary Kay, unless you get permission from the teams and/or league, that would be very much in violation. There is information on the teams & leagues web sites about how to apply for licensing.

      • 11-13-2016

        Thank you for your response Tana. Can you help by telling me what kind of licensing I should refer to regarding the MLB please.
        Appreciate your help.

  28. 11-11-2016

    I would be very careful about 1st sale doctrine. Disney doesn’t sell their original design to the fabric company; they license it.
    My understanding relates to selling the design. If I do a painting and sell it to a collector, that person may sell or give it to whomever they wish. I no longer have any control over it. If in 20 years, I become famous and that painting is re-sold for $1,000,000, I have no claim and do not share in the profit.

  29. 11-11-2016

    Sorry if this may have been addressed above.
    I sell vintage clothing, access, and vintage jewelry.
    If I have a sweater and it is actual vintage (once in a while there is a date on the front under the design) from the 70s-80s
    and Mickey or Donald Duck are on it…can I sell it?

    Also I occasionally have owned vintage charm bracelets that have
    Mickey or other Disney characters on them. Is it OK to sell that?

    • 11-11-2016

      Etsy told me to remove a Hershey Chocolate counted cross stitch pattern book that was from the 1970s.
      It was a licensed product at the time.
      I called Etsy and got nowhere with them. I had to remove the listing.

  30. 11-11-2016

    praise!!!!!! finally, people are starting to realize the lack of creativity and flooding of Etsy w/ stolen creativity, copyrighted artwork & outright stealing of design brillance!

  31. 11-11-2016

    What about using an embroidery design that you bought from another seller on your items? I had the little minnie head with a bow on alot of my stuff (which I have now took down) but I have always wandered about this. I do not use licensed fabric-just embroidery designs. Still the same?

    • 11-11-2016

      No, you cannot use it to make a profit as Disney is the only one who owns the copyright to it. What you bought is a stolen property.

    • 11-11-2016
    • 11-11-2016

      I took a class at SewPro on copyright. I don’t claim to be an expert but the class was taught by a copyright attorney. She clearly stated that when you purchase a pattern and then create something from that pattern, what you have created is yours to sell or do what you want with. The actual pattern itself cannot be sold or reproduced on its own for obvious reasons but if you create something from a pattern that you purchased. It is yours and yes, you can sell it. This is what she said.

      • 11-11-2016

        That’s an interesting point and I appreciate you bringing it up.

      • 11-11-2016

        It all depends on the licensing you purchase. Some sellers sell with a “for personal use only”. You cannot use those commercially. For example, Silhouette licenses many popular characters. You cannot use those commercially (for profit) unless you ppurchae some sort of a ccommerial license. So, it gets tricky…..

      • 11-12-2016

        If you buy a pattern for a character (let’s use Mickey again), the pattern purchase MAY be legal, depending on whom you bought it from.

        If you bought a “big name” sewing pattern at a chain fabric store, then it’s probably legal, however if you bought the pattern from a home-based designer selling plushie patterns for mice that look, for all intents and purposes, like Mickey or Minnie, then it’s probably not legal.

        Regardless of where you buy the pattern, you’re not buying the rights to make the item and sell it. You CAN make the item for yourself or as a gift, just don’t plan on selling it.

        Also, I think the First Sale Doctrine would apply to a pattern which you no longer want. You can sell the pattern, but you cannot make copies to sell.

      • 11-12-2016

        This is the way that it should be I think. Most of my machine embroidery files that I guess could be in questions came from shops on Etsy. I look at it this way, if you don’t want people to use something as they want then don’t sell it. If I make towels, shirts or whatever and they buy them I don’t care what they do with them. We cannot tell them that they can’t use it to make a quilt etc and sell it. Its such a gray area. If all this stuff is illegal then theres gonna be a lot of shops go down on Etsy. Iam not trying to make a living at this like a lot of people and currently only have 4 quilts in my shop (been so busy and I have another to post) but I LOVE to make quilts and in the last year got the embroidery machine and LOVE it too. I LOVE to make things and I can’t keep them all. My kids will never be cold with all the quilts. lol

      • 3-27-2017

        Every single cross stitch/crochet/knitting pattern I’ve ever purchased said “For Personal Use Only.” That means you cannot sell something you created using their pattern. Period. Etsy shop owners are trying to justify what they can get away with. If you create something using a pattern, I would get on the phone ASAP and ask what their licensing guidelines are. Etsy Shop Owners are making money of of “other people’s ideas” including patterns. If you are good enough, then create your own pattern. That’s the point of this whole thread, article, etc.

  32. 11-11-2016

    What about making Mickey Ears that are decorated in different ways? Such as graduation Mickey ears that have the year on them.

    • 11-11-2016

      Not allowed.. Disney is the ONLY one who owns the copyright, you cannot use it..

      • 11-11-2016

        I know it’s not my place, or anyone’s really. But if Etsy is cracking down so much they should check the shops that sell digitizing and SVG’s. I’ve seen several that sold mostly Disney Designs, Princess, Harry Potter and pokemons.

        I know some people think that if those places sell them it’s alright to use them.

        Just my 2 cents worth for the day.

        • 11-11-2016

          I truly believe as time goes on, Etsy will continue to remove these products. The issue is that there are so many, it’s unrealistic to think they can get rid of them all at once. The original owner must report the infringement and there needs to be an evaluation.

  33. 11-11-2016 has an explanation of the use of fabric. There is also a TED video with an excellent explanation. If ETSY chooses to remove stores that is within their right. There are many other sites to list items on.

  34. 11-11-2016

    so if I purchase ribbon and sew it on to webbing to make a dog collar, or buy fabric from Joanns to sew dog beds, I have to get permission from the designer if the selvage is printed with a “no commercial use” wording (which I haven’t really noticed before!)? I don’t have my Etsy shop set up yet because this all concerns me and I don’t know what to do

    • 11-11-2016

      That is correct. If you purchase fabric or components for personal use, they don’t offer the same options as a commercial license.

  35. 11-11-2016

    The only problem I’ve seen are shops being targeted by other shops for no legal reasons. Etsy seems to not care about what reason for reporting only how many times the shop has been reported.

    For example, a famous/ viral shop selling dolls is going after shops using their intellectual property but seems to be targeting those that are not. Just because shops use the word doll does not mean they own the right to the word doll by itself. Shops that are selling doll clothing or patterns have been targeted by the same shop as well – again zero words being used from their trademark except the words “doll.” They are going after what appears to be competition. When the targeted shop owners ask what they have done wrong as they don’t feel anything is wrong, Etsy simply tells them to take it up with the accuser. After questioning the accuser, they reply if you aren’t using their trademark they are fine – like the shop doesn’t have a reason to report the shop. Problem is they have already been reported and sometimes reported again.

    To make matters worse, this shop didn’t even have a trademark as soon as they said they did and were reporting shops for infringement. Etsy turns the other way as they appreciate the attention the accusing shop provides with their viral shop.

    How do they protect themselves from etsy shutting them down when they don’t use “inspired by” or ANY combination of their TM?

    I can’t bring myself to open my shop in Etsy as I don’t want to give them money if this is how they behave. I’ve asked them and they say they do check on reason, but I have seen their responses telling people to do it themselves.

    • 11-11-2016

      I agree that this is one of the issues with having products on a third party selling site. It’s probably the biggest issue that leads me to my recommendation of always having a website that you manage.

      • 11-11-2016

        Very true. Leaving fate of busniness to someone else is a risk.

  36. 11-11-2016

    I make lit bottles from empty liquor bottles. I don’t advertise them on Etsy with their brand name. But they are photographed showing the full bottle. I can’t find anything that would be right or wrong with this? Once the liquor is out of the bottle does it matter?

    • 11-11-2016

      Christina I’m not too sure on the answer for that one because you could make the argument they are components and you are upcycling. I would recommend reaching out to each parent company to see what they advise.

      • 11-11-2016

        Ok, thank you. I will do that – I know some of them have actually liked and shared them so I am thinking that they don’t mind. I was just thinking, I use Ball mason jars in many of my floral designs, with lights in them as well and Ball doesn’t ever seem to mind either. They often share the Instagram photos of mine and other shops.

  37. 11-11-2016

    It requires talent, thought, skill, and hard work of your own to be original. I’m glad that Etsy is finally enforcing the law because it has been the law for a long time. Copying someone’s work is the same as stealing from them because you are taking something that you did not create and use it without paying for the use thereof.

  38. 11-11-2016

    I have bought 99% of my machine embroidery files from shops on Etsy and they way Iam understanding this you telling me tho I bought the files from shops on Etsy I cannot use them to make items to sell on Etsy?? I also make quilts and if it has certain fabric in them that I bought in any of many quilt shops I can’t sell on Etsy?? Someone “designed” every fabric or embroidery file out there. I find this so confusing, if its out there for people to buy and use I don’t understand. I do understand Harley Davidson but they don’t make HD fabric and tell you not to use it. If I use a Mickey Mouse on something I make Iam not selling it as a Disney item.

    • 11-11-2016

      If you read in their description most say you can make and sell the items but you can not sell or reproduce their design and sell it.

      • 11-12-2016

        That correct, you can make items and sell items using the file that you bought but you cannot sell or reproduce “their” file. That’s the design itself. I can’t buy someones file and then re-sell that file but I can’t embroider it on a purse, towel etc and sell that item. I use the file for whats is made for.

    • 11-12-2016

      If the person selling the file designed it and allows it to be used commercially, then you can sell items made from the file. This is assuming, of course, that the file is not for a trademarked or licensed character or other item, such as Mickey or Garfield or Dr. Seuss characters or Harry Potter, etc. You get the idea, I’m sure!

      If the file is of a licensed character, etc., the person selling the file may have received permission to use the character in the file. Most likely, this permission will not transfer to you as the customer.

      And it’s not just about not selling the item on Etsy. The items would not be legal to be sold anywhere, even at a local craft fair. Infringement is infringement.

  39. 11-11-2016

    What about a quote from a book? The one I am speaking of specifically is from The Grinch.

  40. 11-11-2016

    So if I created something from an idea of a book that is now in public domain with a movie made from it that is not, would it be infringing? The company that owns rights to the movie only has trademarks on very specific things with a picture of the logo I’m their filings. Talking about Wizard of Of of that area more sense.

    • 11-12-2016

      Stay away from Ruby Red Slippers. Silver shoes only!

    • 11-19-2016

      If the original work is in the public domain, then it is free to use. In that case, I would simply cite the source from which you used on each listing. However, if the work is an interpretation of the original (in a different media, such as a movie) and that interpretation is copyrighted, then you cannot use that material without permission from the copyright holder. Nevertheless, your interpretation of the original work cannot be a recreation of a copyrighted interpretation. If the original published text of The Wizard of Oz is in the public domain, you can create a new interpretation of the slippers.

  41. 11-11-2016

    Thank you for this. I’ve just been through my few listings and checkedmi am not in violation.
    Question: I bought some Game of Thrones designs from a digitiser in Etsy and checked with her that I could use them in items to sell and she gave her permission.
    However i am now worrying that those images might be copyrighted. I have approached HBO but have not had a reply.
    Where do I stand on selling these items?

    • 11-12-2016

      You would be infringing unless you have direct permission from HBO (if they’re the TM owner).

  42. 11-11-2016

    What about making signs with the armed services branches on them? Is there a way to get permission from each individual branch?

  43. 11-11-2016

    Found another with the same first name spelling as mine!! I have only met one person face to face with this spelling!!

  44. 11-11-2016

    Quote: “What about those who say, “Well Disney makes so much money any way!”
    So what?
    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.”

    You’re so awesome.

  45. 11-10-2016

    I was looking for a design earlier for htv. I went to one shop and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that 80% of her designs are licensed designs. I sure don’t know how she’s slipping under the radar.

    These conversations have put me at ease. I had 3 things in my shop that I wasn’t 100% sure about, so they are now gone. Thanks for doing this for us.

    • 11-11-2016

      You are very welcome! Please feel free to share this article because it is surprising how many people are unaware of these consequences.

  46. 11-10-2016

    What about John Deere fabric hand sewn?

    • 11-10-2016

      Do you have permission from them to use it in a resale product? I work in a fabric store & can’t tell you how many times customers have complained about the hoops they went through to get products approved by the companies that held the license for the print. Also the number of people who had products confiscated at craft fairs because they were using licensed materials without permission. It’s real.

    • 11-11-2016

      How do you get a license agreement from the company? I have made ornaments using fabric with Duke, Panthers, UNC etc.

    • 11-11-2016

      I would not use John Deere, Duke, Panthers, or any other licensed content without a commercial agreement. It boils down to stealing from those companies because you are profiting from their name and their recognition without giving them their due cut.

      Barbara, I would highly recommend you deactivating those listings immediately. You need to contact each parent company individually to get permission. Try going to their websites to find contact information. That is usually the best first step in narrowing down who you need to speak to for this sort of thing.

      • 11-11-2016

        are you saying that the lawsuit that involved precious moments was wrong where the judge ruled against precious moments when they were suing a woman for using their fabric to make items for sale? I understand the copyright laws with regard to embroidery design files or digital art designs like Disney’s Mickey Mouse, etc. No one should copy those files and sell them; however as far as making a dress or anything from a licensed fabric to sell according to this judge was not something that was against copyright. They were not copying that fabric and selling the fabric or claiming that the said fabric was designed by them. He explained it rather well in that lawsuit. I don’t make items to sell but if I was making a quilt or a dress out of licensed fabric, I feel like I paid for that license when I purchased that fabric…the licensed fabric is not cheap. I feel as that judge did when he ruled against precious moments. Now, if it was a big company buying up licensed fabric, making things in large volume to sell, the judge probably would have ruled differently but who knows. I don’t intend on making anything to sell out of licensed fabric and refrain from purchasing any licensed fabric unless it is for one of my grandchildren but for them to put the so-called restrictions that they try to is absolutely ridiculous and, I do agree with the judges ruling and explanation…I think he was dead on. Just my 2 cents worth.

      • 11-11-2016

        I don’t think that this is right. If you purchase the fabric legally then the company has made their profit and the fabric is yours to do what you want. Once you purchase it, it’s yours. According to the copyright attorney whom taught a class that I recently attended.

        • 11-11-2016

          I agree with that copyright attorney. My cousin is a copyright and patent attorney and he confirmed that judge ruled correctly. He also said the same thing about patterns. You cannot copy the pattern and sell the pattern as your creation but you can use that pattern to make items for sale. He said a lot of people don’t understand copyrights or patents.

    • 11-11-2016

      There is something called The First Sale Doctrine. You can use the fabrics, but you cannot copy their logo. You can read about it here:

  47. 11-10-2016

    I am selling vintage and have listed a music box with santa, baby mickey and minnie on a see-saw. Definitely a disney product. Is this a problem with the copyright issue?

    Also i use childrens blocks to make decorated block pyramids for christmas. Should i NOT say it is handmade?

    Not sure i underatand the bottom line here.

    Thanks and i look forward to learning.

    • 11-10-2016

      Vintage items are allowed to be sold on Etsy, and tagged appropriately, as long as they meet the guidelines of age. On Etsy, all vintage products must be older than twenty years so if they fit that, this article doesn’t really impact those sales for you. Now, on the other hand, your use of children’s blocks may not be allowed depending on the original ownership. I would not sell anything that is questionable without getting a resale license or a commercial licensing agreement from the parent company (the author).

      • 11-10-2016

        Thanks for such a prompt reply. Just to make a correction i am using childrens blocks, not books.

        Thanks again nice to know someone is out there to bounce questions off of.

  48. 11-10-2016

    So what about all the vinyl things people are putting on everything these days, like TWD, Disney, and such, is this allowed?

    • 11-10-2016

      Those products are illegal unless the business owners have a commercial licensing agreement from the parent company.

  49. 11-10-2016

    If they were taking down shops or listings that are obviously mass manufactured or blatantly infringing and breaking the rules, would be one thing. But Etsy is taking down listings and shops that are within their guidelines. Things that have been acceptable for years are now being taken down that should not be. They have no flexibility or willingness to work with a shop owner to make the listing(s) work better for all involved. Etsy can do what they want, which we all know. But they should do it in a way that is fair across the board and out in the open. Not with scare tactics and rudeness. We are adults that pay to use their services. They should treat their customers with respect, just as we must treat ours.

    • 11-10-2016

      It sounds like you have recently had a not so great experience with the Etsy team. Do you mind sharing a little more about your experience?

  50. 11-10-2016

    Kateland, does using VW, VW Bug, Volkswagon constitute copy write? I am in the process of changing all titles and tags that I have used that in but I see so many others out there, I feel it’s kind of like using Harley or Mustang but I am just not sure.

    • 11-10-2016

      Unfortunately, you cannot use any of those car brands in your titles or tags unless you have a licensing agreement with them. A Harley is a Harley Davidson and that is not public domain.

  51. 11-10-2016

    What about using vintage fairy tale book illustrations in collage or paper beads?
    Also, the Republic of San Marino has issued postage stamps (mine are probably 25 years old) with Disney characters. I assume they would be OK to use in collage?

  52. 11-10-2016

    What about shops that had such problems in the past, but no longer? I had problems exactly with books in the public domain. I thought it is ok, but apparently it wasn’t.

    • 11-10-2016

      Do you mind being a touch more specific? I’m not sure I understand the situation properly and don’t want to give you misinformation.

      • 11-10-2016

        Well, almost a year ago i had two copyright infringement claims, because i was using images from two books, which i thought were in the public domain, but it turned out that each country has a different time period to do this after the author pass away. I learned my lesson then, so i just stopped using anything like that.
        I just got concerned now if my past sins will get to me 😀

  53. 11-10-2016

    Good news! I feel like I’m buried under a sea of up violations. I look forward to searching for Disney and only seeing vintage and licensed crafts.

  54. 11-10-2016

    Well done Etsy about time someone did something and give us good honest workers a chance

  55. 11-10-2016

    I have a question about blank shirts. I am currently selling shirts in my shop but also sell just blank shirts too. Since they are blank and do not include a design, should I remove the listing? If not, how should I have them listed?

    • 11-11-2016

      Blank shirts should be listed as supplies.

      • 11-12-2016

        Actually blank shirts are not allowed to be sold as supplies on etsy.

        “Craft Supplies are tools, ingredients, or materials intended for use in the creation of a new handmade item. Commercially made materials that are ready to use as finished goods may not be sold as craft supplies on Etsy.”

  56. 11-10-2016

    It is long over due that Etsy cracks down. It has infuriated me for years regarding their inattention to trademark infringement.

  57. 11-9-2016

    What about the First Sale Doctrine?

    • 11-10-2016

      I do not recommend using the First Sale Doctrine defense unless you have consulted with a small business attorney. I think it is a flimsy defense at best and in the case of Etsy, they retain the right to shut you down without hearing said defense.

    • 11-11-2016

      I agree with you Cynthia. I use this law and keep a copy of it with me at craft shows and a small version of it gets included in every purchase I do that contains a licensed fabric.

  58. 11-9-2016

    What about books that are in the public domain but Disney made a movie about it? For instance the book “Peter Pan” is in the public domain, but Disney made a movie about it. Disney made a ton of movies about books that are in the public domain and are still in the public domain. Don’t we have a right to create characters based on the books in the public domain?

    • 11-10-2016

      You would need to be very careful with it. The Play is still under US copyright protection until 2023….the book is in public domain, but anything such as wording or characters or styles that are part of the Disney derivative would be owned by Disney. For me it is just not worth the risk.

    • 11-10-2016

      Wendi is spot on. If you are ever uncertain, it is up to you do to the research to confirm.

    • 2-24-2018

      Movies made based upon books buy the rights to the book in order to legally make the movie including Disney. Key example is Mary Poppins. The author gave Walt Disney a very hard time before finally selling him the rights to the book. So no Disney does not just go and make movies based upon books willy nilly. LOL

  59. 11-9-2016

    I have a question regarding handmade also. I purchase handbags and put name or initials on them; can I continue doing this or should I stop since I don’t make the handbag. But then again I put designs on t shirts, but I don’t make the t shirts. Things like this are confusing to me.


    • 11-10-2016

      That should be perfectly fine Tammie. I would be careful in using the shirts or other components as marketing ploys though. For example, you would not want to advertise you are using American Eagle shirts. You can still list it as a material, and you should disclose that, but to market the item as an American Eagle shirt you are assuming part of their brand identity to promote a product for profit that is not authorized by them.

  60. 11-9-2016

    I have a question on Handmade….If you buy lets say a candle or vase and alter it is that still considered handmade?

    • 11-10-2016

      I would say that is OK but I’d make sure to read through the Handmade Policy listed above just to make sure.

      • 11-10-2016

        Buying glass candle holders and adding glitter or crystals to them I think is okay right? Is that not the same as buying shirts and embroidering or tye dying them?

    • 11-10-2016

      No. Look up the definition of “handmade”. Altering a commercially available product with some kind of decoration does NOT make that thing handmade.

      • 11-10-2016

        So how do you go about listing these types of items then on Etsy?

      • 11-12-2016

        Etsy has a different definition of “handmade” from a typical dictionary. In the Etsy dictionary, embellished items count as handmade.

    • 11-10-2016

      While Micron may have a different opinion on what is considered handmade versus what is not, in the context of this article I am referring to the Etsy TOS definitions.

    • 11-11-2016

      If you significantly change the appearance of the candle, I believe it would fall within the terms of Etsy. If you are merely taking the candle and putting it in a display, it may not be considered handmade. So, it comes down to how you are altering the candle. I have a friend that paints on candles and they are beautiful. I consider her candles as handmade. The candle is still a candle, but you can not go buy a replacement for it at every store.

  61. 11-9-2016

    I completely agree with you. I made sure from day 1 not to use fabrics or patterns that weren’t mine. I have seen a ton of it being done.

    • 11-10-2016

      Wouldn’t all fabric technically be someone else’s design (other than of course fabric that you have printed yourself).

      What’s the actual difference between using Disney fabric and using fabric by companies like Waverly or Moda. They all have been designed by someone.

      • 11-10-2016

        The difference is that Disney specifically print on the selvedge of their fabrics that they are to be used for personal use only, so you can not sell anything made from them.

      • 11-11-2016

        And if you look at the salvage edges of fabric you’ll find that most fabrics, even if they aren’t outwardly licensed, have the little notation on it that says it’s licensed. Virtually all fabric is licensed if you start looking at the fabric. It’s not just the NFL, Nascar, Disney etc that is licensed. It makes making anything with fabric almost impossible to “legally” resell at craft shows


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