Monday, April 30, 2012

The Guise of Infringement

I don't know if you are aware, but Etsy has been "cracking down" on anything they deem copyright infringement. However I have had a few of my Etsy friends suffer from this so called crack down, and in my opinion it has been without merit. Of course in none of the situations have my friends been allowed to know the full story so neither do I.

Here is one instance. My friend worked with another seller to purchase a pattern. She explained the pattern would be used to create the item for a special event and then sold for charity. The pattern maker agreed, in writing, to this arrangement. The item was created, used for the event, and then put on Etsy to sell. The pattern maker was noted in the listing and links were included to the pattern for others to buy. The pattern maker turned in the listing to Etsy as infringement. My friend gave the documentation with the pattern makers approval to Etsy and was told that it didn't matter if she approved the use she was retracting it now. Therefore even a written contract was not valid.

In this instance because the specific item was one she had worked with another store, she was able to research the issue and attempt to defend herself, however fruitless it was.

Another Etsy friend created a design one night while we were brainstorming and having dinner and drinks. She went home and the next day made the garment with some fabric she had lying about. It was lovely! She posted it on Etsy and about a week later she received an email that the item had been removed due to infringement. Another Etsy store had turned her in saying it was their design. The worst part is she has no idea who it was that complained as Etsy will not divulge the accuser. However the item was removed and Etsy threatened my friend with shutting down her store because "so many complaints" had been received. Again she had no idea of the accusers, quantity of complains, or nature of complaints.

When a criminal commits a crime he is legally allowed to face his accuser, but we can have things removed without any form of retribution, discussion, or even the ability to prove our validity.

I tell these stories because we all have clothing that is similar. Meaning a neckline might look the same, or they may both have swing skirts, however all of us design our items from a wide variety of influences. There are bad stores out there, and when they are discovered then action is taken. Heck even Etsy got fooled, they had a featured seller that was having all her items made in Indonesia and shipped over, and a huge back and forth started over that one that still isn't sorted out.

We need to all be cautious in how we watermark our photos, make notations about copyrights, and a large variety of other things to protect our items. I have been working towards this goal, but it is a hard thing to do while working full time, creating, sewing, blogging, and everything else that has to happen.

Let us all work together to protect the things that are ours, but also understand that it is not entirely unheard of that another person we have never met might actually create something similar to our item without ever having seen it. I am sure this has happened to a lot of us, but we can also see it on the runways where designers create things that are similar even years later.

I just want us all to work together to build each other up and not create tension by using terminology that causes people to bristle.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to add a little blurb. I personally had an item removed due to a complaint on infringement. It was a dress of Dalek battle armor from the Doctor Who series. I had gotten a request to make the costume, and I knew nothing about the series until I made the dress. An email from the BBC was sent to Etsy claiming infringement and the item was removed. After wards I searched for Dalek on Etsy and 894 items came up.

    I understand that the BBC owns the rights, but I make custom costumes, one hit wonders that are usually never made again. It seems a little strange to me to remove my item and leave the other 894 items which are effectively doing the same thing. I fear our society is getting a little TOO copyright happy.

    I make Star Trek costumes too, but won't be posting those either even though thousands of people have custom costumes made yearly for every possible Star Trek convention.