Copyright Online Piracy

How to Protect Your Work from Etsy’s Copyright Infringers

etsy

Part 2: Given the rampant infringement on sites like Etsy, what can an artist do to minimize the potential for infringement? Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet ,but there are a few steps that may make some difference.

  1. The first step is to register your works with the Copyright Office. There are a host of advantages to registration, which I have discussed in one of my older posts, here.
  2. Some artists use watermarks over their images as a means of protection. That will work however, in my opinion, that is a bit of an overkill.  While it may keep someone from copying the work, it does so by making the work unappealing which defeats the purpose of posting an artistic work in the first place.  Artists generally want their images to be seen in the best light possible and would not want to impede the viewer from seeing the image at its best.  What is helpful,  however, is adding a © copyright symbol and the artist’s name to the corner of the image. While this is easy to crop out and will not act as a deterrent, it will allow the artist to claim “circumvention” as per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in any lawsuit that may occur. Circumvention is too large a topic to be discussed in detail here, but the basic point is that removing the copyright line shows a willful intent to subvert the copyright protections, which can lead increased penalties and awards.
  3. If you find an infringing work on Etsy, or any other site, and then ask for it to be removed, it is critically important to read the take down procedures before sending a request.  The procedure must be followed to the letter.  The DMCA’s “Safe Harbor” provision protects the online service provider, such as Etsy, from copyright infringement claims only if the provider adheres to certain rules.  One of those rules is to follow the appropriate procedures for take down notices and,  those procedures must be prominently posted on the service providers website.  If a request is made for a take down, and the requester does not follow the procedures as posted, the service provider is not required to remove the potentially infringing work nor respond to the request. Conversely, if the service provider does not follow their posted procedures, then the provider does not receive the safe harbor and may be liable in a lawsuit.  It would certainly be better to sue Etsy, given their monetary worth, than one of their small stores. But without following the procedures yourself, that won’t happen. Etsy’s procedures are here for future reference.
  4. Most infringement for sites like Etsy go unnoticed because the artist never runs across the infringing material. So how would an artist ever know that there is an infringer out there unless they, or one of their friends, happens to stumble upon it? Well, there is a tool to help discover infringing material.  It is called src-img and it free.  This bookmarklet uses Google’s image search as its platform. Google’s image search technology doesn’t rely on file names or metadata hidden in the photo, but actually looks for similar images based on the physical image itself. So, if an artist’s work was on a pillow, and the infringing company took a picture of that pillow for their Etsy store, the image would still be located via the search. I encourage any artists to take a look at this tool and use it on a regular basis.  For more information on this, see my article here.
  5. Finally, there are countless posts on the web from people who have contacted Etsy over infringement and have not heard anything nor seen their works removed from the site. If there is no action after submitting a proper takedown procedure, the appropriate next step is to contact a copyright attorney. As well, regardless of whether the work has been removed due to a take down request, there may still be a cause of action for which that artist can receive monetary awards.  Very often, the artists is entitled to the money they would have charged in licensing the work, all the profit the infringer received from the sales of their work, and fines imposed by the DMCA which statutorily can be up to $150,000 per infringement. It pays to contact a copyright attorney to discuss your options.

As you may have realized, there is no concrete way to protect artistic works other than to not make them available on the internet, which in our internet based economy, would be almost impossible.  The system breeds infringers; that won’t change but these tips can help.  Also, for those artists concerned with the costs of suing Etsy or Etsy Store Owners, most attorney’s should be willing to take these cases on a contingency basis, which mean that the artist only pays the hard costs and the attorneys only get paid if they win.  So it doesn’t hurt to give an attorney a call.

About the author

Steve Schlackman

As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art and law. Should you have any questions on Intellectual Property contact him at [email protected] His photography can be seen online at Fotofilosophy.com or on display at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Orangenius Has Launched!

Orangenius

.

The Latest From Artrepreneur

  • Eight Artist in Residence Programs to Launch Your Career

    We’ve previously reviewed how important it is to craft a bio and resume that details your art career, and today we’ll discuss one essential element that’s sure to make your career stand out: the Artist in Residence. Artist in […]

  • Write an Artist Bio to Get Noticed

    Most artists are used to expressing themselves in creative ways, but fewer understand the importance of expressing who they are in words. In this article, we'll review the creating an artist bio while offering some useful tips on its content. The […]

  • Balancing a Full-Time Job with Fulfilling Creativity

    Need more time in your day to work on creative endeavors? Here are few ideas that may help. The post Balancing a Full-Time Job with Fulfilling Creativity appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Launching an Art Startup? These Online Resources Can Help.

    Launching your own art startup can be scary. Here are a few tips and online resources that may help. The post Launching an Art Startup? These Online Resources Can Help. appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Expanding Your Art Business Beyond You [Part 2]

    Are you ready to expand your art business? Here's what you need to know about hiring and terminating employees, employee retirement plans and vacation and sick leave. The post Expanding Your Art Business Beyond You [Part 2] appeared first on […]

  • You Don’t Have to be an Artist to Work with Art

    Just because you don’t possess any artistic abilities – or just because you haven’t made it as an artist yet – doesn’t mean you can’t have a creative, art-filled career. There are plenty of “art […]

  • Expanding Your Art Business Beyond You

    Artists successfully running their own art business may be ready to hire an employee. We've covered everything you need to know, from tax requirements to insurance obligations. The post Expanding Your Art Business Beyond You appeared first on […]

  • What Photographers Need to Know About Shooting People [with Cameras]

    In this article, we'll review a key example of publicity and privacy issues, and what you need to know to keep your photography in the clear. The post What Photographers Need to Know About Shooting People [with Cameras] appeared first on […]

  • Getting What You Want: Basic Negotiation Tips For Creatives

    Selling and negotiating can be very intimidating. Fear not! Here are some common sense tips to negotiation that can help you get what you want. The post Getting What You Want: Basic Negotiation Tips For Creatives appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • How to Sell Art [Without Being Annoying]

    Most artists will tell you that the hardest part of their job is trying to sell their artwork to the masses. Sure, they love the creativity and the freedom being an artist provides, but how can they make a living unless they sell their work? While […]

  • Museums Deck the Halls with Holiday Cheer for All

    Check out seasonal exhibits from some of the country’s top art museums. The post Museums Deck the Halls with Holiday Cheer for All appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Why Galleries Should Get Down with Art Fairs [A Useful Guide]

    As we're winding down from celebrating Art Basel Miami Beach, we're thinking about all the different ways galleries and artists can benefit from participating in these international art fairs. The post Why Galleries Should Get Down with Art Fairs [A […]

  • Your All Access Pass to Art Basel

    Dying to tackle Art Basel Miami Beach, but not sure where to start? You won't want to miss these stunning displays of the best of contemporary art. The post Your All Access Pass to Art Basel appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Get Your Networking on at Miami Art Week

    Miami Art Week is the perfect time for artists to network and gather contacts to keep building an art business. Check out five events primed to bring new opportunities. The post Get Your Networking on at Miami Art Week appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • The Garment District: From Buttons and Bows to a Home for Art

    The Garment District Alliance has worked hard to evolve the area from a faded industrial center to a revitalized business district committed to bringing art to the streets. The post The Garment District: From Buttons and Bows to a Home for Art […]

  • United States of the Art: Six Destinations for the Great American Road Trip

    A cross-country road trip provides plenty of opportunities to create art. The post United States of the Art: Six Destinations for the Great American Road Trip appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • How Does a Photography Business Make Money?

    Photographers are uniquely positioned within the art world to earn money through various revenue streams. Here's how you find work. The post How Does a Photography Business Make Money? appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • The Basics of Insurance Part II: Health Insurance for Artists

    In this article, we’ll a type of insurance that you’ll want to think about as you build your art business – health insurance for artists. The post The Basics of Insurance Part II: Health Insurance for Artists appeared first on […]

  • The Emergence of the Creative Entrepreneur

    The term “starving artist” has long been part of our lexicon, signifying the significant struggle artists face bringing their creative work to market. For the lucky few that survive until they have paid their dues, the career can be […]

  • Seth Godin and Marketing for the Art World

    A good marketing strategy can help grow a business if done well. Let Seth Godin show you how to be a modern marketer in his skillshare video series. The post Seth Godin and Marketing for the Art World appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • These Five Companies Put the Art in Startup

    Technology and art are intersecting in more ways than ever, and today’s art startups are revolutionizing the way art is consumed and collected. Entrepreneurs have been intersecting art and technology since the start of the .com boom. Portfolio […]

  • The Art Museum In The Digital Age

    I talked with Steve Konick, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Currier Museum of Art, in Manchester, New Hampshire, to understand why art museums are still relevant The post The Art Museum In The Digital Age appeared first on […]

  • Should I Open a Corporation for My Art Business?

    About 375,000 visual artists claim to be self-employed yet many don't realize that their personal assets can be at risk. Find out how opening a corporation can help protect you. The post Should I Open a Corporation for My Art Business? appeared […]

  • Model Citizens and Protected Images: Work-for-Hire and Right of Publicity

    Last week, we discussed model releases, and an example concerning a model whose image was being used by a company in a more liberal manner than what had originally been agreed upon by the model and the company. You may recall that in this instance, […]

  • Does Copyright and Trademark Law Protect 3D Printing?

    3D printing is a relatively new art form is sweeping the internet and worrying designers and Hollywood executives alike. Along with the advent of 3D printing, a steady stream of piracy and copyright infringement cases have been reported by industry […]

  • Consider this tip before signing an International Art Contract

    Most art galleries participate in art fairs throughout the year. Many of those fairs are international, such as Art Basel Switzerland or the Hong International Art Fair. International art fairs are an excellent way to position your gallery in […]

  • Six Steps to Safer Image Sharing

    Despite the unfortunate reality that image sharing on the Internet can lead to misappropriation of your work, there are some steps that can minimize the risks. The post Six Steps to Safer Image Sharing appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Does Freedom of Speech Protect Taking Photos of People Through Windows?

    Fine art Photographer Arne Svenson spent a year secretly taking photos of the Fosters, a family living across the street from his home. Does the Foster's Right to Privacy outweigh Svenson's Freedom of Expression? The post Does Freedom of Speech […]

  • Four Reasons Artists Should Hire Lawyers

    Think artists can't afford to hire lawyers? Actually, artists can't afford to not have one by their side. Here's four reasons why. The post Four Reasons Artists Should Hire Lawyers appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Death and Taxes: Save Millions Through Careful Estate Planning

    Artists and collectors can minimize estate taxes on artworks by employing a planning strategy and understanding the complexities involved with assessing the work's fair market value. The post Death and Taxes: Save Millions Through Careful Estate […]

  • Can You Spot a Fake? The Trouble with Authenticating Art

    What are the challenges for collectors in authenticating artworks? What are the legal remedies when a purchased artwork is discovered to be a forgery? The post Can You Spot a Fake? The Trouble with Authenticating Art appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Planning for the Copyright Registration Process

    It has become a common refrain among lawyers who represent photographers and other artists that it is important to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Although registration is not required for copyright protection, it is a […]

  • The Basics of Insurance for Artists

    There are many legal aspects of running an art-related business that could be fairly characterized as less than interesting, but few topics inspire more blank stares, or glazed-over eyes, faster than insurance. Like a lot of legal topics, thinking […]

  • Do You Know How to Protect Your Creative Business From a Devastating Lawsuit?

    Running a successful creative venture often involves understanding business just as keenly as you learn your craft, and for artists and gallery owners facing the threat of a lawsuit, it’s important to understand the steps you can take to […]

  • Videographers Must Obtain Music Licensing Rights

    Obtaining music licensing rights for videos is difficult but those that don't receive them are putting themselves and their customers at risk of a copyright infringement lawsuit. The post Videographers Must Obtain Music Licensing Rights appeared […]