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Quck Resolution Of Copyright Infringement On Etsy

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I can't go into much detail here, because Etsy advised that this is a confidential matter, with which I am willing to comply.

 

Over the weekend I saw a listing on Etsy that was a clear infringement of my copyrights. On Monday morning, I looked for a solution and found that Etsy has a web form for reporting such violations. It took about 10 minutes to complete the form. Less than two hours later, the listing was taken down.

 

I just want to commend Etsy for taking this issue seriously, providing the process, and resolving it so quickly.

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I can't go into much detail here, because Etsy advised that this is a confidential matter, with which I am willing to comply.

 

Over the weekend I saw a listing on Etsy that was a clear infringement of my copyrights. On Monday morning, I looked for a solution and found that Etsy has a web form for reporting such violations. It took about 10 minutes to complete the form. Less than two hours later, the listing was taken down.

 

I just want to commend Etsy for taking this issue seriously, providing the process, and resolving it so quickly.

How do you go about copyrighting your work?

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In the U.S., nothing official needs to be done in order to establish your copyrights. If there is a dispute, you just need to be able to prove that the work is yours, and when you made it. It's another good reason to take and catalog pictures of your work.

GiselleNo5 likes this

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I'm glad to hear it was resolved so quickly for you, Mea! I have come across this problem over and over again for years unfortunately. In my experience three out of four infringers are embarrassed and will remove the work given a simple request. The fourth requires action with Etsy or the website that's hosting the photos. I know it's my right to my own work I'm defending and I know that if I don't nip it in the bud it will become worse but every time it ties my stomach in knots, especially sending those messages. Some people have been downright nasty. My personal favorite informed me that I couldn't possibly have any rights to the work she had copied because copying it "was so easy a child could do it". That kinda made my day. 

 

I definitely recommend doing the process on a computer rather than a mobile device. Perhaps some can manage it but for me the computer is so much easier and I can move things around and see them better. 

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it ties my stomach in knots, especially sending those messages. Some people have been downright nasty.

 

I lost interest a long time ago in trying to convince people like this (who have demonstrated their tendency for self-absorbtion) to change their behavior. The hurt feelings and backlash are not worth the hassle. I've learned that trying to be nice or sensitive about it only convinces the other person that it wasn't wrong. When I have the right to swing a decisive and non-personal axe, I swing it.

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Out of curiosity, what is copyrightable when it comes to ceramics? I've found conflicting information online. Is it just the glaze "decoration" and/or photographs of work? I read somewhere about functional/utilitarian ceramics not being copyrightable.

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You're right, the functional/utilitarian aspects are so ubiquitously shared that they are not copyrightable. Copyrightable elements must be original and distinctive, and provable that they are your original idea. 

 

For example, I make a lot of canisters with an elephant-shaped handle on their lids. This is a fairly specific idea, but I don't consider it to be copyrightable. It's still too broad, I have no idea if I did it first, and there are an endless number of ways to take this concept and execute an original design from it. The idea is only one component of the design, not the gestalt of the design. 

 

By contrast, in the example I am referring to above (again I'm trying to keep the details confidential), another potter attempted to replicate a complete design of mine, from top to bottom, including quite a few specific and original details. Then named the pot with the same name I use for mine. 

 

I can think of some potters who have developed such a unique "look" to their work, including specific details that are original to them, and done a fabulous job marketing their work so that the "look" and the potter's name have become recognizable. If another potter tried to capitalize off of this by attempting to sell copies of the work, the original potter would have a copyright claim. By "look" I suppose I am mostly referring to surface decoration ideas, not forms. But there can be original ideas that are 3-dimensional but still part of the "look" rather than the function. Martha Grover's work comes to mind. A lot of her design elements are 3-d, but still very original and distinctive. 

GiselleNo5 and Roberta12 like this

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As per the elephant on the lid...you can't copyright an elephant shaped handle thats a concept and concepts aren't copyrightable but you can copyright the shape of your specific elephant handle.

 

My bowl or bowl shape is not copyrightable but any drawing or incising design is copyrightable as long as in is not generic dots or lines or something similar.

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It of my opinion that sites like Esty err on the side of caution. Instead of investigating who owns the assumed copyright they will delete the image or scare the other party into removing the image in order to avoid legal conflict or having one's membership removed.

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You're right, the functional/utilitarian aspects are so ubiquitously shared that they are not copyrightable. Copyrightable elements must be original and distinctive, and provable that they are your original idea. 

 

For example, I make a lot of canisters with an elephant-shaped handle on their lids. This is a fairly specific idea, but I don't consider it to be copyrightable. It's still too broad, I have no idea if I did it first, and there are an endless number of ways to take this concept and execute an original design from it. The idea is only one component of the design, not the gestalt of the design. 

 

By contrast, in the example I am referring to above (again I'm trying to keep the details confidential), another potter attempted to replicate a complete design of mine, from top to bottom, including quite a few specific and original details. Then named the pot with the same name I use for mine. 

 

I can think of some potters who have developed such a unique "look" to their work, including specific details that are original to them, and done a fabulous job marketing their work so that the "look" and the potter's name have become recognizable. If another potter tried to capitalize off of this by attempting to sell copies of the work, the original potter would have a copyright claim. By "look" I suppose I am mostly referring to surface decoration ideas, not forms. But there can be original ideas that are 3-dimensional but still part of the "look" rather than the function. Martha Grover's work comes to mind. A lot of her design elements are 3-d, but still very original and distinctive. 

 I don't think you are on Etsy, are you Mea? Did someone point this out to you? Though I have not been pottering for as long as some, I feel your work has a VERY distinctive look, feel, quality, design. 

 

Roberta

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I'm not on Etsy, I came across the listing via a google search. Like I mentioned, the other potter used the same name for their pot, so I was bound to see it sooner or later. Apparently Etsy listings rank high in google searches.

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RonSa, I'm not saying that the name is copyrightable. Using the same name made it easy for me to come across the infringement. And using the same name helped me to prove that the pot itself was an infringement.

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I wasn't insinuating that Mea, sorry if you felt that way.

 

I was just pointing out copyright rules so others won't be misinformed or misconstrue what has been said. Copyrights and trademarks are a tricky thing and can turnaround and bite if one is not careful.

 

One of the biggest myths is the Poor Man's Copyright which offers no protection under the US copyright law.

 

And yes, it was a convenient way for you to google your products and pretty dumb for the other person to use the same name.

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It of my opinion that sites like Esty err on the side of caution. Instead of investigating who owns the assumed copyright they will delete the image or scare the other party into removing the image in order to avoid legal conflict or having one's membership removed.

 

The other person can say that they dispute the copyright claim and put the ball back in your court. Usually if someone really has copied you they are not going to risk being taken to court over it. 

 

 

 

I can think of some potters who have developed such a unique "look" to their work, including specific details that are original to them, and done a fabulous job marketing their work so that the "look" and the potter's name have become recognizable. If another potter tried to capitalize off of this by attempting to sell copies of the work, the original potter would have a copyright claim. By "look" I suppose I am mostly referring to surface decoration ideas, not forms. 

 

I am looking into a design patent for some of my work. It's an expensive process and will involve hiring a lawyer. -.- 

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It of my opinion that sites like Esty err on the side of caution. Instead of investigating who owns the assumed copyright they will delete the image or scare the other party into removing the image in order to avoid legal conflict or having one's membership removed.

 

The other person can say that they dispute the copyright claim and put the ball back in your court. Usually if someone really has copied you they are not going to risk being taken to court over it. 

 

It would be very draconian if they couldn't.

 

Good luck with the design patent

GiselleNo5 likes this

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I was involved in making a line of ceramic pins and magnets back in the late 70s and early 80's. We stamped a copyright C on the back-that took care of 95% of any issues-no lawyer.

I have had 100's of folks take photos of my work at shops most never ask a few to copy I'm sure. I just let it all go. I'm sure someone is coping an idea or form-I just keep moving forward as I'm unaware of it. If it ever came up like it did for Mea I'm sure I would do the same as her-it really chaps my hide when folks copy exactly.

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I am looking into a design patent for some of my work. It's an expensive process and will involve hiring a lawyer. -.- 

 

 

Research the financial viability of the design carefully before you spend much on this. 

 

If the idea is really a potential "big seller" done in clay..... you can pretty much expect to have no more than a 6 month to 1 year window to make your money before it'll be knocked off in places like China and flooded onto the market at cheaper price points than you can accomplish.  History show this clearly. 

 

Copyrights and patents don't get enforced with persistent violators without BIG bucks spent in doing so. 

 

best,

 

....................john

Joseph F, GEP, GiselleNo5 and 1 other like this

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I am looking into a design patent for some of my work. It's an expensive process and will involve hiring a lawyer. -.-

 

A design patent could be a double-edged sword for a handmade pottery business. It might encourage you to not evolve your work, because you've invested so much in the patent and don't want to stray outside of the protected area. And I agree with John, enforcing your patent will still be very expensive.

GiselleNo5 likes this

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If you read articles about patents most of them are a complete waste of time. Copycats in this day and era don't even care if you have a patent.

 

I've read articles about Kickstarter and people with really innovative designs. Before their Kickstarter is finished their design had already been engineered by the Chinese and brought to market.

 

Just a thought.

JBaymore likes this

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