Etsy DMCA Safe Harbor
Intellectual Property

An Etsy Store Stole My Art. What Can I Do?

It has been about a year since I wrote about the excessive complaints permeating the web regarding copyright infringement on Etsy, the popular ecommerce site dedicated to handmade and vintage goods. Unfortunately, not much has changed since then, at least not from an anecdotal review of complaints on the web. That’s not surprising as the company’s claims DMCA Safe Harbor Protection (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), which says that if a website only provides a forum for posting and sharing content but doesn’t control the content, then they cannot be sued for copyright infringement.

Without the Safe Harbor, site like YouTube and Vimeo might not exist because each copyright infringement would place them at considerable risk of a lawsuit. The downside is that sites protected under the DMCA have little incentive to proactively stop copyright infringement. There is a bit of a debate within certain members of the legal community as to whether sites like Etsy, Café Press, or Zazzle really qualify for that immunity, but for now, assume that Etsy is protected under the DMCA.

The good news for copyright owners.

Any website that claims to qualify for DMCA Safe Harbor must follow certain rules including a prescribed system for taking down infringing content. Having helped several clients takedown images on Etsy, I can say that

at least in my experience, the company is very prompt at removing offending material. Also, in at least a couple of cases, infringers uploaded the images again after Etsy removed them but after sending a second takedown request, there was no further infringement. Whether the infringers gave up or Etsy took further action, I don’t know. Regardless, while Etsy may not be proactive in preventing its stores from posting infringing materials, removal of infringing materials should be removed within 24 hours after a takedown request is submitted.

What should you do if you find infringing material on Etsy?

If you find an infringement, immediately send a takedown request by email. Below is a sample request letter that you can use. This letter may also be useful for other sites following the DMCA procedures, not just Etsy, but you should always check the site’s term and conditions for their specific takedown procedures. For example, Google provides web based forms so writing a letter is not required.  If you use our Etsy Takedown Letter for your infringement, I would appreciate it if you could revisit this page and post your story in the comments section. Maybe your experiences can help someone else deal with an Etsy infringement. Also, if you find the letter helpful, please share this article with your friends.

 Sample Etsy Takedown Letter

[Date]

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to effect removal of the infringements reported below. Please address any correspondence to:

[Name]
[Address]
[Phone]
[Email]

I request that you immediately issue a cancellation notice as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified postings to prevent the infringer, identified below, from posting and selling the infringing material through your service, now and in the future. Please be advised that law requires Etsy, Inc., as a registered service provider, to “expeditiously remove or disable access to” the infringing material upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA. The infringing store selling copies of the work for which I hold a copyright is [Shop Name] at [Etsy Store Website URL].

Below, please find a link to my original work along with a link to the infringing work on Etsy website.

Original Work by [Copyright Holder Name]

[Name of Work, if any]
[Website URL]
Creation Date: [Date]

Infringing Work(s):

[Website URL]
Item #[Number]

I have a good faith belief that use of the material listed above and displayed on your website in the manner complained of is not authorized by me, my agents, or the law. The information provided in this notification is accurate. Under penalty of perjury, I affirm that I am the complaining party and/or I am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights in the work described above

Sincerely,

[Name]
[Position. If any]

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.