I don’t know why it surprised me. Maybe because I’ve only been doing this art thing (online at least) since my birthday or because of the blinding arrogance of a thief but when I saw my little artworks for sale online a cold pit formed in my stomach – for that online shop was not my own. I decided to be polite and emailed the Seller asking him/her to refrain from stealing my pictures and sellng them on.
The responce I got was staggeringly simple “No, you stole from me”.
I loved that design they’d stolen. It started life as a phone doodle (doodled whilst I was chatting to my best friend) and then a year letter it was scanned and very carefully traced and then cleaned up. It was purely a labour of love. It was also so quirky that I wasn’t sure if anyone else would even like it. But that hadn’t mattered from its doodle sketch to digital delight.
Now it mattered. Etsy was making profit from my stolen design but I have never dealt with a company who are honestly disgusting when it comes to copyright theft. Here is why:
1. If you want to protect your stolen images that are being used to generate profit for Etsy they will then give the thief your personal contact details. Thats right – your thief (mine is in Germany will get my full UK details) . So hey – they can steal your work and then your identity. Excellent.
2. Etsy has no interests in protecting your rights. Infact they make their policy document so advanced that only an a) lawyer or b) member of Mensa would be able to understand it.
3. They drag out the process. I’d imagine it would be very hard to dedicate your time towards such an undertaking. I’m 93% sure its a deliberate act you make you either forget or decide its not worth the effort the pursuit.
4. Etsy is no longer for Crafters/Artists etc because it allows for mass manufacturing – so if your design is stolen then the thief can fire out as many prints onto any items as quick as possible. Etsy’s original purpose is lost.
5. Point 4 is a decision ONLY about profit.
Two months it took to get Etsy to take it down and no; they don’t compensate you – they keep the profits for themselves. -_-
I have learned two things however (as a direct result of this experience)
1. Etsy is about money – not artists.
2. It really put me in a dark place where I thought -“Whats the point of creating something if its just going to be stolen?” But I learned the answer “Because I am an artist (almost/kind of) and I will not let criminals influence what I do or do not do in this world.