Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On Being Ripped Off

On Tuesday I learned that pictures and descriptions of my jewelry as well as other Etsy artists' jewelry were being used on some other selling sites without our consent, permission, authorization or anything else. What a shocker! None of us had any idea we were being ripped off in such a way nor did we have any relationship whatsoever with the companies in question.
Turns out these websites all claimed to sell hand made artisan products. That could not have been further from the truth in our cases.

Here's what is stated on that site:
"...a marketplace from a merchant adventurer who partners with small, independent producers for unique and original items."
He's an adventurer all right! But there was absolutely no partnership between him and the Etsy sellers he ripped off!

Another of his sites says this:
"All of our items are made by hand, unique and original items. As partners with international producers, we offer a direct marketplace to you with the service, satisfaction, trust and security you deserve."
HA! I suppose they have someone somewhere in the world recreating OUR items while using OUR pictures AND descriptions! It's ludicrous!! Oh, but it gets better! What really baffled me was that the Sundance Catalog, Robert Redford's company, was being ripped off by these guys too! Can you believe the nerve of some people???

This abhorrent spectacle was transformed by means of this Etsy forum thread which ended up having some excellent detective work going on. The Etsy community pulled together to find out who was behind these sites, what websites were involved, and who on Etsy was being taken advantage of in this way. Tweets were sent about this on Twitter for all Etsy sellers to check these sites for their own pictures. Facebook page statuses were updated with the same info; the entire Etsy community spread the word!

Now keep in mind, these companies did not have any of our actual items as they are not resellers whom we have sold to. They did not ask us for use of our content. How then did they have our items ready to ship if someone purchased OUR items from THEIR sites? Can't you just see a sweat shop somewhere trying to replicate our designs? Plus, they were selling them for MUCH lower than any of us could ever make the items for, but in no way did we consent to them using our pics or descriptions. It was blatant theft.

I took some screen shots of my own work used on their sites as proof and examples of what was found there. My items have now all been taken off their sites as far as I'm aware, thank God.

Here is a link to MY legitimate item found on Etsy in MY shop. Also, here is the original picture uploaded to my Flickr back in 2008 when I initially created them for sale.

So we called their customer service numbers only to find they had been disconnected. We emailed their customer service addresses stating we were on to them and they needed to remove all items that were used without consent. We told them they were infringing on our digital copyrights. I finally found a live chat on one site and proceeded to tell them to remove any and all of my items that had been used without permission. In the end, they finally removed my items from all three of their sites. As far as I can tell, they removed the other most if not all items from the other artists as well. At least I think they did. Sundance I'm not so sure about.

This article was also written about what transpired today.

You can read another take on the day here courtesy of the Etsy seller who was the first to learn about all this. To Bridget of Organikx, we thank you! If you had not started the now closed forum thread, who knows how long it would have gone on? Who knows how much money these people made by using OUR pictures as well as our verbiage? And who knows how many more sites are out there using Etsy sellers' pictures, descriptions, etc., without our permission?

I'm sure of one thing. I'm going to begin work on watermarking all my photos. I may never again make the Etsy front page as a result, but that's ok. At least my pictures can't be stolen as easily. 

It's not like I even make that much jewelry, but what I do make is MINE! I do the work. I write the descriptions. I take the pictures. Did they not think they would be found out? Seems like a really bad business practice to steal pictures and verbiage from little people like us who do all the work. I have but one thing to say to these people: KARMA.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever been ripped off like this?

I've ranted enough for one day. And whew, what a day!

Until next time....


Wan said...

Oh no! I am so sorry Ginger! I'll be equally angry if they did that to me! :(

Jujube said...

That is horrible!!
They just simply copy and paste. I feel so sad if anyone (innocent customers) had bought things from them...

Belinda Lee said...

Good on you for having the courage to confront these cheats. Some other friends of mine who sell on Etsy also went thru' the same thing! How have they managed to carry on business without being sued?

Som's said...

I am glad that they removed your listings from the fake sites. Thieves!! No wonder they are rated F on BBB.

Yes, Karma bites.

susanc said...

OMG - did they think nobody would find out? I cannot believe that someone would go as far as not only stealing your photo, but your description too? That is so beyond pathetic. Is there legal action that can be taken against these creeps? If they've done it once... Sheesh. I hope if we all stick together, we can "protect" each other or at least make others aware of what's going on. Thank you so much for posting this!

Clementine said...

I'm so glad your stolen photos were removed, Ginger! But I still can't believe this is an entire company with multiple websites built upon theft and copyright infringement. Amazing. What asshats!

ebbandflo said...

i'm so sorry - this is just totally disgusting. i would hate it if my products were associated with such bad business. i hope it all ends well for you and the other artists involved

Brandi said...

This is so disgusting and frustrating - I am so sorry that you, and other reputable artisans, were ripped off! It is THEFT, bottom line, and I'm glad you all confronted them.

And you're right - Karma will come back to them.

Natalia said...

How awful - I'm sorry your photos were stolen, and I'm so glad you were able to resolve this. Well done on confronting them and having your images removed!

South Paw Studios said...

that is just the craziest thing i have seen in a while.
Ginger, so sad that happened to you, glad that you got your images removed! was a A-hole. Karma will come back to kiss his butt someday.

Contrariwise said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stainless steel earrings said...

Without any internet police this happens a lot.

You can contact Google for help.

What seems to help the most is to email the webmaster and let them know that you will be contacting Google and their webhost. This scares a lot of people.

Also you can contact their webhost to let them know what is going on.

Hope this helps. said...


Megpie said...

Ludicrous! I have only had my designs stolen locally, so I can't even imagine how you feel, but I'm glad that it was (hopefully) short-lived, and that it never happens again. And good for you Ginger for standing up to the lions of injustice :)

Adelaide said...

KARMA is right. It's such a shame people use these disgusting methods to operate their business and websites.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

That is absolutely horrible! I'm so glad you got your photos removed!

Julie Magers Soulen Photography