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....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Custom Orders Accepted!

I wanted to pop in and share with you a custom order necklace and earring set I just completed.

The necklace in the set consists of a AAA quality cognac quartz briolette adorned with a cluster of petro tourmaline rondelles in shades of brown, rust and greenish gold. All the metal was oxidized sterling silver which was highlighted. The total length is 24 inches with an additional 2 inch extender.

Cognac quartz briolette & petro tourmaline necklace - Commission
This turned out to be one of my favorite creations to date.

I receive many requests for custom orders. Often times customers have a good idea of what they are looking for, but sometimes they only know what color they like and if they want silver or gold. It's always a challenge helping the customer come up with just the right creation from their ideas, their likes and dislikes. It's equally rewarding when their creation is finished and it turns out as lovely as they had imagined.

I truly fell in love with this set once it was completed. The necklace is bold and makes a statement, yet is elegant and feminine at the same time. The earrings are just as lovely as well and also consist of AAA quality stones. They can be worn separate from the necklace and are quite versatile in their neutral coloring.

Cognac quartz briolette earrings - Commission

As I have more matching stones to both the necklace and earring briolettes, I foresee another set in the future. Of course, the next one will have to be different. Perhaps done in gold or maybe given a completely dark patina. Who knows? There are lots of possibilities!

Cognac quartz briolette & petro tourmaline necklace, earring set - Commission

If you are ever in need of a piece of jewelry for yourself (or a gift), please do drop me a line and I will try to help come up with something just for you. Custom orders are definitely accepted!

Have a great week everyone!

Until next time....