Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trademark/Copyright Infringement - is it really that hard?

Hello out there! I think I must be in a bit of a soap-box mood today, but something has been bugging me for a while and the subject came up again today in the Etsy forums: "Why can't I sell my handmade widgets that feature Hello Kitty/Disney stuff/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?" No offense intended to the original poster of that thread, that's not the title she used and she is certainly not the only one to ask about this issue...just one of many I've seen over the years that always makes me scratch my head and go, "Huh?"

I posted in that thread, but I'm going to re-post what I wrote here:

Janine from FoxtailCreekStudio says:

 I've always looked at this issue from an ethical standpoint as opposed to a legal one. Bear in mind I'm speaking in general terms where no licensing fees have been paid:

If 'Person A' lists a handmade item on Etsy and it gets more views/hearts/sales because it includes a character or image that someone else (Person B) created, it's simply not right.

Person B is the one who created the original character/image, and Person A is attempting to make money by using the popularity that Person B worked hard to create. Whether Person B is a huge corporation or a small-time artist themselves, it's still not right.

I know it can be confusing when so many others are doing it, but it's simple really... and shouldn't have anything to do with what's allowed or not allowed. 

Am I way off base here? I mean, I understand when people are first starting to sell their handmade items online, the business ethics side of things sometimes takes a while to sink in. Especially if they're using images from big-time companies, some people will assume it's ok because "they already make millions". 
Or there's always the other cop-out defense of "they should be grateful that I'm advertising for them". C'mon, really?
I just don't understand how anyone can REALLY not know in their heart that it's simply not cool (legal issues aside) if they take the time to stop and think about it from the trademark/copyright holder's side.

Ok I'm done with my speech :) Just had to get that out there because I'm starting to wonder if I'm over-simplifying it, or if I just sound like a self-righteous snob. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh,I get this big time.Irks me to no end, I don't understand how this is no big deal to some. My designs (to my knowledge) have not been copied and sold, but I am always flabbergasted when people blatantly copy things right off of Etsy, or from magazines, and sell it as their own. Especially within the beading world, this seems to happen an awful lot, and it's so simple: give credit where credit is due, and if something is not for commercial use, then don't use it to make money.Intellectual property is still property. Oftentimes, when we are talking about patterns for sale, things get muddy. Those usually are for private use, but often times the seller allows the buyer to produce for sale as long as credit is given to the originator of the pattern. And sometimes that doesn't even happen. If you want to read a good blogpost on where a pattern was baltently stolen (from a very good friend of mine, who was most gracious about it), check this out: