Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Those Pesky Laws - Don't Let Them Get in Your Way!

So…once again, Etsy manages to take a perfectly benign (if, in our opinion, generally useless) Storque feature and turn it into a nightmarish example of Etsy’s complete lack of professionalism (and, apparently, lack of a clue, as well).

Of what do we speak? The latest installment in the Quit Your Day Job series featuring Etsy sellers, highlighting the work of GeekCentralStation, seems to have completely missed the fact that this shop is selling figures based on, and with names identical to, some trademarked characters.

Here’s a little news flash: DC Comics usually doesn’t like people to sell things with the Superman “S” blazing on the front without their permission. The Superman shield is a registered trademark. Yoda is registered, too, and toys and plush figures that look like Yoda are supposed to be licensed. How do I know this? Well, I took the handy advice provided by Etsy attorney SarahSays in her Storque series on Legal Info for Artists and searched the U.S. Patent office site for trademarks related to some of these characters. Hello? Etsy? Do you EVER listen to your own advice?

Let us be clear – the Bitches don’t feel any great sympathy for DC Comics or Lucasfilms. We certainly don’t care if someone makes a little bit of money using these characters, and we’re not interested in defending Big Corporate America against an indie artisan. But the laws are out there, and questions about copyrights and trademarks come up on Etsy all the time. How many times do you see a newbie post something like, “Can I sell my cute Spongebob bibs here?”

Let us also be clear – we know that it’s not Etsy’s job, as a venue, to enforce this stuff. Lucasfilms, or whichever corporation, has to defend its rights in these situations. And most of the time, small businesses fly well under the corporate radar. But for God’s sake, Etsy, don’t act like the laws don’t exist! Way to further reinforce the widespread idea that it's perfectly all right to profit from the use of trademarked images. Not only that, but by featuring this seller, Etsy may very well have screwed her over by making her a bit more public and getting the shop out there where Lucas Licensing can see it.

And let us FURTHER be clear – we like this seller’s work. Her little figures are really cute, and the work appears to be pretty nice. If she’s selling successfully, it sure seems justified. We don’t want to bash Sammi in any way. We just can’t believe that no one at Etsy noticed that the characters were a bit, um, familiar.

As a few people pointed out in comments on the Storque article – did anyone at Etsy even CONSIDER this before publishing the feature? Maybe this seller did all her homework and talked to a lawyer. Maybe she even got permission from these companies to use the characters’ names and images. But, sadly, we doubt it. Whatever – there’s no mention of that anywhere in the shop or the article. Here was the perfect chance for Etsy to teach the few dozen people who still read the Storque what to do, or what NOT to do, when thinking about trademarked characters. This article could have given us some really useful information. All we get from Etsy is an afterthought by SarahSays at the end of the comments, after other people raised questions - and she just told them to mind their own business, reminding us we "don't have all the details." Too little, too late. This is a real problem, and by acting like it's some secret we don't deserve to know about, Sarah misses the point.

This is yet another example of cluelessness, laziness, and simple failure to make sure the staff knows the company’s rules. It’s the same reason we see mass produced goods on the front page, featured in Storque treasuries, and gracing the Gift Guides, time and time again. Admin would have to be actually PAYING ATTENTION to make sure that didn't happen.

Etsy, once again, the hammock has collapsed out from under you.


impetuous said...

What a bunch of morons.

sulking said...

Hear Hear!

Brooke Medlin said...

Etsy refuses to do even the littlest bit of homework regarding what they put on the front page and in featured articles, despite pleas from sellers (myself included) to do so. It's getting kinda ridiculous.

stonesoupjewelry said...

What a shame, for the seller and for the people who will now think they don't need to worry about trademarks, copyrights, etc.

The Funny One said...

And the really sad thing it, this "mistake" is one of too many to count. Laziness? Absolutely. Not only is Etsy too lazy to vet its featured sellers (in all features, articles, and email promotions), they are too lazy to change the GG selections, too lazy to come up with a replacement for the useless Showcases, and too lazy to remove flagged sellers and their flagged items.

They just throw the thing at sellers (like it or leave it) and walk away. Etsy has turned out to be its own worst enemy, and it's been going on for so long, it shows.

godot said...

The admin who wrote the article obviously didn't check with the in house attorney, who just thinks it's so great the seller can make a living sewing trademarked dolls.

Just how many times is this going to happen?

Ann said...

While the seller is undeniably talented, would she be able to sell enough to quit her day job if she wasn't relying on the high profile of the characters she makes. If she was designing and naming her creations from scratch would the success be the same? She even admits to networking with fans of the movies and I'm sure that helps to have that name brand recognition to start off with.

It will be interesting to see how Etsy handles the questions about licencing.

The Malevolent One said...

If that seller has a license to distribute those characters, then I will eat a crocheted Gandalf.

Sorry, but if you can't be bothered to educate yourself on the basics of copyright and trademark then you are not qualified to quit your day job and run a business.

eclipse said...

I feel bad about this because the items ARE very cute and I would even want to buy them, but if we think it's OK to infringe on someone else's creation when they are millionaires, then we can't ever whine about small artists being ripped off. It's the same thing, it doesn't become suddenly OK when the victim is rich.
The items are well made and she certainly puts creativity into making them, but the primary attraction is that they are famous characters people know and love. That is an established market that someone else built (and spent a lot of money to build and develop that market). You can't just piggyback on that. I mean right now there is nothing hotter than Batman. It's breaking every box office record. Wouldn't we all like a little slice of that pie? I'd love to make some items with the batman logo. But we didn't bake the pie! You can't just help yourself to a piece.

ja said...

I love how SarahSays retreats behind the "we don't know all the details" defense. Honey, I come from a lawyering family...lawyers make it their business to know all the details. All you've done is reveal that you're not doing your job.

The Cranky One said...

But.. but.. she's twenty with hippy hair and is cute asa button! What use is being indie if you aren't a young and rule breaking rogue???

What are we to expect from a company founded by a man who cemented his "education" on identity theft and lying on his resume!?

eclipse said...

How "indie" is it to use characters from blockbuster mainstream hollywood movies?
Is there anything LESS indie than star wars?

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...

Licensed fabric has been in court before and the crafter won. It's called First Sale Doctrine or something, bascially you can make and sell something made out of licensed fabric (DC, Disney, MLB) as long as you don't create a unique item, and don't create enough of them to have a trademarkable "line" as a result of it.

This however is blatant. And etsy should be ashamed it made it that far. She is making trademarkable items of someone else's property.

Every throw a bitchfit over using Spiderman fabric for a toy (an i intended use btw, and that's why the crafter won the suit), but this they just smile and let it by. Insane.

HeadBonk said...

I couldn't believe it when I saw this feature. They've basically invited a nice little lawsuit into this seller's lap. And frankly, she should know better.

If she has licensed these characters, they most definitely should have mentioned it to educate those who don't know it's an issue. But considering how much it would cost, I doubt she's paid for that license.

The company that owns Dr. Who issued a cease and desist to people who were knitting Dr. Who character dolls. What makes this different?

But then, this is Etsy, who allows one seller to follow Australian copyright laws in order to determine which American fashion magazines have fallen into public domain, allowing her to sell copies of vintage Vogue knitting patterns, which she has now retyped and copyrighted in her own name.

Awesome. Copyrigth theft is SO indie! I think I'll crochet some Etsy logos and sell them on my website.

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...

There is also a huge difference in having even a licensed pattern for a fan to make one for themselves and that person turning around and selling them by the dozen.

Just because the pattern might be licensed for sale, doens't mean YOU can sell the results. Often they are for "personal use".

headbonk said...

I should add that the reason I know about this Australian seller is that I flagged her shop and a few days later, she had a disclaimer saying that in Australia, these magazines were in public domain. So clearly someone contacted her about it.

So what, now I need to contact Vogue so they can defend their own copyright? I guess I'll ring up George Lucas and let him know, too.

el-stinko-armpit said...

eclipse said...
How "indie" is it to use characters from blockbuster mainstream hollywood movies?
Is there anything LESS indie than star wars?


But Etsy is okay with having Street Teams for fans of mainstream media. That's not indie, either. Damn, I'm waiting for a street team whose members craft and list on Etsy wearing ONLY Victoria's Secret undies or some such. It just has to happen! The avatar has to be your proof.

Etsy is about bringing in the bucks in terms of seller listing fees. If a bumch of resellers and/or crafters flood Etsy with all kinds of non-licensed copyrightable doodads, Etsy gets paid. Paid twice because mainstream stuff outsells indie, duh. Listings can always be deleted later when/if someone complains. That's how Etsy's founder lives his life: do whatever you can get away with aka 'Do unto others, then split'.

I hear the Tolkien family is very aggressive in protecting their material.

Andy Mathis said...

Etsy- your place to have your intellectual property rights violated.

theoriginalwtf said...

two words:


Paula B said...

el-stinko, if I were the seller, I would be more afraid of Lucas than Christopher Tolkien. I graduated with a degree in illustration, and part of my senior project was putting together a database of various licensed characters/books/movies/etc. and what procedures one would have to go through to get licensed, how much you'd have to pay, and how aggressive the trademark holders were.

Saul Zaentz and Co (the TM holders for LOTR characters) are fluffy, fluffy kittens compared to Lucas.

The Righteous One said...

Wow...the fluffy kittens just sued the production company that made their movies (legally) because they didn't get the proper royalties/credits, nevermind the licensing of them.

That would mean Lucas is scary - very very scary. I wonder if he sends Darth Vader himself, or worse, the emperor!

Holy Dark Side, Batman!

My five bucks is on the Storque article disappearing - if you can't find it, it never happened. My vote for Etsy's new tagline.

ShrugItOff said...

This was really the biggest Storque boner I've seen to date.

Etsy is Unfuckingbelievable.

marie said...

wow...and that sarahsays chic is supposed to be etsy's lawyer? Where did she bitch get her J.D. that told her it's ok to advise your clients to look the other way as far as copyright is concerned??

You know, I have a good mind to make this VERY public, there are a few people who would be interested in this sort of news release, especially with the recent news of ebay getting hit super hard with a lawsuit verdict. Etsy is sure to follow in their footsteps with this kind of mess.

dangerousmezzo said...

A big *headdesk* from me. I so hope that Etsy gets its unprofessional ass sued over this one. How any lawyer can just throw up her hands over this sort of thing is beyond me.

eclipse said...

The whole "Etsy is just a venue" excuse is not applicable for the JURIED content of the Storque.
It's true that Etsy is not responsible for user-generated content on the site at large but they are 100% responsible for what goes into the Storque and the front page. They need to take more due diligence on the juried sections of the Etsy site.

Paula B said...

therighteousone- you never hear about it because the businesses who sell the stuff illegally just sort of...go away.

But what I was really referring to is the process you have to go through to get licensed for SW character reproductions. Most TM holders will give you a license after you submit a portfolio and pay the fee, provided your artistic style is what they're after. (For example, I've submitted a portfolio to the company that holds the TM for the book LOTR characters. I got a lovely letter back stating that they liked my work, and would be interested in seeing it again in a few years, but that they had just granted a license to another artist whose style was very similar to mine.) So the process for book-LOTR=not that scary, even when you get rejected.

One of my fellow illustrators with whom I am friendly is trying to get a license for Star Wars art. He is in his THIRD ROUND of personal interviews and portfolio presentations. Even if he does get a license, all of the art will need to be approved before he can make it public. Basically they have a certain style that they want all ST art to be in, and it has to have all of the details correct. Which means my friend has been feverishly reading all of the novels over and over and over again to make sure he has all of the details right.

Star Wars art process=SCARY AS HELL

wristeroni said...

Much like the whole hammock fiasco . . . they were just being irresponsible and LAZY once more.

ShrugItOff said...

Etsy thread now closed and Storque article now being moderated ("only nice comments accepted!")

forum rubbernecker said...

I respect Sammi as a skilled artisan.
However, I work VERY hard thinking up my own designs. I think about new designs before I drift off to sleep, in the shower, even in church! I also work hard at being a suck up, but I don't know that I will ever be featured anywhere. I reported someone to a large corporation for violating a patent, only to see them ON THE FRONT PAGE a few days later. Nothing, but nothing, makes me madder than someone who rips off copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc. If all that went away, how many of us do you think would be left on Etsy?

Andy Mathis said...

Is Mama Maria out of the office again today ?!?

lessa said...

As far as the article, its had the 'comments are being moderated' up all day so someone put through the questioning ones. They are probably watching those comments more closely now though.

Honestly, I expect the article to either be pulled by morning OR the comments questioning the legalities will be pulled.

Heather said...

I admit I kind of feel bad for this girl...she can't be more than 20 and probably never thought about copyright (I wouldn't have, I admit!). But etsy should have, and shouldn't be promoting someone who doesn't have the copyright rights, or whatever.

Sigh. Hopefully this is the type of crap that will all move over to the labs.

And was there a forum post? Do share :D

ShrugItOff said...

It was this thread:

lurker said...

Will there be a big announcement in the forums and The Storque when Maria brings in her own hand-picked competent attorney?

Etsy's half-assed approach to EVERYTHING boggles the mind.

theoriginalwtf said...

I love that marymary had the balls to close that thread, after SHE wrote the article to begin with. what a fat lot of hypocritical bullshit!

The Funny One said...

Yeah, but marymary closes just about all the threads she starts. I do wonder if any of her verbose statements are ever reviewed before they are posted? I always thought, if I was the spokesperson for my company, and I said 10% of what she has, I would have been fired after the second incident.

She writes and posts before she thinks. "Etsy Community Liaison"? For what community?

yeah you right said...

WOW, JUST... WOW (tm)

mydesertstudio said...

I learned two things on Etsy this past week.

1. Spam is A-OK and encouraged.

2. Copyright infringment is A-OK, and encouraged.

I'm still wondering how much worse it can get.

Check the mirror, then whine said...

Oh, sweet irony of life.

Did you bitches ask permission from J. Howard Miller before using his "We Can Do It" image for this blog?

I'm guessing "no."

thatswhatshesaid said...

Oh, sweet irony of life.

Did you bitches ask permission from J. Howard Miller before using his "We Can Do It" image for this blog?

I'm guessing "no."


HA! Good point.

eclipse said...

This image is in the public domain

NoFaithInEtsy said...

Before you go accusing you should check your own facts.

"This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 without a copyright notice."

eclipse said...

HA! Even gooder point.

dillon designs said...

Man, there's nothing sadder than a "gotcha!" gone wrong.

I am SO the boss of you! said...

checkthemirror,thenwhine and thatswhathesaid are freakin idiots. nice one ladies.

The Malevolent One said...

Too damn funny. Perhaps some people should spend more time checking facts and less time thinking up snide anonymous nicknames.

To expand upon the previous responses:

"We Can Do It" by J. Howard Miller was created in 1942 which means it is subject to the 1909 Copyright Act, which gave original works two 28-year terms of copyright. When the first term expired, the author would have to re-register the work to be eligible for the second term. There is no documentation showing that copyright was affixed for the original term or that re-registration ever occurred. There has also never been a legal challenge to the use of the image, which is extremely widespread.

ShrugItOff said...


The time to think up a good burn on the Etsy Bitches.....3 hours

Time to think up a cool anonymous name......... 10 minutes

Time to relish in the cutting bite to your comment.... 20 minutes

Looking like an ass...Priceless

Andrea Q said...

Etsy's disregard for intellectual property laws could cause huge problems for this seller. I feel sorry for her. Most people get a polite wake-up call; she could get a nastygram from Lucas.

eclipse said...


bizatch said...

hey, why won't marymary's closed thread load for me? hrmmmm hrmm hrmm

KDW said...

Wow. I was shocked to see that, with absolutely no mention of the legal aspect. This could have been such a good opportunity to bring up the subject of trademarks, at the very least. I feel bad for her, with all that exposure and not a legal leg to stand on.

I agree too that the selling point is the characters, and a number of sellers could do very well capitalizing on the intellectual property of others. All the custom clocks and switch plates on ebay are the same idea. The message I got from the feature was that I should put batman and LOTR characters in my shop. :\

The Cranky One said...

That's the best you got?

That we used one of the most freely available and enigmatic pieces of art in the American lexicon?

I bet you had to go look up who the artist was so you could snarikly point to it, yet you missed it was public domain.

Nice attention to detail. Thanks for the laugh. Made my afternooon.

The Righteous One said...

For anyone interested in copyright laws and public domain, this site is nice

Thanks for the extra info, paula. Interesting process of hoops, fire, and alligators. Do they film the applicants to use as stunt footage in upcoming movies?! lol

I agree, very scary. Much luck to your friend!

moredisgustedeveryday said...

Hmmm, I found this statement in the featured shop's policies interesting/ironic:
"Please note that all patterns are for private use only. You can use them to make presents for your family and friends or as a fund raiser prize for a charity event, but please do not sell them for profit. I would hate to have to stop offering patterns for the crafty geeks out there!"

miss james said...

I was hoping y'all would pick up on this. my husband heard my "WTF??!!!" from two rooms away when I first saw the storque article. I feel terrible for the seller though, I'm sure she's having a very. bad. week.

lurker said...

The latest 2 posts on the Storque:

Vanessa says:
Discussing intellectual property and copyright vis a vis "fan art" is a fascinating topic, very relevant these days. There's actually quite a bit of literature and debate about it. Glad to know it's of interest to the community. I will look into arranging some larger discussion.

Unfortunately, these comments are targeting a particular seller.

7/24/08 at 10:23a.m.

Vanessa says:
Glad to know intellectual property, copyright vis a vis "Fan art" is a topic of interest to the community. There's actually quite a bit of debate and literature about the topic — and it's very relevant to our community and our businesses. I will look into arranging a larger discussion.

I hesitate to close the comments on this post because I do think it's an interesting debate. However, it unfairly positions the individual seller.

7/24/08 at 10:26a.m.

Uh oh, I think this proves that Etsy fails to spend just a little time formulating and posting on very important topics. Sure looks like Vanessa was writing and editing right in the box and ooopsie! double posted very similar replies.

Hey Kids! You need to THINK first, consult someone who knows what the hell is going on AND THEN POST.

ETSY: sloppy, lazy, uninformed and unprofessional. What a combination.

theoriginalwtf said...

I hesitate to close the comments on this post because I do think it's an interesting debate. However, it unfairly positions the individual seller.

uh, YOU unfairly positioned the seller! YOU, ETSY set this seller up, NOT anyone else.

For fuck's sake!!! Take even a modicum of responsibility here!!!

lessa said...

Glad to know intellectual property, copyright vis a vis "Fan art" is a topic of interest to the community. There's actually quite a bit of debate and literature about the topic — and it's very relevant to our community and our businesses. I will look into arranging a larger discussion.

I look forward to this article, I'm sure it will be full of speculation, double speak and just plain wrong information.

impetuous said...

Um, surely Rokali has lots to say about this. After all he is "developing, a non-profit organization that will focus on the educational side of how to make a living making things."

I would suspect copyright would be included on his new "educational" site? I mean, you can't make a living on unlicensed, trademarked characters...can you?

I'm sorry but I can't get over the fact that he looks at Etsy and all it's bloopers and thinks he is qualified to "educate" people on making a living handmade.

The Disgruntled One said...

I'm so impressed by the way Etsy blames the commenters for targeting Sammi. Etsy "positioned" Sammi as a target the instant they decided to feature her and her charming (but apparently copyright-infringing work in this way.

"Glad to know intellectual property, copyright vis a vis "Fan art" is a topic of interest to the community. There's actually quite a bit of debate and literature about the topic — and it's very relevant to our community and our businesses. I will look into arranging a larger discussion."

I have never seen a more disingenuous comment by Vanessa. Hey, honey, you could arrange a larger discussion just by leaving the comments open on the Storque article and by convincing marymary not to lock down the connected thread.

Ass. Hats.

Morrigan said...

The mind boggles.

yeah you right said...

could someone get busy crocheting Rokali action figures as fan art real soon please

The Incredulous One said...

"Fan art?" Is that the excuse?

Fan fiction, fan art, etc are all fine and dandy - sometimes - but only when the artwork is NOT FOR SALE.

Does Etsy really not understand that distinction?

ShrugItOff said...

No way that is considered 'fan' art! WTF are they smoking over there?!

bastet2329 said...

holy poop batman!

i did not read all the comments to this yet but here is what i have to say.

this will give the go ahead to all of the other sellers who do that same kind of thing. their defense will be but etsy featured a seller!"


just because the site supports handmade does not mean it is okay to steal from the big corperations. those guys were not big always and they have invested a lot in their licensing. they are big for a reason (hard work maybe) and not to say the featured seller does not work hard but why not create her own character?

this is another big reason why i NO LONGER support or use etsy. they always have their heads up their asses, do stupid things and then say whoops. if they cannot follow their own rules, why should anyone else?

someone in etsyland must have baked a big batch of cupcakes that day. whoever wrote the storque article was blinded by the sprinkles.....

read this said...

"Lucasfilm vigorously protects its intellectual property rights in Star Wars," said Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing. "Infringers ... need to understand that we will pursue them anywhere in the world to shut them down and seek restitution."

Roffman noted that many Star Wars fans around the world produce replicas of Star Wars costumes for their own personal use and enjoyment, an activity to which Lucasfilm Ltd. has no objection. ... "We appreciate that Star Wars has sparked the imaginations of fans around the world," he said. "We would never want to discourage fans from showcasing their enthusiasm for the movies. However, anyone who tries to profit from using our copyrights and trademarks without authorization crosses the line; they become an infringer and we will go after them."

[source is linked above - "fan art vs. copyright" is not a black and white issue because it is the copyright holder who decides what rights they reserve AND whom they target]

read this, too said...

"Lucasfilm is very serious about protecting its intellectual property rights," said Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing. "We will diligently pursue companies ... that try to make a profit by infringing our rights."
As in previous cases, Roffman emphasized that fans who are simply showcasing their enthusiasm for Star Wars are not at risk. "Our goal is to go after and shut down businesses that are trying to make a profit off of creations and properties that do not belong to them," he said.

bastet2329 said...

i forgot to ad that this article is just in time for san diego comic con (the intent????)

people are online during/after comic con looking to buy exclusives and i am sure many will stumble on this seller or the storque article. will it increase her sales- probably. but it might also get her caught super quick from the places that own the characters like lucas.

just saying, thats all.

ShrugItOff said...

This would be an excellent time for someone to start a thread on "What exactly is 'fan art'?"

I do feel sorry for the artist in question but I can't believe no one in her immediate circle of family or friends has clued her in to the fact that she is making copyrighted characters.

Julie said...

I wanted to chime in also about the "fan art" issue, but someone already did!

If someone is making and selling trademarked characters, and enough of them to "quit their day job," that is a whole different story from someone making one doll of a favorite character. And while even that may be technically infringing on copyright, the whole basis of the fan art community is that you MAKE NO PROFIT from it!

Julie said...

And one more thought - people doing this kind of stuff is why companies and authors decide they are no longer cool with fan art of ANY kind - it's the sort of thing that can ruin the fun for the rest of us.

ShrugItOff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
are-they-serious said...

"If that seller has a license to distribute those characters, then I will eat a crocheted Gandalf"

OMG, that is like the best quote ever.

stonesoupjewelry said...

I took the plunge.

tenminutestolockdown said...

Another thread started by Andy

impetuous said...

Well Sammi, if you are out there, here is your poll.

Morrigan said...

Andy's was locked halfway through me typing a damn comment.

Anyone taking bets on how long before Stonsoup's gets locked or dumped in ETC?

theoriginalwtf said...

andy's thread bit the dust...

*I don't know why I keep lurking in the forums, all they do is infuriate me*

ShrugItOff said...

There was NO reason whatsoever for RW to lock that thread. People were being very careful. They are just sweeping it under the rug. Not that EB doesn't have great readership numbers but is there any even bigger blog or website that might be interested in exposing this whole story and all the links to their cover-ups of it?

Jennifer said...

Damn you people wanting to know important things!

Etsy went to all that trouble to feature a seller who was able to quit her day job thanks to her being on Etsy and all they wanted was to make a feel-good cupcake-and-rainbow article about how much they (as a website and all-around hipster artiste wannabe posse) fill the art world with opportunity and unicorns and all you rational thinkers had to come along and *gasp* ask rational questions.

What the hell? Can't you just leave the thinking and icky real-world out of it and let the Happy Place with lots of Sparkle and Pink and Fluffy White Clouds reign for one day??

Do you have to *shudder* THINK all the time?


impetuous said...

In Andy's thread VBJ posts:

stellaloella says:
We hear your concerns on this matter, and it's sparked some good internal discussions.


Do any of them resemble a unflattering puppet show where you call us whiny poopyheads? Cause that's the "in house duscussion" I see in my head.



Andrea Q said...

I wonder what Etsy's investor will think when some of the $27 million is squandered on paying the legal fees of George Lucas and the Tolkien estate?

Check the mirror, then whine said...

4. Is the Rosie the Riveter image copyrighted?

The image that has become most widely known was commissioned by the United States War Production Commission - Co-coordinating Committee for use on a recruiting poster in 1943. It was intended to be displayed for only two weeks, February 15 through February 28. The artist was J. Howard Miller. It is widely held that this image is in the public domain, but we are aware of no official documentation to that effect.


You really want me to believe that any of you did any research before plastering someone else's possibly copyrighted work all over this blog?


I know that is not the case, just as I know that none of you bothered to contact the craftswoman in question before dragging her name through the mud and smearing her reputation in such a crude and public manner.

It's a really bad idea to whine about others not doing research unless you can set a better example.

Which leads me to my last point. You are not as invisible as you believe and one of you has a big mouth ie: very loose email fingers. It was a mistake to include her in your little gang but I'm glad you did because that's how I know that one of the bitches has used copyrighted materials in items sold in her Etsy shop.

Of course, she has never been featured in the Storque. We know what that means, don't we?

WindysDesigns said...

Ety's very own version of 'JackAss', hey folks, don't try this at home! Along with the hammock video.

Logan said...

---from Andy's thread----

KreatedbyKarina says:

Stella..I think perhaps that was brought up since Admin once made a huge "INSANE" flash page on the site poking fun at a suggestion made by some sellers on the forums. It wasn't respectful of your customers at all, and it's not too unreasonable to think something like that may happen again.


what? seriously? can anyone explain what happened there. i must have missed that one.

Ladies Auxilliary said...

Oooh. Too-shay andrea q...I wish I had 27 million to squander on a needless lawsuit, sigh...

ShrugItOff said...

checkthemirror, why so full of hate and bile?

Need a hug? Maybe a cupcake?

reader said...

You really want me to believe that any of you did any research before plastering someone else's possibly copyrighted work all over this blog?



I, too, doubt they researched the copyright status of that image. Because freakin' EVERYBODY (except you) KNOWS IT'S PUBLIC DOMAIN. Sheesh, get out much? There's a reason it's so commonly seen in many different contexts.

eclipse said...

Vanessa said:
I hesitate to close the comments on this post because I do think it's an interesting debate. However, it unfairly positions the individual seller.


NO, YOU unfairly positioned this individual seller in the spotlight! YOU called her out by putting her infringing items in the Storque. There are tons of people with infringing items on Etsy and mostly I just look the other way because it's not my trademarks and copyrights being infringed. But when you put one of them on a pedestal and shine a spotlight on them, then yes, they will be singled out. YOU singled them out.
This is Etsy's boner, not Sammi's boner.

Check the mirror, dude, you tried and you failed. The lesson here is, never try.

ebbandflo said...

in some forum circles etsy itself has a reputation for being a haven for copiers and infringers

do they not realise that making a living from seling what you make also relies on no one else making a living off what you make, whether you are small or large?

eclipse said...

Ok I just read Any's locked thread. I think this locking post by RobWhite bears repeating for it's pure comedy value.

"negative characterizations of the people who work for Etsy can be just as hurtful as negative characterizations of groups of buyers, sellers or artists here in the community and are equally inappropriate."

Sorry RW you know I love ya but ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Soooo, does this mean, that an Etsy employee who negatively characterizes a group of users as "grumpy haters" in public would be inappropriate?

Or an Etsy employee who sends threatening psycho convos to sellers and calls them "Fearmongers" would be inappropriate?

Or an Etsy employee who starts a blog to mock sellers would be inappropriate?

Or an Etsy employee who impersonates Etsy sellers on another blog would be inappropriate?

Theoretically of course. If any of those things were to happen, they would be inappropriate.

are-they-serious said...

Need a hug? Maybe a cupcake?

Hahahahha, I love it

are-they-serious said...

Ok, I might be opening a can or worms and please correct me if I am wrong.

I keep on seeing so many here in defense of Sammi. Now I have nothing against Sammi, I've never seen Sammi's shop or her/his items.

But I do think that IF that seller is using these characters without permission they are partially to blame for this.

How many times do we say that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

It just seems to me that if this seller had taken images or characters from another etsy seller they would be being ripped apart right now.

porfavor said...

Or an Etsy employee who starts a blog to mock sellers would be inappropriate?


I'd love the link to this.

porfavor said...

Or an Etsy employee who impersonates Etsy sellers on another blog would be inappropriate?


Whoooaaaa, and a link to this, too.

eclipse said...

porfavor, it was deleted a while ago.

But we saw what they did there. :O

dillon designs said...

Aw, check the mirror--never give up! Keep fighting the good fight!

Andy Mathis said...

that was the Oh NOES blog, wasn't it?

stonesoupjewelry said...

This whole issue really bothers me. Copyright and trademark infringement are serious problems, and it's a confusing issue. And I feel for the featured seller. I'm sure she never envisioned all this fuss.

If she did, in fact, do something to address possible infringement issues, it would have been so simple to include a mention of that in the Storque article. And so helpful, and such an easy way to avoid this storm.

No, Etsy can't offer specifics about legal advice that Sammi got (if she got any), but there's no reason the feature couldn't have included a short statement saying that it's always wise to think about possible infringement when working with designs based on popular characters.

It just bugs me that it's turned into something so unpleasant when it could have been a great opportunity to educate people. :(

porfavor said...

Are those blogs/impersonations cached or did anyone get screenshots?


The Malevolent One said...

If I'm not mistaken, the impersonation Eclipse is referring to happened on UEN. There's a bit about it in this article.

And yes, we have screenshots of the blog, and yes, we will share them. It's not all that outrageous, just kind of weird.

forum rubbernecker said...

Best quote from today's lockdown:

foxaz says:
I wouldn't think a person would need to be a lawyer or an expert on intellectual property rights to know the difference between right and wrong.

Copying has been uncool since kindergarten.
I would like to see that on buttons or Tshirts:

Copying: Uncool since kindergarten.

Morrigan said...

I could make the shirt - if you don't mind me copying you.....

forum rubbernecker said...

It was foxaz' quote and then someone quoted the
"Copying....uncool since kindergarten"

So I would ask foxaz. :-)

laughing said...

The latest comment under the reborn storque article makes me laugh. Is this person living under a rock?!

"thanks for posting this. i think its important for artists on etsy to know that their original artwork will be protected and that etsy WILL do something about infringement. I LOVE ETSYYYY!"

Elizabeth said...

Etsy just bumped this in the Storque:

Elizabeth said...

just bitchy said...

You know it's really bad when a lawyer defends something like this.

"jumping to conclusions"


She's been drinking way too much koolaid with her cupcakes.

WTF are they thinking?

Oh, yeah, they mostly don't fucking think and when they do is about cupcakes and indie death hammocks.



*head explodes*

Morgana said...

Is there an echo in the Forums?

PussDaddy says:

Yeah, I think it is an interesting thread, too. Considering how we all care so much about, say, avatar copyrights and such. I wonder how many here post comments and are members of a site that bastardizes the Rosie the Riveter image, for instance?

herekittykitty said...

I think you just found 'Check the mirror'.

Grace said...

I just sent an email off to Curtis Publishing.

I was hoping you could help me. Some friends of mine and I are having an argument about Rosie the Riveter.

One side says that Rosie is a copyrighted image by Norman Rockwell, and the other side says that it is in public domain and was drawn by J. Howard Miller.

Could you please clear this up for me? One of my friends wants to use this picture for her website and I'd hate to see her get sued.



eclipse said...

Many different artists did posters of Rosie the Riveter.
Norman Rockwell did this painting of Rosie the Riveter

J. Howard Miller did the one used in the Etsybitch banner. (the most famous one)

forum rubbernecker said...

EB, can you cough up 45 bucks? Have someone create a new special Rosie flipping off a cat. Get the image copyrighted. Just so there won't be any confusion by ignoramuses or anything....

I am SO the boss of you! said...

Check the mirror, then whine is obviously an Etsy cheerleader.

Anyone smell the teen spirit?

Check the mirror, then whine said...

No, I'm not Puss Daddy and no I am not an Etsy cheerleader. Quite the contrary, in fact. Seller, yes, cheerleader, no.

I just loathe hypocrites and this place is lousy with them. PD obviously sees it too as do many, many others. (You won't read those conversations on Etsy but they do take place elsewhere.)

Here's another example of the hypocrisy. It's wrong to be an Etsy cheerleader but Etsy Bitch cheerleaders are patted on the head and greeted with open arms. Even if they have empty heads and nothing of substance to contribute, as long as they go along with the program and post comments that blandly echo the majority opinion, they're golden.

I know that at least one of the bitches understands that the "do as we say, not as we do" attitude detracts from the message and makes it impossible for anyone to take you truly seriously. Too bad she is in the minority.

Right now this blog is an amusing joke, at best. You want Etsy's ear? You want the PTB to listen to you? Then grow up and fly right.

It really is that simple.

yeah you right said...

It's amazing how the ever so uncreative PD decides to comment on Rosie when she so boringly uses someone elses photo as her avatar.yawnfest!

after checking out sammi's amiguri, it doesnt seem to be anything that could be misconstrued as a licensed product and the law tends to favor a copyist not the inspired. but the article could have been used to make that distinction and it was never brought up

are-they-serious said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KreatedbyKarina said...

I'm curious if anyone on Etsy has contacted the copyright holders of the characters Sammi creates and sells in her shop? This could spell big trouble for her and for Etsy (being seen as endorsing her actions by giving her a feature spotlight in the Storque) by putting this all out in the open.

The Cranky One said...

No we're not going to send a seller down the river, unlike etsy. I'm sure someone at those companies will find it.

We don't hate sammi, her stuff is cute as hell, want at least one myself, but the fault of putting her in the spotlight is Etsy's. Of course Sammi should know better, but I've found people of her age don't know much about copyright.

The internet generation have grown up with the belief that everything is up for grabs.

finally said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ladies Auxilliary said...

"Right now this blog is an amusing joke, at best. "

And yet, it's an amusing joke, that a lot of people seem to get. Hmm.

notme said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Cranky One said...

Check the mirror, Nice job of only giving ONE of those responses on that webpage you gave the quote to... here's the LAST ONE on the page you left out:

Link here

" Both posts are correct, as far as they go. Just a note of clarification: simply because something was "commissioned" by the government does not mean it negotiated for ownership rights. Accordingly, it is possible (though in this case not likely), that the painter of the original poster held the copyright.

In the 1940's works of authorship were subject to 2 28-year terms of copyright (the law changed in the 70's). The owner had to renew the copyright after the first 28 year term in order to be eligible for a second term. Thus, IF the copyright was held by the creator of the work, he would have had to (1) register it in the first place, and (2) renew it after 28 years in order for it to have continued to remain a protected work.

IF the owner of the copyright did renew it both times, it would have been subject to the new copyright laws, and would still be under protection in 2005. Since there has been no enforcement of the image of Rosie the Riveter to date (meaning there have been no law suits filed against 3rd parties using the image), it's unlikely that it is a protected image.

-- tsan abrahamson (, February 21, 2005. "

The Cranky One said...

And top that that I personally have seen it on everything form ketchup ads to local car dealers - it's unprotected. If not one person has been sued over this image in all these years in all the humourous, and sometimes unflattering ways I've seen it, they ain't coming after us.

jen said...

Check the mirror, I do feel for you--it's embarrassing to try and make a grandstanding point, only to be mistaken and look kind of foolish. But it might be time to let it go--your point doesn't hold, you've exposed no hypocrisy, and now you're reduced to making vague assertions about who the EBs are to make yourself sound "in the know."

Enough already.

jen said...
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overit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Cranky One said...

What's funnier is whoever is saying we have loose lips, we don't. We don't even tell etsy friends we can trust.

And what's more, to address another lame accusation, not one of us makes anything that COULD include coyrighted images. I always laugh when I see someone "outted" as an EB. They are always wrong. Every time.

ninelives said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
a real cat is smarter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
yeah you right said...

i agree real cat
there is something about her comments that is just so disingenous & attention seeking at every turn and yet underneath you can see the issues.

The Funny One said...

That's it! What I've been waiting for! I am going to get right up out of my chair and FLY RIGHT.

This is such perfect advice for trolls who have learned that throwing debris at each other in public is not only ok, Etsy has turned it into a trendy trend!

eva said...
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The Kinky One said...

Hey guys,

We really need to steer away for the personal attacks on Etsy users. EB would rather spend time creating snark and enjoying the fun that most of the comments are here. If the personal attacks continue, moderating comments will get turned back on, and THAT is a pain in the ass for everyone.