Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hello DMCA, I think Etsy's forgotten about you

In May 2007, Sanrio (the people who own the trademark, etc to Hello Kitty) filed a DMCA complaint with Etsy. They specified to Etsy that they must remove all Hello Kitty items or face legal proceedings.

Here, Dillinger, who was an Etsy employee at the time confirms this and calls the removal of Hello Kitty items "Operation: Goodbye, Kitty."

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5097642&page=10


It is now more than 2 years later and Etsy has still to keep current and comply with the DMCA.

Here are the search results for the HK items on Etsy
. There's 3,798 items currently listed with the tag of Hello Kitty. I might be wrong, but that's not a very good job of removing those items, now is it?

Also, Dillinger let it slip that MTV, Nickelodeon and other large companies have filed similar complaints. Here's a search for Spongebob Squarepants - HERE

In this thread, RobWhite said that they FULLY comply with DMCA complaints. Sorry bud, you are WRONG! A DMCA isn't a one time deal, it is a continuous complaint and request to keep their copyrighted characters off of the site!

Therefore, Etsy isn't DMCA compliant in the slightest, especially with Sanrio and most likely Nickelodeon and several other companies.

Come on Etsy! You've had over 2 years! It isn't that hard to put a few of your employees on DMCA duty. Its not like you're using them for anything more than tweeting Etsy favorites every few minutes.

28 Comments:

Jennifer said...

Maria is doing a great job.
She's laughing all the way to the bank.

I'm really starting to hate etsy.
Is it too much to ask that they have some integrity and professionalism?

krista said...

it's absolutely absurd!!

if etsy can't comply with simple laws, rules, and regulations, then how do they expect their sellers to?

they may be getting too big for their britches, and can't keep up with the multitude of violations.

if they don't want to hire people to monitor listings, then maybe they should forget about closing down threads, curating the fp, and designing new "hubs", and turn their attention to resellers, and copyright violations.

they're not hard to find!

i had to wade through pages of licensed garbage while i was looking for an anniversary gift last weekend.

i got angry, so i went to artfire.

whatever said...

I like the items that are the hello kitty shape, cut from a soda can showing the trademark mountain dew logo!

The Funny One said...

Quality control has never been a priority at Etsy. Of course, that's because Etsy is busy as a hive of busy bees adding cutesy wootsy juvenile graphics to its Sign In page and lumping Community into a page so chock full of Etsy-isms and branding schlock that it makes your eyeballs spin all by themselves!

Pay attention to copyright, trademark infringement, resellers and non-paying buyers? Don't bother them! they're cherry picking their fave sellers for the upcoming week. So many promo slots, so few faves!

The Sneaky One said...

Sorry Anons.. I cant let your comments through. You need to choose a name, any name but Anonymous.

geelizzie said...

It's not just etsy, artfire currently has 16 pages of hello kitty stuff. Maybe it's not as bad on artfire, but it's there.
There are also 111 pages of twilight, 3 pages of spongebob, 8 pages of disney princess, 15 pages of mickey mouse, and who knows what else on artfire. It's everywhere.
Just sayin', it seems like artfire is touted as better than etsy when it comes to things like this, but from my searches there, not much.

HOWDY said...

"Here today, gone tomorrow."

This is the way unprofessional, underage employees think universally. Apologies to those who are the exception, but this is the deal.
However, when your own livelihood depends upon someone else doing their job conscientiously, it's not easy to forgive.
Maria is ultimately responsible;; but then she is a figurehead.

Etsy is like a middle school classroom with no teacher or rules. The rest of us who are sellers suffer: they don't give a shit. It's not "serious business" to these people. I can only imagine what a horrible company it must be to work for anyone with the slightest bit of professionalism.

The Sneaky One said...

GeeLizzie, I never said anything of the sort. Trust me, there's no love loss between Artfire and myself either, however John actually will take the time to listen to my concerns.

But this is *Etsy* Bitch, not Artfire Bitch. I hope that when Artfire actually receives a DMCA from Sanrio, that they actually comply. Etsy, however, has not.

I'm through. said...

"I'm really starting to hate etsy."

Yes.

"Is it too much to ask that they have some integrity and professionalism?"

Apparently, yes.

The changes made to the sign-in and community pages this week almost made my head explode. Is there nothing better for them to spend their precious time on? Perhaps dealing with resellers, or mistagging, or enforcing the rules in the vintage category, or adding a coupon code, or...oh...never mind.

I think if I were a serious buyer looking for fine arts, crafts and quality vintage and I had to use the crappy search to wade through all of the copyrighted items to find something worth buying and then had to sign in on the childish cartoon page, I would run, not walk to a different venue.

At this point, etsy is just another venue that starts with "e".

WindysDesigns said...

I will readily admit that I am ignorant in the ways of DMCA, I understand what it's function is, but I do not know the details surrounding how they are filed, if a company can just use a blanket request that all specific items IE: hello kitty, must be removed from a site.

From what I can glean, and it may be incorrect, the company filing a DMCA order must name the infringer, not just ETsy, but the shop name. So, if Sanrio came in 2 years ago with a list of shops that were infringing on it's copyrited material, and those shops were notified and complied with the notice and removed those items, Etsy did what it was supposed to do, specific to that request.

Anyone who comes along after that does not fall under that original DMCA file, and therefore, it would seem that until they file a new DMCA case, listing the new infringing shops, Etsy is under no obligation to remove them.

I understand the frustration, and I don't like it one bit, but I'm not sure just because someone lists a hello kitty whatever, that Etsy is obligated to remove it.

It might be different if Etsy were selling the items or represented them, but being a venue only, I think the onus is on Sanrio to mention specific infringers and are not able to place a blanket request that all items present and future must be removed. I just don't think it's as easy as that.

Make Way for Deliciousness said...

I'm curious why Etsy allows such obvious copyright infringement in the first place. When I visit a busy store and it's selling nothing but items covered in Hannah Montana, Twilight, and Disney, it's very frustrating for us sellers who are taking the time to create and offer something original.

Oh wait, I know why.. $$$!

The Sneaky One said...

Windys, a company as large as Sanrio can use a blanket DMCA and require Etsy to pull ALL Hello Kitty items to enforce their copyright. If you push Sanrio enough, they'll eventually hold Etsy responsible, since they've asked nicely.

RRobin said...

If anyone wants to know how a DMCA compliant site operates, try listing a Tiffany item on eBay. They'll have you jumping through so many hoops, you'll sprout wings.

sarky said...

My favorite Hello Kitty item is actually from near the end of the search (last couple of pages)...

It only has 1 photo... and the photo is an etsy-fied photo, where the trinket was photographed at such close range and a weird angle that the photo is super blurry... and it's the only photo of the listing!

It's perfect hilarity: copyright violation + crazy etsy photo. It should probably be on the front page and in 18 gift guides... surely they could just invent an equestrian hello kitty gift guide! They should make that person the featured seller.

The bummer is that I know of this hello kitty copyright issue, and ironically, I checked "shop local" a while back to see if anyone from my tiny town had made it onto etsy... there was a woman selling hello kitty stickers which she had laminated & punctured to use as baubles for earrings... *throws up hands*

life-during-wartime said...

geelizzie said...
Just sayin', it seems like artfire is touted as better than etsy when it comes to things like this, but from my searches there, not much.
-----------------------------

I've been looking at artfire. Hard to believe, but in some ways artfire has much worse problems than Etsy!

Artfire seems to allow anything to be listed under Vintage or Antiques: altered, refurbished, made from any sort of salavage or recycled materials and reseller fakes (imported items made with faux maker's marks). Etsy does not have much, if any, in the way of out-and-out fakes.

I cannot understand why, if you want to open a venue for handmade work by artists and artisans, you roll out the welcome mat so eagerly for resellers, licensed material sellers, and the like? If a site doesn't have a good plan in place for dealing with items that shouldn't be listed when the venue is small and new, they will never be able to catch up and fix the problems. Etsy left this responsibility up to the community and wussed out. It looks like artfire is following the same road?

RRobin said...

quoting I'm Through:
"I think if I were a serious buyer looking for fine arts, crafts and quality vintage and I had to use the crappy search to wade through all of the copyrighted items to find something worth buying and then had to sign in on the childish cartoon page, I would run, not walk to a different venue. "

**

Amen to that.

The amazing thing is that Etsy admin does not understand that their bottom line _IS_ impacted by the amateur look of the site, which is heightened by the proliferation of all that derivative crap. When an item worth $200+ is devalued and therefore goes unsold because of its proximity to a lot of $10 junk, Etsy loses a big commission.

Or maybe it's not all that amazing...

RRobin said...

Only slightly OT:

I REALLY HATE the new look of the sign-in page, with those insipid and girly graphics.

Why don't they just post a sign saying "BOYS KEEP OUT"?

(Hand-lettered on a blackboard "repurposed" from A.C.Moore, JoAnn or Michael's, with the S and the P backwards, of course.)

In all seriousness, Etsy seems to be bending over backwards to alienate and discourage male shoppers and artists.

lessa said...

Looking at the new community page again today when I went to glance into the forums, one thought kept going around. I wonder how long before that tiny little forums tab will just cease to be there. The community page looks a bit like the Storque now. It just wouldn't surprise me if in a few months the forums go away and is replaced with a FAQ/Ask an admin page.

Oh and anyone know when the community page showcase will start going on sale? :P

WindysDesigns said...

The Sneaky One said...

Windys, a company as large as Sanrio can use a blanket DMCA and require Etsy to pull ALL Hello Kitty items to enforce their copyright. If you push Sanrio enough, they'll eventually hold Etsy responsible, since they've asked nicely.
______________________________

Thanks, that's interesting.

Aside from the usual claims about Etsy's incompetence and arrogance, why do you suppose Etsy would just ignore something like this?

I mean, for each individual shop, I can see taking the risk, it's unlikely that they'd be singled out amongst the thousands of infringing items, but for Etsy, who is already on their radar because they've been contacted about this once already, doesn't it seem a bit....foolish?

Obviously, that is a rhetorical question, the answer is, of course it's foolish to thumb your nose at a mega corporation who has the means to sue you into non-existence. So, this just begs the question of why would they take the risk?

WTF said...

Very interesting. I recently had an item removed from my shop because it 'violated' copyright. It was an image that is within the public domain. I did a ton of research. The copyright had expired, and has not been renewed. So then I went looking for other items that are similar - and there are tons of them - still on etsy. Why did they target one item in my shop? I got a convo from their lawyer, who also threatened me with suspension or expulsion if I disclosed any of this information. Which is why I'm posting this anonymously. Maybe I should just make a lot of stuff with hello kitty instead?

geelizzie said...

thesneakyone, I was not referring to anything you have said here with my comment about artfire being touted as better than etsy, but rather comments made on the posts here on this site. This one from krista here on this page, for example:

i had to wade through pages of licensed garbage while i was looking for an anniversary gift last weekend.

i got angry, so i went to artfire.

krista said...

i have no idea if artfire is any better than etsy. :) i'm certainly more familiar with etsy because i used to sell there, and still shop there maniacally.

i have just been really discouraged with etsy, and the lack of integrity on the part of admin.

i just figured i would go look somewhere else for handmade items for my anniversary.

it seems though that there are problems wherever there you go.

Robert Chickenly said...

The DMCA is the law itself. You can't file a 'DMCA', it's called a 'DMCA takedown' and no, I don't think this Etsy Bitch interpretation of it is accurate.

However I do have to agree Etsy does a complete shit job of copyright enforcement. It's lazy and dishonest.

The Righteous One said...

Robot, in the article Sneaky called it a "DMCA compaint", which is accurate, as would be "DMCA claim", "DMCA notice", and "DMCA request for takedown". "DMCA takedown" is the act of removing infringing material...if we want to be picky about it.

I want to note too that international sellers raise an iffy area. Technically they don't have to abide by DMCA, but Etsy is in the U.S. and their site has to comply. So all in all it really IS up to Etsy to remove the items, because they host them.

The Righteous One said...

err I meant Robert in my above comment...I don't know why I was thinking Robot (must be the Chicken part of the name)

Brass Monkey Designs said...

They pulled a necklace of mine, that had a Moulin Rouge windmill charm on it, because a lawyer from Moulin Rouge complained. I guess it all depends on who the offenders are, as to whether or not your item will be pulled and held accountable.

disgusted said...

I don't see why Etsy shouldn't be held legally accountable for copyright/trademark infringements.

They earn listing and renewal fees plus transaction fees on each illegal knock-off. By looking the other way, they are an accomplice.

Besides, with all their branding, merchandising, weekend deals, virtual labs and curated promotions, they can hardly claim to be "just a hosting venue."

cdEmm said...

hahaha... hello kitty nipple tassels on pg 186. wow.

there is way too much licensed crap on etsy. i hate shopping etsy now.

ridiculous.