Thursday, April 08, 2010

the straw that broke the camel's back

While perusing home decor blogs, I came across decor8's fresh recent take on that age old controversy-- copying in craft and design. Her guest, Erika, of Delphine fine stationery and design, describes that she is recently seeing more and more customers asking her to replicate designs from other designers. She wonders if this may perhaps be due to the proliferation of DIY and inspiration boards, leading customers (and many designers) to feel like the DIY culture is is a free for all... Of course, this hot button topic has generated a million billion comments, many of which are very well thought out and crafted, do take a read if you are interested!

It is not surprising that this topic brings so many comments out of the woodwork, it is one that designers and crafters constantly struggle with. I commented on this a while back, as I had personally encountered this myself when I was still on Etsy. I never talked about this because Etsy had put a gag order on me not to discuss my situation (and back then, Etsy was the only place I was selling, and I wasn't about to risk offending the powers that be). But now, since I no longer sell on Etsy, and the other seller in question has also stopped selling for a long time, I thought I would dig up some old pictures I had stored and let you judge for yourself.

In October/November last year, two sellers on Etsy messaged me to tell me about a shop that was selling items very similar to mine-- similar enough that they would actually both feel compelled to write to me (and one of the sellers who messaged me was a stranger at the time). Here were half the items in her shop, side by side with several of my bestselling items:

Besides this, her shop banner was the same colors as mine (plum and pink), and her shop policies and seller profile were identical in structure and very similar in wording. Hence, I filled out Etsy's design complaint form, and waited.

Etsy's response to me waxed lyrical about artists being inspired from generations of artists past, citing Cezanne inspiring Picasso. They also said that Etsy simply makes it easier to discover similar items on Etsy (i.e. this is just a coincidence). And they said they will not ask the seller to remove the offending items

Anyways, one good thing that came of of this is that it really woke me up to the cold reality that Etsy is not on my side. I had been buying ads, and pushing PR, all linking back to my Etsy shop, but really, in the end, that was putting all my eggs in a basket that was not mine. If I wanted to protect my business and really make sure all my efforts were maximized, I had to venture out on my own. Realising this pushed me, a month later, to hire Aeolidia to make pequitobun a website. And, I'm so glad I did!


flutterbyblue said...

Ugh. So horrible seeing people stealing designs! Etsy always pushes the creative and unique so it's very disappointing when this turns out not to be the case. Etsy has gotten so big and without any sort of regulation who's to know what's being sold? I'm so glad you were able to branch off and start your own shop online!!!

::pequitobun:: said...

thanks babe! you're right, Etsy's just gotten too big and without the proper foundation to manage that growth. I hope Etsy adopts some sort of peer regulation system because it's probably too big now for admin to manage now. Even ebay manages copyright better than Etsy does!

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