In the land of Etsy originality is a coveted if not abstract quality to have. Catch phrases like OOAK (one of a kind) and "I took the handmade pledge" are stated often with pride. At our last team meeting we pondered the idea of originality and the dread problem of copyright infringement. (*Note: This post is only covering issues about handmade items)
Here is what Etsy has to say about copyrights: "Your content and your use of Etsy shall not: Infringe upon any third-party's copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other proprietary or intellectual property rights or rights of publicity or privacy (see also, Etsy's Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy)"
So what does this mean? Where do we draw the line? In my philosophy there is nothing truly original anymore, but out and out misuse is obvious. Below are some questionable examples from Etsy. Although they are in fact handmade, and many times well made, they are skirting that line of infringement:
The picture above is from Craftsquatch. He has been featured on Etsy and several other online publications. His work is handmade with love. His icons are...well...completely stolen...and nowhere in his profile does it say with permission. These icons were made by a designer somewhere who is not getting paid for their use on Craftsquatch's pillows. Mmmm...
The next item is from Simplybitten. In her store banner and descriptions, she makes it known that her work is inspired by Twilight. A smart idea, as inspiration can't really be owned. She does use copyrighted characters names, but uses them in her own designs as fan art and gives props to Stephanie Meyer with each item. Her Got Twilight? decal, however, could be infringing on two different enterprises....
So how can you be safe? Here are some simple guidelines:
- Give credit where credit is due.
- Take inspiration, but not exact patterns, logos or photos. Make a 25% change to the item/image to keep yourself in the clear.
- Don't assume that something is such a huge phenomenon that it is automatically public property.
- If you knit/crochet and sew from a pattern say so. Be careful though! Many patterns from magazines have a disclaimer that they are for personal use and not for you to sell with or without credit.
- Research like items out there in Etsy-land and see how you can tweak them to make them more distinctly yours.
P.P.S My Our Lady of Vogue wall piece...