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Recently I posted about my recent dealings with Etsy's Legal Team after I found a shop using my photos.

One of the main things I learned about it is that when you are upset it's very difficult to actually work out what you need to do to file a "DMCA Takedown Notice". I could barely read basic English let alone legal language, and so when I filed my first DMCA Takedown I got a polite email from Etsy telling me that I hadn't filled it in right and needed to reformat it and send it in again.

Once I had calmed down I went back to the link they provided me and did the whole thing step by step. There are 6 things you need to include in a Takedown and Etsy themselves told me it was best to use each point as  "header" and post my information under each one, so that's exactly what I did.

To help others that might have the same issues I thought I would post a guide to filling out everything for Etsy. Hopefully if you're upset and not sure what to do then this will help you get through the legalese and file things promptly and with enough information for Etsy to deal with it quickly.

First of all a few points;
1. You can only fill in the DMCA Takedown Notice if YOU are the owner of the photos OR if you have been formally appointed by the owner (i.e. you're a lawyer working on behalf of "XYZ Plc"). You cannot just go through Etsy and file DMCAs on behalf of Disney or another company, even if the shop is breaking copyright law.
2. Don't use the email to swear or rant at Etsy's Legal Team. You're upset and that's normal, but no one wants to help someone who is being abusive and it's not fair on the staff member who gets your email.
3. Don't rush to the Etsy forums to name and shame the shop. It won't affect your dealings with the Legal team but will get you in trouble with the Forum staff and the last thing you want is to get a formal warning from the Admins.

So with those things in mind, let's take a look at Etsy's Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy. Point A on this website includes a numbered list for reporting violations. This is the "form" that Etsy requires you to fill in. Etsy told me to use each point as a header and put my information in underneath, probably because it makes it easier for them to read and see the issues.

A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright or intellectual property right that has been allegedly infringed upon (by fax or regular mail – not by email, except by prior agreement);

First of all if you are residing abroad email the Etsy Legal Team, explain that you are overseas and don't want to wait weeks while your signature travels by airmail, and would like to request permission to use an electronic signature. An electronic signature is basically your full legal name typed out. If you have 12 middle names, then it will be a long electronic signature. Once you get permission for this then you can fill out the rest of this form.

Identification in sufficient detail of the material being infringed upon (for an allegation of a patent infringement, please provide a patent number);

This means they want to see YOUR photos, preferably in the form of your shop listing links. If you have found multiple violations in one shop then make a numbered list for your items. I actually started it off with "These photos were taken from my shop - "URL"" and put in my shop link. Then because multiple photos had been taken and grouped together I listed each link under a "Photo Group #" sub-heading that corresponded to the listing I linked in the next section.

For example;

Photo Group 1
URL #1
URL #2
URL #3
URL #4

Photo Group 2
URL #1
URL #1
URL #1
URL #1

And so on and so forth. If your items haven't been grouped into multiple photos then just list them as "Photo #1 - URL" "Photo #2 - URL" etc etc.

Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing upon the intellectual property. Include information regarding the location of the infringing material with sufficient detail so that Etsy is capable of finding and verifying its existence (for listings, please provide item numbers);

This means they want to see where in the other shop your photos are being used. Again I included a link to the shop in general, and then put a list of the listings that used my stolen photos, in the order of the group I put in the above section.

For example;

Photo Group 1 - Other Shop Listing URL
Photo Group 2 - Other Shop Listing URL

Because multiple photos of mine had been taken and grouped together my photos list was a lot longer than the offending shop's one. If you've had 10 photos taken then when you've filled out this section just double check that you have got 10 unique listings URLs in this section and make sure you haven't copied anything twice, otherwise you may find you have to file a second notice for anything you accidentally missed.

Contact information about the notifier including the name of the intellectual property owner, the name and title of the person contacting Etsy on the owner's behalf, the address, telephone number and, if available, e-mail address;

Once you get to this part you are on the home stretch! Because I was the owner and contacting Etsy I started this part by saying that I was the intellectual property owner and was representing myself. I then filled out my full legal name (again, just in case), my address (including country as I'm in the UK) and my phone number and in my case 2 emails as I was contacted Etsy via my personal account, but my shop is registered under another one (I have 3 shops and Etsy requires them to be registered under different emails).

A statement that the notifier has a good faith belief that the material is not authorized by the intellectual property or copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and

Here I stated again that I was the owner of the photographs and that I knew for certain that I had not given any permission or authorisation for them to be used by the other seller, or any seller at all.

A statement made under penalty of perjury that the information provided is accurate and the notifying party is authorized to make the complaint on behalf of the intellectual property or copyright owner.

Finally here I stated (I actually used the phrase "I swear on penality of perjury") that everything I had put in this email was true and accurate and I confirmed again that I was the owner of the photographs and that I was representing myself.

It looks scary and complicated but I promise you it isn't. It requires you to be thorough, and it means you have to go through the offending shop with a fine toothcomb to make sure you haven't missed anything. If you have multiple shops using your photos then file separate forms for each shop, it makes it easy for Etsy to check and deal with.

Overall I hope this proves to be useful to someone. Etsy's Legal Team were polite and helpful when they contacted me, and they were very prompt at dealing with the problem.

Have a nice day everyone!

Image Theft and Etsy

I had a bloody great shock on Etsy recently. While testing out my tags in an attempt to get this damned SEO thing nailed on the head I spotted a set of my product photos, for a listing in a shop that wasn't mine.

I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but I felt like I had just been punched in the chest. I just sat there, not moving, not even breathing, staring at this photo set and WILLING the shop name underneath to change to mine. I really couldn't believe that someone would steal my photos, I assumed it must be a joke, a twisted one, but a joke nonetheless.

When I finally regained the power to move my hands (and remembered to breathe) I clicked on the shop and had a closer look. This wasn't just a one off, this person had taken multiple photos of mine and combined them into several listings in their shop.

This was the point when the tears started to threaten. It was almost as if someone had stolen a child from me and then posted photos of them on Facebook with a new name. To say I was relieved when I checked this shops sales and found they hadn't sold any of those items would be an understatement. I then checked their Facebook and Twitter pages (both were linked to the shop) and found that they had posted links to their stolen-image listings. The Facebook one was the worst, they had several likes, from people who genuinely believed that they were great items and the shop owner was brilliant for coming up with such an idea. Except it wasn't me or my shop getting the credit.

But I didn't cry. I felt hurt, but it was soon replaced with anger. Actually anger would be an understatement, I was bloody furious. Since my housemates weren't in and there was no one to disturb I indulged in a few loud curses and phrases that turned the air blue for a few seconds. I was determined that I was going to destroy this other shop completely. I was going to go on Twitter and denounce them, post on their Facebook showing that they were a thieving little sod, rage on Tumblr, bellow on Pinterest and find their address so I could get a damned lawyer involved.

Then sadness came rushing back in because I can't afford a lawyer and I was suddenly very worried that if I contacted this shop and pointed put the wrong then they would simply brush it off and accuse ME of being the thief. This person has far more Facebook likes and more Twitter followers than me, not to mention more sales and therefore more positive feedback. I've been on the internet since dial-up, I've seen people get ripped apart on DeviantArt when I've known them to be in the right, I've had to moderate a few disputes when I volunteered on a large forum. The person with the biggest following wins, hands down.

So instead I filed a DMCA with Etsy's Legal team. Actually I had to file it twice as I didn't do it right the first time but they explained the best way to fill it out properly and I took their advice and got it sorted. I sent them links to this other shop and their listings, and included links to my shop and my listings where the photos had been taken from. I explained that I hadn't given any permission to this person to use my photos and wanted the listings taken down, and then offered to provide any more evidence if it was needed.

I had to sit back and wait. I have very little patience at the best of times, but this was agonising. I had to go back to this shop at least once a day to make sure they hadn't sold any of these listings.

Luckily Etsy's Legal Team dealt with it within 48 hours, a remarkable turnaround given all the complaints I hear about Etsy. Maybe it was because I had plenty of evidence, or maybe they were having a slow week and so there wasn't much in the queue in front of me. Either way I got an email back from them informing me that things had been dealt with. I then also got an apology from the shop owner. Things have been dealt with to my satisfaction, and dealt with very promptly.

The thing is, I know this happens. I just never thought of my products being possible victims for it. I'll be the first to admit my photos are a bit rubbish, I don't have a lightbox, I live in a flat that doesn't get much light, I only have a basic understanding of how to use the DSLR my Dad gave me, and me and Photoshop have an awkward relationship. Not only that, my items are unique. Seriously, it's a small market, no one sells anything like this. Of course I would spot someone using my photos, so I assumed it wouldn't happen to me.

I have gone to lengths to not to say who this was, or even identify which of my shops was involved. I could have ranted, I could have screamed, I could have accused them on Facebook and possibly ruined their reputation to a few of their customers. But I'm happier for having kept it between just me, them and Etsy. To be fair Etsy did encourage me to contact the seller myself, but I was too angry and upset for that. I can only assume it was a silly mistake on behalf of the shop owner, there's no point in me naming and shaming anywhere.

One thing that has come out of this is that I will be writing a post on how to contact Etsy with a DMCA. The language they use is legal and therefore complicated and when you're angry and upset and on the verge of tears it is almost impossible to understand it. I hope no one following me ever has a need to use it, but hopefully it will be useful for someone who is going through the same experience I did. It should be up next week.

Have a nice everyone :)

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