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My Designs Were Stolen and Sold on Amazon

Before I became a graphic designer, I never thought someone might sell stolen designs on Amazon and other marketplaces. Like many of people, I used to buy a lot from Amazon, until the day when I realized many of designs on Amazon might be stolen. 

When I was just a newbie designer, I read some complains about stolen designs from some designers on an online community. I feel sorry for these fellows. At that time, I thought this kind of steals might only happen to some pro graphic designers. Guess what, soon I found my stolen designers on Amazon too! It seems the thief is not picky at all. They just grab anything available online and sell on a huge marketplace like Amazon, AliExpress, Etsy and many other marketplaces, or even their own websites.

Some people might ask: “Why not send complain letters to Amazon?” Many artists did. The point is, it takes a lot of time and energy to do that. Some stolen listings might be removed, but they will reappear again in some time by another seller, maybe it is the same seller with a different name, who knows. It is a never ending fight.

In order to protect the creations, some artists start to put their names or logos on the creations or watermarks on the product display page. However, those thieves still take whatever they can rip off. The funny thing is, some of those thieves will put their own watermarks or business names on those stolen designs. The situation is getting more serious and ridiculous. 

So why Amazon and some other online marketplaces allows this kind of things happen? In my opinions, there are two reasons. One, Amazon and other marketplaces are protected by ” DMCA safe harbor law”.   Here is a quoted explanation from this link: The DMCA’s “safe harbor” regime offers immunity to claims of copyright infringement if (among other requirements) online service providers promptly remove or block access to infringing materials after copyright holders give appropriate notice.

Two, usually, the marketplace is benefited from this kind of activity. As we know, many marketplaces charge fees from third parties to sell on its marketplace. No wonder, some of them have no strong motivations to take serious actions.

Selling stolen designs not only affects the artists, it also affects the customers. Since many stolen designs are ripped off online with low pixels, the image will be very blurry. You might read some kinds of complains about this issue, usually, that is the reason behind. Also, many customers feel be cheated. After all, many people still would like to support artists’ hard work, that is why Patron could exist. I believe most of people are not willing to support dishonest thieves. 

So what we can do? First, hopefully, the law will change  the rule to protect artists better. Many artists work very hard to develop their skills and do a lot of marketing, they deserve to be rewarded for their hard work.

Second, as a customer, we should be more cautious when we shop online. If we customers request authentic products and refuse to buy counterfeits, Amazon and others will listen. After all, no one can afford to lose customers.  

We need work together to protect our rights as artists as well as customers. We all deserved to be treated right. 

My stolen designers are still displayed on Amazon.  This one is one of my stolen designs. This one is my original one. There might be more of my stolen designs that I might never have a chance to find out.  I still hear a lot of terrible similar stories happened everyday to our artist fellows. For more information, please visit the Facebook group Who Stole My Image  to learn more.

In next post, I am going to share some of ideas about how to be a savvy online shopper. Hope it will be helpful for some people. Thanks for reading.