Before I became a graphic designer, I never thought someone might sell stolen designs on Amazon and other marketplaces. Like many people, I used to buy a lot from Amazon, until the day when I realized many of the designs on Amazon might be stolen.
When I was just a newbie designer, I read some complaints 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 allow this kind of thing to happen? In my opinion, 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 their marketplace. No wonder, some of them have no strong motivations to take serious action.
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 complaints about this issue, usually, that is the reason behind it. 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 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 to 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 that happened every day to our artist fellows. For more information, please visit the Facebook group Who Stole My Image to learn more.
In my next post: How to be a savvy online shopper, I am going to share some of my ideas about online shopping. Thank you for reading.