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In the another article, I highlighted how it is not ethical to copy another designer’s work (at least not without written permission from the designer). But, what if you find out that someone is copying your items? What can you do about it? In instances of copying, there are two different scenarios:
Scenario 1) You created a product, and now other crafters are copying it. For example, you found a beautiful vase at Michaels Craft Store and put a phrase about motherhood on it with vinyl for Mother’s Day. Then, you photographed it and listed it in your Facebook store, Etsy, or anywhere else. A few days later, you see the same vase, with the same quote in a different font for sale by another seller. In this case, there is nothing you can do. It’s the nature of selling online, which can be extremely competitive. Keep in mind the famous quote, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” – Charles Colton
Scenario 2) You created a product, and another crafter is using your photo to sell the product themselves. This is a case of copyright infringement, because you own the implied copyright to the photo that you took. Even if you watermarked your photo, this happens all the time – and there are several Chinese based companies who have a reputation online for stealing photos. Let’s continue with the vase example from above. If you find another seller using your photo you should contact the seller and tell them they need to remove it immediately. The easiest way to get another seller to remove your photo is to send them a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist letter is a statement to the other seller that you did not give them permission to use your photo and they should remove it immediately. In the event that they do not remove the photo, you are able to take legal action against them. Cease and desist letters can be sent by you or by an attorney. In most cases, crafters can send their own cease and desist letters. To quickly create a cease and desist letter visit ceaseanddesister.com. This online generator will help you create a letter in minutes, which you can then send to the other seller. If you find the other crafter selling through a marketplace site or third party site, be sure to report them to the admin of the site.
Beyond sending a cease and desist letter, and notifying the admin of the site (if applicable) there is not much else you can do to someone who is using your photo. Be sure to save any written communication you have with the other seller. Ultimately, you could pursue the other seller legally, but you’d have to weigh the costs and time of a legal battle to see if that is something you want to pursue.
My best piece of advice is to always stay professional when dealing with copycats. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, you are representing not only yourself – but your new cutting business.
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Since 2015, Christine Schinagl has been helping crafters start and run craft businesses through her blog, Cutting for Business. As a Silhouette and Cricut crafter herself, she has a unique take on what works and what doesn’t work in the craft business world. She also teaches a course on creating digital SVG designs, available at How to Design SVGs.