Amazon (and other) Stolen Art
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 7:15:56 AM
I haven't been as active in the forums as of late, but I couldn't find any recent conversations about Amazon and other sites still selling our art and products without authorization. I have at least 2 pages of stolen art on products on Amazon right now. This is so frustrating and doesn't ever stop.

Has Zazzle done anything to try and stop this? I report things, but this doesn't end. It's hard enough to make a living as an artist without backup when art is stolen. I can't spend hours every day reporting this when it seems like an endless cycle.

Argh, I say!
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 7:50:03 AM
I've used a sad solution to the problem: I stopped looking for what's been stolen from me because, like you, I discovered it just didn't stop.
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 8:04:41 AM
I had a few designs that were being chronically ripped off on Amazon. It took about a year, but persistence in reporting finally got them removed for good. I would DCMA them around once a month.... They contested it once. I sent them an official looking (but basically toothless in their country) pair of cease and desist letters - one for stealing designs, the other for libel because they signed a statement to Amazon that I was lying about the designs being mine and that I was harassing them.... they put my products back up once more after that. I DCMA them yet again and I guess it finally got through that I wasn’t going to leave them alone, because they haven’t been back up since.
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 8:24:48 AM
Invincible Penguin wrote:
I had a few designs that were being chronically ripped off on Amazon. It took about a year, but persistence in reporting finally got them removed for good. I would DCMA them around once a month.... They contested it once. I sent them an official looking (but basically toothless in their country) pair of cease and desist letters - one for stealing designs, the other for libel because they signed a statement to Amazon that I was lying about the designs being mine and that I was harassing them.... they put my products back up once more after that. I DCMA them yet again and I guess it finally got through that I wasn’t going to leave them alone, because they haven’t been back up since.


It took me two years for most of my designs, but peut a peut they have returned, some now much harder to find, because they no longer have my marker in the titles. Sisyphos stine amazon ...
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 8:45:14 AM
We offer the watermarking option for designers via a configuration in the store settings so that images above a certain size become watermarked. You can find your advanced settings here if you want to change them --> https://www.zazzle.com/store/YOURSTORENAME/settings/advanced

We do not recommend using it as it can have a detrimental affect on your sales, but we offer it for designers who are concerned and would prefer to have watermarking on their images. If you look at the information provided with the watermarking checkbox there are more details there. Actions like disabling right clicking does not make the images any less downloadable as any image on the internet is downloadable by default.

Hopefully you will find some of the information above helpful for this. Smile
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 9:10:43 AM
I'm a little confused. I'm assuming you're talking about designs that don't have customer edit options? Amazon doesn't have a POD service, does it? Anyhow, are you talking about Amazon itself stealing art, or 3rd party people who are selling through Amazon? I don't really have a horse in this race, I'm just curious and eager to avoid whatever this is happening to me! Grin
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 9:16:49 AM
3rd parties - typically outside of the US or EU. Some are selective about what they steal... others just have a script do it and copy wholesale... it means they do end up with things that are not changeable that say things like “your name here”, but when they have thousands upon thousands of stolen designs, they don’t really care.....

Some categories like pillows and tee shirts seem more likely to be lifted than others.
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 9:21:44 AM
ZingerBug wrote:
I'm a little confused. I'm assuming you're talking about designs that don't have customer edit options? Amazon doesn't have a POD service, does it? Anyhow, are you talking about Amazon itself stealing art, or 3rd party people who are selling through Amazon? I don't really have a horse in this race, I'm just curious and eager to avoid whatever this is happening to me! Grin

For the most part, the thieves are located in China. If they end up getting a store on Amazon wiped out, they just change their name and open up a new store. They're like the original Star Trek's "tribbles" that multiplied insanely.
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 9:23:12 AM
Colorwash wrote:
I've used a sad solution to the problem: I stopped looking for what's been stolen from me because, like you, I discovered it just didn't stop.

That, and the offending parties started challenging the takedowns, secure in the knowledge that we can't reach them on foreign soil.
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 9:37:06 AM
Interesting... I'm thinking that what they'd end up with after doing a screen capture and then printing it out on their own thing wouldn't look very good, but I suppose the buyer wouldn't know any better until the thing arrived. Are they using the actual Zazzle preview images - like the models wearing the t-shirts and everything?
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 9:39:41 AM
I've seen several of my designs on Amazon, even with the personalization on. The only thing I can suggest is to allow personalization on all your items. It's not always easy or doable, but even if the image is ripped off, it most likely won't be sold due to having personalized information on it, especially if it's across an image.

Another huge offender is the Alib*b* Group - saw a site that belonged to them with tons of Z product images (including mine). They're the world's largest retailer and e-commerce company. No one has deeper pockets. They could financially ruin any company who tries to take them on.

Some may have the time to fight all this. I'm not one of those.
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 10:06:12 AM
"Actions like disabling right clicking does not make the images any less downloadable as any image on the internet is downloadable by default."

Only if you're making the image accessible in the first place. Only if "by default", one means doing absolutely nothing to protect it. The means to provide that protection exists.

If the assertion were true, cloud companies that store private personal information would not exist, could not exist. Digital images are just another form of data, so a claim that they're different from other information isn't going to fly. It matters where and how the image is stored, and how it can be accessed.

Disabling right-click access to menu items for downloading a version of our art (not as displayed on the product, but an image of the art itself!) would, in point of fact, make it less vulnerable to theft. In no universe does making something less accessible = just as vulnerable as doing nothing to protect it.

The unprotected version of our art that Zazzle makes accessible via right click menu options is not protected by enabling watermarks.

Keep in mind that thieves don't necessarily care about the quality of the image. They will use a small, poor quality image because the point isn't producing a quality product, it's fooling people into parting with their money.

There is no perfect solution, but there are measures that remove or impede the easiest means of stealing an image stored online. Disabling right click access to downloading is one of those measures.

We license are images for Zazzle to be able to display them on products. What need is there to display the art by itself, in a form that can be downloaded?
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 10:23:41 AM
ZingerBug wrote:
Interesting... I'm thinking that what they'd end up with after doing a screen capture and then printing it out on their own thing wouldn't look very good, but I suppose the buyer wouldn't know any better until the thing arrived. Are they using the actual Zazzle preview images - like the models wearing the t-shirts and everything?

Yes. There are some that just take the money and don't even ship anything. Maybe less of that now, since Amazon has made it a bit less "wild west".

Still, it's a game of "whack-o-mole". It's not enough to go after the offending listing, as the image has a life separate from that, in Amazon's "catalog". Basically, if a seller uploads an image to Amazon, other sellers can create listings for that same item, using the uploaded image. So you have to get the actual image removed, not just the listing.

Trouble is, another (or the same) thief will come along and upload it to Amazon's platform again. Also, some sellers who have been de-platformed just sign up with a different name.

They aren't in it to make products or build a reputation. It's all about fast, easy money.
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 1:35:52 PM
Mark wrote:
Actions like disabling right clicking does not make the images any less downloadable as any image on the internet is downloadable by default.
Smile


maybe, but they do deter some and slow down others. And it shows some kind of effort on the part of Z to offer as much protection as they possibly can, rather than as little as possible.

Watermarks are not a viable solution as is obvious by the recommendation of Z not to use them.

I said it before but it bears repeating, we should not have to trade sales for protection.


Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2019 8:59:59 PM
Shelli Fitzpatrick wrote:
Mark wrote:
Actions like disabling right clicking does not make the images any less downloadable as any image on the internet is downloadable by default.
Smile


maybe, but they do deter some and slow down others. And it shows some kind of effort on the part of Z to offer as much protection as they possibly can, rather than as little as possible.

Watermarks are not a viable solution as is obvious by the recommendation of Z not to use them.

I said it before but it bears repeating, we should not have to trade sales for protection.




I agree, Shelli.
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 7:02:12 AM
If the image is online, people will steal it, there's the whole of it. For Amazon to "do something" would require an entirely separate company filled with workers who get paid to compare images all day long for no profit. No one's gonna do that.

And speaking of profit, those images that you had stolen, are they making those thieves any money? Probably not. Even if those are your most popular designs, unless you're a top seller here chances are they're just filler images that will never get sold on a thief's site. Mostly they just want to fill up their store and hope for the best, just like we do. They know only a small percentage of the designs will actually sell.
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 7:17:09 AM
Actually someone is making money because I was in Walmart recently and in order to avoid the inevitable traffic jam I turned down an aisle I knew would take me past it to the aisle I really wanted. The first aisle I turned down was decorative pillows. I glanced at them as I passed and saw two similar; a red abstract and the same abstract in a navy blue. The red one was sharp and clear the navy blue was so blurred that I actually looked back at the red one to ensure they were the same design.

Can I safely say Chinese knock-off?

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 7:45:05 AM
·▽·

There is only one cure to copyright theft and that is having thief pay license plus attorney fees.
Unfortunately only a few countries make this an actual deterrent.
In most countries it is more theoretical and copyright is more a copy privilege for a few with the bugs to follow through.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 8:24:36 AM
Sure we can never totally prevent image theft but should we slap a sticker on them that says "steal me" ? that is what not disabling the right click is like.

and saying all images on the internet are downloadable by default is not exactly accurate... my images at another POD site are not. If you try to right click them you get a transparent layer.

Why can't Z do that too?


Adding: I realize there are ways to get around even that, but it does make it more work for a lazy thief and maybe they would move on to easier pickings.




Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 10:49:29 AM
Bots and scripts don't need right click to steal images. Chinese sellers all use those.
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 11:19:52 AM
If there is something that can be done to deter even just the lazy thieves (such as disabling right click saving), then it should be done. Pointing out that there are other, more effective means of theft doesn't excuse making no effort to combat the things one can.

No one licenses their work with the thought of, "please make it easy to steal."

If asking for the minimum is too much...
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 12:12:22 PM
One thing Zazzle could do is stop offering such huge images that can be easily print-screened and reused. I'm less concerned about Chinese thieves than I am about shoppers who see something they like, screen print it from a huge sticker image for example (not to mention the even bigger zoomed image), and then make their own for less money. Does Zazzle have anything in place to catch that because I'm sure it happens.
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 6:13:15 PM
chefcateringbizcards wrote:
And speaking of profit, those images that you had stolen, are they making those thieves any money? Probably not. Even if those are your most popular designs, unless you're a top seller here chances are they're just filler images that will never get sold on a thief's site. Mostly they just want to fill up their store and hope for the best, just like we do. They know only a small percentage of the designs will actually sell.


There are two very important things to consider here.

One is that these people are using your designs/artwork to make money. And they do make money. They are literally stealing your designs to profit off of someone else's hard work. Having an Amazon store offers them huge exposure that they would not have otherwise.

Another thing to consider is this: it can harm your online reputation. These stolen designs are most often low resolution files that will look horrible on the products. For example: Someone bought a throw pillow with your stolen design off of Amazon because they liked the design. Once they got it, they realize it is awful quality, and are upset. That does a lot of damage to you, as the original designer with your own online store. Someone might really like that design, but they will be very unlikely to buy something with that design again because the knock-off they bought was so awful. So you loose a potential customer and also it tarnishes your reputation. The customers often have no way of telling the difference between legit and bootleg products online, so one bad product can spoil your future sales.
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 6:19:37 PM
Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:
If there is something that can be done to deter even just the lazy thieves (such as disabling right click saving), then it should be done. Pointing out that there are other, more effective means of theft doesn't excuse making no effort to combat the things one can.

No one licenses their work with the thought of, "please make it easy to steal."

If asking for the minimum is too much...


I agree wholeheartedly. Doing nothing is never the best option! Just because a burglar can smash your window to get inside your house, does that negate the need to lock your doors and have an alarm system? Even through a lock won't stop a determined person from getting inside your house, it still prevents randos from walking into your house (true story, this happened to my family, when they forgot to lock their door, a drunk man opened their front door and just walked inside!)

Would you leave your car unlocked in a parking lot with your laptop sitting on the front seat? Same thing.

Just people people can get around image protection does not mean we should make it easy for them!! Without watermarks, disable right click, low resolution images, javascript protection, etc, we might as well just hand the thieved our high resolution images on a silver platter and say "knock yourselves out!". The harder they have to work, the easier they will be deterred. Believe me, these people want to take the path of least resistance, and will bypass an image with even minimal protection for one that has none.
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