General Question

windex's avatar

How are people profiting by selling things that is someone else's property?

Asked by windex (2932points) November 2nd, 2009

On sites like Etsy or Zazzle or Cafepress, there are tons of people selling things from Movies, TV shows, Video games that is clearly copyrighted.
How are they allowed to do this?
Like Shirts, Mugs, toys etc.

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9 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

It’s called artistic interpretation…much like Andy Warhol’s art was.

Dog's avatar

Unless they have paid to license the images what they are doing is copyright infringement.

buckyboy28's avatar

I often see shirts with copywritten quotes taken down on cafepress and zazzle, only to be put up again a week later (and then promptly taken down again).

If anything, it is helping out the copyright owners in knowing what the popular phrases are that people want on t-shirts, so they can sell them on their sites and make profit.

Dog's avatar

@buckyboy28 As a licensing artist I can tell you that it in no way helps us to have our work taken and sold by others. Not only do we lose out on our entitled royalties for the sale but If not caught it can invalidate licenses with legitimate manufacturers who have exclusively licensed an image or set of images.

Val123's avatar

It’s theft. But there is so much of it there is no way to control it.

Supacase's avatar

I was looking online for some Strawberry Shortcake invitations. I thought maybe American Greetings would have something since they created SS. I was surprised to see so many designs on Etsy and Ebay come up in my search results. There was usually a note at the bottom of the listing saying the cost was for their time, not the images. Seems like an iffy loophole to me, but I don’t know copyright law.

I did wonder where they got all of those good quality images of so many characters. Then one day I went to the Dollar Store and picked up a SS phonics workbook. Most of the images I saw online were right there. I guess they scan them in from inexpensive sources like that.

Dog's avatar

@Supacase Additionally there is software available that will take internet sized images and made them large print- quality.

Dominic's avatar

Sites like Etsy and Zazzle are relatively insulated from liability as long as they keep up a functional DMCA compliance program. Therefore, they have little incentive to police their site (but no disincentive to police their site) for infringing goods.

As for the actual copyright holders? I assume most of them have no idea that their copyrights are being infringed.

@Supacase that’s not even close to a loophole in copyright law. You’re right to be skeptical.

dannyc's avatar

It is stealing, pure and simple. If you think that is okay, go for it. Some of us think it’s wrong. Go figure.

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