Amazon Sellers of Stolen Copyright Material Is on the Rise
For a few months now word got out on several Facebook groups that many designer’s art was for sale on Amazon without their consent.
It started to alarm me, but I didn’t want to look out for any designs of mine. It would so spoil my creativity; so I rather just carried on designing. I know that was a kind of ostrich mentality, but I’m not going out of my way to look for negativities of any kind. I rather look for the positive opportunities that are still available through the internet, knowing that what we think and feel in this moment impacts in a very real way on the world in us and around us, even the Earth itself is sensitive to our vibrations.
Being in Denial is not Working
My husband by pure chance spotted one of my (book designs) on a pillow, while he was checking on one of our book titles A Multi-Dimensional Perception on Amazon. This book design was clearly stolen from my kima global gift shop at Zazzle by a person calling themselves Lily-Ann! Whoever Lily-Ann is. It’s probably a false name. My instant reaction was anger. So much so for my intent to stay away from negativity.
It helps to belong to the POD Facebook groups so I did the one action that was open to me, sending an email off where I included all the details of the artwork to them...I got an automatic reply that my email had been received, and then I got another email asking what book link that was a copy right theft! They never saw the pillow product that you see on the image.
I Would Hate to Work for Amazon as an Employee
I do wonder about the opportunities amazon employees have to earn from sales!!
What Opportunities does Anyone Have against Amazon Thieves?
Copyright is having the ownership over a piece of work or art. Work is automatically copyrighted when it is created, like: Books, articles, web content Paintings, photographs, and visual works. Songs, movies, television shows and ads are also included.
In case of a book publisher, producer, art galleries or anyone who on behalf of the Copyright owner has invested in the promotion, then a contract has to be signed by both parties to secure the “print or recording rights “ as an example, so there is a share in profits for both parties.
Trademark tends to protect items that define a company brand, like Business name, brand, or product names Logos and sometimes company slogans or phrases.
How Does Amazon Earn its Money?
1 Products from and sold by a [third-party seller]
Because Amazon is a marketplace for third-party vendors that allows merchants to setup accounts and sell items in a relatively unregulated environment, and it’s one of the company's fastest-growing businesses. It’s now also become a haven for counterfeiters.
That also means the third-party seller is responsible for the printing and shipping of the POD products. Companies like Zazzle, Society6, Redbubble and many more are like us publishers third-party sellers on Amazon.
In Create space at Amazon our book titles are printed by Amazon and shipped to the customer and we get billed for the printing costs. We also use Lightening source who is a third-party-seller on Amazon and our titles are also with them. In that case we have to pay for the shipping and posting costs upfront before the book is sent to the buyer.
POD Companies Pay Royalties to Their Designers
For many of the designers for Print-On-Demand sites like Zazzle, Society6 and Redbubble, when a product is sold they earn a % (royalty fee) for their art work that is printed on the product. The printing and shipping gets handles by the POD Company.
(What is happening is that unauthorized third-party sellers are impersonating (stealing) digital art and undercutting popular consumer brands.)
2 Fulfilled by Amazon
In the past items (mainly books) are shipped from one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers. This means that items are processed by Amazon but are not necessarily verified.
We are book publishers and have been a third party seller since 1998.
3 Sold by Amazon
These items are sold by Amazon and are most likely the legitimate product, like our titles that are available on create space and the kindle.
Other Artists who have Lost a lot of Royalty Payments
Susan an internet friend of mine created a Facebook group named; "Who stole my images?" She has more than 350 members documenting examples of copyrighted designs being taken mostly from Zazzle and sold illegally on Amazon. Over the weekend, one artist said she just found 11 more pieces of her work on Amazon, bringing the total number of stolen designs she'd discovered to 88.
Susan said: “For the past two months, I have sent Amazon copyright dept, a list of at least 50 items per week. It is very time consuming, takes from our sales and the poor quality hurts our 'brand'.”
Amazon says “the sale of counterfeit products is "strictly prohibited" and "the sale of counterfeit goods can also lead to legal action by rights holders and civil and criminal penalties." But in the meantime the thieves are taking away the earnings of lots of designers around the world.
What's makes me question is that Amazon isn't some unsophisticated retailer. Rather, it's a company littered with engineers operating some of the most complex logistics and technical infrastructure in the world.
- Why have they not managed to find a way to prevent this?
- With all that technology, shouldn’t Amazon have an effective approach of authenticating sellers, noticing bots and feigned IP addresses and restrain criminalized images?
Zazzle even runs some of its computing on Amazon Web Services, as does Redbubble, another online marketplace that's seen fakes show up on Amazon.
- How can an artist help Amazon by providing them with the information they need to identify the infringing accounts?
Both Zazzle and Amazon Have Taking Action, but is it Enough?
Recently on the Zazzle forum there is a form we all can fill in for 5 stolen designs. We do have to add three links. The Amazon sale link, the so called seller link and our own Zazzle link. The images I have included in this post will soon be removed from Amazon, I’m sure because I already saw that one other pillow design of ours was now no longer available.
I will post this article so that Amazon buyers will learn what counterfeiters on Amazon do to all the individuals who depend on an income from their hard work. We all can see how attractive it is to buy a product through Amazon due to the cheaper price, but what about people’s brand name?
This was in itself a creative project, especially making the images for this post, but from now on I will purely focus on creating more designs and stay positive that the wheels behind the scenes are looking after all of us artists and designers.
Having listened to the videos I have included into this article, I’m somewhat shocked at the hardship employees seem to suffer working for Amazon.
The last video about Chinese fakes made me realize that I do not want to support the big cooperation’s mentioned in this video, but rather the individuals, since they are just making them richer while they get nothing in return. That has to change!
As publishers we are grateful for the book sales, and as a designer I would love to sell my artwork on the print-on-demand Merch by Amazon, but at the same time I hope that the working facilities at Amazon will greatly improve for many of the employees in years to come when bosses wake up by listening to their inner voice!
Thanks for reading my post.