This Etsy shop makes what are called Lomo Photo Stickers (among other photo products). Apparently, the stickers are quite popular in other places, but I had not heard of them before being informed of the theft of my photo. Although the actual for sale listing has been removed (it is an error message now), you can see my ripped off image in one of the shop's sold items. My felted heart flower rings photo is being used (without permission!!) in the last product image, second photo to the left on the top row. It may be a tiny sticker print, but it is still my image and my property.
I'm assuming, from the look of their stickers and postcards, that most of the images are being taken from Flickr or perhaps directly from Etsy sellers' listings. Considering the shop in question has sold over 7,000 items, there is no telling how many copyrighted images have been violated. Since the for sale listing was removed, I am also assuming that either Etsy made them take it down, or they were warned some other way and chose to take it down. Either way, in my opinion, the entire shop should be shut down for their blatant copyright infringement and profiting off the work of others. I have reported the shop to Etsy, but since the shop is based in Shanghai, China, there's probably not much else that I, or others based elsewhere, can do legally. This is very sad indeed! I guess the ball is in Etsy's court now, and hopefully, they will rectify the situation.
There are some things that I would like for my readers to do though (that I really beg of you to do)...
1) Check the privacy settings on your Flickr account and anywhere else that you might store photos online. I would highly recommend that you edit your settings to the most strict copyright statement as well as restrict who can see and download your images. Will this solve the problem of stealing (a.k.a. copyright infringement)? Unfortunately, no. I have had all my Flickr settings very restricted for quite some time. Sadly, it is very easy to take a screen shot of your image or copy it to a desktop. That is why ethics has to come into play at some point. Unfortunately, some people don't have any ethics to speak of.
2) Look out for each other! If that lovely Flickr user hadn't decided to message me, I may have never known that my image, and very possibly other images, were being stolen. All it takes is keeping your eyes open and caring enough to act. As independent handmade artists and crafters, we need to look out for one another and help when we can. I know that many of us are competitors, but I believe that as ethical artisans, that competitiveness can be set aside at times to benefit the arts and crafts community as a whole.
3) Take action and PLEASE pass this on! I'm not asking you to post about this on your own blogs, although, you are welcome to. I am asking that you go to the the shop in question and browse their products to see if you recognize any images of your own or from fellow artists and crafters. If you do, please report the shop to Etsy. (I am not asking you to report the shop without reason, but please take action and at least check their images for yourself.) Lastly, if you don't want to blog about this, I completely understand, as it is my matter to sort out, but I do respectfully ask you to pass the information along to your fellow artists and crafters via your email newsletter, twitter, or other social network so that they can be aware of possible copyright infringement. If you'd like to simply link to my blog post here, that would be fine with me. I just want to get the word out in case any other fellow artists and crafters are affected.
I am not nieve and know that there will probably be future occurrences of similar copyright infringement of my images and the images of fellow artists. (I came across another instance of copyright infringement with one of my scarves photos just the other day!) I just think that if there is going to be any real change, artists and crafters need to speak up and look out for one another. Do I always do this? Honestly, no, not as much as I should, but I am slowly working on that and hope that you will too. I sincerely appreciate my online community of artists and crafters!
Have a superb, fun-filled weekend with lots of crafting if possible!