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Julia Wilkinson AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

Julia Wilkinson is Editor of the AuctionBytes Blog and is author of the "eBay Price Guide," "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks," "My Life at AOL" and numerous ebooks about selling online. You can also find her writing on Yard Salers.
Tue July 30 2013 16:00:47

Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?

By: Julia Wilkinson
Sponsored Link
Fur, feathers, and even certain types of fibers were flying on the Etsy discussion board about its new Prohibited Items policy. Although the lion's share (sorry) of the comments applauded Etsy's integrity and commitment to protecting endangered species and their parts, quite a few sellers - such as those of vintage or "pre-ban" parts like old ivory - were unhappy with the changes and some felt it went too far or introduced a slippery slope of banning everything animal-part related.



And other sellers who sold vintage items were not happy with the change. "Hazel," whose shop is "Pinguim", wrote that sellers who had vintage "pre-ban" type items listed would be out of the funds invested in such pieces, and also the time they had invested in researching pre- vs. post- ban pieces. "This new policy will hurt those who know the difference and have invested and researched accordingly," she wrote.

But an admin on the Etsy board, "Bonnie," responded that "the risk that the legal status of these items may be unknown or mislabeled is too great, and the continued sale of these items stands to perpetuate market demand and further jeopardize the existence of these species."

While Etsy's firm stance against pieces such as ivory was clear, there seemed to be more grey area in products made of materials such as fiber and feathers. A seller known as "whiskeyish" wrote, "I'm sorry, but correct me if I'm wrong - you're banning any and all camel fiber, chinchilla fiber, bighorn sheep fiber, markhor fiber, etc., without considering any ramifications? That means you're banning camel hair coats (bactrian camels), cashmere sweaters (kashmir markhor), spun wool yarn (from mixed fiber sources), and chinchilla fiber from someone brushing a pet chinchilla, no exceptions."

In a highlighted response on the board, Bonnie said that "Etsy is NOT instituting a blanket ban on fibers. After consulting with fiber experts, we have learned that there is minimal risk that fibers come from endangered species or that animals are harmed in the collection of fiber or hair. As a result, we have decided not to proactively pursue fibers as part of this new policy." She went on to say that Etsy trusts sellers "to use your knowledge and common sense when listing items for sale on Etsy."

Feathers were another issue. "I've seen a lot of feathers on here that are not allowed," wrote one seller, adding that "a common bird may not be endangered or threatened, but still protected under the Migratory Bird Act. I think some wording about that act would be a helpful reminder - it doesn't have to be endangered to be protected by law!"

In general, Etsy says they are most concerned with "with the types of products Lauren mentioned in her blog post: fur, pelts, ivory, teeth, bones, and taxidermy," and that their
intention "is not to ban all leather, wool or fiber products, but to reduce the market for items made from protected species by disallowing products on Etsy described in the FAQ and specifically noted in the ESA."

In some media coverage of the policy tightening by Etsy, such as this piece in Slate, it was pointed out that with this move Etsy goes further than other marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon. And while the new policy is humane, it leaves aficionados of various materials saddened that some of them may now go to waste.

"It makes me wanna cry when I see someone bring an old piano to the landfill. All those ivory keys could be used, should be used somehow," wrote Antoinette of  AntoinettesWhims.

What do you think? Is this new, good-intentioned policy update by Etsy completely a good thing? Do you think it's too restrictive in some areas? Will it affect you, based on the types of items you sell, and if so will you move the newly banned products onto a marketplace that allows them? Post a comment here!



Comments (17) | Permalink
Readers Comments

Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Jul 31 00:07:34 2013
etsy = the new more rediculous eBay ... thankfully I dont sell there!
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
This user has validated their user name. by: The End
       
Wed Jul 31 09:00:12 2013
Though I have not seen one on ETSY, I cried when I saw an "Elephant Foot Stool" on an auction site. It was the most heart wrenching experience ever. The cold, evil minds that result in such horrific mutilation of these gentle "Land People" (the elephants) must be met with nothing less than the Death Penalty, either doled out on site (preferred), or through the courts.
2 people in our county paid a paltry 2 Grand, and 2 weeks in jail for possessing one of these for auction. They both should have been executed.
When it comes to hurting animals, I'm for Swift Justice, nothing less.
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
This user has validated their user name. by: Basset
       
Wed Jul 31 12:20:01 2013
Being of vegetarian persuasion I try not to wear, eat or decorate with critter parts & pieces.  

Must confess to owning some leather shoes,  but even my shoe wardrobe is gradually turning vegan. Yes, you can buy vegan shoes.

Now that horse meat is getting an OK for production in this country, I'm wondering if horsehide will be ''fashionable'' soon.  

Mr. Ed Couture!  Nay!!!
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: walrus2646 This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Jul 31 12:39:54 2013
Already stopped selling vintage on Etsy about 2 months back.
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: Danielle This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Jul 31 13:28:17 2013
I am selling VINTAGE pre-ban fur, leather, ostrich skin, snakeskin...all the little vintage luxuries majority of Buyers are looking for and collecting. And yes, this new policy will affect me if it is pushed to unhealthy extremes. I have a feeling it will.

The new policy seems benign at first sight, nothing new. BUT the interpretation is already creating shady areas, where extremists could take this to a whole new level of absurdity.
When asked about the pre-ban or ''not included in the endangered/ban species list'' , ETSY completely refused to consider that sale of such items is well within the law, (pre-ban items were not illegal at the time of manufacturing)
ETSY responded that ''in order to avoid interpretations(???) there will be no exceptions'' in other words, they are throwing the baby with the bath water and becoming more Catholic than the Pope.

As a matter of principle, where ARE we heading? Another prohibition era of some sort? Another temperance movement with all the absurdity and witch hunts?

Little by little our freedoms are limited indirectly but surely by the promotion of minority groups agendas. Etsy was a safe Haven for eBay refugees after eBay lost direction (and common sense). But the ''old afflictions'' are catchy:)

Looking from a different angle, however, this is a blessing for small vintage online stores, where Buyers will flock to buy vintage fur coats and nice pre-ban jewelery they are looking for and collect. Same as eBay remained behind selling cheap imports, ETSY will become full of plastic trinkets,  nylon ribbons and polyester...ALL safe and not endangered materials which, however, will continue to exist in our landfills long before we are gone.
I feel like telling Etsy hardcores: THINK people, it is not illegal yet!  
 
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
This user has validated their user name. by: Tula
       
Wed Jul 31 14:53:31 2013
Sounds like a bunch of hipster vegans trying to force their radical views on the rest of us. Too bad it clashes with their whole eco-friendly, reuse/recycle, natural products mantra. I'm all for protecting endangered species, but banning a fur coat from sale is not going to bring the critter in question back to life. If it was legal when it was made, it should be allowed for sale.  
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: richknobsales This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Jul 31 18:10:27 2013
Prohibiting pre-banned fur & ivory/bone makes about as much sense as banning dinosaur bone pendants.  
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: comet This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Jul 31 19:52:10 2013
@THE END--

I don't mean to be a Doubting Thomas but--please provide links and documentation of this.  Were these items NEW--ie had the people killed or caused to be killed the elephants to make these stools?  Or where these old souveniers?

(Please don;t go off on me here;  I am a huge defender of elephants and in fact my estate is going to elephant sanctuaries)  

Just trying to get some clarity here.

Because where I live two friends of mine were killed by some one in a car and the person who killed THEM got a $250 fine.

And nothing else.

Maybe I need to move.

Please let us know so we can judge for ourselves on this.
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: comet This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Jul 31 19:59:25 2013
As to the actual ETSY "ban"--can you REALLY take seriously a bunch of people who don't even bother to do their HOMEWORK on HOW these fibers etc are produced?  Angora comes from certain  LIVE RABBITS and if you KILL the rabbit you can't have them GROW any MORE.  Ditto WOOL of any variety--unless we are talking sheepSKINS.  That is different.  Chinchilla WOOL is completely DIFFERENT from chinchilla PELTS.

So---it's all OK for all of these Hollywood types to be sitting around with their "wool bowls" and their needles knitting away but NOT okay for some mom trying to feed her family to comb out some rabbits or goats or shear a sheep---which BTW the sheep LOVE as it makes them much better able to stand hot summer and helps get rid of vermin----

Well I guess they FORGOT to check  all of this out.

JK

Musta been because their Birkenstocks were not broken in yet.

And you can find LOTS of Ivory of all kinds on ebay if you go look for it--see listings for BONE WITH LINES and the like.  It's out there as are many OTHER things ebay would like you to think are not--and many things that should NOT be there at all. And I do believe that complete tusks are NOT part of the Ban.  Dunno why---but there it is.  

Common sense?  What IS that????

Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww
       
Wed Jul 31 20:57:54 2013
Ed, pray tell what are vegan shoes? Cloth? Lol. ;) vinyl? Hehe.

Danielle thanks for your feedback. You're right, I think those vintage pre-ban things which are still legal will simply be sold in other venues and maybe even those small b&m shops.

I see both sides of this to some extent, but I feel if the item was already made years ago it is not going to hurt anyone or any creature now. But I know the thinking is it somehow feeds the demand.

I won't be buying any fur coats from any era, in any case, methinks. I didn't see the harm in "found" feathers but again I guess people will question whether they were actually found.
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
This user has validated their user name. by: Basset
       
Wed Jul 31 22:54:11 2013
There are almost 30,000 listings on eBay alone for ''vegan shoes''. Where HAVE y'all been?

The term cracks me up. When I was younger leather ruled. Man-made shoes were cheapo's. Now, I suppose rubber flip-flops can be called vegan shoes.

I guess some of the big shoe companies saw an opportunity & it caught on.



On a more serious note - Take Japanese netsuke for example. Ivory was a favorite material to use. Some are quite old & very valuable, signed or not. They were cool. Reproduction was inevitable.  

Several years ago, when popularity & value rose - so did ''modern netsuke'' as many dealers called it. Although other materials may be used like nuts & bones, many ''moderns'' were still made of ivory & many are signed.  And,  the moderns could also be made to look old, to increase their value when sold to unsuspecting buyers.

A market for ivory was still there - ban or no - partially spurred on by the cool factor & value of the older, legal, netsuke.

Personally, I could not always tell newer from older on many pieces. If asked if a netsuke in their shop was ''modern'' or ''old'' many honest dealers would answer that they did not know, if they had no provenance.  The dealers who said ''old'' without having provenance - well, then you would have to rely on their reputation.  Lots of ''modern'' was sold as ''old''.

With always that chance that a piece came from the modern  ivory market,   simply decided it was better to enjoy netsuke in the museum - hopefully the curators have done their homework!

Ivory or whatever - it seems fakes & ''moderns'' are inevitable for  many banned items & so hard to police it that I can't blame venues for being worried about the issue.


Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: alaska This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Aug 1 00:00:47 2013
One size does not fit all. Banning walrus ivory because you don't want to trade in elephant ivory is stupid. Inupiat Eskimos are going to kill walrus whether they can sell the ivory or not, because they eat walrus meat and use the hides for their skin boats. Banning walrus ivory only hurts Alaska Native people who have very little income to start with. Elephants are only killed for their ivory, walrus are killed so that the Eskimos have food to eat. It's easy to tell the difference between elephant ivory and walrus ivory from the subject of the carvings.
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
This user has validated their user name. by: Basset
       
Thu Aug 1 07:05:22 2013
But if there is money to be made, and walrus ivory allowed, elephant ivory carvings subject would change to look like walrus ivory subjects.

There is always someone looking for a loophole to take advantage of in the name of greed.  

On your other point - I (probably mistakenly) thought native tribal members had a special clearance to use even endangered species parts -  at least for some things. I'm thinking of Bald Eagle claws, etc... Maybe the clearance I'm thinking of comes under the religious freedom heading? Not sure.

But perhaps the use I'm thinking of does not include selling them.
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Aug 1 09:00:06 2013
I can fully understand the site and the US laws that are there to protect certain species. However, you can get carried away with what is and not allowed.
If you are afraid of offending someone, pretty soon everything will be banned for one reason or another.
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww
       
Thu Aug 1 13:41:18 2013
Well, I'll be durned! I'm wearing ''vegan'' shoes right now! Flip-flops with cloth bands..lol. (Brought to you by Island Slipper, and no they're not paying me, but these Hawaiian flips are soooo comfy). B-)
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: EKE This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Aug 2 10:48:22 2013
Well, we are a bit upset because Etsy took down some items we had in one of our shops, without even asking us any questions. Pre-ban ivory is completely legal to sell. They took our items down without even a courtesy warning, just dropped them. When I searched for similar items on Etsy, there were about 70 pages of items still actively for sale. Very, very upsetting. It appears to us that this was another seller who ratted on us and got our items taken down while they went on their merry way, unscathed. If Etsy is truly going to do this, we should not be able to find ANY other listings still up. This is the second time they have done this to us. Their staff who answer emails are totally unable to calm our complaints. They are snooty and superficial in their responses to complaints about unfairness. Not only that, sales on Etsy have plummeted to almost nothing. Their implemented new changes have killed the site for our shops. Their Browse is nothing more than severe favoritism to certain shops. I don't think you can find anything there anymore. They have taken away any ability to drill down to exactly what you are searching for. NO ONE can afford the time to go through the 250 pages for every search that come up when looking for something. This new guy has killed the site for many, many small sellers.  
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?   Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.
       
Sat Aug 3 10:11:42 2013
@ EKE,
Feel your frustration with the search engine etsy has. At times it is definitely faster to look on google, yahoo, search to find the items - regardless of esty, ebay or amazon.
I feel they are telling me NO that is not what you want- this is what you want and who to buy it from. You can type in shoe and they will show you listings for a TV.


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