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Thu Feb 7 2013 13:42:16

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

By: Julia Wilkinson

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In the wake of the brouhaha on Etsy over listings taken down when a seller said some listings violated her patent for a process for making kids' clothes, crafters and other sellers may have intellectual property issues on their minds. But what about photographs of your crafts and other products? Did you know that if you have a professional photographer take your pictures, you need to get them to assign you the copyright, so you can use them any way you want (such as photos on your web site)?

The good news is you don't have to hire a lawyer to draw up an agreement. According to this article on Crafts Law, you simply need to add verbiage to the photographer's invoice to the effect of, "Photographer assigns all copyright in the photographs to [your name]" and ask the photographer to sign it. It goes on to say that sometimes photographers may wish to retain the right to reproduce copies for a portfolio. "That’s okay. Just write out your understanding" the article advises.

Of course, if you take your own photos, you own the copyright to them. But many sellers farm this service out. Another thing sellers do is put a watermark in their images to prevent misues of them. (If you do, and the photo is on eBay be sure to adhere to eBay's latest requirements  for these watermarks).

Have you had any problems with your own products' images; either being misused by other sellers, or with a professional photographer? Do you take your own photos or hire this task out? Post a comment here!




Comments (23) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Thu Feb 7 19:53:04 2013

I take my own photos and have always had a caveat in my listing text that confesses my amateur status as a photographer. No watermark, but I do usually have something in the photo that easily identifies it as one of mine.

That being said, I have had buyers ask if they could use the photo to re-sell the item they purchase from me if it did not fit them. I've always said yes. A few times in the past, I've seen my photos show up in other listings. I just figured the item did not work for the buyer, or they bought it to re-sell. No matter the reason, it really did not bother me at all - just hoped they had good results.

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 23:58:40 2013

Funny this is being discussed today as I had to deal with 2 issues earlier today. I decided to do a search to see how a product listing of mine is doing in search and wow, 5 listings down below mine was my exact photo that belongs to me with a big red X across the entire photo. The seller was not only saying my products were inferior but then in their description going further by insinuating they are laden with synthetic ingredients... My products are 'Certified' Organic so I have to abide by the strict laws in order to sell Cert Org products! I never gave this person permission to use my photo and certainly not for that reason. I contacted them and reported them to eBay. I was told by eBay they had to investigate it even though I provided proof. The seller said they would remove the listing and that it was an oversight on their part. Are you kidding? You call stealing copyrighted photos and oversight? A half hour later after the seller removed my property they went and stole someone elses' and the funny thing is I knew who this other seller was because I was familiar with their photos so I was able to contact that other seller to let her know. Here the bad seller did this 2 times in a row and didn't think twice. I reported them again and received the same info that something would be done about it because they were violating eBay policy. I looked through this bad sellers shop and saw all kinds of peoples photos they did the same thing to. I hope eBay makes them responsible for their actions but I have a feeling nothing's going to happen as the other persons photo is still up with the big red x across it. Ever since eBay requires no type etc on our photos I think it makes it easier for them to be stolen. For some reason some photos will not work with the eBay watermark.
This person is blatantly going around stealing peoples pictures and false advertising and causing sellers to lose business and so far nothing happens to them. What else can be done to protect our photos? In this case it also directly affects a persons brand, sales, reputation...

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Feb 8 00:23:04 2013

@cayenna - I thought using someone else's photos was a clear violation of eBay's policies. I guess this is another example of how they are so desperate to keep sellers that they overlook stuff like photo stealing.

I shoot all my own photos and doubt anyone would want to steal 99% of them. Even though I have a great camera (Canon DSLR), my photos are for the most part bad to horrible. The only time my photos really look good is when my flatbed scanner is the source.

I started Photoshopping my user ID in red in the biggest font possible across all my eBay auction photos when someone with zero feedback used one of my photos to list a rare item (that was many years ago).  

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Fri Feb 8 00:37:51 2013

Oh how funny, big red letters, great idea! Except eBay's policy won't let us do that now. :-( I thought it was against eBay policy to steal photos also but so far nothing has been done. We will see how it goes the next few days; maybe eBay will do something since they are still investigating. I cannot believe something was not done right away, esp when I provided proof...
Thanks for your comments!

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Fri Feb 8 01:53:20 2013

As far as they affect users, all eBay's policies are nominal: only those policies, the breach of which may affect eBay’s revenue, are enforced ...

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Fri Feb 8 08:45:00 2013

It really looks that way so far as I have not seen a change yet even this morning. And it was someone twice that I spoke with in the trust and Safety team/Dept. If something really does happen I will post a comment to let everyone know. Good grief!  

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Feb 8 09:32:36 2013

Cayenna - How awful!

There are so many copycats these days I hope what your unprofessional seller did does not catch on in a big way with other crazies. eBay seems so impotent in doing anything about ruthless or crazy members - I don't know if they are not willing or not able.  Or both.

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Fri Feb 8 09:54:34 2013

Thank you very much for your comments!
I can say that the first two people I spoke with did not seem like they knew what to do about it even though I filed the complaint/report that is necessary. I had to ask both times to speak with someone in Trust and Safety. I am surprised that this matter is being addressed so lightly as this matter in the business world is actually a serious matter. Isn't it a form of plagiarism? Just instead of taking it to claim as their own they took it to defame it to boost their purpose of what they were selling... It's no wonder people are taking people to court outside of eBay when eBay doesn't chose to do anything about things like this. And, it is no wonder that my sales dropped for a period of time. And then to go a half hour later and pick another victim without them even batting an eye, Unbelievable. Will keep you posted!

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Feb 8 10:21:55 2013

Apparently some have never heard that "cheaters never prosper". Shame on them. I bet in the real world of working they took credit for other's work as well. It seems like some people go out of their way to steal and use other's things to make a business as if that will impress a buyer. I've seen some sellers that it is obvious that they stole every photo in their store. Electronic goods are so cheap these days that there is no reason someone wanting to sell on line can't have their own photos and scans and run their business honestly.

The only time I have ever seen one of my photos elsewhere it was in someone's blog and they had a link to my store embedded in it and I ended up with something like 60 hits just from that picture. If everyone were so 'kind' I wouldn't mind if all 8000 items in my inventory had their pictures taken and posted elsewhere if they all would produce 60 hits a piece!!!

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Feb 8 10:40:50 2013

Taking photos is one thing - that may bother some sellers to a greater degree than others.

But to use them in a sinister way by drawing a red X through them and then take it further in your text and making derogatory statements about the seller(s) or their product. Wow!

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Fri Feb 8 10:57:25 2013

Yeah, not good at all.
Moonwishes you really made me laugh, so funny! I do many things, one of them is I am a Metal Smith. True Artists do not want to suppress but share and give credit where credit is due so we can all support one another. This really should apply in all areas of business. Unfortunately there's people out there that have to ruin it for others.
I asked a seller a long time ago if I could use a photo because I could never get the same item to look as good as she could. She let me use it on her terms and I was so happy. Most people I am sure would be happy if they were just asked and of course it was for positive use. The bad seller that stole mine and other pictures is a new seller on eBay and they are also using that as an excuse to get buy with what they did as if they didn't know. Like you mean to tell me you do not know you are stealing someone's property? And then you go and keep doing it repeatedly; like you do not know what you are doing how many times? It is so ignorant. Don't they realize they could get sued? I mean you're talking about affecting peoples incomes, attacking their character when you do not even know them...I just can't believe some of the people out there. I don't shock easily anymore but it is so ignorant, and abusive. This seller needs to be disciplined in some way. I just checked and the poor sellers photos are still up.

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Fri Feb 8 17:49:09 2013

@Moonwishes,

"cheaters never prosper"?

You are joking, of course. Take a closer look at eBay/PayPal … http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 9 15:21:12 2013

As an owner of your original images, you do not need to state that you reserve a copyright in them. You HAVE the copyright in them. Stating it may educate people who use them in ignorance, though.

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 9 18:28:30 2013

Yes, good point re not needing to state it... Thank you for your comment!

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 9 23:22:50 2013

Unfortunately eBay does not allow us to state it on our photos which I feel makes it even more tempting to steal them.

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 9 23:29:13 2013

Just checked the bad red x photos are still up. Unbelievable!

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Sun Feb 10 00:50:12 2013

Unbelievable? Seriously? There is absolutely nothing unbelievable about anything that eBafia may, or may not, do, as long as it serves the executive bonus scheme; every disingenuous, unscrupulous, and even criminal, action is possible with eBafia … Once you come to terms with that premise there will be no more surprises for you from eBafia …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Sun Feb 10 10:11:54 2013

Yes, I know it just still takes a bit to take. I feel the same way you do, believe me.

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: Disillusioned-Seller This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 11 09:46:06 2013

There is another seller on eBay right now that not only used my pics but copied verbatim my product description.

I reported it to eBay 4 times and the listing is still there. So please, do not tell me about violations against eBay policies. This particular seller is one of those wholesale businesses that do more sales in a month than I do in a year, so perhaps eBay feels that such a big seller doesn't need to abide by the rules. But if I take the take to photograph and edit a pic, then to carefully word my description, it irritates me that someone else can piggy back off of my hard work.

Seems to me the rules only apply to some sellers. No such thing as policy violation if you do $X in sales.  

Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products   Preventing Copyright Issues for Photos of Your Craft Products

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 11 11:47:20 2013

I am so sorry to hear that you also are a vivtim, and I am sure there's many more out there. This is interesting. If I learn anything more I will definitely post it here. Thank you for everyone's comments!

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