What is being done about Amazon sellers like TEETOWN who steal our art?
Hi, I'm new to Merch, but see great potential in the system already. However, it's frustrating that I have to send endless DMCA notices to Amazon to have my stolen work removed from sellers like TEETOWN (amongst others) who steals our designs, printing from low resolution or poorly livetraced art on their own tshirts (and have admitted as much to me). When the stolen designs are removed they simply re-upload it a day later in defiance of Amazon. This has happened too many times to track now, and twice just this week! Why isn't this being acknowledged and steps taken to finally close his account? Until then, my own Merch sales have to compete with MY STOLEN DESIGNS sold by Teetown and others! It's a utterly ridiculous situation. The number of tshirt designers facing this problem is huge ( I know of dozens of artists alone) and surely warrants some kind of response? The Teetown store with hundreds (probably thousands) of stolen designs:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=w_bl_sl_s_ap_web_7141123011?ie=UTF8&node=7141123011&field-brandtextbin=Teetown Vincent 6AMCRISIS
The other store they sell through (Rakuten) may be Japanese, but the owner of Teetown is not. His name is Hunter MacLean. After I sent Amazon my first takedown notice for Teetown, he contacted me directly. Here's his message: **************** From: Hunter MacLean [mailto:
email@example.com] Sent: Monday, 10 August 2015 8:36 PM To:
firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: T-Shirt Designs Hi Vincent, You have recently contacted us via our Amazon webstore (under the brand name TeeTown) and I just wanted to apologise for, and explain, the trouble here; we have sourced art from a number of freelancers in good faith and it seems one has supplied a large amount of artworks simply lifted from artists such as yourselves. We are currently working our way through all designs and freelancers to check and verify origin of art. Please be assured, it has never been our attention to offend anyone or to use any designs that we have not paid for legitimately - i just wanted to confirm that all of the designs listed HAVE now been removed from our Amazon inventory. As you are probably aware, we have a large range of designs listed - should you find any more of yours, please let us know and we shall remove them immediately. We are in the process of establishing a new website to facilitate the marketing of creative character art in Europe (we are UK based - so effectively a European Teepublic equivalent), with fast turnaround and low shipping costs. We are operating the site on a commission basis and would very much like to discuss bringing you on board for this - of course, in a fully paid and authorised manner. We have large print and IT facilities and a great marketing team and are very excited at the potential. We would love to have the designs with the calibre of yours on board as we are sure they would sell well. Please let me know if this is something we can discuss further. Thanks, Hunter **************** His excuse (freelancers stole the art) is as old as the Sun and we hear it from every ripper every day. But essentially, he knows the work is stolen, and every stolen design taken down goes immediately back up on Amazon within days. Steal-get caught-takedown-upload again-repeat to infinity. I responded asking him to remove items from his Rakuten store as well as Amazon, and he replied: **************** From: Hunter MacLean [mailto:
email@example.com] Sent: Wednesday, 12 August 2015 1:49 AM To:
firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: T-Shirt Designs Hi Vincent, That is not a problem at all and I will make sure those are removed by the end of the day. We are working our way through the rest of the designs, as well as adding our own in-house designs at the moment, so i'm hopeful that we will have that all resolved within the next week. We do realise that this has put a lot of designers out and are working as quickly as possible to resolve this - as well as working direct with artists and designers to ensure this does not happen again and that we can use our experience to create agreat new platform for selling. We are based in London and the initial idea for this really came from the fact that almost all platforms are US based, with expensive and lengthy shipping times to Europe, as well as little brand or marketplace presence, which is where we have a lot of experience. Anyway, let me know if there is anythign further you require. Thanks, Hunter **************** So, there's proof of the owner of Teetown personally admitting his store is full of stolen work, and yet Amazon doesn't care one iota. Perhaps an Amazon rep would like to comment on this interesting info and why he's allowed to continue to operate while profiting from my work, and the work of other designers, while we try to establish our own presence in the Merch system? Vincent Message was edited for typos by: Vincent Carrozza
I am also sure they do not have any licensing deals in place to sell Minions, Goonies, Star Wars, Halo, Zelda and others. I have been doing the t-shirt thing for many years and many of those designs are definitely not theirs. Some of them I have seen as top sellers on sites such as Redbubble, by the original creators. The big boys who control the licensing deals should come after them soon, law offices have a knack for getting things done. I wonder how many other artists know there stolen designs are being sold for profit.
All of the designs sold by Teetown are stolen. Not some, all. I know of dozens of artists that file regular complaints with Amazon over stolen work sold by Teetown alone (not to mention other stores which popup daily selling our work on phone cases, tshirts etc. THe difference is Teetown have admitted to selling stolen work (read their emails to me above) where as many other Amazon sellers will claim ignorance because they bought designs from wholesalers. A large number of the artists started out selling on Redbubble years ago, where you may have seen their work, and now that they sell through multiple POD sales channels it's easy for people like Teetown to find something they like from one of the many sites, download the preview image and sell it on Amazon. In some case, Teetown will run the low resolution file through Illustrators Livetrace feature and create a poor looking copy devoid of detail to get around the small preview image printing too blurry once enlarged on a tshirt. No artist is compensated at all. Their are no agreements in place, no royalties, no licenses, no permission granted. Make no mistake, Teetown steal artwork, sell it, and the artists are left with the burden of proving time and again that they are the owners of the work Teetown are allowed to profit from. Teetown have **136 pages** of stolen tshirts. We're allowed to upload 25 legitimate tshirts we've created until we can prove we can sell more. Amazon need to wipe out sellers like Teetown.
These thefts are made TREMENDOUSLY EASIER by all the major POD vendors (Merch By Amazon included) offering design preview images that are non-watermarked and of a resolution FAR HIGHER than is necessary for customer preview purposes. The first POD vendor to allow design preview images to be limited to a resolution sufficient for customer preview but no higher is going to steal HUGE numbers of designers and volumes of business from all their competitors. No designer wants his intellectual property needlessly handed over to thieves! I've been waiting over 3 years for this to happen, but still, no POD vendor will stop the insanity. See my thread on this topic here:
https://forums.developer.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=9555 Amazon has no official reply yet. An employee says a reply is pending, however. .
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