Are you a designer on Zazzle, Society6, Cafepress oder other print on demand shops and a victom of blatant (mostly Chinese) copycat who sell cheap items with your original designs on Amazon? Many of us are affected, if not most. It happens with our most popular designs and our least popular designs alike. Anyone can be their victim and Amazon does little to help us.
Society6 and Cafepress do nothing to help us either. As far as I know, Zazzle (as of now) is the only site that really cares and tries to help their designers. They have understood that these cheap copies also hurt Zazzle’s reputation and earnings. We are not alone in this! Zazzle has even managed to make the process of reporting copies a bit easier for us, there is no need to repeatedly fill out Amazon.com’s online form!
I am writing this blog post as some kind of manual on how to find copies, how to report copies and what else there is you can do to fight back. Be warned, it will be tedious and annoying. You might even cry because it seems to be impossible to solve this but remember: The worst is to not even try it.
Please note that this “easy” process does only work with Amazon.com and there will also be copies on Amazon’s country pages (like Amazon.fr, Amazon.de and so on) that will NOT be removed via email. You will still need to hunt them down separately since they do have their own product numbers (ASIN) and you will need to fill out the online form for the respective country page. This might be a separate blog post in the future. Let’s concentrate on Amazon.com first.
How to find copies of my work?
Whether it will be easy to find your work or not depends on the amount of designs you have published online on sites like Zazzle, Society6 and Cafepress. Simply go to Amazon.com and search for titles or as unique keywords as you can imagine. I myself like to open my Society6 profile and then copy and paste each and every title of my designs from Society6 to Amazon – one by one – until I find something. This is tedious and works best when you are using the same titles on all pod websites. You could also concentrate on your 10 most popular designs on Society6 and Zazzle but then you might miss out a design. I have one design that I have never sold on Zazzle or Society6 but it keeps popping up on Amazon so you can never know what copycats like and sell.
Let’s take a look at a very popular example that keeps popping up every few weeks, the title on all pod websites is “Scenic Caribbean Photo Collage”:
It is incredibly popular as pillow and smartphone case 😦 Before reporting the item you need to make sure it is a copy and not some reseller or official Amazon Marketplace account like Society6 has one. Official resellers do mention your artist name in the description or title and so does Society6. Looking at this example screenshot there is no mentioning of my artist name anywhere.
2. Have proof about your ownership
You need to have the links to your original work handy, it does not matter whether it is a product page from Zazzle or Society6 and to the piece on an online portfolio. The only thing I do make sure is that my user name is matching or similar on all proof links and I do mention this user name in my email.
3. Prepare and send email
Start a new email to “firstname.lastname@example.org” with the subject “Zazzle Image Report”. The subject is very important. If you don’t use it, Amazon might not read your email since they usually do not accept copyright infringement reports via email!
You also need to find the ASIN from the product you want removed, it’s Amazon’s unique product number. Scroll down on the Amazon page until you get to a box with addition product info like this, which also includes the ASIN:
Use the following template exactly as it is and replace the text in [brackets] with your info:
I am a Zazzle and Society6 designer.
My name is [Full Name, not Artist Name].
Amazon can contact me via email at [Your Email Adress].
I understand that Amazon may share my name and my email with third-party
sellers on Amazon who posted the content I want removed.
Content on Amazon I want removed: I believe the following content on Amazon
infringes my copyright(s):
I have a good faith belief that the content(s) described above violate(s)
my rights described above, and that the use of such content(s) is contrary
I declare, under penalty of perjury, that the information contained in this
notification is correct and accurate and that I am the owner or agent of
the owner of the rights described above.
[Your Artist Name – optional]
It is important that you send out one email per design, not one email with several not matching designs.
Possible: Design 1 has been copied on a pillow and on a phone case. Report it in one email with the ASIN for the pillow and the ASIN for the phone case.
Not possible: Design 1 and 2 have been copied on pillows. Do NOT report them together in one email!
Send the email and Amazon will usually reply within a few days and have the product removed.
As already mentioned, be prepared to copies popping up again and again and again. The only good thing is that when you encounter a product you had already reported before, simply search for its ASIN in your emails and copy the text including the proof links into a new report email. That way you do not have to create it all from scratch. And after a few weeks doing this, you will know what titles to search for. This will also save some time *sigh*