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Isla Saona is a perfect example of a paradisic Caribbean island. Part of the Dominican Republic, it features a white sandy beach and blue waters from the Caribbean Sea. It is a breathtaking getaway and popular for day trips while on a Caribbean Cruise. Its palm trees touch the clouds and your heart.

We have been there ourselves and indulged in this tropical paradise. I have used a lot of awesome photos for creating travel souvenirs on print on demand websites and the latest addition are Isla Saona T-Shirts on Amazon.com:

Isla Saona T-Shirts

Isla Saona T-Shirts on Amazon.com by Christine aka stine1

Have you ever been to the Caribbean?

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eBook: How to easily Report Your Stolen Zazzle Designs to Amazon.com by Christine aka stine1

eBook: How to easily Report Your Stolen Zazzle Designs to Amazon.com by Christine aka stine1

Are you a designer on Zazzle, Society6, Cafepress, Design by Humans or any other print on demand shops and a victim of blatant (often Chinese) copycats who sell cheap items with your original designs on Amazon.com? 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 is the only print-on-demand website that really cares and tries to help their designers with more than useless watermarks. They have understood that these cheap (and I mean CHEAP in both quality and price) copies also hurt Zazzle’s reputation and earnings. We are not alone in this battle! Zazzle has even managed to make the process of reporting copied designs a bit easier for us, there is no need to repeatedly fill out Amazon.com’s online form over and over again.
I am writing this manual on how to find unwanted copies, how to easily report those copies and what else there is to do so that you can fight back. Be warned, it will be tedious and annoying – even with an easy process like this. You might even cry because it seems to be impossible to solve this but do remember: The worst is to not even try it!

Buy it on Smashwords in all kinds of formats (even PDF!) or directly on Amazon.com.

Having been accepted to Amazon Merch to sell t-shirt designs on Amazon’s own Marketplace has been pretty challenging for me since I do not consider myself a designer and have no skills in software. Even GIMP is too complicated for me, Photoshop is something I will never even begin to grasp.

But for Amazon Merch and the biggest marketplace in the western world, you NEED png files with 4500 x 5400 px or else they will not even upload your graphics. What to do? I tried to find something as easy as possible to create designs in no time with my photos and I also wanted to find something that lets me add text to it since typography is a huge trend you should not miss.

I love Summer T-Shirt by Christine aka stine1 - image created with Fotor.com

I love Summer T-Shirt by Christine aka stine1 – image created with Fotor.com

That’s where I came across Fotor.com which seems to fulfill all my needs: You can add funny stickers, a transparent background or any image/photo you want plus great fonts to add stylish text. There is a very comprehensive free version of it that is everything you need in the beginning.

I am thinking about compiling an ebook about how to effectively use Fotor’s service to create t-shirts for Amazon Merch, would that be of interest to you?

Please let me know, I am still undecided 🙂

A few years ago – I can’t even remember when – I requested an invitation for Amazon Merch. Back then, it was every POD designer’s dream to directly upload designs to Amazon and sell t-shirts through the vast Amazon Marketplace. It was way before copycats nagged us with constantly ripping off our work.

Anyway, I had requested an invitation which never got granted. So a few weeks ago I stumbled across it once more and signed up. A few days later they welcomed me and asked me about my tax information. Lucky me had requested an ITIN years ago to avoid tax reduction on Smashwords and therefore, my w8ben forms are very easy to fill out.

When I logged in I was eager to upload all my work but… arrgh, they only accept PNG format with dimensions of EXACTLY 4500 x 5400 pixels *sigh* That means I have to cut my digital art, hope it still looks good and convert it to PNG format. Not a thing to do in 2 minutes. But I accepted the challenge and do have the first uploads running for review 🙂

I’d really apprechiate you checking out my “brand” Christine aka stine1 on Amazon.com and leave a comment or two. Or maybe you like it enough to even share? Who knows, please let me know and I will repay the favor *thumbs up*

 

In the future, you can expect some tips and tricks regarding Amazon Merch and the Marketplace, not only about copyright infringements and how to fight them. So stay tuned!

Over two years ago, I already came across Houzz as a neat alternative to Wanelo and Polyvore. Houzz is all about decorating your home and finding inspiration and experts. It lets you add your online finds and therefore you – as a print-on-demand designer – can add your own products to boards hoping people will buy them.

I totally forgot about their service due to lack of time but got a newsletter very recently. I logged in and found my account right away.

Adding products is easy, you can create many boards for specific topics and design ideas and the best part: It does have country pages, e.g. houzz.de in German for German users. So you can add products with German description to target German users, for example.

Why not check it out and follow each other? 🙂

My international profile can be found here: https://www.houzz.com/user/stine1online

My German profile (same boards) can be found here: https://www.houzz.de/user/stine1online

And for everyone who LOVES bookmarklets as much as I do, here it is: https://www.houzz.com/bookmarklet

Why not check out one of my idea books aka boards? Purple Home Decor

About three weeks ago, I have started a new journey or rather adventure into the stock photo market and stock photography. After a few years with little sales on Fotolia (I have earned only about $30 with them, which is not even enough for one payout!!!), I have encountered EyeEm. EyeEm does have the huge advantage that there is no cashout limit. You can cashout with Paypal after every sale if you wish to do so. That is perfect for me, since I do not really expect many sales but a few extra bucks – or Euros – would be nice.

Uploading photos to EyeEm is very fast and super practical since the uploader does recognise the subject of the photo and suggest suitable tags. VERY HANDY!

After only three weeks, a few of my photos are already on the EyeEm Market. If they get selected for Premium, it will mean they are also available on bigger stock portfolios like Getty Images. This of course would be awesome since Getty is very strict.

If you would like to connect on EyeEm, please do not hesitate to get in touch and follow me. I usually follow back 🙂

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”:

Stolen Design on Amazon

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 “notice@amazon.com” 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:

ASIN

Use the following template exactly as it is and replace the text in [brackets] with your info:

Dear Amazon,

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.

My Copyrights: I am the owner of the following copyrights which I believe
are being infringed by listings on Amazon:
[Link to your matching Product e.g. on Zazzle on Society6]

Content on Amazon I want removed: I believe the following content on Amazon
infringes my copyright(s):
[B01K1KLE1M]

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
to law.

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.

Signed,

[Your Name]
[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.

4. Repeat

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*

 

Christine aka stine1 on Society6

Society6‘s latest artist promotion is here, get free international shipping when ordering through my shop links. This offer is valid until May 8, 2016 at Midnight Pacific Time for all products and to all countries. Why not check out some of their latest product lines from my store 🙂

 

A few weeks ago, I found out about Pixsy. It is an awesome website made for photographers and graphic designers. It starts as an image search engine but when you find an unlawful match of your photo or design on a website, you have the possibility to fight back. You can submit your copyright info and file a lawsuit. Best of all: It’s free! The only cost would be 50% of what you earn from the lawsuit. That’s the theory, I have not yet been able to test it. To be honest it is a bit tedious to click through all the possible matches after you have imported your photos (that part was easy and very user-friendly!) and what kind of success rate would starting a lawsuit with someone in Vietnam have? Mhhh….

Anyway, one match I found to be EXTREMELY interesting. Take a look at it:

I was curious to see what this is, since this is my Isla Saona Palm Tree photo on a clutch or pouch. At first, I thought that someone was blogging about a pouch they had sold with my design but little did I know!

You may be wondering why I was so sure this is my palm tree as there are many Caribbean palm trees out there and even more photos of Isla Saona… The horizon is off balance. I never cared to improve it by 1 or 2 degrees and THAT was a good decision. I keep selling items with this photo nevertheless and now it was the proof I needed that this is my photo.

So, where were we? Ah yes, I visited this blog post and read through it. At first, I did not really understand it. The blogger writes about unpacking a subscription box from Nina Garcia (never heard of her but I am not an American) and suddenly, my pouch was uncovered. From Printalloverme…. Hey wait… I never sold a pouch on Printalloverme and have not many sales in general over there. I checked my account and sales and I have never sold this pouch. And it’s getting better: A subscription box is not something unique, they are sold a 100 times or more. You can read about the Nina Garcia Subscription box by Quarterly here if you’d like.

Apparently, in June 2014 my Caribbean pouch from Printalloverme was part of the Nina Garcia Summertime Fun Box #NGQ03:

A search for the hashtag#NGQ03 had unbelievable results… More and more bloggers unpacked the box and commented on my pouch design! One of them even mentioned that it seems to be designed by Christine aka stine1!

In summary, Printalloverme had my design on pouches added to a subscription box – god knows how many af them – and never paid me my royalty!

So I wrote to Printalloverme. Not via email, but via Facebook messenger. I summed up all I knew and included several blog links all writing about my pouch. It took them almost three weeks with a few messages back and forth but I have received some compensation by now via Paypal. It is probably not the full amount I would have gotten for 100+ pouches sold but I guess Quarterly also got a discount.

I would like to thank both Pixsy and Printalloverme in helping me. This image theft happened in 2014 and Printalloverme’s team was indeed helpful and cooperative. My intention with this blog post is not to shame them – although everyone should be careful. I doubt this happened more than once, at least I did not find other Printalloverme products in Quarterly boxes.

What I would like to do is to encourage you to do an image search. Be it with Google’s Image Search, with Pixsy or other similar websites. Just do it and fight back!

About two months ago, Society6 offered free international shipping and a few dollars off their products. I could not resist and order another coffee mug (the three mugs I had ordered for Christmas 2014 came as a puzzle due to poor packaging), a tote bag with their all over print and a comfy blanket.

They sent the mug separately and it arrived within 2 weeks without any problems or extra fees for customs. It was also very well wrapped in bubble foil and therefore arrived safely.

I have ordered this design:

Santa Monica Pier Bursting Colors 11oz Coffee Mug by Christine Aka Stine1

Santa Monica Pier Bursting Colors 11oz Coffee Mug by Christine Aka Stine1

It’s one of my own very colorful Santa Monica Pier photo edits 🙂

And this is the new mug with its first coffee:

Santa Monica Pier Society6 Coffee Mug

Santa Monica Pier Society6 Coffee Mug

The quality is good, the print is excellent and shiny. There was a little greenish spot on the rim – you can see it in the photo – that I had to rub away. Probably just some color. I really love this mug and how it came out. Regular price is $15, I got it for $11.25 since its my own design and I won’t earn royalty from it 🙂

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