Etsy Clarifies (Changes) Offsite Linking Policies

Etsy has finally clarified the offsite linking policy. Administration made an announcement today that it is now okay for sellers to provide a link to a personal retail site (or any other site) from any feature within their shop, but the only clickable link will be from the About Page. However, sellers cannot suggest buyers go elsewhere to make a purchase.

“…As long as you’re not urging or suggesting that your buyers leave Etsy to make a purchase, you’re welcome to include any links you want in your shop…”

Look for more of this in the future:

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I find this policy clarification change interesting as there are certain to be many who will link to personal sites offering products more cheaply than on Etsy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Etsy backpedaling on this one.

 

I’ll Get Back With You

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I’ll Get Back With You

In the October 26th Q&A, Kellan was asked if there was a new policy allowing links from the About Page to a seller’s standalone website selling the same products as in their Etsy shop.  The question was asked because Etsy had recently featured five sellers in a blog post, 5 Etsy Sellers Partnering with Manufacturers, and of those five, four were practicing fee avoidance by linking to their retail website from their About Page.

The seller wanted to know if this was now an accepted practice so that she and other sellers could also enjoy the benefits of an About Page link.

This was Kellan’s reply (emphasis added):

You bring up a good point. The relevant policy is this one regarding fee avoidance and it hasn’t changed:

www.etsy.com/ca/help/article/4530

But I think it should probably be cleaned up and clarified. Doesn’t seem reasonable to ask shops to list a website and expect them not to sell on it.

I’ll get back to you.

Obviously, the answer was no, the policy has not changed and that practice is considered fee avoidance and is prohibited by Etsy’s Terms of Use. (And, um, GULP… as for those featured sellers…. I don’t know….But, I’ll get back to you…. just don’t hold your breath…)

In the November 27th Q&A, Eric was presented with the same question which he sidestepped.

Four days prior to the About Page requirement going into effect, many sellers were still unclear on About Page rules, and this question was posted for Administration:

JAN 1 About page deadline… What are the rules, Etsy?

Unbelievably, Administration replied. But again, no clarification or answer to the fee avoidance question:

I’ve noticed that A LOT of about pages have links out to their retail websites and other venues where they are selling the same items.

I know this is against the TOU’s and is considered fee avoidance.

So it would be REALLY NICE if admin would make an announcement about this part of the About Page since sellers will receive warnings for not being in compliance with the TOU’s of this site.

If you read the About Page section, it doesn’t address this specifically.. it just says something like.. the usual TOU’s about off-site links apply or something and then links you to the TOU’s where it says that you cannot link to off-site venues selling the same items…

And from the seller to whom Kellan said I’ll get back with you:

Would you please state definitively whether we can list our stand-alone website on our About page? IMPORTANT: this would be a website where we sell the same items that we are selling in our Etsy shops.
Please see these 2 threads where the issue was previously raised…

…Looks like he never did….

Please.

Rusetsy wonders how many companies know that Etsy is profiting from use of their brand name?? 

Etsy search ad keywords include (as my grandmother would say) more brands than I can shake a stick at: Juicy Couture, Michael Kors, Disney, J Crew, etc, etc, etc. Now, I suppose those brands are necessary tags for vintage items, but what about all those brands that are not yet old enough to be vintage? Why are those tags even allowed to be used on Etsy? Unless I missed something – and Juicy Couture, Michael Kors, etc. are now selling on Etsy.

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juicy2

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Besides possible trademark infringement, this is blatant misuse of tags and falsely advertising products as something they are not. And Etsy through its search ads, encourages the misuse of tags, and profits from the mistagging scam.

What do Etsy guidelines say on tagging?

Please ensure that your listings are tagged only with accurate and relevant words.

Yep. That’s it. Not even a do not; just please.

So. Please quit mistagging. Please quit reselling. Please quit calling mass-produced – handmade.

That should do it.

Safe Harbor? or Shady Harbor?

Disney sells. Even copyright-infringing Disney. And on Etsy, especially copyright-infringing Disney. And for the many shop owners selling Disney items on Etsy without proper licensing, they are breaking the law. But what about Etsy? Is it breaking the law by allowing the sale of illegal goods on its site?

Etsy claims safe harbor status under the DMCA,  which status relieves the company from liability for copyright infringement by its’ users. There are several requirements that must be met in order for Etsy to qualify and maintain this status. You can find those requirements here.

According to the linked FAQ (in part, emphasis added):

Question: What does a service provider have to do in order to qualify for safe harbor protection?

Answer (in part) …Finally, the service provider must not have knowledge that the material or activity is infringing or of the fact that the infringing material exists on its network. [512(c)(1)(A)], [512(d)(1)(A)]. If it does discover such material before being contacted by the copyright owners, it is instructed to remove, or disable access to, the material itself. [512(c)(1)(A)(iii)], [512(d)(1)(C)]. The service provider must not gain any financial benefit that is attributable to the infringing material. [512(c)(1)(B)], [512(d)(2)].

According to one attorney (emphasis added):

In addition, if the service provider has the right and ability to control the infringing activity and if the service provider receives a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, the service provider will not be protected by Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

So, I don’t know. Is Etsy protected by Safe Harbor or not?  I suppose we will only find out when the company is challenged in court and claims Safe Harbor as a defense.

In any event, since copyright infringement is illegal, it seems ethical business practices would dictate that Etsy at least discourage the unlawful sale of copyright-infringing items on its site. Does it do that?

Nowhere does Etsy policy state copyright-infringing items are prohibited; the only copyright-infringing items prohibited are those for which Etsy has received a takedown notice. Etsy seller policy states: “…. items that violate our intellectual property policies are not allowed on Etsy.”  The link goes to a notice of Etsy’s take down policy, which notice is one of the requirements for Etsy to qualify for safe harbor status.

Rusetsy has found nothing on the site stating that one cannot sell copyright-infringing items, and nowhere does Etsy make any attempt to dissuade sellers from doing so. In fact, Etsy even goes so far as to shut down forum threads where sellers point out copyright infringement. But then. Why would Etsy discourage the sale of something it profits from? Listing fees, transaction fees, direct checkout fees, and…. don’t forget search ads

Look at this list of search ad keywords. Every time a buyer searches for one of these items, Etsy profits from the paid ads using these tags. Isn’t the word “Disney” a trademark, and does Etsy have a license to profit from the “Disney” brand?? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but that harbor where Etsy is anchored seems more shady than safe.

disney  $0.000502       $0.50
disneyland      $0.001191       $1.19
disney applique $0.002312       $2.31
disney apron    $0.003786       $3.79
disney bow      $0.001697       $1.70
disney brave    $0.001263       $1.26
disney car      $0.000908       $0.91
disney christmas        $0.002084       $2.08
disney clothing $0.001489       $1.49
disney countdown        $0.005000       $5.00
disney couple   $0.005000       $5.00
disney cruise   $0.001061       $1.06
disney dress    $0.000973       $0.97
disney earrings $0.001629       $1.63
disney fabric   $0.002181       $2.18
disney font     $0.005000       $5.00
disney frozen   $0.001249       $1.25
disney halloween        $0.004411       $4.41
disney jewelry  $0.001217       $1.22
disney lanyard  $0.001238       $1.24
disney magnet   $0.002638       $2.64
disney ornament $0.001249       $1.25
disney plane    $0.001507       $1.51
disney poster   $0.003131       $3.13
disney princess $0.000733       $0.73
disney ring     $0.001889       $1.89
disney shirt    $0.001210       $1.21
disney stitch   $0.001329       $1.33
disney sweater  $0.001570       $1.57
disney sweatshirt       $0.002396       $2.40
disney tom      $0.003401       $3.40
disney up       $0.001175       $1.17
disney villain  $0.001293       $1.29
disney wedding  $0.001436       $1.44
disney world    $0.004525       $4.53

Rusetsy Provides Customer Support

Rusetsy has stepped forward to help answer this  Etsy Seller’s question as first reported on Rusetsy in this blog post:

Want an update on competitive email issue?

Tica from SecretJardens8:23 pm Oct 22, 2013 EDT

hello all, i’d like to update my thread with a screen shot of the email my friend received but i don’t know how to upload a screen shot. sorry. if somebody can reach out to me with instructions on how to embed a screenshot within this format, i’d appreciate it and will upload it.that said, let me reiterate: this april, just shortly after i opened my etsy shop, a business associate, now a friend, new to etsy, came here to purchase a Secret Jarden, a customized terrarium from me. It was a gift, personalized for an engagement. she loved it. and planned on coming back. i believe she even says so in her review.last week she received a “fall into etsy finds” email from etsy suggesting not one, not two but an entire page of terrariums she could purchase from etsy. Mine was not among the list of shops, by the way. No mention. In fact, the first row of shops were bigger and way more established than my shop. She brought this to my attention because she was annoyed and quite surprised.

so, etsy admin, here’s my question: can you tell me how this is fair to a new shop like mine trying to build a business and repeat customers? and can you show me an example of when you sent out an email to a buyer from one of these big shops suggesting my shop as an alternative? I’d love to see it. please share. it would answer a lot of my questions.

p.s. my friend never signed up for newsletters or updates. she received this email out of the blue, presumably because she purchased from my shop. thanks.

Tica,
First of all, Etsy has an “opt-out” policy for users of its’ site. That is, all users when signing up, are automatically “opted-in” to receive Etsy junk mail.  So technically, she signed up by not “opting out.”  (Yea, I know, it’s common-sense backwards.)
This is merely my opinion, but I’m wondering if since you do not want to offer a discount to a customer upon making a sale, as suggested by Etsy, then perhaps Etsy chooses to send out the “Competitive Email” instead. This would encourage you (maybe with a little arm-twisting) to give discounts to Etsy’s customers. This might be a good question for Etsy Administration to answer.
Best,
Rusetsy Customer Support