Etsy Terms of Use – Proceed with Caution

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Most of us, myself included, sign up for online services without a thorough examination of the site’s Terms of Use.  And prior to using an online service, it is sometimes difficult to comprehend and foresee what the specific ramifications might be of accepting those Terms of Use.  Be forewarned. Accepting the Etsy Terms of Use might put you in a very precarious position.

Remember first and foremost that accepting the TOU’s creates a legal agreement, or contract, between you and Etsy, Inc.  One that users must follow exactly to remain in compliance and be eligible to continue use of site services.  In making on-site decisions, DO NOT rely on common, accepted practices of the site as these may many times be inconsistent with the TOU’s.  DO NOT rely on the fact that you have not yet been cited for non-compliance. There is a very real possibility that if you make a complaint against Etsy, question Etsy policy, or speak out in the forums, your compliance may immediately be brought into question by Etsy Administration, and your shop may be shut down, possibly with no forewarning.

Be aware that by merely browsing the site, you agree to be bound by the TOUs: “By using the Site in any manner, including but not limited to visiting or browsing the Site, you (the “user” or “you”) agree to be bound by this Agreement…  This Agreement applies to all users of the Site…”

Be aware that Etsy TOU’s may appear contradictory: “…Etsy has no control over the… quality, safety, morality or legality of any aspect of the items listed, the truth or accuracy of the listings…,” and “…(b)y listing an item on the Site you warrant that you and all aspects of the item comply with Etsy’s published policies…  You must accurately describe your item… in your Etsy shop…  All items must be listed in an appropriate category…

For example, if you sell goods that are made in a factory, there may not be an accurate or truthful category or label which to use for these goods. You may encounter only the handmade category. Putting your products into the handmade category, and presenting them to buyers as handmade, when they are in fact factory-made, could have legal ramifications for you and your business. And it may certainly put you at risk of being in non-compliance with Etsy TOU’s.

Also, be aware that by accepting the TOU’s, you release Etsy from any liability for consequences you may suffer, legal or otherwise, from putting your items into an inappropriate category. Proceed with Caution when listing items for sale on the site, as there may not be an option to truthfully and accurately list your items, and there may not be an appropriate category for your items, even though those are requirements to be in compliance.

Although you may see many, many shops that appear to engage in this deceptive practice, and appear to be non-compliant, keep in mind that Etsy chooses who to cite for non-compliance.  Be further aware that even though Etsy policy states that Etsy does not allow resellers (as defined by Etsy), that does not mean Etsy chooses to cite resellers for non-compliance. Etsy could cite you for non-compliance and shut down your shop, while reseller shops remain open. By accepting the terms of use, you are acknowledging this.

Also, keep in mind that although Etsy compliance is carried out by Etsy’s Integrity Team, this does not necessarily mean that the Team operates with integrity, as defined by you and I.


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