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I see this all over the internet, in many many embroidery design stores: copyright infringement. The thing that burns my butt is that these people have hugely “successful” stores- meaning that they sell a lot of designs, using images from Disney Movies! Have a look on Etsy, most of the designs from the bigger stores are all copyright, restricted designs…and they are the ones making the most money. I am absolutely shocked in some of the Facebook groups on a daily basis – that people post designs for sale, and the vast majority of them are not their designs to sell. EVERY DAY!!
It is unfair, isn’t it? Yes, yes it is. It is unfair to everyone out there. It’s unfair to any digitizer out there trying to start a business and make some money, because everyone spends their money on Disney designs that they can put on anything instead of going to the Disney Store and finding that awesome Disney character on a t-shirt and paying $30.00 for the shirt, they can buy the design on Etsy or Facebook for the low, low price of $3.50! But really, how much of a deal is it? Not much in my book – do you want to support a digitizer that is breaking the law? She is selling designs that do not belong to her, so where does that end? Is she using pictures that are not hers? is she using designs that are not hers? Did she create the designs? It’s entirely possible that the designs are not created very well, because obviously they are just out to make money, and they don’t have the creativity to come up with something of their own.
Let’s look at the other side of the fence – the company that has spent millions of dollars in creating the character, the movies, the shirts and all of the items with that character on it. I have heard a few answers to the question “what about the company that owns the designs” and i was again shocked at the answers, something like “oh its a big company, they can take the loss” and “i need the money more than that big company does” and “they can manage just fine with loosing $5.00”. Well, let’s think about that. Sure, the company many not miss that $5.00 that you spent on a trademarked design, but its actually more like $25.00 loss for the shirt that you didn’t buy – and that is much different. I have seen in a store that one Etsy owner, who only did Disney embroidery designs on towels, had something like 1500 sales…so that would mean that she made $7,500 from those designs. I know what you are thinking, that is a lot of money, and yes it sure is. But lets keep thinking of the big company – they sell their shirts for $25.00 each, and now 1500 people are not going to buy them and therefore they have lost more than $37,000 on that one design. Do you really think they are not going to notice that? And here is the most important part that most people forget: WHERE DO YOU THINK THAT LOSS SHOWS? Well, it’s not the big CEO that is going to take a $37.000 pay cut, it’s going to filter down to the people creating the designs, the animators, the movie makers, everyone who has something to do with the characters and movies that you all love. That means someone’s job gets cut, or they don’t hire another young person and give them a job, or everyone works less hours but everyone gets paid LESS. And that is just from one design – imagine, if you will, how huge this would be if 200 people each sold 1 trademarked design per day, for 6 months. Selling 1 design per day is not a lot. Do you realize that number is $180,000? And that number is only for one design…most stores have 20 designs from Disney, at least. If you take those numbers, and put it into the losses for the company (that they won’t be able to sell a shirt to that person for $30.00), then the final number becomes a whopping $1,080,000.
If you think buying copyrighted designs for $5.00 each doesn’t hurt anyone, think again. You are taking money away from the company that creates all these wonderful characters and movies that we love so much! You are taking away jobs from PEOPLE who create original things, from university graduates wanting their first job, or for someone to get paid for their creative abilities.
So stop. Everyone stop. Stop making Disney designs, stop selling Disney designs AND STOP BUYING DISNEY DESIGNS. OR POKEMON DESIGNS. OR NINJA DESIGNS and any designs that you don’t own.
If everyone stopped supporting small businesses that are selling trademarked items, then small businesses (LIKE YOURS?) might have a fighting chance to get started!
What can you do to help? go on Etsy or Ebay and start reporting stores that sell Disney designs. If someone posts for sale on Facebook (I see them every single day) then add a comment ” are you allowed to be selling this design” or “do you have a licence to sell this design?” or something super nice like that – you don’t have to be a butthead, you can be nice about it. You can also report them to the admin, and they can handle it, if you want more of a quieter route. But do something. Anything.
I do as much as I can, but this is one thing I will not even bend on. If someone sends me their file to look at to help them if they are stuck digitizing- if it is a Disney design, I will not help. Nope. I will NOT be teaching anyone how to create a Disney design in any class or any video (so can you please stop asking me to?) and I won’t give embroidery advice on any trademarked design, and I won’t let anyone post anything trademarked in the group. So if you want to post your new “Transformers” design that you just created, I will delete it.
And one more thing to consider: DO YOU KNOW THAT THE PENALTY FOR SELLING TRADEMARKED DESIGNS ARE HUGE?? Do you know that just because someone has been operating their Etsy store for years making tons of money selling these designs, that they don’t get to keep that money that they made? YES, YOU HAVE TO PAY IT ALL BACK, PLUS SOME. So that one lady that made $7500 in Disney sales this year is going to have to pay it back, plus a penalty, plus a charge and usually plus lawyers fees? So now we are talking around $10,000 they have to pay back, but what if their store ran for two years? Now that total is $20,000!!! Think about that for a minute…$20,000…where are you going to get that kind of money in a hurry? Your house. Your embroidery machines. Your computers. Your savings. Your bank account. Your kid’s futures. If you don’t have it to pay back, Disney can AND WILL take your house and everything in it, because you owe it to them.
Now I ask you, IS IT WORTH THE RISK? They can catch up with you years later…and you have to pay it all back.
My advice is and always will be: do your own thing. Think outside the embroidery box. Create your own designs. Start off small, and get bigger. Be original. You have no risk starting a business that way. No risk at all. You are safe. If everyone stops wasting money on people who sell things they shouldn’t be, you might have a good chance at actually creating that business. And really, if you are starting or maintaining a business, do you really want to risk any of it? Ever? No.
Think of yourself sometimes…how different are you from the animator just starting out?