Friday, July 1, 2011

Handmade and cheap Chinese knock offs

I was contacted last night by Jessie, who has the lovely Etsy shop westbyron  She works in metal clay and I've always admired her work. She just discovered that many of her designs are being knocked off very cheaply in China, and are being sold by supply sellers on both Etsy and Ebay, and as finished jewelry on Etsy. She is devastated, to say the least, and was hoping I would have some advice for her. As I understand it, because they are being made in China, copyright law doesn't apply. This is all SO wrong, yet there is nothing that we artists can do about it. Putting our work on the internet leaves us wide open for this sort of thing. There's a Chinese wholesale marketplace site called Alibaba which has a huge number of Etsy photographs on it. They don't even photograph the knock off themselves - they take the photos directly from Etsy and use those to sell with. This has happened to me, but I try to stay off the Chinese wholesaler sites because it's so infuriating. I was lucky in that the manufacturer using my photos took them down, but many won't.

This is Jessie's lovely, handmade piece. Here it is in her shop

Here is one of the many suppliers selling it on Ebay. 
Tibetan "silver" is not silver at all, other than the color.

Edit - of the shops I linked to has commented and I've taken the down the link. I apologize for dragging her in to this mess as she didn't know. Which I believe is probably true for most, if not all, the people buying the charm as a supply. It's a bad situation for everyone, except the for whoever did the knock offs in the first place.

One of the biggest problems with this is that if these knock offs proliferate and become popular on Etsy, sooner or later someone is going to accuse Jessie of copying. Ugh! I wish there was a solution for this mess, but I don't think there is. One thing we can do as individuals is be conscientious of  how we spend our money. Do we really need so much cheap junk? The cost is actually much higher than we realize.