Some of you may be familiar with items in my shop inspired by movies like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Up, and How to Train Your Dragon. You’ve probably also heard a lot of opinions about copyright infringement.
I’m writing this because I was contacted by Etsy regarding a complaint about one of my items. I can’t share specifics but in the interest of protecting my business, it looks like I will have to stop selling the item, and probably all such items just in case. I know some of you will be disappointed and others will think less of me for doing it in the first place, so I’d like to share my thoughts on this issue (disclaimer: I have no legal expertise).
A lot of people seem to look at fan-made merchandise as a way for unimaginative people to profit from others’ ideas. To me, if you’re taking an idea and turning it into something different, then it’s a way for people with various types of creative skills to work together to benefit everyone – more options for the fans, free advertising for the original creator, and yes, more income for us crafters.
I do respect the right of any artist to decide what happens with their own designs. But at the same time, part of art is sharing ideas, and every idea comes from somewhere. There is a difference between stealing and being inspired. Even nature-themed designs are copying something, just not something we’re going to fight over.
Maybe in the beginning I was trolling for ideas. Now I have a whole shop full of my own stuff – two in fact – but I still know my work has been inspired by things along the way, and I still don’t get to decide what’s actually popular.
I just wish there was a better way to make fan crafts legitimately. I would happily get licensed and pay fees if it were realistic for an independent artist to do so. Maybe someday we will have some better options.
In the meantime, I’m sorry to part with these items and the happy customers who purchase them, but I hope it will be an opportunity for me to focus on my other designs and for them to be noticed on their own.
Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments!