Friday, May 6, 2011

A lesson in copyright infringement

So, my Etsy shop has sort of been going strong since that whole Daria press I got a while ago.  When I first got the email from the journalist wanting to talk about my doll....all I saw was the word MTV and I thought for sure they were going to give me some hassle about taking the doll down for copyright infringement.  To the contrary they featured my doll on the website.  They seemed to get it.  It’s like fan art...that you sell to other fans...

I’m not stupid.  I know that some of my things are licensed characters. I’m an archivist by training.  You spend entire semesters learning about public domain etc etc.  If you took every copyright infringer off Etsy...there’d be scant options.  The great thing about Etsy is crafty people have a venue to make things, make art about their favorite pop icons and sell it to other people who love those same things.  I never make characters I don’t love myself.  People buy these things for a couple of reasons:

1.  You just can’t find a doll for that character anywhere else or anymore
2.  You have all kinds of other licensed collectibles and you’re looking for something a little different.
3.  You want to buy something unique for a friend who you know loves that character and has all kinds of other stuff featuring that character and something bought off Etsy lessens your chance of buying something they already have.

Today, I received this from Etsy:


Above is where I had this paragraph from the email I received telling me the lawyers representing Yo Gabba Gabba told me to stop selling my stuff as well as other people....then I read the fine print which said that the email sent was confidential.....and shouldn't be shared...I'm not sure they can say that and mean it since I have a freedom of speech..but since I'm not really anti-etsy even a little bit...I chose to respect this wish.

It’s a little saddening, not because I’m not going to sell anymore Brobees (I’ve sold maybe 6? at 13.50 a pop....oh no what will I do without that 90 or so dollars annually), or I’m out  20 cent listing fee, but because people who bought my Brobees bought them for their 2 year olds who just love love love him, and that made me all gushy inside.  I made Brobee because my 2 year old loves him and he has the CD’s and he’s seen the concert, and plenty of money has been thrown at Yo Gabba Gabba in our name.  I always had a strange fondness for Yo Gabba Gabba knowing it was created by the singer from the Aquabats, a band prominent during my punk/ska teenage days.  I’m a little disenchanted, perhaps unfairly.

There used to be thousands of yo gabba gabba items on Etsy...and know there’s a scant 128 (and dwindling) that have escaped notice, or are not even yo gabba gabba items at all. The dolls, the hats, the funky little barrettes, the clay molded figures, custom party favors, the clothes...they’re all gone.

I guess I’m hoping this is not a trend.  I’ll miss you Crochet Brobee Doll.  R.I.P.


  1. wild stuff. thin line between fan art and merch.
    look out for dc comics lawyers.

  2. I was one of those sellers who had their Yo Gabba Gabba items removed. Read again... WAS a seller.
    Today Etsy decided to close my shops. This is really serious and I hope that no one else has to go through this. All my listings (over 50) are all gone. I have to start from scratch somewhere else.

    But you're so right. There are so many TV and Movie character items. Why is Yo Gabba Gabba being mean about it? I love that show and so do my kids.

  3. I have TONS of character bows...and Yo gabba is the ONLY one being butt-heads about it ! Makes me not want to let my kids watch it anymore!!!

  4. I just had my gabba listings deactivated because they received a letter from their attorney. I now have a bad taste in my mouth...

  5. This just happened to me today too! I am so bummed, I just started my shop a little bit over a month ago and was getting orders almost everyday, now...who knows!

  6. My Yo Gabba INSPIRED tutus were removed as well. Doesnt make me not like Etsy - I LOVE ETSY - but sure makes me not as fond of Yo Gabba. I mean - the best thing about my product - was the face of the 2- 3 year old when she saw her Character Inspired tutu. CRAZY!

  7. Sorry to hear about your tutus. It's such a bummer. Good luck with whatever you do next.

  8. I’m an Etsy shopper who has been planning our 2 year old’s birthday party. She loves Yo Gabba but I hate mass produced products because they’re just not cute in my opinion. I’m not happy at all by the brand’s behavior when it comes to handmade items on Etsy. I’m seriously considering changing her theme and introducing her to something else. She’ll move on and forget they even existed.

    On top of insult, Ebay and Amazon are selling items that aren’t produced any longer for criminal amounts of money. It makes me like them even less.

  9. It's such a bummer. Good luck with your party!

  10. Yeah, it really sucks when people make you stop stealing their intellectual property. Cry me a river.