Amazon vs. Etsy Part 1 : Do They Own Your Photos?

Amazon vs. Etsy Part 1 : Do They Own Your Photos?

One of the biggest unsubstantiated (ahem, un-researched) misconceptions my potential clients have when deciding to get onto Handmade at Amazon is about the rights to your shop, your images, your hard work.  If I have any goal in this post, it is to get this across:

Etsy and Amazon are all in it for THEIR OWN STAKE, and they're all playing the same game.

That being said....we're all small business owners and to get our stuff seen, to build our brand, we have to play the game.  By now I hope you get that (if you are on Etsy, I sure hope you get that!).  But the misconception that Amazon holds more rights to your items than Etsy, and that they are out to just mass produce your AMAZING handmade product is taking some leaps and bounds I want you to jump back from.

Lets compare the verbiage.  You know the one I'm talking about.  The verbiage that Amazon shows as part of your signup onto their platform.  The words that frighten nay-sayers and honestly, have scared people off enough to allow ME to find success on an amazing platform.  But I digress.

Amazon's wording:

11.1 Grant From You. You grant us a royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, perform, display, distribute, adapt, modify, re-format, create derivative works of, and otherwise exploit in any manner, any and all of your Seller Materials, and to sublicense the foregoing rights to our Affiliates and operators of Amazon Associated Properties in connection with the sale and promotion of your Products and our services and to support customers who complete Transactions.  Do not provide us with any Seller Materials if you do not want them subject to the license contained in this Section 11.1. 

Now, Etsy is much better at hiding this same wording in the backend of their sites.  They don't have as many users, as many sellers, so by nature, they have less backlash from people trying to nitpick and make a name for themselves by pointing out legal jargon they don't understand. 

You sign up for the same rules on ETSY, its just not as apparent!

Now lets compare to Etsy's wording:

B. Permission to Use Your Content. By posting Your Content through our Services, you grant Etsy a license to use it. We don’t claim any ownership to Your Content, but we have your permission to use it to help Etsy function and grow. That way, we won’t infringe any rights you have in Your Content and we can help promote your stuff. For example, you acknowledge and agree Etsy may offer you or Etsy buyers promotions on the Site, from time to time, that may relate to your listings

C. Rights You Grant Etsy. (Here’s the legalese version of the last section). By posting Your Content, you grant Etsy a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, irrevocable, sub-licensable, perpetual license to use, display, edit, modify, reproduce, distribute, store, and prepare derivative works of Your Content. This allows us to provide the Services and to promote Etsy, your Etsy shop, or the Services in general, in any formats and through any channels, including across any Etsy Services, our partners, or third-party website or advertising medium. You agree not to assert any moral rights or rights of publicity against us for using Your Content. You also recognize our legitimate interest in using it, in accordance with the scope of this license, to the extent Your Content contains any personal information.

That sounds like a lot, but it’s necessary for us to keep Etsy going. Consider these examples: if you upload a photo of a listing on your Etsy shop, we have permission to display it to buyers, and we can resize it so it looks good to a buyer using our mobile app; if you post a description in English, we can translate it into French so a buyer in Paris can learn the story behind your item; and if you post a beautiful photo of your latest handmade necklace, we can feature it on our homepage, in one of our blogs or even on a billboard to help promote your business and Etsy’s.

Wow, that's a lot of legal blah blah blah.  Am I able to offer definitive, end-all-be-all assurance that either of these platforms will not start making your items in their own basements and selling them?  No.  


Note the words: "in connection with the sale and promotion of your item"

Note the words: " to support customers who complete transactions"

Note the words: "we have permission to use it to help Etsy function and grow"

Note the words: "we can resize it so it looks good to a buyer"

Amazon and Etsy want what? 

Sales.  Money.  To be #1. 

How do they get there?  With YOU.  They need you to sell on their platform. They need your pictures to put on the front page of their category.  They need your shop to link to in order to make commercials, advertising and blog posts.  They need examples of success stories.  How can you be one of those without selling on their platform?

They want your pictures to bring buyers in.  You've got enough concern that Chinese sellers will make knock-offs.  Let someone in on your side, some that can bring you money. AND LOTS OF IT.

I'm not telling you that Handmade at Amazon is the right fit for you.  Heck, that just leaves more customers for me if its not ;)  But for real, you know your abilities.  You know your comfort level in your business.  But if that comfort level is leaving you in a sales bubble simply because of internet hearsay, please think bigger.  Think as big as me.  Think BIGGER than my business.  Just think....

What could I do with more sales?!?

I've kinda already made this apparent....but I'm no lawyer!  This cannot and should not be used as legal advice.  I just want to see you treat your handmade gig like a business!
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1 comment

Thank you for this explanation, we almost backed out of Amazon when I saw this paragraph. Since we make our products from raw materials and not mass-produced components we are not as threatened by the assumptions as many might be. Thank you for inspiring us to grow our handmade businesses on these amazing platforms.

Carole Isenhart Indigo Turtle Art

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