Etsy shut down their biggest download shop yesterday

They had over 300k sales in less than 3 years I think? Selling scraped vintage art as downloads. Not mentioning the name so we don’t pop up here in google searches.

The proliferation of download shops on Etsy has run off many of my photographer colleagues. The vast majority just scrape public domain images or images from free download & wallpaper sites and sell it on Etsy for a few bucks (like this shop did).

I don’t hold out hope that this is a trend that will continue, but I’d love it to be so. Etsy’s rules allow downloads, but it has to be work you created. Fingers crossed for this ball to keep rolling!


I own thousands of public domain images which could be scanned and sold as downloads. My brief analysis told me they would not sell enough to be worth the time to scan.

Old time booksellers have always sold “prints” usually plates removed from books.

I have engravings, lithos, chromos, and even some etchings. And most are not images which are to be found on the internet.

I suspect these character must have violated some one’s IP rights, since Etsy does not seem to have much of a police force.


Etsy’s policies say something must be handmade, a craft supply, or a vintage item. A scan and download is none of those things - so hopefully (hopefully) they will start cracking down.

They certainly could sell them on their own site, but it’s against Etsy’s TOU.




And…it’s back. Blah. :frowning:

I don’t think so…

Agree, sadly. LOTS of talk on Reddit yesterday about what happened. It’s split 50/50 between a) Etsy took them down for too many IP violations and b) apparently there was a YouTube video about how to copy what that shop is doing.

So…that’s great.

YouTube for the win once again on business models


I wonder if they are getting away with it by trying to claim they are “craft supplies” And as noted, the scraping and selling work that is not their own and some one who does own it complaining probably explains why they got in trouble more than etsy actually trying to crack down on it themselves.

Supposedly Etsy won’t do anything on their own - there has to be an IP claim by someone and they will take your listings down without question - and then you have to prove ownership.

But everything this shop is selling is scraped artwork. Apparently museums will actually send you files if you ask. So there’s no IP complaint there, BUT it most certainly isn’t “handmade.” They’re not creating it nor printing it.

But who knows - they make Etsy a lot of money, so it’s there to stay I’m sure. My work is a bit different, but I can’t compete with a $3 download.

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I actually know some crafters who print P.D. images on fabric and use them as part of larger creative works.

IMO this is akin to the definition of collectible. Unlike Amazon, I define collectible as something bought by collectors.

If there is not an IP rights violation, I cannot say that Etsy should act. There are certainly Etsy sellers who are making products which show no sign of talent, creativity or skill, so this is really an area of opinion, philosophy or religion.

See, this I consider creative and “hand made”

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But I am sure you see that this is a judgement call, and Internet marketplaces have no one with any judgement.

I am more offended by the “artists” who buy a bead, some earring findings and sell their handmade product than I am by these image harvesters, but I know that is my prejudice.


I agree with that. For we obtain images that are no longer copyrighted due to the age. We restore them, putting two to twenty, to way more hours into them than we should.

Then we image them, on different media. I consider the restored artwork, ours based on the work that we do.

Not something that we now sell online in the channels, since theft is to easy.

Though we do enjoy, handmaking them for the public, and businesses that appreciate these items.

ETA, all that said, taking an item from one location on the internet, and selling it as a download, does not belong on Etsy. Nor should it be considered handmade.


I do agree there.

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My brother sent me this link this morning.

Rethink your business strategies if necessary.

Does anyone still care about these Etsy sellers? Will they when it becomes known about this treasure trove?

no tool, not even CC0, can guarantee a complete relinquishment of all copyright and database rights in every jurisdiction, we believe it provides the best and most complete alternative for contributing a work to the public domain

CC0 should not be used to mark works already free of known copyright and database restrictions and in the public domain throughout the world. However, it can be used to waive copyright and database rights to the extent you may have these rights in your work under the laws of at least one jurisdiction

I wouldn’t use CC0 material in commerce. But, I wouldn’t use IP without license in commerce…

I do my own due diligence on works I believe to be in the public domain.

I do not use electronic representations of public domain images which have been generated by others either. Whether those electronic images are entitled or not entitled to protection as derivative works is not settled law. So unless licensed to use them, they are unnecessary risk.

All the more reason why most PD images do not make me see profits by their use, One must still make an investment in time or money before using them in commerce.

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The Getty organization has been buying up all the public domain pics and as many private images as they can.

This is why you will see formerly public domain pics, for example, now labeled as “Getty Images” and they claim IP rights to these. Getty also has swooped down on private pics so you will see the pics labeled, for example, as John Doe Photography / Getty Images.

My guess is Getty filed an infringement complaint against this shop.