I am forever baffled at the number of stores that are flooding the marketplace with ease just to rip off our talented and legitimate full permissions creators. Just this morning, I was able to find a handful more people that are ripping off legitimate creators.
Now, before I get too deep into this, I do need to clarify a few things for the consumers out there, so you can understand why this is an issue. A hefty amount of fashion items you buy stem from a template of some sort, whether it be mesh, appliers, shoes etc. A small group of people are the brains behind creating those very templates that allow creators (that do not yet have the knowledge to make it from scratch themselves) to work with different full permissions components to make different products. An elite group of these skilled people have become masterful enough that they’re in high demand.
So, this is where they become prey. It’s somehow easy to turn around and use someone’s full permissions items, steal their ad images and post it as if you are the one who created it. Enter an ill-informed consumer and that’s how people manage to steal from the original creators by posing as them, just like this person here:
The truly unfortunate thing about this process is that it’s pretty much left in the hands of the creators to have to fight, even when it’s crystal clear that someone ripped them off. It didn’t take me ages to identify fraudulent stores; just a simple search and recognizing that certain brands didn’t belong to certain people. However, it doesn’t seem to be so simple to file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) when things like this happen. I feel for these creators that put their blood, sweat and tears into their work just to have to fight for the right to not have it stolen digitally.
The really disturbing side of this is that for a store to be created, you have to have payment information on file, and the account must be 5 days old. The latter seems a bit ridiculous. But the idea that someone bothered to verify payment information just to scam legitimate creators….. that boggles the mind.
Some creators are taking matters into their own hands and encouraging ways to keep consumers educated on who to buy from if you’re looking to buy full permissions items. One person in particular has come up with a simple, but effective, idea that will hopefully bring more attention to the issue.
“I decided to compile this list as a resource to help consumers who want to purchase from legit full perm creators. Because the Marketplace has so much fraud going on right now, consumers are afraid to shop for fear of receiving an empty box, or a faulty product with no customer service. Creators are afraid to sell because of the risk of theft. It’s a bad situation. So please, consult this list before you make your full perm purchases. I can’t guarantee you a positive experience, but I will offer you a second set of eyes. Every store on here will be inspected first before being added to the list. As a creator of nearly eleven years, I know more of what to look for than would a new person. Stores on this list are here because I would feel comfortable to purchase from these stores myself. I cannot make guarantees, including whether people have downloaded items from the internet rather than creating them from scratch, which is an entirely different kind of thievery. But if a store is found to be doing that, they will be removed from this list. Nor does it take into consideration quality of goods or customer service.”
I also caught up with Isadore to get some more thoughts from her on why she felt this needed to happen:
“My main thing is that I’d like to see people sharing legit stores more. Which is another good thing about the list. These copybot stores get more shares and more attention than a lot of the real creators do. So I’d encourage people to share a link to their favorite store instead. Or make sure their favorite store is on Izzy’s legit list and share that. It helps more than people realize, I think.”
And she has an excellent point. We are very much in the age of social media, and do have the power to support the legitimate creators (full permissions or not) by sharing links and other posts related to them. Help them gain more positive exposure, rather then let them get buried alone by the scammers. Make sure to let people know that there is a list if they’re ever not sure. If something doesn’t look right, question it.
While this effort is in the early stages, it will hopefully grow as more creators catch on. However, some creators have had to take more drastic measures to protect their work, including – CREATIVE STUDIO – owner xXMomijiXx, who is frequently found being ripped off by these scam artists. She’s now had to resort to creating an application process and a group for verified designers that will be the only people that will have access to her future releases. Even her decision to add watermarks to her listings didn’t seem to deter the theft from happening.
So what is the happy medium here? Other than the steady implosion of the full permissions market on Marketplace, I’m not sure how this can head in a positive direction. But this has been brought up in forums by jilted consumers and creators alike, and the general consensus was that you either had to find a roundabout way to flag these items OR just accept it. Where can we repair the gaping loopholes that leave creators unprotected? When will enough be enough?
Have you been scammed as a creator or a consumer by someone posing at a store owner with stolen content? How do you feel that we can combat this issue as a community? I want to hear from you!
ZoHa Blogger/Social Media