Skottie Young vs. RedBubble

redbubbleRedBubble is an online store/community where anyone can create an account, and begin selling “their” designs on numerous types of items. Unfortunately, not everyone sells their own designs.

Creator Skottie Young went to Twitter to vent his frustration with individuals using his art, and selling it on items.

This is illegal, it’s also against RedBubble’s terms of service. We spoke to RedBubble in 2012 about this very subject:

Something that’s intrigued me was how a platform like this handles copyright claims. Luckily I got a chance to discuss it with their team, inquiring how copyright claims and the DMCA affected them. Talking to staff, they said the system works as is and they rely on their community to raise flags and also abide by requests made by copyright holders or their agents. They immediately abide by the request and then contact the artist, facilitating the legal exchange. The community is key, not just when it comes to copyright, but also the quality of the product itself.

In this case, either the community doesn’t know, or doesn’t care. Young provided examples of numerous individuals doing this, though it’s unclear if he’s reached out to RedBubble directly to make them aware of the situation, other than on Twitter. The company’s feed has been posting items since he first tweeted, but they haven’t responded publicly.

Here’s what RedBubble has to say on the subject in their Community Guidelines:

Redbubble respects Copyright and Trademark laws and will remove any work found to infringe Copyright or Trademark protection. If you believe your copyright or other intellectual property rights are being infringed, you are able to make a formal complaint by using the processes described in our policy –

In fact, if you go to the items directly, there’s a handy link to turn them in.

redbubble_youngWhile we don’t condone individuals who do this, there’s a mechanism to turn folks in and get content taken down. This is a similar method as exists at YouTube and Google, and more, and laid out by laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

There’s absolutely more that can be done on the RedBubble’s end. Google’s search by image didn’t exist when the website launched. Using that to find if there’s hits for items uploaded can create a moderation system to prevent this.

The use of images on the internet has become a blurred area too. While things like this are clearly wrong, and illegal, so is the use of GIFs (no it is not Fair Use), and possibly even posting images that we don’t own. How different creators, and companies, handle these situations varies too. Some have no problem with these situations, others come down like a hammer. But, there are laws, and tools in place for creators or companies to reach out and get content pulled.

We reached out to RedBubble for comment.