Fighting With Thieves and Design Fraud at Amazon

Much of the online work I do is related to the ocean and seashore. I use personal images and graphic designs with a tropical, beach theme to make items to sell in my Zazzle stores. I support myself and my teenage son through the work I do each and every day. A lot of work goes into the creation of a product such as the one below, that I sell at my SeashellsbyMillhill store.  But you can also find an image of this exact same pillow on Amazon, due to copyright infringement, where someone has helped him/herself to the image of my pillow. The Zazzle watermark is removed and the image is next to a phony description leading you to believe that is belongs to that store owner.
It’s sickening to find that the image has been copied to be sold by thieves at the Amazon site. Not only one design, but many, many designs have gone this route. There is a continuous flood of fraudulent stores being opened at Amazon by unscrupulous people who go around stealing images by taking a screenshot and then selling goods containing artwork by hard-working designers.

Most of the items I’ve found of mine have been pillows, but there are other items to beware of.
**Copied images WILL NOT be of good quality. Don’t waste your money buying from fraudulent sellers.  Many of my orange starfish / tropical pillows are showing on Amazon for sale and THEY SHOULD NOT BE THERE..!

persimmon orange starfish pillow
My persimmon orange starfish pillow is just one of many STOLEN designs showing up at Amazon.

I spend much of each day, seven days a week, creating designs, uploading them to Zazzle and making products to sell in my online stores. When people simply help themselves to an image (which, by the way, will print blurry since it is not of good quality when a screenshot is taken) and then print it up on their own cheap pillow cloth to sell, they are stealing money from me – or whomever they steal it from.

I’m writing this to alert the public to this practice which is escalating daily at Amazon. The only recourse we have as designers is to fill out a DMCA take down notice for each of our items, which is time consuming. But many people have banded together at Zazzle to fight these perpetrators. This problem is affecting designers and photographers all over the internet.

It seems that as soon as items are taken down from one fake store, another one, two or three, pop up and it begins again. I don’t know the answer, but if you have items at Zazzle, you may want to check the Amazon site yourself. The thieves usually keep your product title and use it as their own.

Find information here if you have found your own Zazzle images at the Amazon site and wish to become involved.  The more we complain, the better our chance that Amazon will eventually do something to stop this from happening.  It is giving their site a bad name.  The public needs to know about it, and stop buying these fake products with stolen images.

Zazzle Forum thread – Zazzlers and Amazon design theft is a list of advice from others who have been working to stop this stealing, and stop Amazon from letting it happen.

Amazon Take Down Process – step by step guide

I have tried leaving comments on products showing my own stolen images, but Amazon will not print them. They get rejected.

Then, I left this comment, on another of my stolen pillows, and it was accepted.  I plan to do this to all my stolen pillow images.  It may eventually get deleted, but it’s worth a try.

My comment on the stolen pillow design at Amazon.
My comment on the stolen pillow design at Amazon.

I can’t find any way to contact the sellers, which is of course what they want. They know they are doing wrong, but the lure of easy money, and obvious difficulty we must go through as owners of the images, keeps the thieves going strong. They offer nice looking products (because that image is stolen from the Zazzle site) which will print blurry in real life. Stealing an image off the internet is not the same as creating a 300 dpi image, which is then uploaded to Zazzle and printed on quality material, but that is what these underhanded criminals are doing.

I buy many products through the Amazon site, but this is discouraging.   I wrote this post to inform people, so they will not support design thieves unknowingly by purchasing their shoddy products.  And also, to inform Zazzlers (and other POD designers and artists, photographers, etc.) who may not have heard about this problem.

Author: Pam

Spending time on the water is the best, and blogging about the sea life found along the saltwater river and ocean is what I do. I’m also a designer at Zazzle and sell my work, with a lot of ocean themes, on the site.

6 thoughts on “Fighting With Thieves and Design Fraud at Amazon”

  1. I have shared your post on all my social media sites, so your story gets out there. Would you mind if I posted this on my website at ?

  2. They’re so many unscrupulous people out there. It makes me sick. Great post. Thank you for letting us know.

    We need to forward your post to all our followers and friends

    Kinda Bush

  3. Unfortunately I think you will find more as time goes on. The thieves are numerous and Amazon presently is doing little to stop it. I’ve filled out take down notices and they say they will remove the items, but they are still up for sale.
    It’s depressing. Also, it’s not just pillows. I don’t have hours to spend searching for my stolen items and then filling out forms that are ignored. At this point all I can do is leave one-star comments on my own stolen designs to deter buyers.

  4. I just found beach photo designs that I create and sell on Zazzle on Amazon as well (as pillow cases). I learned quickly that this is a huge ongoing and out of control problem. Thanks for the info!!

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