Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Simpsons Already Did It: a word about copies on Etsy

When cruising through Etsy it can be extremely frustrating to suddenly come across something that is very similar in appearance to or presented in a similar way as your own item. Your first reaction may be to jump up and yell, call your friends, post on your team's wall, or even fire off an angry message at the sellers, but before you act on your anger (the jumping up and yelling is fine) step back, pause, and think for a minute.

First of all, the world is a big broad place and many creative minds from all over it are funneled into one hallway that is the path to Etsy success. Before you accuse someone of copying you, stop and think about where your inspiration came from. Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting too mad:

What is it that is similar about this item or shop?
Is it the photo layout, the descriptions and titles, or the item itself? HOW do these seem like copies? What are the DIFFERENCES?

How common is the subject matter depicted?
Is this a common animal? Did you recently see a special about this on the animal planet that they advertised heavily? Were these lyrics from a popular song? Does National Geographic regularly write about this location? Be honest with yourself. If you know about it, chances are someone else does too.

What is the likelihood that this is a copy?
Is there only one item in this shop that bears a resemblance to one of yours? How well viewed are you really? Are there any other sellers on Etsy and beyond selling items like this? Be honest with yourself here too. Go do some research. If your item is 100% really-truly unique, you may have a case, but if you find that 30,000 other people have thought of this too, maybe you should step back and ask yourself if this person is just one of the 30,000.

There is a reason the phrase "Great minds think alike" is a common one. The real fact of the matter is that this phrase should read, "Human minds think alike," because anyone at any time is capable of striking the same instance of brilliance you did. Whether they really do or not is the question, but it is an almost unanswerable one. Obviously, there will be legitimate moments when someone is copying another person's work, but this simply won't always be the case.

If you're still not convinced, pop over to and enjoy the episode "The Simpsons Already Did It."

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