Merch by Amazon one of the worlds leading print-on-demand platforms has come under scrutiny recently for enabling scammers to pirate products from their original owners with little repercussion for doing so. The Merch by Amazon platform allows artists and illustrators from around the world to put their designs onto various apparel styles and sell them on the Amazon marketplace letting Amazon take care of printing and shipping.
As to be expected, wherever there lies opportunity you will find people trying to take advantage which is what is being alleged from a number of Merch by Amazon sellers. In a story first reported by Vice, they have spoken to numerous designers who have all had their designs stolen/plagiarized on the platform which has taken sales away from the rightful owners. The problem with pirates on the platform has gotten so troubling for the designers that many have joined together in Facebook groups and started running their own experiments to gather evidence against the scammers.
“I have now concluded that Merch by Amazon is a platform that makes it easy for others to steal copyrighted designs from independent artists. Amazon knows this but is not doing enough to protect the artwork,”
Yat Yee Tam, Illustrator, Designer, MBA Seller
Merch by Amazon Scammers Utilizing Software
Third-party software can provide sellers with incredible insight into the Amazon marketplace which allows them to make informed decisions when it comes to their business. However, some of those same software tools are providing the Merch by Amazon scammers the perfect opportunity to steal successful listings from the original designers.
“The majority of my stolen designs evidently come from Amazon…Earlier in the year, I did an experiment by only uploading a design of mine to Etsy via my printing production partner. It was for the Juneteenth celebration in the U.S. After a few weeks I searched Amazon, and there it was,”Jonah Buckley, MBA seller
The speed at which new designs get plagiarized has led many designers to speculate that automated bots or scraping software tools are being used to rip off successful original listings and allow scammers to duplicate them and undercut them.
Sellers are of the opinion that Amazon should be doing more to protect their intellectual property from being stolen on their platform as it looks like they are not looking after the genuine sellers trying to build businesses on the Merch by Amazon platform.
Yat Yee Tam has commented how when she has tried to contact Amazon to have the duplicate listings removed that often she won’t get a response and the plagiarized listings remain active. In response to the allegations and Amazon Spokesperson made the following statement.
“We have robust vetting procedures in place for participation in Merch by Amazon as well as pre-publishing moderation to prevent infringing content from ever being published. If we find, or anyone reports an infringement that we did not identify, we move quickly to take it down, investigate and remove the item from Merch, and pursue the appropriate legal action.”
“When making an MBA account, applicants will be required to input their contact and bank details, complete a tax interview, and submit a profile for verification before being accepted into the Merch by Amazon program,”Amazon Spokesperson
It sounds like Amazon is certainly aware of the issue but the experience their genuine sellers are having is less than optimal and unless they put stricter measures in place they risk losing their most talented Merch by Amazon contributors.
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