I have decided to take a few moments and address a subject that came up on a Facebook post recently. I choose NEVER to post things of controversial nature on FB because I prefer to keep my page light, fun and artsy. I believe that the arguing back and forth on social media threads solve nothing and just adds negativity and chaos to our lives, at least to mine. I do however feel that the subject of counterfeit merchandise really needs to be brought up.
There are many websites out there selling counterfeit goods. There are many people out there buying these goods for personal use. There are many people out there buying, promoting and even reselling these goods to make a profit.
Here is my perspective of these sites for what it's worth. It has greatly affected my income as I'm sure it has with many of us in the craft industry. It not only affects me but it affects every single person at the company that we artists license with. Warehouse workers, accounting departments, sales people working on commission, all trying to support families, are affected by this. The small indendent stores that we love so much and struggle to keep their doors open every day are affected by these websites. These stores are all over the world. We have watched so many of our favorite stores close down. These sites play a major role in their demise. Please reread that sentence. It's important.
I have been aware of these sites but not of all the promoting on YouTube and other sites until recently. Apparently YouTube has been shutting down the channels of people who use and promote products from these counterfeit sites. From craft products to Lois Vuitton handbags to household items, these goods are sold at extremely cheap prices and I might add, made with cheap materials. Some people seem to be very upset that their friends or just crafty people that they follow are having their channels removed from YouTube. They as do the people whose channels have been removed, ask why the videos are just not removed. It is in the terms of agreement that you cannot promote counterfeit merchandise on the YouTube site. It states it has the right to pull down channels that violate this policy. Do we honestly think they have the time or inclination to sift through people's videos when they get thousands of requests, weekly to pull these down? Of course not, that is a ridiculous assumption. Some of the people I've been reading about did not know they were doing anything wrong. I understand that. In YouTube as with any social media site, it is the subscriber's responsibility to know what they are posting. Responsibility....a word that is taken far too lightly these days.
I watched a video that a girl posted about her channel being shut down. She very flippantly said she didn't care if the merchandise was counterfeit, it was cheaper and that's all she cared about. Her videos in which she promoted her "hauls" got the most views and she worked hard to get those views. Yes she worked hard but she made money essentially from stolen goods. That's what these businesses are doing, stealing other people's art. Drawings that come out of my head and my heart are copied exactly from my product line and sold unbranded on websites known to sell fake goods. How can you tell they're fake? They are very cheap...you know the saying, too good to be true? They are sold in generic packaging with no brand and the descriptions are very vague, ie...girl stamp.
I work very hard in this industry. Yes, I have a lot of fun, but I am still up at the crack of dawn working on designs, making samples and kitting for classes on a daily basis. This a job to me. I work like everyone else and to have my art stolen from me is like getting punched in the stomach. It hurts. I have spent a lot of time thinking if I want to continue doing what I do because of that hurt. It's difficult for me to accept that this is just the way the world is today, as I watch shopping sites making millions and putting hard working people out of jobs. Because friends, that is the big picture. It is putting people out of work. These sites have the potential to destroy industries. All because some people think this is ok to buy this stuff.
For those that continue to justify their purchases because it's cheaper, let me break it down for you. I am pulling these numbers from my head, but let's say a stamp cost $1- $2 to make in China. Someone can buy that stamp and sell it on one of these sites for $2 - $3 and make a nice profit, right? Now, someone from the US or anywhere else for that matter buys those stamps at those prices and promotes and sells them on YouTube, Facebook and shopping sites and they make a nice profit. Remember, these are stolen designs. Now the rightful company has the stamps made in China for $1 - $2, has to design packaging, ship them here, market them, sell them to retailers for $3 -$4 all the while paying fair American wages unlike China where they are originally made. Oh yes, the retailers....Michaels, a giant, has to pay their employees and still make a profit. How about those small independent stores that we all know and love? Yes, they need to support their families too. And lets not forget about the many people out there selling online out of their garage to add to their income. This is why things are marked up. We have to pay a lot of people! Can you see how theses sites have the potential to destroy businesses?
It just makes me sad. Copying another's artwork, manufacturing and selling that artwork/product is a crime. Counterfeit merchandise being promoted on any reputable site is usually against their policy. Please don't buy counterfeit. Don't keep these people in business. I am getting tired of getting punched in the stomach daily.
And for those of you that buy the real thing, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love doing what I do because of you! You continue to inspire me with your talent and amaze me with your stories!