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Not Worth The Risk Selling Replicas Is Against The Law & Infringes On Copyrights: Don't Do It

 

Let me just start by saying the Addoway community of merchants and sellers are the best people to be found anywhere at any selling site, and I have sold on or signed up for just about all of them, from webstore.com, ioffer.com, silkfair.com, ecrater.com, ebay.com, zazzle.com, and and many others.  When I signed up for Addoway, little did I know that I would be meeting and making the friends that I now have and people that I am honored & proud to know.  You have not only helped me overcome hardships, you have helped me in my daily spiritual growth to be a stronger and better person.
That being said, we have several pages and groups on Facebook, of which I am proud to be a member.  A message thread came through one of them not too long ago with concerns about certain merchants selling “cheap replica” handbags and other various "replica" merchandise.  It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time of the posting on the message board, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how big a deal it really is.  I am writing this in the hopes that those who read it might realize how serious it really is to be selling “replica” items.
I had one friend on eBay that lost his entire business because he listed one item that was a replica item along with his several hundred other listings for authentic items.  He did not list until he searched the site and found many, many others matching the “replica” item he wanted to sell, so he went ahead and listed it since others had also.  Somebody saw it and filed charges against him when there’s probably a thousand others exactly like it currently listed on eBay and other sites from other sellers.  It’s not fair that one person should be punished like that for one “replica” item when there are so many others out there, but all it takes is that one person to come along and file an Official Report of Copyright Infringement and you are totally screwed.  My friend still has his eBay account active, although he is no longer allowed to list items there, but he now “Polices” the site, reporting every fake and replica item that he can.
The biggest trend I have seen lately are the fakes and replicas coming out of China, and I’m amazed at the amount of online stores and sites that advertise nothing but replicas when the law is what it is, and if they ever get reported, there will be serious consequences, including serious fines and total loss of credibility and business.  
Printed below is some information that will hopefully enlighten and help those who do sell replicas, maybe without realizing it, exactly what the law is, reprinted from the Official Website of the Department of Justice, and a couple of other “Copyright Law” websites:
 
Replicas Not allowed
  • Backup or archival copies of software
  • Bootleg recordings and/or copies from CD’s, Recordable Media, concerts or other live shows
Counterfeits, fakes, or replicas of brand name items like:
  • Handbags (for example, a purse bearing the Chanel® name or logo that wasn't made by Chanel)
  • Scarves
  • Sunglasses
  • Wallets
  • Watches
  • Other accessories
  • Counterfeit electronics (like cell phones) or software
  • Counterfeit replacement parts or consumables that weren't made by the manufacturer that the items are labeled with. For example, a battery labeled as a Nokia® cell phone battery that wasn't made by Nokia.
  • Fake autographs
  • Media (such as CDs or DVDs) containing scanned pages from a book, magazine, manual, or other copyrighted materials that you didn't officially create
Unauthorized or pirated copies of things like:
  • Movies or videos
  • Music CDs or MP3s
  • Photos
  • Software
  • TV programs (including CDs or DVDs containing shows that were taped from television)
  • Video games
It's illegal to sell bootlegs, counterfeits, fakes, replicas, or unauthorized or pirated copies of any product.  In order to comply with the law, the United States Department of Justice does not allow these types of items to be sold anywhere in the world.  This law is in place to help protect buyers from getting counterfeit or unauthorized goods, and helps protect people from copyright or trademark infringement.
In utilizing any of the exclusive rights provided to the copyright holder without his permission, you may be violating or infringing on his rights under the Copyright Act.  If the copyright holder has registered the infringed work with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to the infringement, the copyright holder may be entitled to compensation for his loss.  Compensation may include damages, such as lost profits from the infringing activity, a complete shut down of business or website, and/or statutory damages ranging in fines alone, from $250 to $150,000 for each infringing copy or higher if the court feels that the infringement was committed "willfully."  For some people, this could end up equating to a quarter of a million dollars or more.
You may also be criminally liable if you willfully copy or sell a “replica" work for profit or financial gain, or blatantly list an item as a “Cheap Replica Louis Vuitton Handbag”, for example, not to mention loss of credibility.
Penalties can include prosecution by the United States Department of Justice, a one year jail sentence, plus up to $150,000 just in fines alone.  Is your business really worth that much that you would take such a chance?  
So bearing this in mind, I hope that those who see this reconsider some of their listings and items.  This is a serious offense and makes the sellers of authentic merchandise look bad.  Not to mention that if too much of it is going on, it “cheapens” the site and the buying experience, and some potential customers may not come back.  My best advice:  Don’t do it; it’s not worth the risk.



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Reader Comments  (15)

Enchanted Jewelry & Collectibles
Enchanted Jewelry & Collectibles | October 4th 2011 at 1317775039

I agree, it's not worth the risk. Not to mention that it's just wrong...
Gens Variety
Gens Variety | October 4th 2011 at 1317775595

Thomas, thank you so much for posting this blog! I know you had to have taken some time and effort to do research for the copyright laws, etc. too and it's appreciated more than you know. In my opinion sellers who knowingly sell such counterfeit items should be prosecuted. Those sellers who do it unknowingly need to be made aware of the laws and facts so that they can remove any listings on their sites or other places they sell on. It not only effects themselves but also reflects on other sellers who sell on the same sites. I applaud you for this great blog!
buyzjewelry
buyzjewelry | October 4th 2011 at 1317787986

yes, this is very important information for everyone. I once left one of the "n"s out of the word "channel" and was put on probation. Even with an honest explanation, it can still be a very sticky situation.
Paws4Critters Pet Stuff
Paws4Critters Pet Stuff | October 4th 2011 at 1317790344

Just for all you writers out there...
Another thing about copyrights, there is a difference between copyright and trademark.
I know this much about copyrights from when I was writing poetry. I contacted the copyright office to copyright my poetry, as I was told by people to do so. Unless they have changed the laws in regards to such matters, all you have to do for writings is simply write "(c)[year]" and your name after the title, and it is copyrighted. However, in the event of someone stealing your work, you may have difficulty proving it is yours. I have heard that as long as you have the original creation file, in other words, the original file you typed on your computer that shows where it was created, etc. you stand a chance of winning. I have no idea as to that part. I had some of my poems copyrighted way back when, but it costs for each one. It wasn't a lot back then; I have no idea what it costs now. I was told by the copyright office back then not to waste my money on getting a copyright. As I said, they told me to just put "(c)2011", for instance, on the work.
Tuckerstuff
Tuckerstuff | October 4th 2011 at 1317794457 - in reply to gensvariety

You're so very welcome! Thank you for the awesome comment. Seems kind of weird to me, though, how it is against the law, but there's nobody policing it. They seem to leave that up to the companies and the citizens.
Tuckerstuff
Tuckerstuff | October 4th 2011 at 1317794539 - in reply to buyzjewelry

Just because you missed an "n". Wow. And there's probably a hundred listings for people doing it knowingly and skating by.
no photo
BeewitchingItems | October 5th 2011 at 1317846577

Thank you for posting this, I saw a seller not long ago on Addoway selling the copies and I hope that situation has been taken care of. I should have written down the name. My eBay account was once hijacked and someone listed 50 counterfeit handbags. Naturally eBay shut it down. I was on the phone with customer service for almost 4 hours getting it straightened out. Needless to say, my account was restored. Why people aren't punished, I will never know.
Donna's Stuff & More
Donna's Stuff & More | October 5th 2011 at 1317849264

Important information, Thomas. Thanks for your research into this. We go to Ocean City, Md., alot and the police have really been cracking down on the counterfeit items sold in some of the Boardwalk shops.
LouieTheSeller
LouieTheSeller | October 6th 2011 at 1317893543

Great Information. Thanks for sharing.
Addoway.com/catsmom/storefront/
Addoway.com/catsmom/storefront/ | October 6th 2011 at 1317906332

Tucker, great blog and one that needed to be written. I believe that ebay was sued by some of the big names for selling fakes. I don't know what the outcome was though.

To me, the word "replica" is just someone trying to gloss over the fact that the item is FAKE. If it's FAKE, just say it's fake.

Yeah, I know. I'm one-way about things. My husband used to tell me that all the time.
LatinaTurk
LatinaTurk | October 6th 2011 at 1317918022

Counterfeit replacement parts or consumables that weren't made by the manufacturer that the items are labeled with. For example, a battery labeled as a Nokia® cell phone battery that wasn't made by Nokia.

Put the Sony name in that sentence, together with the bay. I fought it, story made short...I lost 60.00+ to a China company who used the word Sony.....a thousand times over, I returned the battery, they say they never recieved. Proof was given to the bay, they went with the China guy who used the name Sony. A long time ago, I used the word -Ipod- my ad was pulled. That China guy is still working it. How do this people sleep?
Tuckerstuff
Tuckerstuff | October 6th 2011 at 1317927310 - in reply to catsmom

I'm with you, Ilene. It's bad enough seeing the word "cheap" in some titles. Like "Cheap Replica Coach Bag". I would never buy one. It burns me when I see one person getting punished for one or two items, when there's others with stores full of it.
Tuckerstuff
Tuckerstuff | October 6th 2011 at 1317927796 - in reply to turkishmarket-usa

I don't know, Lyn, but someday they will pay. When I first started selling, I lost my ass on a guitar that came from China, and it was too late before I realized what a fake it was. I almost lost everything in the first year of selling because of that one stupid guitar a guy told me was a Paul Reed Smith original that I sold for $550. LIAR! Not even close. I refunded the buyer, and sent the item back to the supplier to recover my $300 wholesale price.....same thing, item never received, but it never came back to me, either. Tried to file an insurance claim, but they couldn't seem to find a record of it, in spite of my documentation; it's like it disappeared into thin air and I lost out on about $1,100.00 in all. I do not source from China at all anymore, except for some of my super hero costumes, which are Made in China to begin with.
If it's in China and has a Brand Name on it, it is FAKE-do not trust it.
Addoway.com/catsmom/storefront/
Addoway.com/catsmom/storefront/ | October 6th 2011 at 1317939341

I got bit on two pieces of jewelry from China. Both were advertised as Silver. After many hours of research, I found out it is "Tibetan Silver" which is everything BUT silver. I can't give them away. No more China shopping.

Sorry you lost all that money, Tucker. And isn't it funny, Lyn, how ebay decides who to side with?
no photo
Straight Truth on buyzjewelry | July 18th 2012 at 1342636200

Don't forget that a lot of the gold overlay and "silver" jewelry coming out of China are also heavily laden with toxic lead. Recently the US government has been buying cheap jewelry that originated in China from Ebay sellers, brick and mortar stores and mail order websites and testing the jewelry. In the last week they filed serious federal charges against almost a dozen jewelry sellers on the west coast because the jewelry they were selling had toxic levels of lead in it. And were not described accurately (you cannot sell something as "gold" when it is only gold overlay or vermeil).

One seller that is listing and selling cheap crap here and on Ebay is due to get taken down for the toxic crap she is selling and her deceptive selling practices. I know two of her buyers on Ebay sent the jewelry in to the government team for testing.

You risk losing your house, all your assets and possible jail time when you are deceptive and hurt people. And toxic lead levels in jewelry IS hurting people.

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