As an Amazon seller, you should be aware of Intellectual Property (IP) issues, especially Copyrights complaints that have been arising recently when selling on Amazon. The trends when it comes to intellectual property rights complaints against sellers are copyright, not patent or trademark. In this post, we will address:
- What is a Copyright Complaint?
- How to avoid receiving Copyright Complaints?
- What to do when receiving complaints?
Let’s get started!
What is a Copyright Complaint?
Copyrights which is one of the main types of Intellectual Property rights are legal protections for original works of authorship. Copyright law, as it comes into play for Amazon sellers, generally deals with the use of someone else’s images or verbiage. There are three traditional types of copyright infringement: direct, contributory, and vicarious.
Direct copyright infringement requires the “plaintiff” to show that he or she owns the copyright and that the defendant personally violated one of the plaintiff’s rights enumerated in the Copyright Act. The catch is that a third party who does not directly infringe could be held liable for secondary infringement.”
Contributory copyright infringement means “an actor had knowledge of the activity and induces, causes, or materially contributes to the infringing conduct of another.”
Vicarious liability for copyright infringement takes place when the accused “enjoys a direct financial benefit from another’s infringing activity and has the right and ability to supervise the infringing activity,” but declines to stop or limit it. “It is predominantly secondary infringement that concerns Amazon sellers because they are often accused of hosting the product listings that are allegedly infringing a copyright.”
How to avoid receiving Copyright Complaints?
Copyright complaints seem to be increasing dramatically recently. If you receive Copyrights complaints, it is possible to get your account suspended. So it is always recommended that we should learn how to avoid receiving Copyright Complaints. These are some advice:
- Amazon sellers should never use photographs or images that they do not own.
- Amazon sellers should take their own pictures for their listings.
- Sellers should not copy and paste verbiage from anybody else’s product or website and use it on their detail page.
You have got a claim, how to resolve it?
If the complaint is legitimate
Contact the rights holder. Send a polite email to the rights holder asking to share how they think you have infringed on their copyright and address that you are eager to clear up this issue, it was never your intention to infringe on a copyright. Keep it polite and vague at first. See what the issue is.
Fix the problem. Once you know what is going on, try to fix the problem.
- Immediately remove that listing and never sell that particular product again.
- Write a thorough plan of action that acknowledges your error, how you corrected the error, and the changes you have made in your business practice to assure this will never happen again.
In case you are being “bullied”
If you feel you have a legitimate right to sell this product, you own your images and verbiages of the product listing, and you did NOT buy from the gray market, then you are probably experiencing a tactic.
Firstly, try to approach complainer, it is recommended that you should send a polite email asking them to provide proof of their claim and to be clear as to what part of the listing is infringing on their copyright. If they won’t do that within 5 business days, then you most likely have someone who is bluffing. If they escalate and try other tactics, then you can show Amazon that you immediately responded in a helpful way and they’re the ones being jerks. If they never provide proof, then you can state that they are unable or unwilling to support their own claim which is suspicious.
Next, you will eventually have to tell Amazon. In this case, you can file a policy violation with Amazon against the seller. Be polite and ask for Amazon’s help. Focus on their policy violations, not the complainer’s claim. You should address:
- Proved to Amazon that your product was authentic and you created your listing and used pictures and descriptions from the manufacturer.
- Complainer improperly used Amazon’s platform to communicate with you
- You suspect this may be a tactic rather than a legitimate claim by a rights holder because they are not responding even when you called them directly.
Note: You also have the power and the ability to send what’s called a counter-notice.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) counter-notice provides sellers with “instructions” on how to respond to claims of copyright infringement. A counter-notice has some statutory requirements that include that you either physically or electronically sign it. It has your name, address, your phone number. It identifies the material that you’ve been accused of violating. Any counter-notices should be submitted through Amazon’s infringement report page.
Overall, it may be said Amazon sellers need to protect themselves from IP rights, especially Copyright complaints on their products and they need to be proactive so that they never infringe on another party’s IP rights. Hopefully, this post will help you get some ideas of how to avoid getting Copyrights complaints and how to react if you, unfortunately, get trouble with it. Contact Amazoker to get advice or help you with appeal account suspension.