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im confused about this-copyright question

heres an example: since adornjewelry kinda has her whole shop about birds nest necklaces, i would feel bad making them to sell, even though i made one to sell before i saw she made one. same with the "nom" gnomes made by litttledear. my neighbor and i made gnomes, cats(all given away), cell charms and stuff like that out of airdry clay after seeing other items made out of one blob of clay, but now they have the little copyright thing on them. so many people are copyrighting things, theyre wont be a thought in the world to sell on etsy... and my question: do you check to see if someone else has your idea before you make it? also, if you made an literally IDENTICAL item but saw it on etsy later, with copyright, are you not allowed to sell it? it makes me kinda sad that things i already made to sell are being copyrighted....

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This may not be correct but I think it is the image that is copyrighted not the actual idea. I think that has to be patented. Anybody else? Is that correct?
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Inactive Etsy Member 1:57 pm Jul 27, 2006 EDT
Hmmmm. That's a tough one. Personally I love seeing other leather people out there. Some of our ideas are identical, but our individual syles are different.
Besides I always thought that was the sincerest form of flattery......
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Inactive Etsy Member 2:03 pm Jul 27, 2006 EDT
bellajean is right.

Straight from the horses mouth:

A “useful article” is an object having an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information. Examples are clothing, furniture, machinery, dinnerware, and lighting fixtures. An article that is normally part of a useful article may itself be a useful article, for example, an ornamental wheel cover on a vehicle.

Copyright does not protect the mechanical or utilitarian aspects of such works of craftsmanship. It may, however, protect any pictorial, graphic, or sculptural authorship that can be identified separately from the utilitarian aspects of an object. Thus, a useful article may have both copyrightable and uncopyrightable features. For example, a carving on the back of a chair or a floral relief design on silver flatware could be protected by copyright, but the design of the chair or flatware itself could not.

Some designs of useful articles may qualify for protection under the federal patent law. For further information, contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, via the Internet at

Copyright in a work that portrays a useful article extends only to the artistic expression of the author of the pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work. It does not extend to the design of the article that is portrayed. For example, a drawing or photograph of an automobile or a dress design may be copyrighted, but that does not give the artist or photographer the exclusive right to make automobiles or dresses of the same design.
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Inactive Etsy Member 2:10 pm Jul 27, 2006 EDT
Lets say you made leather bracelets branded with the words "Peace" in a particular custom (of your design) typeface or style.

I can't go making the same thing verbatim with your typeface, but I can make a leather bracelet that says "Peace" in another style.

"Peace" is the uncopyrightable idea.
The design of "peace" is copyrightable.

I may even be able to copy the shape of the bracelet because this is where the grey area is between copyrighting and patent. The shape can be define as mechanical.
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Inactive Etsy Member 2:13 pm Jul 27, 2006 EDT
There are several things I make that are so closely matched to other's here, that I just don't list them. I do however, sell them in other venues.

I just wasn't comfortable listing them here. They were here before me and I thought it would be poor ethic behavior from me. Now that's just my thinking from my point of view.

To get technical.... it's not an infringement by the strictest letter of the law.
I've had this problem. Sometimes we all like the same things, and are interested in the same stuff. It's hard and really annoying to ignore your talent just because someone else might have one like it. I have some items that I also will not list here on etsy. Only because I know people will hound me and I will get very angry. If it truly was your idea then I'm real upset if you can't list the item. That really bothers me. I see people going around alot assuming people copy them when it's a simple idea that many have used before.
To me, it all depends on the uniqueness of the item. For example, kateblack makes notebooks out of recycled records and other things...I had that idea a long time ago, but I didn't (and still don't) have the means to do it. If I decided to make them, I certainly wouldn't sell them here, simply because that is such a unique item. Now, on the other hand, if I make a pair of earrings in my jewelry store that happen to have a briolette dangle, and someone else already has a similar pair in their store, I'm not going to feel bad about that. It's a much more generic idea.
I think it depends on how unique the item is. Examples: Should someone not make baby blankets because someone else sells them? I think not.
Should someone not make crocheted scafs, hats, slippers, gloves, etc. because others are making them. I think not. But, if someone made a hat with a red flashing light on the top and white lights around the edge of a scarf...I would think twice before doing that one. For your specific question, I have seen the birdnest jewerly on several sites when searching the net. Wendy doesn't stop selling burgers because McDonalds does. The bigger Etsy gets the more we will see duplications of items...if it is not you...I bet it will be someone else. I have even seen some sellers claim that their design was their own personal creation when I had just printed a free design that looked just like it from another site.
i just posted about this on another's a tough balancing act between doing what your inner artist compels you to do (and trying to sell it) and respecting the work of others...i'm still struggling with it.

and for the record, if i see anyone, i mean ANYONE making shrink plastic or photo pendants on this site, i WILL sic my chihuahua on 'em... :P

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