Own Your Content
Category : Tricks and Tips
“We may terminate or suspend your account and your access to the Services at any time, for any reason, and without advance notice.”
Did you know that when you use free services like WordPress.com, Blogger, or even some paid services like Etsy, you do not own your content? Meaning that if for any reason Blogger or Etsy or whomever deems your content, obnoxious, offensive, or otherwise in violation of their terms of service, the service provider has a right to pull your content and shut down your site. Until recently, stories of blogs and stores being shut down was an urban legend. That was until February 2015 when it happened to my own sister.
So here is the scenario, my sister’s best friend, Kate made custom wedding toppers on Etsy. During peak times Cherry Red Toppers was producing 100 cake toppers a month. They were BUSY. Kate was forced to hire an assistant. This was when my sister was hired.
Ashley’s job was to answer Etsy messages and to assist customers in ordering their custom toppers. Since each topper was 100% custom made to order you can imagine that there were quite a few people who needed assistance. The CherryRedTopper username and password was provided to Ashley and she answered for Kate. They went on like this for several months. Until February, when a “non-delivery concern” sparked Etsy to require an in depth analysis of Kate’s design process. Etsy requested the following information:
- All shop info
- The names of everyone involved in any aspect of my shop from ideas to creation to shipping,etc
- Location of shop, identities of photographers, shipping locations, etc
- Photos of everyone involved in the shop
- Detailed description of how all items are made
- Length of time to make each item
- Every material used – and photos of raw materials of all everything involved with making the item
- Where materials are purchased plus proof of purchase of materials: photos or scans of receipts
- Photos of all tools and equipment
- Photos of all work spaces
- Photos/graphics of all patterns used for items
- Photos of a step-by-step process of how everything was made
Because Etsy 100% owned Kate’s content, they suspended her store until ample justification was provided. During part of her justification process it was revealed that Kate had, had another person answering her messages. Etsy felt this was a violation of their policy and demanded that Ashley be added as an employee of Cherry Red Toppers. Once added, to the account Etsy was once again angry because now Ashley’s personal account had been added ipso facto. Kate shared that several times her store was reactivated one day, only to get a scathing email and another suspension the next day. After several attempts to satisfy rather lengthy requirements Kate turned in the towel and closed her once lucrative store. This is where the story gets interesting. Because Ashley’s account was associated with Cherry Red Toppers she has also lost her *BUYING* privileges. Yes, that is right. Etsy does not want her money any longer. After years of purchasing her account has been terminated, PERMANENTLY. Think it is too good to be true? Here are links to stories that sound have the same air of lunacy.
We appreciate you reaching out to us. I regret to inform you that Etsy has elected to revoke your account privileges permanently.
You can review those Terms here: https://www.etsy.com/legal/terms-of-use
Because ***** is connected to CherryRedToppers which is no longer eligible to sell on Etsy, we’ve elected to discontinue our relationship with ***** as well.
We ask that you or an agent acting on your behalf do not create new accounts on Etsy without prior express permission from Etsy Admin. We also ask that you close any and all active Etsy accounts. Accounts created or used without permission will be terminated without warning.
This letter should not be construed as a waiver of any rights by Etsy, Inc.
We wish you luck in your future endeavors.
Etsy Trust & Safety
I tell this story frequently. It drives home the message to OWN YOUR CONTENT. As the saying goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” These companies are not providing MILLIONS of dollars of man hours, server space, etc out of the kindness of their heart. Everything provided to you for free has strings attached. INCLUDING but not limited to complete deletion of your content. Here is a link to the Blogger content policy. On the surface it seems innocent enough, but notice the Adult Content and Crude Content warnings. Many of my clients are in the birth field. They regularly posts pictures of births. These images are often powerful, but could be construed as Adult and sometimes Crude (Shocking or Graphic). While Blogger provides a couple examples the content still 100% up to interpretation, and thus could be destroyed without your consent.