Can You Sell Copyrighted Products On Etsy?

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The number one reason Etsy shops get shut down is due to copyright infringement. And it may only take one infraction, and you’re done for.

I hear it all the time in the Etsy seller Facebook groups. “Etsy shut me down.” “Etsy suspended my account.”

can you sell copyrighted products on etsy

When you take a look at the products listed in the shops, they are loaded with clear knock offs of other business’s intellectual property.

Ever heard of Mickey Mouse, mouse ears, Minnie, etc.??

Are you at risk of having your Etsy shop suspended due to copyrights?

I get it. Everyone wants to sell the most popular items that people are literally throwing money at to buy. And although it may be tempting, I’ll advise you stay clean of copyrighted materials, logos, etc. unless you really know what you’re doing, own a license to sell it and have a lawyer involved.

Newbie online sellers sometimes want to make a quick buck or piggyback off the hard work and marketing that big brands had spent a pretty penny marketing for decades.

Those businesses weren’t an overnight success and they will fight you tooth and nail if you step on their toes and start selling their merchandise without permission.

So, can you sell copyrighted products on Etsy?

As a general rule, you cannot sell copyrighted products on Etsy. However, there are ways to sell products whose intellectually property is owned by another business legally, but only with proper legal contracts and agreements in place.

This will take some extra work on your part to make sure that you have the right agreements in place and that the rightful copyright owner doesn’t decide to get your shop shut down later on or by accident.

If you have the proper licensing and have gone through the proper legal channels to acquire those licenses and rights to sell these products, then you can legally sell those items.  If you don’t have legal rights to sell the products, then don’t try to list them.  It’s really that simple.

You can’t just slap up some Disney Mickey Mouse ears and give it a go.  You would most likely be breaking copyright laws.

Even my 7 year old asked me the other day, “What does copyright mean?”  This really is becoming more and more widely known, and you will probably get caught at some point if you are not legally licensed to sell someone else’s intellectual property.

no sweatshirt graphic

There have been several Etsy shop owners that have had their businesses sued by Disney for infringing on its intellectual property rights.  It can happen.  Don’t do it.  Mickey may look and sound cute and cuddly, but his lawyers are more like The Hulk.

And this doesn’t just apply to selling physical products, you can’t sell copyrighted digital products without a license from the owning company either.

Nope, no Mickey Mouse SVGs either.

Copyright vs Trademark

According to,

“Copyrights primarily protect the rights of people who create literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other original works (like history tests, and software code). Trademarks can protect the use of a company’s name and its product names, brand identity (like logos), and slogans.” to read more about which you might need to protect our own intellectual property.

Know that they are both copyrights and trademarks legally binding.  You can get yourself in a legal pickle if you aren’t careful.

DMCA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act - US Copyright Office

If you are ever in doubt about whether a product has a copyright or trademark you can easily check these for yourself using the COPYRIGHT OFFICE and TRADEMARK OFFICE to check those out and see if anyone, individual or corporation, owns the rights to the product type, phrase, etc. you would like to produce.

Getting Permission/License To Sell Copyrighted Property

In order to stay on the right side of the law here. You can get permission from the rightful owner.

You usually need contact those companies directly to ask for permission or obtain a license to use a particular search term or keyword, images, etc.  Just know that if they say no, it’s a no. And no means, no.

Copyrights and trademarks can include brand names, specific products, wordmarks, icons, keywords and phrases, etc.

Here are some words that have copyrights and/or trademarks you might not have known about and a few more obvious ones. 

  • Anything Disney – Ex. Mickey Mouse, Marvel, Thor, etc.
  • Boss Mom
  • Boy Mom
  • Velcro
  • Onesie (Gerber owns this one.)
  • Kleenex
  • Song titles and the lyrics themselves
  • Celebraties (no Taylor Swift, Patrick Mahomes, etc.)

I know it can be tempting, but it just isn’t worth the risk.

If you can instantly recognize it, someone owns it.

Basically, it boils down to anything that already has established branding or has filed the paperwork for copyright or trademark is just… off limits.

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There are exceptions to the rules.  Such as the ever changing world of AI artwork, fair use laws, etc. As I don’t currently sell any of those type items, I can’t speak to such. Though I have been thinking about them and may do an article about them at a future date.

But remember, those exceptions will more than likely has rules and regulations around them as well in the future, even if there aren’t any right this second so you will need to keep an eye on the changing laws around copyrights and any new technology that could create artwork to come.

And again, you can always reach out to the own of the intellectual property and get permission… in writing!! 

If you do gain the rights to sell this type of product, I would still caution against selling it on Etsy, as there are always sweeps by large companies trying to protect their brands and rights as your products could be taken down by mistake (Etsy doesn’t know what rights/licenses you have purchased) and could accidentally get your shop shut down or even banned.

But if you know, for sure, like for sure for sure, that the property owner won’t be filing any DMCA claims with Etsy, then you could still possibly legally sell it on the platform.

To learn more about DMCA laws, check this out.

I do know of several Etsy sellers that have done their due diligence in securing the rights to produce products and do legally sell on Etsy so it can be done if you are willing to put in the additional effort and money.

If you didn’t gather from this article, my general rule of thumb on selling copyrighted products, it’s usually a no.  So really don’t waste your time and $$$$$$ in trying to acquire the rights unless you have the money to burn, and you have a solid business plan ready to go in order to make that money back in your business.

To find out What You Can Sell On Etsy, check out this blog post next.

I also have a list of 121 Product Ideas You Can Make And Sell On Etsy, go take a peek.

Are you thinking about starting your own Etsy shop??  Use this link to get 40 FREE listing credits!!

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Hi. I'm Melissa Talbott. Long-time seller on Etsy since 2013 with multiple shops on Etsy and several other E-commerce websites. I enjoy helping makers and small business owners create profitable businesses they love that also provide an income that supports their families on their terms.

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