As promised in my previous blog post (20 Sept '16), here are some guidelines for reporting copyright violation to Alibaba. This is relevant to any artists or designers who have discovered that their artwork is being sold on products without their permission. It happened to me on a massive scale and the reporting process was, as best described by my assistant, kafkaesque to say the least.
If you're an artist or designer and you've ever shared your images online it's worth doing a Google image search to check whether your artwork is being used anywhere without your permission. Click on the camera icon, upload image and click 'search'.
If you're unfortunate enough to discover any of your artwork being used on products without your permission, firstly drop the retailer a friendly email to explain who you are and inform them that they are infringing your copyright by selling products featuring your artwork. They may be totally unaware that the products infringe your copyright, so it's worth acknowledging this while you request that they remove the items from their store immediately. Secondly, try finding out who has supplied them with these products. Whoever the source is, you should approach them to stop the supply of such goods. If in doubt, seek legal advice. You may find that the source is Alibaba (your Google image search may lead you to an Alibaba or AliExpress link) - if so read Stage 3.
If you are a UK artist or designer, I recommend joining DACS for support and future protection.
If the source is Alibaba, here's what to do (this information may go out of date if they change the system; feel free to contact me if it does):
- Create an account at the AliProtect website. You will probably need to submit copies of identification documents (such as a driving license or passport) which Alibaba will verify. If you get stuck, email email@example.com.
- Go to IPR Management tab, and select Submit IPR (left hand toggle). Write in the information as asked for - you can put anything in the 'IPR number' slot for now, they say they may change it later.
- Fill out the Copyright Claim Statement (CSS) for each and every image (you can only report one image at a time - we had to do this over 50 times!) and attach it, along with a watermarked image of the work. Make sure to use your digital signature on this or they will not accept it. The best way to do this is to add it in at the PDF creation stage (use ‘signature option’), not in Word.
- If you've already submitted ID to them, you will not need to resubmit for 'ID of Complaining Party'.
- Once you’ve done this, press 'Submit for Verification'. This will now take a few days for Alibaba to verify the submission. Check back. They won’t necessarily contact you to tell you.
- Once Verification is successful (check under ‘submitted IPR’ in the IPR Management tab) you need to go to the IPR Complaint tab, under the Submit listings Left hand toggle. Fill this bit of information in, and include the URL(s) of the listings that feature the artwork in question. Make sure to press submit at the bottom of the page.
- Go to the Pending Submissions toggle. It will ask you for the verified IPR number (in a drop down) and proof - pick the IPR number that has been verified and then submit your watermarked image as proof. Click ‘Match’.
- Your listings will be pending until they are accepted and taken down. Check back, although they should contact you to state whether verification has been successful or not. You can see the history in the 'Pending Submissions' area as well. If a supplier wants to dispute then you will probably be dealing with some information in the “pending counter-notification” toggle.
Yes, this is a TEDIOUS process. But worthwhile. It took a bit of trial and error to work out this process, as it's not particularly clear, but let me know if the guidelines have been helpful or if the information above should be amended.
Below: Big Gladys, one of my images that was being used without permission on products sold via Alibaba