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Rejected design - puzzling.

6146 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  EricAtRandom

I recently Googled a free vector image of a VW Microbus. The image I located was unbranded, but unmistakable. It was offered for free as CC0 - Creative Commons (Free for personal and commercial use).

I added stuff to the image to make it unique and funny, and I posted it to Zazzle. A few days later, I got a message my design was rejected and deleted due to violation of copyright.

So I did some searching. I not only found numerous images that were as clearly unbranded VW microbuses, but I found the same exact source image used with nothing but a text annotation beneath it. I shared this with the person who contacted me about my image, asking for clarification as to what I violated that the others hadn't. They ignored my inquiry and simply stated my image violated copyright terms, elaborating that it was in reference to a standing copyright notice from Volkswagen, not another Zazzle user.

I don't want to penalize some other person for being allowed to use the same free image while mine was rejected, but I do want to be able to sell my image. What would you do in this case? Do I keep pursuing with Zazzle? I'm thinking no, as I've already been shut down and - as I'd mentioned - I don't want some other vendor losing profits because I pointed him/her out. I just find the inconsistent enforcement of policy frustrating.

I've not shared either image here, nor the source image, as I don't want to violate the "self promotion" rules of the forum. If it's OK to, then I will share a link to my design on CafePress, where it hasn't been rejected. If it's OK to share them for the sake of clarification, however, I will.

Have you dealt with issues like this before (i.e. inequitable application of TOS rejection)?
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It could be that Volkswagen issued a cease and desist to them about an earlier incident and told them if it happened again they might get sued.

Unlike politicians, printers don't get to use the "but so did everybody else!" defense.
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Just shrug and walk away, as it is not in your power to control.

I had a similar experience on Merch By Amazon (who are much more anal then any of the other PODs). In my case it was use of a word that they deemed to be naughty. They do not have a public list of such words, so I was unsure if my use would cross the line. I did a search and found other MBA designs with the word so figured I was good to go. Nope!

These places are constantly upgrading their internal polices and prohibited lists (that you will never see), as well as the bots that scan for violations. So just because someone got past the censors in the past, does not mean they would today. Also, the text you put in your listing can be a Big Red Flag to the censor bots, whereas the image itself would probably sail by unnoticed. But if you didn't put "VW" or "MicroBus" in your listing description, how many of these things would you sell?

And actually, forget the image. It was probably use of the trademarked terms "VW" nad "MicroBus" in your listing that is the violation. You are in "essence" attempting to VW merchandise. That is a violation of trademark.
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The design was just about St Patrick's Day (i.e. "driving the snakes out of Ireland"). Without the design to look at, as they'd already deleted it, I can't remember if the keywords included any VW references, but I know the title and description did not.

It's no biggie, and I understand why they'd reject it.

I agree, though, with you. My plan was to drop it, as the time to sell it is running out quickly. But it did raise the question of "Am I giving up on this too easily?"

I appreciate your feedback. Moving on to bigger and better things! :)
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