Scrapping scissors and knitting needles at the ready, sellers on the handcrafting site www.etsy.com are up in arms over what they say are sites stealing their designs and images and then hiring other crafters to produce them.
Discussion on the topic started earlier today, with more than 600 postings at this writing.
In a real-to-life embodiment of John Naisbitt's "High Tech, High Touch," first publicized in his book Megatrends, Etsy -- a sort of eBay for the crafty -- has became a runaway success. The website, which bills itself as "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade," raised $27 million in startup funding two years ago.
While sites such as "Regretsy" have spoofed Etsy and certain items on it, the handcrafters claim that sites such as Trader Lou and A.H. Smith -- reportedly all registered to a Robert Frechette -- are going a step further and actually promoting Etsy pieces as their own.
Interestingly, artisans on the site are working together to find examples of duplications, alert the local and national media, contact Frechette, comment on the items and on his sites, do legal research, report the incidents to law enforcement, and so on -- another example of the power of the Internet mob as described by Clay Shirky in his book Here Comes Everybody.