Scrapping scissors and knitting needles at the ready, sellers on the handcrafting site 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.

"Here are the legitimate earrings, and here they are on the AH Smith site," reported one commenter.

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.

About the Author

People thought it was weird enough that I was both a writer and a computer geek. So then I went and started getting involved in government to pull that in, too. And, y'know, there's a heck of a lot more connections than one might think!

I'm informed the link to the copied photo no longer works.

Thanks for writing about this, it's serious business. This guy is blatantly ripping Etsy artists off, and I'm sure other artists and designers as well. It's shameful that he fills his stores with photos and descriptions that are completely ripped out of Etsy shop pages and makes them his own. He needs to be shut down.

Screenshot of copied item on A.H.Smith site from an Etsy Seller before they took page down:

oh, thanks so much!

Really lovely post, Sharon.
Etsy closed our discussion - no explanation.
Hard to imagine that one has to go off Etsy to get encouragement.

very disheartening that etsy choose to side with him instead of their own sellers.

It was the posting of personal information that got the forum thread on Etsy closed. Need to discuss this elsewhere perhaps.

This comment deleted from Trader Lou's blog at

“Trader Lou is a marketplace from a merchant adventurer who partners with small, independent producers for unique and original items.”

Apparently, Trader Lou has ‘partnered’ with several Etsy jewelry designers who didn’t know, until TODAY, they were affiliated in any way with this site! They are NOT happy they’ve had their DESIGNS, their PHOTOS and their item DESCRIPTIONS all stolen by Trader Lou, and it’s sister site, A.H.Smith.

It looks like some if not all of our Etsy items have been removed from the A. H. Smith site. I no longer see my earrings there and I no longer see Organikx' either.

Oh, please do add the "Hands Trade" site to the list of foul play sites also found using our images, etc., without our permission. Why can't people just play nice?

Thank you! As one of the artist's whose images, products and descriptions were taken without my permission I applaud you for helping us get the word out. This sort of behavior must not be tolerated and I am thankful that the Etsy community has banded together to protect it's own. If you are interested in purchasing from artists please visit their websites for a list of vendors who check out

Last nights Blog on Etsy was one of the most constructive i have ever seen - truely amazing how so many clung together and didnt split off with their own agendas. THANK YOU, whoever sorted out thes blog , where as Etsy took the scissors to our one last night

Traderlou site cleared all the comments from their blog but accepting them again.

All comments cleared. I'm not able to post - probably have some ubersleek IP ban on me.

So, I know they removed many images yesterday, but was that to save their own fuzzy arse, or were they apologetic to the artists affected? Have any of them receive a word back at all - either an explanation or an apology?

just tweeted this story again, bumping it back up

I haven't received any explanation or apology. I'm sure we'll never get one. I don't know how they expected to get away with it, but who knows how long they did?

Robert Frachette even had the gall to steal images from the Sundance Jewelry website so he even steals from larger companies. With a BBB rating of "F" and various unhappy customers that have chimed in on other websites stating that the quality and metals used are inferior and look nothing like the pictures, I'm surprised he's still in business.

Obviously, they censor comments on their sites and elsewhere, so people can continue to buy from them in ignorance.

This is why I wish ETSY would not discourage us to put a watermark on our pictures. Apparently if there is a watermark you don't stand a chance to be featured or put on the front page. We, as artists, need to protect our handcrafted products. Very disheartening.

etsys arent artists they are foul. etsy will be banned.