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What to Do if Someone has stolen Your Listing Photos on Amazon

Author: Joey Chalmers
Date Created: 2020-07-17
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What do you do if someone has stolen your listing photos on Amazon?  Creating an image for your listing costs time and money; when another seller uses your photos it can negatively impact your business.  Luckily, Amazon has created a number of processes to protect your images from this common problem.  In this article, we’ll go over steps you can take to handle image copyright infringement on the Amazon platform along with some helpful tips you can’t find anywhere else.

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What Constitutes as an Infringement

First, it’s important to understand what does and does not constitute an infringement on Amazon. When another seller uploads your copyrighted material, Amazon will take action against the theft. You do not need to be an Amazon seller to request that your images be removed through the generic Report Infringement form. 

An example situation where Amazon will take down images you report is when a seller copies images from your website or your listing and uploads them to their own new Amazon listing, so as to avoid Buy Box competition. This seller does not have the permission to upload and use your images, so the images must be taken down.

It can become confusing when another seller is selling the same product.  Even though you’ve created a listing with your own images and descriptions, other sellers can also sell under your listing (as long as it is the same identical product). If they sell the product for less or you run out of stock, they can even take the “buy box” from you.  Amazon will not take down images you have uploaded to a listing; by uploading your images, you have granted Amazon permission to use them for that listing.

The Amazon &Quot;Buy Box&Quot;
The Amazon "Buy Box"

For example, you are selling a generic product (or a branded product that you have no exclusive rights to sell) under a listing you crafted.  If another seller gets some inventory of the exact same product, that seller can beat your price and take the buy box of that listing containing your photos and description.  This is not copyright infringement, this is another seller winning the buy box. When a seller has the buy box, a customer will buy from them by default, and has to scroll down if they want to shop from other sellers.

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These sellers do not own the Buy Box

This happens often with retail arbitrage, overstock, and other instances of loose supply chains.  They didn’t create the listing, but they are selling the same products under your listing.  This is Amazon’s intent to spur competition, and it is part of the agreement a seller enters when uploading their images.

If your brand is popular or made overseas, sellers may attempt to sell “knock-offs” or counterfeits under that listing.  This is one of many reasons to register your brand with Amazon, and you will learn there are additional image protections to Brand Registered sellers later in this article.

How To Request A Takedown If You Are Not Brand Registered on Amazon

If you are not a brand registered seller on Amazon, or not even a seller on Amazon, you can proceed with the Amazon “Report Infringement Form”. To file this short form, which we will go over, you will need to log into an Amazon account. If you would prefer to send in (or have your attorney send in) a physical cease and desist letter, Amazon also provides contact information to reach out this way. 

The Amazon “Report infringement form” consists of two parts.

We’ll break down the first part of the form, your infringement claim (the second half is simply your contact info). 

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  • Select whether you are the copyright owner or the agent of the copyright owner; if you aren't sure about copyright, check out our article on copyright to learn more. To act as an agent of the copyright holder, you’ll need to have explicit permission in writing.
  • Select “copyright concerns” under “complaint pertains to.” Copyright is the area of law that concerns stolen images or photos.
  • You’ll be given several options for your “specific concern.” Select the most relevant option for the infringement you are dealing with. For example, if your product photo has been stolen and uploaded as a listing image, you will select “the image is used without authorization on the Product Detail Page.” Note that if you select “the product or packaging is pirated” option, two additional questions are added (have you bought the item to confirm this, and if so what was the order ID # of this purchase).
  • Provide the name of your brand that has been infringed upon.
  • Next, you have the option of providing either a written description of or a link to your copyrighted work. It will be most effective to provide a link; link directly to the source you believe your image was stolen from.
  • If you have registered your work with the US copyright office, you can provide the Copyright number. This step is optional, so if you haven’t registered, you can still file the form.
  • Amazon also provides a space for additional information you would like to provide on your copyright or the infringement.
  • You must provide either the ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) or the URL for all products and listings you're reporting. You can report multiple infringements in one report, as long as they fall under the same “specific concern.”
  • Finally, complete the form with your contact information.

Do you have experience with submitting the Amazon Infringement Form? We’d love to hear your experience and the results you’ve achieved from submitting this form.

Amazon Brand Registry Process & Project Zero:

In addition to submitting the infringement form or a written letter to Amazon, other tools are available to qualified sellers who are Brand Registered.

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We talked to Ryan Flynn, founder and owner of Charmac, about the tools they use to combat image theft on the platform. Charmac is an Amazon Agency, and through their account management services, have had to deal with image theft on occasion. Charmac uses Amazon’s “Brand Registry” service for access to Project Zero and other tools that allow Amazon to more easily identify and side with sellers who have been infringed upon. The tools on this portal’s “Report a Violation” tab are straight-forward, with Amazon already having the necessary contact and brand verification information from a brand registered account. The user can search a URL or even an image, similar to the Google reverse-image search, and the tool identifies matching images and listings across the platform automatically. It makes the process of identifying and reporting an infringement, as well as comparing it against your content, simple. To join, you must have an active, registered text or image-based trademark (the IP Accelerator allows eligible sellers to hasten this process). 

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Flynn highly recommends brand registry for its advertising services as well as the infringement tools; “If you are selling on multiple channels, if you're going to retail, you want to have a trademark regardless [...] Most of our clients do have it. With Amazon, to use a lot of the newer tools and advertising, you have to be brand registered” he informed us. 

We also asked Flynn about the results and effectiveness of the Brand Registry infringement tools. The image won’t be taken down instantly, the other seller will receive a notice asking them to take down the image; most sellers will remove the image to avoid having their account suspended. Flynn also informed us that the results were satisfactory and Amazon tends to side with a Brand Registered seller (although you may need to submit a claim a second time if it isn’t acknowledged at first).

With an enormous platform and literally millions of sellers, leveraging your copyright on Amazon may feel intimidating. Infringement is a problem on the platform, and there are systems in place to enforce take-downs of unauthorized usage. We hope that the steps outlined in this article will serve as a guide for dealing with unauthorized use of your images on the platform. Still have questions? Check out our stolen images article to dive further into fighting copyright infringement.

Written by Joey Chalmers

Joey is the Administrative Assistant at Products On White Photography, lending a hand at various stages from the beginning to the end of POW’s process. Joey has a background in illustration and passion for detail and design.

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