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A Bill to Crack Down on Resellers

During the Etsy Strike, our first demand was “Cancel the Fee Increase” – timing and all that – but when we polled our membership, that wasn’t the most important one.

Even mere days after Etsy simultaneously announced record corporate profits and a 30% transaction fee increase, our sellers found our second demand more important to them:

Crack down on Resellers

Etsy needs to provide a comprehensive plan for tackling resellers (people selling mass produced goods that they have not even designed themselves) on the platform. This plan must be transparent so that sellers can hold Etsy accountable.

Etsy claimed that the purpose of our fee increase was to help them crack down on resellers.  But we weren’t (and aren’t) holding our breath!  In fact, their latest report on policy enforcement indicates that today’s enforcement is astonishingly lax in comparison to the past – we’ll be covering that soon.

We’re getting some help with our reseller problem from an unexpected source, however: The US Senate!  Brian Conlan – Deputy Legislative Director from the office of Senator Tammy Baldwin – reached out to us to ask if we would support a new bill – the COOL Online Act.  The bill requires products posted online from sellers in the US to display which country they were made in, much like products in US stores display the same “made in” labeling.  In other words, a legal requirement for resellers to admit that their products are mass-produced overseas!

The bill uses a VERY broad definition of handmade to determine whether a seller is making their items – so no worries if you’re someone whose handmade items are only minimally transformed.  We specifically brought up instances like a jewelry maker connecting a charm to an earhook, or a T-shirt designer doing the printing or transfer themselves on shirts purchased overseas.  Also, our vintage sellers should know that this bill won’t apply to you.  Used items will not require disclosure since that information isn’t always findable!

This bill will only affect people who sell new items with a clear “Made in (Not America)” tag that they did not transform themselves in any way, and use platforms like Etsy to dishonestly pass those things off as handmade by them.  AKA, resellers!

You can read our full analysis of the bill on our blog.

When we reacted to the bill with unabashed excitement, Brian was surprised.  He told us Etsy’s been claiming their makers would hate it, that figuring out whether our products are handmade by us, and thus made in America (or the country we live in) would be exceedingly difficult.  So exceedingly difficult that each handmade seller might need to hire an attorney to be sure!

Geez, Etsy, exactly which illegal drugs do you think we’re taking while making our products, to cause us to not remember having done it? 😉

We’ve prepared a statement from the guild in support of the COOL Online act.  Click here to read it!

And now, here’s the incredibly exciting news.  For all our sellers and supporters who participated in the open-ended-question version of the Marketplace Research Survey in March and April of this year, OUR VOICES are being heard by US CONGRESS!

On hearing the exact problem this law was designed to target, and the degree to which Etsy’s been putting words in our mouth about it, we realized, we have qualitative data already showing sellers and buyers want very much to know where an item came from while shopping online.  The topic came up repeatedly in a completely unprompted way, just from our open-ended questions asking our sellers and supporters to tell us what is most important!

We let Brian know about our research, and he asked for a summary.  We sent it to him, and he sent it to the offices of every member of the Senate Commerce Committee.  He told us our support was instrumental to getting the bill past this first hurdle, something he wasn’t sure would happen. They even updated the draft of the bill based on our questions and concerns!

The bill passed through the Senate Commerce Committee with a vote of 16 to 11 yesterday.  But that’s just the first step. The Senate and House will need to approve it, along with the larger bill it ends up attached to.  We hope to share our complete data with Senator Baldwin’s office and use our research study to continue to advocate for what creative indie sellers really want and need. Click here to complete the survey yourself! (It takes approximately 20 min.) 

We’re over the moon about this development, and we hope you’re just as excited about it as we are!  We’re probably going to keep bringing it up, because we can scarcely believe it ourselves…

We are working on a plan to organize the creative internet in a big way to fight to get this bill passed.  If you want to be in on this plan, please head to the page we created on Action Network, and sign up.

We are going to do AMAZING things together!

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