Zazzle Won’t Allow Web Comic To Use Own Copyright

Reader Matt B. clued us in to the public battle being fought between Chris Hazelton, the creator of the web comic Misfile, and, a web merchandising company selling user-created t-shirt and posters a la Caf
Press. Hazelton writes on his blog:

When I first started using them, I was SO happy to switch from Caf
-Press, who
s total suckedness I will not even begin to delve into. When I first started at Zazzle, I was one over by the superiority of their product and for several years I have had no problems. This all changed recently. I have now had three serious problems in the last 3 weeks. It all started when I was told I could not sell Misfile merchandise. If they had simply contacted me and asked if I owned the copyright this would not have been a problem, but no. They cancelled all pending orders and simply stated that I couldn
t sell the merchandise. Since they are IMPOSSIBLE to get a hold of, it took days to even get them to respond to my claim that I IN FACT OWN MISFILE. At which point I was told that if I could validate that claim, my orders would be reinstated. This was a lie, and after assuring them that I owned Misfile, I was told that in fact cancelled orders could NOT be reinstated, and I would have to reorder. This led to problem #2.

What a great way to alienate artists trying to merchandise through your service! Tell them they can’t sell products based on their own copyright, then charge them extra when you fuck up their orders. Of course, caveat emptor to anyone who would sign up with a company with the motto “Prepare to be Zazzled!” But still. Executives at any company selling directly to customers should be obliged to try to buy at least one product from themselves, just to get a little reality check on how bad they truly are at their jobs.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Bunnyspatial says:

    I had the same issue when trying to get t-shirts made, but when I sent them the letter saying that I owned the images there they immediately let up.

    I was under the impression that as long as they had a statement from the person ordering stating they were original designs they considered their asses covered.

  2. Andrew W says:

    I hope Zazzle’s policy isn’t ad hoc. There’s nothing covering submission of other people’s work in their “Image Security and Rights” section. Thus there’s no indication of how to appeal or any assurance that they won’t summarily cancel more orders like they did Misfile’s.

  3. mrscolex says:

    Why are we blaming zazzle or any of the companies for this matter? Lets get to the root. The companies didn’t magically turn evil– they are the effect of ridicilous and overzealous lawyers that pursue copyright infringement and liability very seriously.

    If there were a copyright fault, it wouldn’t be the user who wanted Zazzle to make the t-thirts, it would be the company, Zazzle, at fault and they would be the one expected to foot the bill.

    That said I do agree with the original complaint that Zazzle should have been a bit more on the ball to make sure that the user in question went through the process smoothly.

  4. airship says:

    I sell my original design Flooby! t-shirts and other stuff on CafePress and have never had any problems with them. None. Zero Zip. They’ve never challenged my copyright, have always handled orders quickly, and the quality of their merchandise is first-rate.