I really screwed up I guess. I’ve had 3 Merch By Amazon copyright rejections, all after shirts have been live and selling. This one was probably the most painful and was rather unexpected. This was my favorite shirt I’ve uploaded. In hindsight, I’m an idiot and should have seen it but my focus was on a different element.
Early Days and Getting the Hang of Amazon Merch
The design in question is below. Yes, I know, Godzilla is IP under copyright.
The thing was, I was inspired. It happens sometimes. I’m going to date myself here, but I had resurrected a CorelDraw file, to get the car image. Yeah, that’s right — COREL DRAW. Back in the early 2000s I had a copy of Corel Draw and Corel PhotoPaint, and at the time it was the best thing on earth and had a glorious bitmap to vector conversion. Back then I had taken a picture of a killer Nissan Skyline and had vectorized it and embellished a bit. So I resurrected this file, got it into Illustrator and modified the skyline enough to be very different from anything in production, but enough for the niche to recognize. I was so focused on the IP of the car, that I was blind to Godzilla, and we’ll get back to the rejection email later.
This was during tier 10 and I had no idea if Amazon was reviewing actual images in detail for copyright (they are) or just product names and keywords, and I wasn’t so meticulous about copyright as I am now.
JDM or Japanese Domestic Market which represents those who love japanese cars, tuning them, modifying them, racing etc. The niche itself is great. Stuff sells and there’s very little in the way of copycats. Since I started in that niche back in August 2017, the number of results for ‘JDM Tshirts’ has exploded, but if you can get highly ranked, there’s lots of opportunity. I’ve got 6 or so shirts up, and each one has sold.
The Sales Stats
This was a shirt that I started at a below average price, then gradually moved up as it sold. In the MerchPilot product page for this tee, I’ve filtered my date range just from when it was first sold to when it was taken down. You’ll see a lot of price changes in my pricing chart below, many of which had to do with me trying to un-throttle this shirt in Q4 2017 by changing the price, pretty much daily. It was a great steady earner, in a consistent evergreen niche. I’ll miss it dearly.
Always Follow Up on Copyright Rejections
I don’t really understand why Amazon won’t tell you right away what the copyright element is, and you need to pry it out of them. Once they told me flat out and took my shirt down, but that’s a story for another day. But this instance, they just referenced their terms, mentioned the section on copyright and that was it. Just a point of clarification, the rejection came in the form of uploading this design onto a hoodie. After the rejection, of the hoodie I promptly took down the shirt in this blog, my most favorite shirt.
We’ve already established that I’m an idiot to not see the godzilla thing, so this idiot emails them. Again, I knew the car was a risk, but I felt like it was modified enough that I was in the clear. I’m glad I did, and they answered me within 48hrs with an actual answer.
So now, I have to take down other designs. I had the standard tshirt in this blog which I took down right away, plus a long sleeve that was stuck in processing after a price change so I couldn’t take it down, and as of right now it’s still up. I’ve emailed Merch and just received robot answers.
Now I’ve since replaced the Godzilla element with a giant robot, and gotten 1 sale, so hopefully I can climb my way back up to the top of search. I take comfort in knowing that many copycats out there have stolen this design and have it up for sale, so it will live on 🙂
Also published on Medium.