Just to put a cap on these events, here are the emails that Zazzle.com sent me, presented in chronological order. Actual email addresses have been redacted so as not to feed the spam crawlers. Formatting probably looks sloppy because I’m cutting and pasting directly from Gmail and am too tired and lazy to make it look pretty.

From: Zazzle Content Review
To: rakdaddy
Date Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Subject: Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva

Dear rakdaddy,

Thank you for your interest in Zazzle.com, and thank you for publishing products on Zazzle.

Unfortunately, it appears that your product, While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva, contains content that is not suitable for printing at Zazzle.com.

We will be removing this product from the Zazzle Marketplace shortly.

Please help us make our content approval process better by taking this short survey.

The details of the product being removed are listed below:
• Product Title: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva
• Product Type: Button
• Product ID: 145834754089759861
• Result: Not Approved
• Policy Violations:
o Design contains an image or text that infringes on intellectual property rights. We have been contacted by the intellectual property right holder and at their request we will be removing your product from Zazzle’s Marketplace due to intellectual property claims
• Image: Image

We apologize for the inconvenience, a detailed description of the policies are located here.

If you have any questions or concerns about the review of your product, please email [Zazzle Content Review’s email address].

Best Regards,
Content Review Team
Zazzle Inc.

So, I respond:

From: rakdaddy
To: Zazzle Content Review
Date: Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 11:31 AM
Subject: Re: Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva

I don’t understand this; how can my button violate anyone’s intellectual property rights? I use the last name of an author and the name of an anime; that has to be within the bound of Fair Use.

-A.

Went to the park with the kid, then got this:

From: Zazzle Content Review
To: rakdaddy
Date: Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 2:18 PM
Subject: Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva [Incident: 110223-003531]

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reply at any time.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Subject
Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email (Mike) 02/23/2011 02:18 PM
Hello Zazzler,

Thank you for being a Seller at Zazzle.com!

We would love to offer every design that our users submit, however we must abide by all applicable laws and standards as well as our own content guidelines and copyright policies.

Unfortunately, it appears that your product, “While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva”, does not meet Zazzle Acceptable Content Guidelines. Specifically, your product infringes upon the intellectual property rights of The JRR Tolkien Estate.

We have been contacted by The JRR Tolkien Estate, and at their request, have removed the product from the Zazzle Marketplace.

We are sorry for any disappointment, but hope you will understand our position in this regard. For future reference, please review Zazzle Acceptable Content Guidelines at: http://zazzle.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/143.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thanks for using Zazzle. We look forward to seeing more of your creative designs!

Best Regards,
Mike
Content Management Team
Zazzle, Inc.

Got home from park, wrote this email back:

From: rakdaddy
To: Zazzle Content Review
Date: Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM
Subject: Re: Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva [Incident: 110223-003531]

In that case, I’d like to cancel my Zazzle account. I won’t use Zazzle again, not when you’re willing to cave to a bullshit request like the one from the Tolkien estate.

-A.

Then wrote The Post. Yes, I broke my cardinal rule of writing on the internet, which is not to hit Post until I’ve cooled down. But rules were meant to be broken.

Zazzle responded the next day:

From: Zazzle Content Review
To: rakdaddy
Date: Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 3:32 PM
Subject: Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva [Incident: 110223-003531]

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reply at any time.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Subject
Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email (Mike) 02/24/2011 03:32 PM
Dear Zazzler,

Thank you for you email.

As per your request, your gallery will be closed.

Any pending royalties will be paid to you as scheduled per your payment settings.

Best Regards,
Content Management Team
Zazzle, Inc.

Friday morning, I wrote the EFF, explaining the whole situation as I understood. The EFF got back to me on Monday morning and said they were interested in hearing more, and could I get a copy of the actual takedown notice from the Tolkien Estate? So, I wrote to Zazzle:

From: rakdaddy
To: Zazzle Content Review
Date: Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 9:03 AM
Subject: Re: Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva [Incident: 110223-003531]

Hello. Even though I have canceled my account and this issue is likely closed, could you please send me the exact legal correspondence between Zazzle and the Tolkien Estate? I would like to know what to expect if I start selling these buttons or anything like them on my own. Thank you.

-A.

Zazzle responded thusly:

From: Zazzle Content Review
To: rakdaddy
Date: Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM
Subject: Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva [Incident: 110223-003531]

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reply at any time.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Subject
Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email (Mike) 02/28/2011 11:13 AM
Hello Zazzler,

Thank you for your email.

With regards to details of the infringement, all legal documents are confidential therefore I cannot release this undisclosed information. But we ask that you do acknowledge the fact that we were contacted by The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate, and at their request to prevent and remove any unauthorized and infringing third-party uses of their copyrights, trademarks and intellectual properties.

Best Regards,
Mike
Content Management Team
Zazzle.com, Inc.

I forwarded this, and all the other emails to the EFF and waited to see what would happen next.

I did not expect this to happen next:

From: Zazzle Content Review
To: rakdaddy
Date: Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 4:09 PM
Subject: Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva [Incident: 110223-003531]

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reply at any time.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Subject
Zazzle Content Review: While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email (Mike) 02/28/2011 04:09 PM
Dear Adam,

This email is in regards to the deletion of your button entitled “While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva”. After corresponding with representatives from the Tolkien Estate, it’s been brought to our attention that the design was removed inadvertently due to a miscommunication on our part. We are happy to inform you that your product has been restored and located here: http://www.zazzle.com/while_you_were_reading_tolkien_i_was_watching_eva_button-145834754089759861

We sincerely apologize for this error. If you would like for us to restore your account simply reply to this email so that we can send you a temporary password to access your account.

Again we apologize for any inconvenience, and thank you for being a seller at Zazzle.

Best,
Mike
Content Management,
Zazzle, Inc

So. What happened? Zazzles sends me email saying, “Hi, the Tolkien Estate said they’re not happy with this.” I post about it. Cory Doctorow gets email from the Tolkien Estate’s lawyer saying, “Uh, no, we had nothing to do with this.” Someone here isn’t telling the truth, and, until we can all see all the correspondence, I stand by the title of my previous post: Zazzle.com and a little bit of the Estate of JRR Tolkien can go fuck themselves.

3 thoughts on “The Zazzle Emails

  1. I’ve fought with Zazzle, too. Zazzle continues to remove my Eagle Scout products at the request of the Boy Scouts of America, even though the phrase “Eagle Scout” is not copyrighted. Many non-BSA Eagle Scout products remain on Zazzle, so I don’t know why some like mine are singled out.
    Here’s a post I wrote on my struggle over a Mark Twain quote. http://catherinesherman.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/intellectual-property-rights/
    The worst was when I received this comment on my most popular product.
    CONTENT REVIEW TEAM said:
    on 6/21/2011 1:02:57 AM

    THE IMAGE USED TO CREATE THIS PRODUCT WAS COPIED AND STOLEN FROM ANOTHER SOURCE. YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHTS TO USE THIS IMAGE. YOU ARE HERBY ORDERED TO REMOVE THIS PRODUCT AND ALL PRODUCTS CONTAINING THIS IMAGE WITHIN 48 HOURS OR YOU WILL FACE LEGAL ACTION. AS A RESULT OF YOUR VIOLATIONS YOU MAY FACE YOUR ACCOUNT BEING DELETED AS PUNISHMENT. THIS IS A FIRST AND FINAL NOTICE.

    I now think it was a scam. Of course, I deleted all of the related products, like an idiot. I should have known that since the warning came as a comment that it wasn’t official, but it scared me. I emailed Zazzle about it but I never heard back. I chalked it up to my stupidity. Still, I’m afraid to re-submit products with that design. I had created this image, a tie-dye pattern, from a photograph of a one-of-a-kind tie-dye pattern on a shirt that was more than 20 years old. It was impossible that it belonged to anyone else.

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