Fear you could be sued for selling copyrighted images and products? Well, you shouldn’t be – and this article explains why.
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The fear of getting sued for copyright is one that alarms a lot of beginner dropshippers.
Nobody likes that particular thought dangling over their head. But on the other hand, it shouldn’t be something that holds you back from starting a business.
That is why in this article, we are going to answer three frequently asked questions we receive around getting sued with Aliexpress Dropshipping. The questions are:
- Will You Get Sued if You Use Product Images from Aliexpress suppliers?
- How Can I Avoid Being Sued for Copyright Images?
- Can I Sell Aliexpress Products that are Trademarked?
If you fear you might be sued, or simply want to clear your mind of any doubts, this article will surely bring you a sense of reassurance.
PLEASE NOTE: We are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice. For legal advice, please contact a lawyer.
Question 1: Will You Get Sued if You Use Product Images from Aliexpress suppliers?
The answer is almost certainly no. It’s unlikely that Chinese suppliers will pursue you in court for re-use of their images.
In China, piracy is looked at differently in their culture, as opposed to the Western world.
Here, we strongly value the rights of the individual. And is the reason we view piracy as wrong, and practically ‘stealing’ the efforts of another business.
Whereas in China, the idea that just one person should benefit from a product, that can be so cheaply copied and distributed to the masses, is seen as bizarre to the Chinese.
They would rather have their images be re-used by other sellers, because they see this as an opportunity to make even more money.
That is why if you go on Aliexpress, you’ll find suppliers that are literally sharing the exact same image for one type of product. For example, this self-stir mug.
With so many suppliers already using the same image, finding the original owner of these photos would be extremely hard.
Besides, even if the owner opted to take legal action against their images, it’s highly unlikely that a small online dropshipping store would be the first door they would come knocking on. It would be these Chinese manufacturers that they would first sue.
But, of course, nobody likes the thought of getting sued. So if you are still in doubt, we recommend that you message your supplier to confirm whether it’s okay to re-use their stock images before listing them in your store.
While we haven’t never met a supplier that’s said no, it’s always reassuring to get that confirmation before deciding to sell it in your store (especially as a beginner).
Helpful article: 5 Print on Demand Items You Must Avoid
Question 2: How Can I Avoid Being Sued for Copyright Images?
Even if you aren’t making any money in your store, following copyright laws is still important.
And one of the best ways to avoid being sued for copyright is to simply use images that you are allowed to reuse.
The easiest method to find reusable images is with Google Images. The way you do this is by firstly clicking ‘Settings’ at the bottom of Google, then ‘Advanced Search.’
On the next page, type in what you want to search for. And under ‘usage rights,’ select the ‘free to use, share or modify, even commercially’ option.
Now when you search for an image, Google will only show you images that are free to reuse. So rest assured that you won’t be pursued for copyright when you are using images that are not legally owned by anybody.
Question 3: Can I Sell Aliexpress Products that are Trademarked?
No, you can’t sell items that are trademarked. Without a safe and legal strategy, dropshipping trademarked products will feel like walking on thin ice.
As a general rule of thumb, you should never sell anything that is branded with a trademark. This is highly illegal.
It’s easy to assume that it’s okay to sell trademarked products. Because when you go on Aliexpress, you usually see several of them being sold by Chinese manufacturers. Such as these Harry Potter accessories.
But as mentioned in question one, these manufacturers don’t have any rights to these photos either! The only difference is that ‘stealing’ images is a common practice to the Chinese when doing business.
But don’t be fooled here. Selling trademarked products should never be a go-to strategy for you. And it’s a better option to sell top-selling, generic products where you have the rights resell in your store.
However, selling branded and trademarked products isn’t something we would rule out entirely. As long as you do it legally, there are possible ways to sell branded and trademarked products without risk of getting sued for copyright. (We list four methods in this article here)
The Bottom Line
In short, it’s unlikely you will be sued with dropshipping, as long as you follow the right procedures.
With the right knowledge and awareness, the fear of getting sued will be a thing of the past! And you’ll realise it is not as scary as you had first imagined.