Artist takes on Alibaba over infringement that ‘destroyed’ her business


A US artist has sued Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba for “substantially assisting” users in selling thousands of infringing versions of her work.

Michel Keck, who describes herself as a mixed media/abstract artist, has been selling her work online since 2003.

In the complaint, filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday, October 2, she claimed that despite initially notifying Alibaba of the infringing works, the number has “multiplied year on year”.

She accused several defendants of running internet stores on the Alibaba website to sell thousands of copies of her work.

“Alibaba has substantially assisted with the defendant stores’ copyright infringement by creating online marketplaces where they and other merchants have openly displayed copyrighted works,” the complaint read.

“Despite submitting numerous reports of copyright infringement through AliExpress’ online form, Alibaba did not remove from its websites all the infringing material,” it added.

Keck stated that her income as an artist had been growing steadily before dropping significantly in 2015 after “counterfeit sales of my artwork through websites owned or controlled by Alibaba virtually destroyed my print sales”.

In a Facebook post in November 2016, Keck spoke of the “unlevel playing field” Alibaba had created and mentioned “many business owners reporting same/similar disheartening stories”.

Alibaba has faced similar legal action before. Last month, TBO reported that an inventor had sued the company for allegedly selling ‘Loaf-Lock’-branded sandwich bags without permission.

In the complaint, Sally May-Frankum explained that “in an effort to achieve an easier way to seal all sorts of bags, including bread bags, in an air-tight manner”, she created the ‘Loaf-Lock’.

The complaint added that “unauthorised units of the Loaf-Lock products have been sold, offered for sale and/or imported by”.


Alibaba, copyright, artist, Michel Keck, online copyright

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