Dropshippers don’t usually think about copyright infringement until it’s too late. No one starts a dropshipping business with the idea that they will be sued for copyright violations. After all, dropshipping is one of the most popular ways to run an online store, and it’s easy to make it your full-time job instead of just a side gig. If you’ve worked hard to build a dropshipping business, the last thing you want is to have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars because someone stole your ideas.
Whether you are new to dropshipping or have several stores, you should know about copyright infringement and how to avoid problems. By 2025, the dropshipping industry is expected to be worth nearly $560 billion, so brands are starting to look for possible copyright violations.
At dropship-empire, we help dropshippers grow their businesses by connecting them with suppliers and products of high quality. Our platform makes it easy to add products to your website and sync orders in a way that works well. We’ll help you find the right products for your business without breaking any copyright laws.
We’re going to give you our best advice on how to avoid copyright violations when dropshipping so that you don’t put your business at risk. For each copyright violation, you could end up having to pay anywhere from $500 to $30,000. Don’t take chances with your dropshipping business. Follow these tips instead to avoid getting a copyright violation, which could cost you your profits or even force you to close your dropshipping website.
What does it mean to break a copyright?
When you use a work that is protected by copyright law without getting permission from the owner of the rights, you are breaking the law. If you don’t get permission, you’ll be violating the rights of the person who owns the copyright, who has the right to decide how the copyrighted material is copied or shared.
Because you usually have to pay a fee and royalties to use copyrighted material, the people who own the rights can take legal action against people who use their work without permission. Depending on how bad the copyright violation is, you may get a takedown notice telling you to take the item off your dropshipping website or you may be sued in the civil courts.
Products and pictures with copy rights
Counterfeiting is one of the worst ways to break copyright laws, and it can even lead to criminal charges. When you dropship, you want to make sure that the vendors you choose don’t sell items that break copyright. Some dropshipping companies, like Alibaba, are known for selling copyrighted items, especially Disney products.
You should also be careful about the photos you use in your dropshipping store. You might think that giving a photo’s owner credit is enough, but that’s not what copyright law requires. You’ll need their permission to use their photo, and if you change it in any way, you’re violating their moral rights.
Here are some things you can do to keep your dropshipping business from getting a copyright violation.
Only use distributors with a license.
Copyrighted materials can be used by dropshipping vendors who have the right to do so. You shouldn’t have any trouble adding these products to your dropshipping website if your vendor is licensed and an approved distributor. You can also find dropshipping vendors who get their products straight from the copyright holder who made them.
You will find Chinese factories that make things that break laws about copyright and trademarks. Copyright laws are almost never enforced in China, and illegal goods are common all over the country.
You can still sell licensed or branded items on your dropshipping website as long as they come from a vendor who has the license or is an authorized distributor. If the place where your products come from is legal, you can sell them again through your dropshipping store.
Find out about the factories
As a dropshipper, you want to do everything you can to feel sure about the products you add to your website. It’s always a good idea to treat every situation like an auction. There could be fake authorized distributors. These sellers say they are authorized resellers, but their licenses have been forged. They may also say that they sell “overstock” directly from the manufacturer, saying that the items have a “cosmetic defect” most of the time.
The term “cosmetic defects” is often used to describe items that have been copied without permission or are fakes. It’s a term used to hide flaws that would otherwise show that the item is a fake or a copy made without permission.
Find out where the company’s factories are if you want to sell something that you think might be protected by copyright. If the seller says they are selling “overstock,” ask the distributor for proof that the goods come from the distributor’s factories.
Make your own lists of products.
You need to be careful not only with the images of your products, but also with the text of your product listings. If you copy and paste product listings from another retailer’s website without their permission, you are breaking their rights to their work.
Even if you dropship products from an authorized distributor, you won’t be able to use their entire product descriptions. Writing a product description can take a lot of time and be hard if you have trouble writing copy that people want to read. You might decide to hire a professional freelancer to write descriptions for your website that are unique and interesting.
Take a picture of it yourself.
The best thing you can do for your product listings is to buy samples of the products you’re selling and take photos of them yourself. You can use these photos for your product listings and social media accounts, so it’s a win-win for making organic content. If you have the product in front of you, you can write a more accurate product description and, if necessary, add a “how to use” section. You can also check the item’s quality and take your own photos, which will be yours to keep.
Think about selling products with your own label.
When deciding what to sell on your dropshipping website, you might want to think about white label products. These are products that the maker lets other companies rebrand and sell with their own logo on them. White-label products can be sold either as they are or with a new brand name, and there are no copyright issues with either option. Items like mugs and T-shirts that are made just for you and items that can be changed, like makeup bags, are examples of this.
Find out how copyright law works.
If you are sued by someone who owns copyright, saying you don’t know anything about it won’t help you. If you take your dropshipping business seriously, you should take the initiative to learn about copyright law. The U.S. Copyright Office and other government websites will tell you all the basics you need to know to understand how copyright works.
Don’t forget about names and products that have a trademark.
You can’t forget about trademarked names and products, just like you can’t forget about copyrighted items. Both copyright and trademarks go together. Most trademarks have the ® or TM symbol next to their name. Laws protect intellectual property, which is what a trademark is.
One great example of this is “Baby Yoda,” a character from Disney that went viral after The Mandalorian came out on Disney+. Before Disney got involved, enterprising people quickly started making everything from stickers to coffee mugs and T-shirts.
Disney took action against trademarked items, such as ones with keywords like “The Mandalorian,” “baby Yoda,” and “Star Wars.” The listings of these Etsy sellers were taken down, and in some cases, their stores were taken down from the site. Disney is an example of a brand that takes action against vendors and dropshippers who sell trademarked and copied products.
If you sell a bowl or dish in the shape of a mouse on your dropshipping website, you can’t call it a “mickey mouse bowl” without breaking trademark law. Even though it might seem harmless, it’s a good way to make sure Disney sends you a “take down” notice.
If you’re worried about copyright violations, the best thing you can do when deciding what to sell on your dropshipping website is to stay away from branded items. At dropship-empire, we can help you find authorized brand-name items to sell on your dropshipping website so you can stay in charge of your business.
What dropship-empire is and how our dropshipping service works
Dropship-Empire is the best website for dropshipping. It connects you to high-quality dropshipping suppliers and integrates with the best marketplaces and platforms so that everything works smoothly. We give you the tools you need to sync orders with suppliers so that orders can be filled quickly and the customer experience is improved. With these services in place, you can choose products without worrying about violating someone’s copyright.
With our platform, starting a successful dropshipping store or finding a dropshipping niche is easier than ever. You can find products that will help you start a dropshipping business without violating anyone’s copyright.
Here is where you can start your free 30-day trial of dropship-empire and help your dropshipping store reach new heights.