My topic today is not pleasant. Unfortunately, it highlights the ugly side of the internet that surfaces now and again to reassure us that everything is not all sunshine and roses on the web. I'm talking about websites that take advantage of the fact that very little can be done to govern them in any real sense. These range from those that are merely annoying — like isewfree.com — to those that are full blown ripping you off, like 4crafter.com.
I recently found myself "featured" on both of the above websites. Here is the first:
|The folks at isewfree.com just want you to click on their ads by accident...|
What appears to be a nice free listing for my Wave Purse Organizer project is surrounded by Google Adsense ads galore, prompting users to click on them — by honest mistake — because of those prominent blue arrows. Even when you click on the big photo itself, it just takes you to a larger version of the same photo. After clicking potentially in three different places (triggering commissions for two Adsense ads) and getting nowhere, the user may in fact notice the tiny little word "Download" at the bottom, in a light green that doesn't exactly stand out. (The red circle is mine; I added it to show you how easily the actual download link can be missed.)
But the aggravation doesn't end at that. There is a comment section at the bottom of the page...
|Isewfree.com actually doesn't let you leave a comment...|
The rest of my comment was "... access to sewing tutorials. Are you really "a bunch of sewing enthusiasts that love free embroidery designs, sewing patterns, and quilting patterns" or do you just want to monetize a site that pretends to offer a service?"
And you do notice the "eight-1=" bit of captcha nonsense, right? As a math major, I answered "7". (I later tried "seven" as well, just to cover all bases. I must admit I did not try "sept" or "siete" or any other language.)
Here is what I got when I submitted my comment:
Needless to say, it won't much matter what I enter. The point is not to allow anyone to leave a comment. They have an email address and for awhile I thought about sending them a message, but why bother? I seriously doubt it would amount to anything. Better that I put my efforts in spreading the word about these kinds of sites. They are not your friends and their motives are not to share your passion for crafting. The fewer people that go to them the better. (By the way, Isewfree.com appears to be a U.S. held domain.)
The other site, 4crafter.com, used to be TrulyDIY.com. That alone tells you that there is something nefarious going on here, as they were likely shut down by bad publicity or negative positioning on Google and then decided to rise up from the ashes as something else. This one is troublesome simply for the fact that its roots are in China, where anything and everything can be had for a price. (I know this because I have acquaintances who do business over there.)
Here is my little corner of their world:
|My Wave Purse Organizer PDF is available on 4Crafter.com...|
And here is the most appalling part of what they do:
|4Crafter.com charges "2 diamonds" for my free Wave Purse Organizer from Craftsy...|
I don't know what a "diamond" is worth in their terminology but the fact that they are charging anything for a file that they downloaded free from Craftsy (that is my only source of sales) is infuriating. That other designers have had paid patterns "circulated" in this way is doubly infuriating. (Yes, I have seen evidence of this from my online research.)
Have a read of their [outrageous] terms of service and see if you don't choke on your cereal:
NOTE: WE DO NOT DELETE ACCOUNTS - DO NOT REGISTER IF DO NOT WISH TO BE A MEMBER.
In order to become a Member at 4CRAFTER.COM you must first read the following Terms of Service and Conditions agree. By registering you agree to these Terms of Service and Conditions. Members must be at least 16 years of age to join.
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Registration is free and open to all individuals but we do ask that you post and interact in English. If you do not AGREE please click the CANCEL button and leave the domain.
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Of course, one should take their restrictive — not to mention utterly ridiculous — TOS with a grain of salt. However, it is the part that I've highlighted in bold red text above that is the most important. If they are telling you out and out that they will not remove anything currently already on their site, it becomes a moot point whether you want to register and holler at them, either on your own behalf or someone else's.
Like I've already implied, there is really little that we can do to counteract this. Certainly, it would be beneficial to ensure that all of your patterns present and future have some sort of warning about this on them, but even that's not foolproof. Once these crooks have your pattern, it is relatively easy to reverse engineer them to remove any such warnings. The best course of action is to expose them in the crafting community. Reveal them for what they are. I believe that legitimate crafters are largely respectful of the individuals who create designs and patterns and would not want to line the pockets of those who are out to scam.
And to be frank, there are already enough great free crafting sites established out there that we don't need more.