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Policy Update: Prohibited Animal Products

Jul 22, 2013

by Lauren Engelhardt

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

When Etsy became a certified B Corporation last year, we made a lasting commitment to lead by our values and use the power of business to help solve social and environmental problems in our world. Among those values is our belief that it’s important for our company and our community to minimize our impact on the depletion of scarce natural resources. Today we take a step forward to help protect the diverse species of wildlife with which we share our planet.

In that spirit, we updated our Prohibited Items policy in the DOs & DON’Ts regarding items made from certain animals, such as those designated as threatened or endangered. The new policy includes but is not limited to items or materials such as fur, pelts, ivory, teeth, bones, and taxidermied specimens from those protected animals. Both new and vintage (often referred to as “pre-ban” or “antique”) items of this type are prohibited even if the seller has documentation of rights to sell the items under applicable law. The risk that the legal status of these items may be unknown or mislabeled is too great, and continued sale of these items, though potentially legal, stands to perpetuate market demand and further jeopardize the existence of these species.

The US government has found that the preservation of Native Alaskan culture is important enough to merit an exception to the Endangered Species Act, and Etsy agrees. Etsy has previously worked with the Alaskan Native Arts Foundation to understand the unique perspective of Native Alaskan artisans who use traditional subsistence methods. Under our new policy, these Native Alaskan artists can continue to sell items made from animal materials as long as they adhere to applicable US laws.

You can review the full Prohibited Items policy in the DOs & DON’Ts of Etsy. There are new FAQs in our Help Center that give examples of animals covered by the new policy.

This change takes effect today. Our Marketplace Integrity Team is contacting members by email whose listings are affected by this updated policy. In some cases, listings may need to be removed. If you have questions about a specific item in your shop or that you might want to list on Etsy, please contact us using the Help Center. If you see a listing on Etsy that doesn’t appear to follow the rules, please use the “Report this to Etsy” link on the listing and choose the “The item may be prohibited on Etsy” box, and we will review it.

Policy decisions are complex, with many divergent factors to weigh. As a venue, we set the boundaries for what’s appropriate in our marketplace, but we do so with our community in mind. Balancing the interests of Etsy, Inc. with our global community of shoppers and sellers is always at the core of our decisions. We’re continually evaluating our practices with the intention to better align them with our values. It’s an ongoing process, and an ongoing dialogue with you, our passionate community. Should you have any questions about this policy change, we welcome you to talk about it in our community Forums.