Did AI Make That? Etsy Makes It Easier to Tell If a Seller Used AI to Create a Product

Etsy is asking sellers to clarify how their products show a human touch while still leaving room for AI-generated designs.

Etsy released new “Creativity Standards” on Tuesday designed to “keep commerce human.” Sellers are now only allowed to list items that they have made, designed, sourced, or handpicked.

Per the updated seller handbook, AI-generated art is still allowed on Etsy as long as sellers are transparent about it.

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Etsy says it will remove items that fail to meet these standards.

“Even as tools and technologies available to you have evolved, our stance on keeping Etsy the go-to place for original and special items hasn’t changed,” Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said in an announcement video. Credit: Etsy

Effectively immediately, Etsy only allows items that fall into one of four categories and requires that sellers use one of the following tags on their listings:

  1. Made by a seller
  2. Designed by a seller
  3. Sourced by a seller
  4. Handpicked by a seller

Made by” applies to items like handcrafted jewelry or 3D-printed art that sellers create by hand or with tools they own.

“Designed by” allows for AI-generated art prompted by sellers as well as original designs.

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“Sourced by” encompasses items that sellers can customize and print on demand while “Handpicked by” refers to vintage items and other item collections that a seller chooses.

Etsy will launch a marketing campaign in the coming days featuring real Etsy sellers on billboards across the U.S. and U.K.

1720533755 UKSubway MockCredit: Etsy

The Tuesday update sees Etsy taking a clear position on AI: the platform will allow it.

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Etsy promises “unique goods” from “independent sellers,” a mission that differentiates it from other online marketplaces like Amazon. In recent years, in the age of AI, that mission has been harder to define.

In the past year, buyers have noticed AI art on the platform, even if sellers aren’t transparent about using it. One buyer wrote in a January Reddit post that they bought AI art off of Etsy without realizing that AI was used to make the piece. The seller made no mention of AI in the description and wrote instead that the art was handmade.

When the buyer attempted to return the AI art, the seller pointed to their no-refund policy.

Seller refused to let me return AI item?
byu/plsanswerme18 inEtsy

The AI-saturated state of Etsy has not only made buyers question the quality of Etsy purchases but has also discouraged sellers behind original illustrations from selling on the platform.

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One seller, who has been listing their handpainted art on Etsy for over five years, noticed in 2023 that sales tanked and their original listings were buried under AI-generated options.

“I [have] been trying to bring my shop back to life but at this point, I’m wondering if I should just throw in the towel,” the seller wrote in a September Reddit post.

Is Etsy ever going to address AI art being sold?
byu/happytostartover inEtsy

Another seller wrote in a February Reddit post that “the influx of AI, repurposed prints purchased or downloaded for free, and people straight up copying others in bulk, seems to have destroyed a lot of markets on the site.”

That seller wrote in an update that they chose to market their original illustrations through their own website instead of Etsy.

Etsy needs to ban AI asap
byu/Bitter_Hall_2290 inEtsy

An Etsy spokesperson told Entrepreneur that “AI is not the driving force behind these updates” and that the changes were instead “the next evolution in keeping Etsy special.”

Per Etsy’s updated stance, AI-generated work that sellers prompt on their own is still permitted on the platform, while AI prompt bundles are not.

Related: I Tried the ‘Anti-AI App’ That Suddenly Drew Half a Million Artists Away From Instagram

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