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eBay Policy Update – Sellers Must Remove Watermarks from Images

In eBay’s recent Autumn 2017 Sellers News release, they have announced further policy updates – including what is bound to be a highly disliked change to product images.

** Please read our updated article here **

So what is the update?

From March 2018, eBay will no longer allow the use of watermarks in product images. Sellers will soon begin receiving notifications when eBay identifies images with a watermark, and will have until the 1st March 2018 to make the changes, otherwise product listings will be automatically removed.

With previous image policy updates including the removal of graphical decorations, eBay has been moving towards a clearer image policy, which is in-line with many other marketplaces and shopping comparison sites such as Amazon and Google Shopping.

eBay believes cleaner and clearer images – “help to create an intuitive browsing experience for shoppers”. However, it also allows eBay to promote its seller’s items on other websites and search engines who also adopt the same image policies.

Many sellers will understand the benefits of this update, but there are many who are ‘up in arms’ and are highly critical of how removing the watermark will impact their businesses.

The main objections are the time involved in replacing the images, either by having to upload new images to each listing, or in the worse cases, having to re-shoot their whole product photography. Also, sellers who invest a lot of time and money photographing products, often add watermarks as a way of stopping competitors from stealing their images.

Their fury is certainly understandable:

“This is madness! I spend a huge amount of time and money taking pictures of the products I sell, and always add a small discrete watermark to my images to protect them. So now I have to use my images, totally unprotected from theft! Why would eBay do this?”

“I sell postcards and photographs, many of which are one off, totally unique images. If I cannot protect them from being copied, then I dont have a business as most potential customers will simply right click – Save Image as – and wont bother buying it.”

I believe these comments are justified, but what can you do? Unfortunately, not a lot when it comes to other sellers taking your images, however this isn’t exactly an uncommon practice and online retailers have been managing this for many years.

But when selling images such as graphics and postcodes, this can can become a bit more problematic as images are easily copied. The way forward would be to develop new photographic angles and to list the image at the lowest acceptable resolution, so they can’t be used in print.

Other sellers just feel the updates are a mistake and eBay has gone too far:

“They no longer want sellers as individuals. It is nothing but a price war. They want to let other sellers to use, sell the same items at a lower price. What matters if the picture is the same for a particular product? Only the price. If all sellers sell the same with the same picture the buyer will go for the lower price. It makes Ebay more unified. It makes Ebay a webshop where all glory (and fees) go to Ebay and all problems diverted to the seller.”

“I quite literally spent months resizing all my thousands of images to be minimum 500px and as soon as this was done, I had to add product identifiers which took many more months. Then I was expected to check and remove any active content, and now they want me to spend months removing watermarks! I’m trying to run a frigging business here, but I cant grow and expand this business when I spend all my time editing my listing to your stupid rules.”

eBay’s policy updates have come thick and fast over the last few months, which has caused a lot of headaches for many retailers, so these comments are not unexpected. There will be a few more on the way so we will keep you informed.

For more information on eBay Contact and Link’s policy update, please see our recent article:

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