August 10, 2012

Etsy blocks sales of drugs and human remains

Etsy has become the go-to spot for homemade jewelry, knickknacks and household goods. But apparently, some have been using the online marketplace to sell everything from drugs to human remains.

Now Etsy is cracking down.

The online marketplace recently revised its policies, excluding from its list of sellable items such products as tobacco, hazardous materials and body parts (hair and teeth are still OK).

"Though odd as it may sound, we've spent long hours over the past several months extensively researching some offbeat and fascinating topics, from issues surrounding the sale of human bones to the corrosive and toxic properties of mercury," the company wrote on its official blog on Wednesday.

Etsy says the changes are made in order to comply with legal rules and restrictions.

"But beyond that, when it comes right down to it, some things just aren't in the spirit of Etsy," the online company wrote. "While we understand that it is possible for certain items to be carefully and legally bought and sold, Etsy is just not the right venue for them."

The new policy prohibits the sale of human body parts, including but not limited to "things such as skulls, bones, articulated skeletons, bodily fluids, preserved tissues or organs, and other similar products."

Etsy banned most drug paraphernalia, though the company said it is not explicitly banning the sale of medical drugs. Instead, it's asking that sellers remove any claims of "cure or relief" that aren't approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

That set off a slew of angry posts from Etsy sellers in the company's public forums.

"Now I need to change near[ly] a quarter of my listings or remove them," wrote Etsy user Chrissy-jo, who operates an online store called KindredImages. "How am I going explain the use of a salve or even an aromatherapy eye pillow without making the claim that it aids in healing wounds or it helps relieve migraines?"

Another Etsy user named Irina, who runs PheonixBotanicals, wrote "As an herbal crafter, I find the idea of being banned from listing traditional uses and folklore of plants quite disheartening."

Sellers on Etsy operate their own shops, where they vend homemade goods. The online store will reach out to individual sellers to ask them to either remove a listing or make changes to align the product with the company's policy.

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