Today in “What Did You Think Was Going To Happen?”, The Verge is reporting that Disney has started sending out notices to Etsy creators, demanding that they take down unlicensed Baby Yoda merchandise. This is the same Disney that has fought to change copyright laws specifically to prevent Mickey Mouse from ever entering into the public domain, spent $4 billion buying Lucasfilm, and has its own line of lazy cash-in Baby Yoda toys it’ll want people to buy months after The Mandalorian has faded into irrelevance. Basically, if you come between Disney and money, you better watch your back.
The Verge story says multiple shops have been notified that sales of their Baby Yoda items have been shut off after Etsy received complaints about them literally using words like “Star Wars” and “Yoda” in item descriptions—which, again, makes us wonder what anyone expected would happen. Etsy noted to The Verge that it “reserves the right to disable any listing, shop, or account” for infringing on someone else’s intellectual property, so it’s not like anyone is overstepping here (blame capitalism more than any evil mouse companies), but some of the sellers The Verge spoke to do seem a little annoyed about the hit their sales and views are taking.
One seller said she had been able to sell 200 Baby Yoda plush dolls before Disney caught on, but after removing all Star Wars-y words from her item descriptions, she’s down to only getting “two to 10 views a day” on her page. The Verge theorizes that it was mainly the very popular Baby Yoda items that got flagged, which is why these people are still able to sell generic baby gremlin dolls that nobody can find with specific search terms. So, it seems like the issue here is less about Disney worrying that 200 sales on an Etsy shop are going to impact its bottom line and more about Disney not wanting people to say “I am selling this Star Wars thing that I made.”
Once again, Disney can be a mean company that does shitty things, but it is allowed to do this thing. Also, Baby Yoda’s not that great anyway. Maybe these Etsy sellers would be better off making something that’s like… a cross between a penguin and a puffin, but it doesn’t have a beak, and it has big black eyes and it likes to steal lightsabers? Errr, we mean generic laser swords... don’t want anyone to get in trouble.