T-Shirt Forums

T-Shirt Forums (https://www.t-shirtforums.com/)
-   General T-Shirt Selling Discussion (https://www.t-shirtforums.com/general-t-shirt-selling-discussion/)
-   -   threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :) (https://www.t-shirtforums.com/general-t-shirt-selling-discussion/t10754.html)

Rodney January 22nd, 2007 04:38 PM

threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
I first read about this on PreShrunk.info:
Threadless Deals With Plagiarism

Then I read about the "resolution" of it at threadless:
Threadless T-Shirts - What exactly happened with Tagged?

Now, this of course not the first time threadless has had this type of issue before, but this one seemed to be relevant to some recent discussion on protecting your work, so I thought it would be interesting to discuss here.

How do you think threadless handled it?

Do you think it was copyright infringement?

Can we have a cool discussion about this without drama? :)

Jasonda January 22nd, 2007 06:17 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
It's a difficult situation, but I think Threadless handled it well.

It's pretty nice for them that the original artists were willing to work out a deal. It certainly could have been a much bigger problem if they had decided to sue.

Since creating graffiti and street art is technically an illegal activity, the original artist might have limited rights. It really ends up in a gray area. Personally I think it still qualifies as plagiarism.

This article might be a good read for anyone interested in the topic:

http://artslaw.com.au/artlaw/archive...alPitfalls.asp

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rodney (Post 72056)
Can we have a cool discussion about this without drama? :)

Probably not. ;)

Solmu January 22nd, 2007 10:58 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rodney (Post 72056)
How do you think threadless handled it?

Poorly, as they always do. That said, way better than their many previous plagiarism issues. I think the way Threadless handle legal violations (ftc regulations, copyright, etc.) is the single most unprofessional part of their business. I'm genuinely surprised it hasn't had more serious consequences for them.

They knew it was a copyright violation and that the original owners had a problem with it for several days, during which time they didn't stop sales. They were clearly trying to run out the clock so they didn't get stuck with inventory.

I think inviting Miso and Ghostpatrol to do Threadless Select was a very good idea. Miso and Ghostpatrol are that calibre, so it's fair. Threadless are damn lucky they said yes though - in some ways Threadless are beneath them (Threadless are mass produced tees at cheap prices; Miso and Ghostpatrol design successful tees that are limited run at considerably higher prices... Threadless make more money and are more successful, but most people would consider them to have "sold out"... associating themselves with Threadless could hurt the Miso/Ghostpatrol "brand", but it was the easiest way out).

Interestingly it has created a stir amongst some members who don't think they deserve to do a select tee, so there is some resentment.

Threadless said the prize package was transferred: they didn't say whether or not they doubled it so that each artist got paid what a normal Threadless designer would (I think they should).

I think the solution was a good one, but the way they handled it was bad.

It also sets an interesting precedent: print whatever you want, then browbeat the original owners into consenting after the fact.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rodney (Post 72056)
Do you think it was copyright infringement?

Actually, no.

As far as the current law goes it would appear to be, but I don't think it should be and I'm not convinced it couldn't be overturned in a court case.

The original artists do, because they claim copyright on their work. That would be fine if the work was in a gallery, but my opinion is that grafitti is by its very nature artwork put into the public domain.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rodney (Post 72056)
Can we have a cool discussion about this without drama? :)

I doubt it, but fingers crossed.




Rodney January 23rd, 2007 01:46 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

Poorly, as they always do. That said, way better than their many previous plagiarism issues.
I can get what you're saying, Lewis, but when you say "always", it makes me stop and think "really...every single time?" I probably think in absolutes too much :)



Quote:

They were clearly trying to run out the clock so they didn't get stuck with inventory.
I guess that's one way of looking at it :) I don't know if it's "clear" or not, as they could have already been talking with the two designers and they may have not asked them to stop selling it. We don't really know everything that was going on behind the scenes.

Quote:

It also sets an interesting precedent: print whatever you want, then browbeat the original owners into consenting after the fact.
Did the original owners say they felt browbeaten?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jasonda
Since creating graffiti and street art is technically an illegal activity, the original artist might have limited rights. It really ends up in a gray area. Personally I think it still qualifies as plagiarism.

I'm no expert on the stuff, but I think so as well.

I'm still not sure what would have been the best way for Threadless to handle it though. Probably by stopping the sales of the shirts right away until it was resolved.

prometheus January 23rd, 2007 05:28 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
I think it was handled in a good manner. I am not sure how or if they could police the submissions to their site in a better manner. One thing is, is that it probably increased the sales of the shirt with publicity.

Ross B January 23rd, 2007 05:48 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rodney (Post 72360)
I'm still not sure what would have been the best way for Threadless to handle it though. Probably by stopping the sales of the shirts right away until it was resolved.

I agree they should have suspended sales of the shirts until the matter was properly resolved, but otherwise, I think they handled this one pretty well.

Whether street graffiti artists' original art should be considered subject to the usual copyright protection is - as is often the case with copyright issues and discussions - a matter of whether you are wearing a legal or philosophical hat. (I think, incidentally, that confusion over these two basic platforms, or lack of recognition thereof, is behind the polarisation of views on the issue and sometimes rather unproductive forum interchanges that have resulted). Add to this the complications that the law itself is often indeterminate and subject to interpretation on a myriad of aspects of copyright protection, and that philosophical argument is by nature not black and white, and you have a recipe for confusion!

I am always on the side of art and the artist - call it an inherent bias, if you will - and a conflict of interest is sometimes unavoidable even in that (but I won't go there!). No prizes, then, for picking my stance on the matter: an artist's creation is still theirs, regardless of context. Thus, in my opinion - and I acknowledge that I am wearing my philosophical hat - the graffiti artists' work should be subject to copyright protection equal to that every artist is entitled to assume as a given. The link Jasonda provided shows the legal view as another matter altogether. I think the law is wrong - again! But that will be no surprise for those who have followed these copyright discussions.

Cheers all.

poser0022 January 23rd, 2007 06:04 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
most art is intended for public viewing. that doesnt take away from the fact that someone created art and someone else stole it in order to make a gain for themselves. to me it was blatent theft and an infrengment on copyright and just a crappy thing to do. the thief is an insult to everyone who has earned the right to call themself artist or designer.

Rodney January 23rd, 2007 06:17 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

as is often the case with copyright issues and discussions - a matter of whether you are wearing a legal or philosophical hat. (I think, incidentally, that confusion over these two basic platforms, or lack of recognition thereof, is behind the polarisation of views on the issue and sometimes rather unproductive forum interchanges that have resulted
That's a good point, Ross. I think sometimes people are speaking "philosophically" and others are speaking "strictly legally" and this sometimes makes the discussions cross paths and get confusing :)

Solmu January 23rd, 2007 09:27 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rodney (Post 72360)
I can get what you're saying, Lewis, but when you say "always", it makes me stop and think "really...every single time?" I probably think in absolutes too much :)

Well this is the first time I can recall them officially acknowledging plagiarism*, and it's far from the first time it's happened. Even with "The Killing Tree" there was just a post from Shondi pretty much saying "oops, now let's never speak of this again". It's euphemism-a-licious:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shondi from Threadless
Due to the recent controversy regarding this design, we will no longer be printing it. We have resolved the issue. Thanks to everyone who pointed out the conflict!

(that's the entire statement... not an excerpt)

"conflict"? Hmm. Way to acknowledge the mistake and inform your customers.

*(I use the word plagiarism because some of it is illegal copyright infringement, some of it is initially illegal use of stock photography they bought the rights to after the fact, and some of it is legal use of stock photography that was purchased in advance by the artist. Some of the use of stock photography so completely lacks any kind of creativity, that while it is perfectly legal, it's not remotely desirable. The so called "artist" who submitted it does not deserve their prize money, and the Threadless brand credibility is damaged by printing such designs).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rodney (Post 72360)
I guess that's one way of looking at it :) I don't know if it's "clear" or not, as they could have already been talking with the two designers and they may have not asked them to stop selling it. We don't really know everything that was going on behind the scenes.

We don't, but from the outset the designers were annoyed, and very early in the process one of the Jakes posted a message on a blog entry talking about it saying that it was an accident and they'd be talking to the artists. The artists shouldn't have to ask them to stop selling it - it should have been immediately withdrawn from sale pending permission to sell it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rodney (Post 72360)
Did the original owners say they felt browbeaten?

I haven't followed the story closely, so I couldn't say for sure. But as the About Tagged page says:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Threadless
These artists have made it very clear to us that they would never have released this design on a tee shirt in the manner that it was submitted in.

In other words they don't want it out there, but out there it is. Sounds like browbeating to me.

(it would be a shame to waste the inventory, and it was a popular item, so I think the solution was fairest to both parties - I think the artists should have both been fully compensated and the shirt shouldn't be reprinted. Those two things may or may not have happened - there's no word either way (and that level of detail isn't necessary for the customers to know, though it is interesting)).




Solmu January 23rd, 2007 09:34 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by poser0022 (Post 72477)
most art is intended for public viewing.

Yes, but graf goes a step further and is intended for public consumption. It is a gift bequethed to whoever sees it. Its ownership is entirely in the public, and it is entirely up to the public not only how they interact with it, but what they do with it. They have complete freedom to destroy it, to incorporate it into a derivative work, or to leave it as it was given.

Everybody owns it.

That doesn't necessarily mean everyone owns the copyright behind it, but my contention is that graf is open source.

Spray cans should come with a licencing agreement... "By using this can in a public place you agree to the following terms: 1) All works created are hereby released into the public domain" ;)




Jasonda January 23rd, 2007 09:52 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Solmu (Post 72554)
The artists shouldn't have to ask them to stop selling it - it should have been immediately withdrawn from sale pending permission to sell it.

I didn't realize that they had neglected to stop sales. That's a bad call on the part of Threadless. There's really no excuse for that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Solmu (Post 72554)
*(I use the word plagiarism because some of it is illegal copyright infringement, some of it is initially illegal use of stock photography they bought the rights to after the fact, and some of it is legal use of stock photography that was purchased in advance by the artist. Some of the use of stock photography so completely lacks any kind of creativity, that while it is perfectly legal, it's not remotely desirable. The so called "artist" who submitted it does not deserve their prize money, and the Threadless brand credibility is damaged by printing such designs).

I don't have a problem with the use of stock photography, as long as it's aquired legally. IMO, Threadless prints plenty of stuff that lacks creativity, both original art and stock photo based designs. Using stock photos is tacky and not really my thing, but if people like the design then I don't see the harm in printing it.

I haven't been watching Threadless from the beginning, but it does seem that they used to have a higher standard for designs, so this kind of thing might have mattered more back in the day than it does now.

BluePhantom January 23rd, 2007 10:21 PM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Solmu (Post 72160)
Actually, no.

As far as the current law goes it would appear to be, but I don't think it should be and I'm not convinced it couldn't be overturned in a court case.

The original artists do, because they claim copyright on their work. That would be fine if the work was in a gallery, but my opinion is that grafitti is by its very nature artwork put into the public domain.



They Can Probably Sue On The Fact That The Person Traced A Picture That Could Have Been Copyrighted By The Original Owners. It's Not Like The Infringer Took The Picture Of The Art And Then Traced It. Not Only That But The Traced Image Hardly Has Any Changes, (Just The Grass) Which In My Opinion And In Logic Isn't Enough To Claim Originality Of Design.

poser0022 January 24th, 2007 05:17 AM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Solmu (Post 72555)
Spray cans should come with a licencing agreement... "By using this can in a public place you agree to the following terms: 1) All works created are hereby released into the public domain" ;)

it would be great if spaycans did have that sort of agreement. its bad enough i have to show my id just to buy some.

i still dont see any difference between graf on a train or building versus my painting in a gallery or in a magazine (aside frome the legal aspects). It is still a creation by an artist. With that said, an overpass is hardly publishing, and i dont think the laws of plagereism should protect it. the issue for me has to do with stealing art and claiming it as your own. its an abomination to artist (man i hope i used that word right)

sid June 18th, 2008 04:45 AM

Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)
 
Interesting note when I started digitalartwear.com I contacted an lawyer specializing in copyright and asked him about my customers using photos of graffiti to put on our products. If someone bombs a building he can be liable to pay to have the paint removed and the wall restored but he owns the art. The owner of the building does not own the art, the artist does. It would be an interesting suit if the artist went to take the building owner to court and subject himself to a damage claim.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:52 AM.

vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 2004-2014 T-ShirtForums.com. All rights reserved.