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Old January 23rd, 2007 -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: threadless and copyright infringement: a discussion :)

Originally Posted by Rodney
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:

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).

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 The artists shouldn't have to ask them to stop selling it - it should have been immediately withdrawn from sale pending permission to sell it.

Originally Posted by Rodney
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:

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)).