Topman plagiarizes designer, promises to stop, doesn't stop


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/08/santa-jaws.html


#2

One question that popped into my mind is whether the Jaws poster is an IP violation in itself. Not that I think that’s a big deal, or that it justifies Topman ripping off and commercializing his art… but it does seem like an added wrinkle in all this.


#3


#4

An artist may have used his image as a jumping off point for the perspective on the shark, but I’d say that was marginally a rip-off. The sweater is a very different piece of art. And considering that his work was based on an iconic movie poster…


#5

This isn’t the only artist being ripped off by Topman…and there are more blatant examples of rip-offs, not just questionable appropriation as reference material that may be thought of here (although I think this is a rip off too… not just reference).


#6

I wondered the same thing until I looked it up. It’s actually quite different (at least in the copyright sense).


#7

When will you guys learn that copyright is only a right of corporations now? And big corporations, I might add.


#8

I don’t see how offloading the sweaters onto smaller companies rids Topman of legal liability for the infringement (if the design itself qualifies as such). They still violated the copyright when they made and then alienated the product. The designer might not be able to effectively halt the sales now, but the violation doesn’t go away.


#9

The issue is often that enforcing the copyright costs a lot more than a small artist can afford. Are you willing to sink $20, 000 in a lawsuit that might take years to be resolved? A lot of designers don’t have the money or time to pursue a case, even if they could win.


#10

I suppose that’s a valid concern it the US system. But it has nothing to do with the act of passing the product on to other vendors.


#11

Well, that’s the time aspect there. Now if he wants to send cease and desist orders, he has to go through the process for multiple vendors, instead of just one.


#12

Yes. That makes it harder to stop future sales. But it doesn’t eliminate Topman’s liability.


#13

Top. Man.


#14

I wasn’t really thinking that his image is all that similar to the original poster. Rather, that the character of Jaws belongs to someone and he didn’t license his usage of it. I certainly believe people should be able to play around with existing IP in the way that his reimagining of the poster does, especially since he isn’t trying to make money off the poster. But… well, I’m not sure what. Ironic isn’t the right word. Hypocritical isn’t, either. But there is something about complaining about someone using your IP without permission when you’re doing it yourself (albeit non-commercially). I guess what I think is he has every right to complain (and should), but if it were me, I’d embed an acknowledgement of my own non-authorized borrowing in my complaint.


#15

Oops, I re-read the designer’s posting about the appropriation and he does talk about how he didn’t have permission and would take the image down if he received a cease-and-desist letter. So he did indeed embed the acknowledgement I was suggesting.


#16

LOOP

GOTO “The issue is often that enforcing the copyright costs a lot more than a small artist can afford. Are you willing to sink $20, 000 in a lawsuit that might take years to be resolved? A lot of designers don’t have the money or time to pursue a case, even if they could win.”

/LOOP


#17

Back when I worked for the London Borough of Hackney, they sued Nike for somewhat bizarrely stealing the council’s logo. I suppose the designer was trying to appropriate the trendy thrift-shop chic associated with that part of London, and (being a middle-class poser who’d moved there 6 months earlier) didn’t realise what a vengeful, litigious organisation they were crossing.

But that’s a pleasing exception, because normally design theft has no consequences. And it’s so, so dickish, because the people who do it are themselves designers who know exactly how they’re fucking over the original designer.


#18

That’s good to hear. I’ve found nothing but copyright horror stories all day…slightly heartening but only slightly.


#19

So in other words…


#20

“They did A and that caused B. B is a real problem.”

“There is no causal relationship between A and B.”

“But B is a real problem!”

“Sure, but it has nothing to do with A.”

“But B is a real problem!”