Lets have a little conversation about intellectual property. How do we, as artists, draw the line? How do we stand up for our rights and how do we protect our concepts and work? It’s a tricky slope that has been walked over many times. Let us introduce a little bit of drama happening in that world right now.
Everyone knows about Threadless. It’s a neat start up company that made it big selling limited edition artist t-shirts. They’ve had some issues in the past with stolen work and have worked through them to become a rather huge operation. Hooray for that.
Now lets take a moment to meet Cate Anevski. She’s an artist that worked in Saint Louis for a few years and recently moved to Portland.There she is furthering her education in business management and accounting, along with working on new illustrations for clients and selling some pretty cute custom fabric.
She created a particular fabric design, Ghostly Paisley, and has been selling it at spoonflower (another fun start up) and on her etsy page. She’s been marketing the printed fabric for well over a year. You can see the print above.
Recently, Threadless, started selling a Paisley Ghosts shirt by Brandon Todd. You can see that design below. It’s the same colors and obviously the same concept too. If you look through the artists other works you’ll find that the Paisley Ghosts design is much different than his usual vector illustration style. That’s pretty interesting and leads us to cry fowl play.
We contacted Threadless on Cate’s behalf to address this matter. They said their lawyer would look into it and assured us that it gives them gray hairs to discover these problems after a shirt has been printed. Fair enough.
A few days later Cate contacted them. They told her that there was nothing to be done since it’s “similar in concept only”. Cate’s not asking for money or to be compensated in any way (even though Brandod Todd made $2,000 from Threadless for the design). She only wishes for the design to be removed and for an acknowledgment that these things do happen. I think that’s valid.
So where do you draw the line? What are your thoughts. Is Cate being unjust in her approach? As far as we’re concerned Threadless is being a little poopy in the matter and should be willing to work out any kinks. Especially due to their successes. It doesn’t look very good on them as a company working in the arts, and I hope they’ll take some time to reconsider.
Please, lets talk about these things and work together to understand our rights. Nothing cranky about that.