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Again With This?

It was a bit more than 24 hours ago when Jess Fink let us know what was going on:


For those not familiar with Fink’s reaction, she has a history of getting her designs (particularly those she did for Threadless, which incidentally requires artists to own the designs they submit) getting ripped off, with one particular appropriator seemingly recurring at regular intervals:

David+Goliath Threadless rips @ToddGoldman legacy of rips new rip

One may note that the middle link of the three in that last batch is a mirror of a site that reported on a prior iteration of art thievery (some four years back) and received a lawyerly communication as a result. Curiously, in conjunction with yet another accusation of Todd Goldman lifting Jess Fink’s work (in May of 2010), I attempted to communicate with those same lawyers for comment, but didn’t get a reply; it’s possible that they no longer represent Goldman. In any event, the C&Ds are flying in the other direction today:

Thanks for all the help and kind words yesterday everyone! I have contacted Lawyers and sent cease and desists and boy are my arms tired.

Which makes me wonder — how many times do we go through this? We have a serial offender who — depending on how charitable you’re feeling — either:

  • Knowingly and purposely steals designs from a variety of creators and one in particular:

    @Taiomatic he [Goldman] asked me to work for him then ripped my designs instead, plus others. I think my complaints are legitimate. Blockin you! :D

  • , or:

  • Hires designers who do the stealing and passing along, sometimes the same design more than once, and does not vet their work sufficiently.

I have my opinion on the matter, and invite you to draw your own. On top of that, persons discussing said incidents have been subjected to lawyering (passim) that could be as either a SLAPP or plain ol’ bullying (if you’re not). Again, depends on how forgiving a person you are.

Since it seems pointless to go through this again and again, it serves only to aggravate legitimate creators and enrich the appropriators (keep in mind that commercial operations that have bought stolen designs have already paid for them, and probably won’t get their money back if they have to stop selling), there has to be another way. Here is where I must draw upon the Hive Mind: If you know of a company that sells this kind of stuff (your Hot Topics, your Forever 21s, that sort of place), perhaps one of you knows (or knows somebody that knows) one of their buyers?

I want to talk to that person. I want to ask what these retail operations do to limit their own liability (in both the legal and dammit we can’t sell this stock we paid for senses) in dealing with their vendors. Do they require good behavior from their suppliers? Are they to the point where they’re sick of having to deal with these situations? At what point does it prove a good business decision to cease doing business with a vendor who has a history of bad behavior?

I just want to ask one of them these questions, because I’m betting that the buyers for these sorts of retailers are actually like, say, independent comics creators — a relatively small community that knows each other and talks. It may well be that they’ve never considered the moral, legal, and financial implications of their vendor choice, and just need to work out some best practices on their own.

And if that meant that mall operations across the country decided they weren’t going to do business with a repeat ripoff artiste, that would be just awful.

I was in Waikiki last August and passed by a shop that featured most of Goldman’s work, and derivatives of those works (thefts of theft).

I didn’t really think much of it and just likened it to street peddlers hawking counterfeit wares. I didn’t know much about the Goldman issue, but I’ve been enlightened to his reputation built on stolen artwork in order to make a tidy profit from it.

It’s obvious he’ll continue to skirt copyright and trademark laws to make a buck, since he’s pinched imagery from everywhere, and then used the parody defense to weasel his way out of paying restitution.

Until you get some heavy hitters on board boycotting his junk and enough media coverage to prove he is a sham, it’s a constant battle.

[…] to yesterday’s story of the semi-annual Jess Fink Design Rip Off: Fink’s reaction. Gotta say, she’s a lot […]

[…] as one might if you saw a drawing suddenly lifted from a cartoon to a suspiciously-identical unauthorized shirt or art gallery […]

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