Copycat

I think the majority of my days the last two weeks, if I had to describe them, would end with, “…and then we got drunk.” My work brought in a grief counselor on Monday, and I didn’t find it particularly enlightening, mostly because it’s a) hard for me to appreciate group therapy, and b) one of her sage nuggets of wisdom was that the worst thing we could do right now is get drunk. We all kind of gave that suggestion the side-eye; clearly she didn’t know Dave very well. That’s exactly what he would want us to be doing, so that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. Yesterday was the viewing, and then we got drunk. Today is the funeral, and afterwards we’re getting drunk. If you know a more appropriate way to handle things, keep it to yourself.

On a slighter more sober note, in my Internet Squirreling recently I uncovered a painfully obvious copyright infringement case. But I’ll start at the beginning: I’ve loved artist Matte Stephens’ work for a while now. It’s whimsical, sweet, and most the pieces have rhyming names.

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here and here

Adorable, right? He even has a book coming out! I’ve kind of had a soft spot for a particular print of a jaunty Frenchman riding a bicycle while smoking a pipe, called “Monsieur Hulot Mon Oncle.” In fact, I’ve stared at it longingly often enough that when I was browsing Zara Home (fine, Zara Home Kids, if you want to get particular) earlier this week, I immediately recognized the print on one of their pillows:

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It’s identical, except the kid isn’t holding an umbrella. So I did what any concerned Internet Squirrel would do: I wrote Matte an email that said, “Hey! Love your work! Pretty sure you’re being ripped off!” and he wrote back that he indeed did not give Zara Home permission to use his work on a pillow, they just figured they could steal it and get away with it. That still happens these days? Seriously? With people as well-versed in the internet as I am who took one look at it and recognized the print immediately? Apparently so, and it happened last year when H&M Home ripped off an designer’s work for a door mat. RUDE.

Matte must have acted quickly, because the pillow has since been taken down from their website (it took less than 12 hours), but I bet it’s still available in stores. Super shady, right? Internet Squirrel doesn’t stand for blatant copyright infringement, but totally stands for getting a huge ego thinking she’s done her noble deed for the month.

If you need me, I’ll be patting myself on the back. And getting drunk.

13 thoughts on “Copycat

  1. Hi Erin,
    Thank you so much for letting me know about this issue. It is nice to know that people are out there that care about these things and will let you know when they think something isn’t right. Thank you again! Matte

  2. Gosh, funerals are hard – especially on family. I’ve been to a couple and that’s when the loss really hits home. You do what you need – within reason – to get through this. You’ll get no judgements from me whatsoever. *Hugs*

    Yes, I’m afraid copyright infringement is happening more and more often these days because people seem to think that just because they’ve seen something online, the finders keepers rule applies.

    All they had to do was involve Matte in the first place, promote the cushions as a collaborative effort and they would have sold like hot cakes. What they’ve done is astoundingly disrespectful, lazy and totally unprofessional, if you ask me.

  3. this is something that scares me – i am sure it terrifies every etsy artist. why? because it happens constantly. in blatant ways such as this and in more subtle ways. it’s not right and it really pisses me off when it is a giant store stealing ideas from someone that could really benefit from the right to license it out, cha-ching! but they steal which is terrible. i think what you did was awesome and i think you just keep on keeping on.

    i will be thinking of you today and yeah, it’s okay to get drunk after a funeral. i mean seriously. xo

  4. I went to a panel discussion hosted by Apartment Therapy a while back on copyright infringement, I believe it was called Knock offs: flattery or theft. As a consumer it is sometimes very hard to know if the design is a knock off because they don’t know the original but big companies should know better and do their research about what they offer. Great that you caught it and alerted the artist!

    I am thinking about you today! Don’t let anyone tell you how to deal with your grief. If you honor your coworkers memory by getting together and toast to the time you got to spent with him, cheers to you. Hugs!

  5. Well done with the Zara-busting. I hope something rolled up in a brown tube will be coming your way courtesy of an alerted illustrator. That would be splendid.

    Sorry too about your co-worker. (I’m way behind on reading blogs, stupid REAL LIFE getting in the way). I hope when I kick it, people have a knees-up and get blithered too. Wanky group therapy- who invented that shit? Side eye for REAL.

  6. Getting drunk is that answer to many of life’s problems. Or at least a good way to avoid them. So don’t worry about it and just do what feels right xx

    Wow well done you for letting him know, he must be supergrateful! There was a big fuss here last summer over crappy jewellery store Claire’s Accessories blatantly ripping off Tatty Devine’s designs. These companies claim to not really be aware of it and yet some young designer must be sitting there with the original item and literally copying it. You’d never store that much detail in your head would you?? You should start this as a weekly column I think…..x

  7. I only just caught up with your blog and I am so sorry to hear the very sad and devastating news.

    Unfortunately the copycats are at it all over the place, few graphic designers like The Seventy Tree were ripped off by a Korean label, they didn’t even make any changes to the prints! And UK’s Claire’s accessories which is a big highstreet accessory chain ripped off the very cool and small Tatty Devine. So ugly, those companies have so much money to create original stuff and give a terrible example.

  8. You and your mad skillz never cease to amaze me. It’s so unbelievable that a huge company like Zara would so blatantly rip an artist off. See, I totally would have assumed that they got permission from Matte, and boy would I have been wrong. Good for you for taking that extra step to email him. I bet he was so appreciative to receive your email. Not only does that make you an amazing Squirrel, it makes you a good Samaritan. Thinking of you today. Salute, cheers, and kampai!

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