Update August 17, 2016: Some more new developments at the bottom of this post.
Update August 13, 2016: See bottom of post for additional ViralStyle ripoffs. Also, this post has been very popular. I’m glad it’s getting a wide viewing. Thanks for spreading the word.
Meet Travis. Travis is an artist. But I imagine from the pic you figured that out already. Travis is sad. you may well have guessed that too.
Travis is sad because it appears that YAEOTIIFG (Yet Another Everything On The Internet Is Fair Game) online merchandiser, Viral Style LLC (who or what is Viral Style LLC?) in this instance, has stolen his artwork for monetary gain and are being pricks about it taking it down and not selling it for monetary gain once confronted. I noticed this playing out on his Twitter @IBTrav and got in touch (OK, after first making some off-the-cuff remarks under the mistaken assumption that Tee Fury’s reply that they were ‘on this’ implied they had something to do with Viral Style. They don’t. They meant that Travis had worked with them on these designs and they were going to try to help him. Oops.Sorry, Tee Fury.)
Like many such sites who deal in t-shirts, mugs, hats, panties and other assorted butt coverings, they also offer individuals the ability to set up shops on their site to make a percentage of sales from artwork the individual owns, created, or are is licensed to use — presumably. For many online sellers, this is an in-built mechanism for deflecting culpability in copyright infringement (or as we call it ’round here, “theft”) complaints. Not that the site doesn’t still get paid.
But Viral Style also seems to sell its own merch. And in many cases items I looked at, including the items we’ll get to in a second, did not indicate that they originated from another party (i.e. – Are first party sales from Viral Style LLC, not second party interactions.) And, indeed, Viral Style’s replies to Travis were not on behalf of or in reference to any party other than themselves.
To the thievery!
The case to hand, Travis’s portraits of some somewhat golden girls; Easily confirmed as his creation with just a few clicks (perhaps Viral Style should read this document if that doesn’t make sense to them.) And yeah, all artwork shown here is copyright Travis Falligant and used with permission, in case that wasn’t already abundantly clear.
Aside: It tickles me that Blanche is under “POLITICAL”.
Note there’s no other party mentioned in any of these. For example the Blanche mug (note the limited time offer is about to end, also hilarious as though this were some exclusive offer):
For comparison, here is what a Viral Style user store URL looks like “https://viralstyle.com/store/steele/steeledesigns” and an item URL from a store looks like “https://viralstyle.com/Steele/team-mystic-necklace”
The Blanche mug URL looks like “https://viralstyle.com/bui/blanche-devereaux-mug” and, for the record, I was unable to find any indication of a shop called “bui”. As far as I can discern, seeing those three letters in several other items, I believe “bui” is not related to any seller. It appears to be a programmatic URL entity.
Also note that no seller or other party is mentioned. Their own site makes clear that disputes with individuals with ‘stores’ will be forwarded to those individuals. But here Viral Style answers on their own behalf.
Travis replied with the details and requested statements of good faith. I’m leaving out the personal and other details, but I do want to highlight his response to item 3.
And then they press him on ownership…
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
A FORMAL COPYRIGHT FILING WILL BE NECESSARY SHOULD TRAVIS DECIDE TO SUE BUT IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT REQUIRED BY LAW FOR A TAKEDOWN NOTICE OR CLAIM OF INFRINGEMENT!!!
Travis gave his good faith statement, — the important bit that says he understands he is asserting ownership of this property, expecting them to comply, and he will be held liable if he’s lying — he identified the infringed art and provided links, and provided information sufficient for any sentient lawyer or other visually adept monkey to verify that, yes, this is clearly the owner of this work of art and we have effed the eff up. But why play nice when you can stall and annoy? Well, because you’re not supposed to. To whit, straight from the DMCA horse’s mouth:
c. On the other hand, care should be taken not to request additional information where the notifier provides information sufficient for the service provider efficiently to identify and locate the material.
So get your hand off it, Viral Style. It’s clear you’re in the wrong. Stop being pricks about it and take the items off your store (and pay the man any earnings you’ve made off his back.) Don’t be shitlords or, if not today some day, the Internet will make you pay for you shitlordiness.
Kevko76 has also had trouble getting his art removed from ViralStyle’s site. Here’s a blatantly lifted work that’s still being sold on their site.
And then there’s this winner. An equally blatantly lifted work by CJ Draden being sold by ViralStyle store ‘kingdomhorror’.
When I noted the original artist in a tweet, he responded with this clueless excuse which is laughable in its attempt at calling this a transformative work. Taking it and putting it on a shirt (for personal profit!) is not transformative, it’s thievery.
I, of course, replied that he clearly has no understanding of how copyright law works (or that slander is uttered, not written). Especially given that the two images are identical, right down to Draden’s signature. For the record, I also noted some @mattryantobin art on kingdomhorror’s shop that’s also being used without permission or license.
So… I noticed some things today. Some new, some old. The new seems to be the slow disappearance of kingdomhorror (although he still has a few things for sale on Viral Style). The CW had a Supernatural shirt pulled down, and the shirt using CJ Draden’s art has ‘ended’. Hopefully for good. Also, his website is missing (although, to be fair, I’m not sure it was every there.)