IBTrav vs Viral Style

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.

Travis. And yes I asked for permission for this an other art shown.
Travis. And yes I asked for permission for this and other art shown.

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.)

See also: Tuesday Bassen’s recent fight against Zara or Gordon Brebner against TeeChip (with whom Travis has also had a run-in.)

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.

Travis’s art:
ibtrav_girls_lineup

Viral Style’s stolen art totally not provided by Travis:

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):

Blanch mug description on Viral Style.
Blanch mug description on Viral Style.
Blanch mug details on Viral Style.
Blanch mug details on Viral Style.

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.

To the takedown!
Travis did his due diligence, having dealt with this before (the same site, even), and sent them a copyright claim/takedown request.
ibtrav-email1

He received a boilerplate response as one would expect. Although it contained a hint of what was to come later.
viralstyle-email1

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.
storelanguage

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.
ibtrav-email2And then they press him on ownership…
viralstyle-email2

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.

Oh look… just in time to finish this post up. The limited time offer is back for another limited time…
blanche-is-back

UPDATES:

8/13
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.
kevko76_rippedoff

And then there’s this winner. An equally blatantly lifted work by CJ Draden being sold by ViralStyle store ‘kingdomhorror’.
cjdraden_rippedoff

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.
kingdomhorror_excuses

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.


8/17
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.)

kingdomhorror_fails

And the not-so-new, the continued sale of Travis and Kevin’s work.
viralstyle_stillstealing

Back with a Fury(osa)

Shia’s still famous, and I’m not dead. I’m back for a Fury(osa) one-two-punch for another plagiarist. This time it’s Nov. 14th’s TeeFury.com shirt deal by Punksthetic and Mephias.

If you’re not familiar with TeeFury, they sell t-shirts. See how that works? A lot of them are fandom-centered designs that deal with intellectual property the artist doesn’t quite have a clear license for (lots of Doctor Who, Firefly, etc.), but for the most part their popular designs use original art, so everyone nervously looks the other way and hopes for the best. And, for the most part, this works. Sometimes you’ll notice designs quietly disappearing, presumably when the trademark or copyright holder drops a complaint on them.

Let’s have a look-see, shall we? Hello, image in my email that makes me spit out my coffee!
teefury_deal

And then I fired up Photoshop and got to work. Note that the differences stand out so much exactly because the rest does not. Sleeve, hand, helmet… but the rest is so exacting that even the pants they’ve added fit almost seamlessly onto Hewlett’s drawing.
teefury_punksthetic_mephias

Need a little push to get there? Have a look at this, then. Nice fit, eh?
teefury_punksthetic_mephias_2

So what about the artists? Maybe they’re really, really good at eyeballing a pic and re-creating it with startling precision. Right? It could happen… right? Not here. No way. Looking at their profiles, there’s no such skill on display. I mean, yes, Mephias has that one*  Twin Peaks/Alice Cooper mashup that’s very nice, which leads me to believe that Mephias was the brawn behind this caper, leaving Punksthetic as the brains (i.e. – “Hey, Meephs, I got this brilly idea but I can’t pull it off. Splitsies?”)
UPDATE: After seeing some more of their respective works, I’m not so sure on the brains/brawn split. Or who exactly the initial tracer was.

PUNKSTHETIC’S TEEFURY OFFERINGS
punksthetic_1
punksthetic_2

MEPHIAS’S TEEFURY OFFERINGS
mephias

I’m not here to slam these two like I have some others previously. But I also don’t think they get a pass. Copying someone else’s lineart and passing it off as your own is plagiarism, especially when done for money. And lest we lose sight of the fact, that’s exactly what’s happening here:
teeefury_1


 

*- Which is polished to a much higher degree compared to other works, but we’re not here to judge… well, OK, yes we are.

The plagiarism! It burns!

UPDATE: See bottom of post for an update from Loyalty Digital.

This one will be short and sweet. And right now no one’s admitting culpability.

Rapper Sadat X (also of group Brand Nubian, a brilliant name if there ever was one) has a new single out on, as far as I can tell, the Digital Loyalty label/imprint.

The only problem is that the cover is straight up ripped off from artist Jay Roeder without his permission.

Sadatx-jayRoeder

Now… who’s to blame? Sadat X says it isn’t him:
Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 10.30.40 PM

Loyalty Digital hasn’t said a word yet. But it leads me to wonder… what about this this Andree the Giant art? Legit?

Update: Loyalty Digital responds saying they’ll make it right.
Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 11.07.53 PM

Creating: You’re doing it wrong, Shia

Shia LaBeouf may or may not be smart. He may or may not be a good actor. But he is a thief. And like that kid in school who would do anything to get out of being caught in a lie, his defense, once caught, is to start digging a great big “I meant to do that” hole.

And it keeps getting deeper and more full of shit.

LaBeouf is an art thief who simply appears incapable of having original ideas. So he steals ideas from those who can and calls it his own. And apparently he thinks that’s should be OK. At least for him. Honestly, it’s hard to tell exactly what he thinks when he’s way down in that hole.

Is he our first famous ‘digital kleptomaniac’?

Part of his problem is that he doesn’t seem to get the distinction between ‘transformative’ and ‘stolen’. He somehow conflates the two with things like iPods and… what? Player pianos? A Sony Walkman?  It’s blinkered thinking that’s meant to do one thing: Absolve Shia LaBeouf of thievery.

labeouf_2

His plagiarism is demonstrably true. I don’t need to make allegations. You can see the words and actions straight from the mouth of this intellectual con man.  Even some of his apologies were merely the words of others! But instead of making it right, he dissembles. I’m becoming convinced that he’s unable to consciously see and unwilling to unconsciously admit that he’s not some art genius and this is his primary downfall. And it’s eating him up inside. So he’s desperately trying to flip this shitburger into something edible and call it art.

So he goes on the ‘art offensive’. He’s not a thief, he’s transformative. We’re just too dumb/blinkered/beholden to the past/non-genius to see it. And so he has to keep digging that hole and filling it with more bullshit.

Read that Bleeding Cool conversation. It’s breath-takingly myopic and riddled with the words of others as his ammunition. But he makes no effort to internalize those and give them what the original authors intended: a human filter through whom ideas are steeped, distilled and transformed (FYI, Shia, transformation is not copying). He simply regurgitates the words rather than digesting them and pooping out a nugget of personal truth.

He’s an art robot. Hoo-fucking-ray.

labeouf_1
LaBeouf mocks Clowes, saying his next movie will also be plagiarized.

And now after what originally seemed like a sincere apology for his brazen theft of the Daniel Clowes story “Justin M. Damiano“, when he simply said “I fucked up”, he has  chosen to turn the attention from the media for his thievery to his advantage. It’s become a big joke to him. A joke he wants us to believe is public art. (He had a skywriter skytype a strange apology to Clowes.) He’s attempting to turn the wrong done [by him] to Clowes into  Shia World: Everyone Look At Me. Even if that means screwing over Clowes’ — for whom he previously claimed to have respect. I mean he did like his work enough to rip it off — and his very real and very clear claims to infringement of his work and rights as a creator. LaBeouf, who has made millions from the work he has done as an actor, now fails to see the connection between ones efforts and ones livelihood. In Shia World, whatever Shia wants he takes from others. To ‘transform’ [no Transformers joke intended]. And they shouldn’t make a fuss about it. Because… Shia World!

“Appropriation has been the most influential theme in art sense [sic] the 70s.” – Shia LaBeouf to Bleeding Cool

If everyone, given this statement, who paid to see all those Transformers movies and Eagle Eye asked him to give their money back so they could just download it instead, perhaps he’d start to see the connection. Oh, right. No, because he believes that should be protected.

And, adding insult to injury, he’s gone on to blatantly mock Clowes for daring to have the audacity to assert his rights of authorship, to have the gall to insist that he should decide who profits from his work. For the love of Pete, potentially all LaBeouf had to do was ask permission and he didn’t even bother to do that. Instead he shows his ‘respect’ by mocking Clowes for doing work that he wouldn’t then just let LaBeouf appropriate for his own purposes.

“If you look at Warhol’s work and say ” oh well he didn’t paint that – its [sic] just silk screens 
Your [sic] missing the point.
Our notion of genius- a romantic – isolated figure – is fucking outdated” – Shia LaBeouf to Bleeding Cool (by way of Kenneth Goldsmith who originally said that last line) 

Spoken like a man who, deep-down, knows he has no original artistic talent beyond acting. But REALLY wants to be seen as a serious artist anyway. Just look at his comics (which, apart from middle school art, also steal from others [see link for outline]). Panned by nearly everyone who’s seen them (Marilyn Manson, supposedly a friend, called them “fucking terrible“), it seems that LaBeouf has it in his head that the doing (acting?) of art is what’s important. Not the… being talented or original at it. In other words, he wants to be Andy Warhol who, let’s be honest, was a plagiarist whose pop culture popularity got him off the hook, for the most part.

labeouf-picturebox
He can’t even refrain from lifting even mundane things like the About page on his website. (click to enlarge)

Shia LaBeouf’s idea of appropriation is ‘summary’. He wants to take the things he found interesting and profound (in his “Whoa, man, that’s like deep” sort of way) and stick them into things with his name on them saying A) he did that and B) he’s doing you a favor. And also please buy his thing.  Also, Shia, seriously? Anyone who’s been in Hollywood for 5 seconds knows that that short film was less about ‘art’ than it was about getting you that sweet studio director’s seat and a big budget.

Recently LaBeouf claimed on his @thecampaignbook Twitter feed that due to “attacks against my artistic integrity” (laugh here if you feel the need) he will be “retiring from all public life.” … Followed by several more tweets including a link to a site which contains the full text of Luke Turner’s Metamodernist Manifesto except it now says “by Shia LaBeouf”. Even if Turner is complicit in this, it’s worth noting that it’s still someone else’s stream, Shia is just a pebble tumbling in it.

And finally as to LaBeouf’s followup skytype which read “#stopcreating”. Yes, Shia. If the result of your creating will always be  theft, then by all means stop ‘creating’. You’re doing it wrong.

On the off-chance you actually read this, I have the worst kind of advice for you: The unsolicited kind. Go do something real. Go do something all your own. If you want real credibility, you need… credibility. You can’t just walk in and say “I’m the new [disruptive artist]!” and expect to be taken at face value just because people know your name. They need to know something about your art… other than you stole it from someone else.