Services like Etsy give creative types the chance to go into business for themselves, selling their wares to a global internet audience. However, putting your work out there for all to see can have its downsides — for one, finding yourself being taken advantage of by bigger companies.
Costume seller Spirit Halloween are the latest retail outlet to fall foul of the internet after copying someone else’s creation. A comparison photograph posted to Reddit last night seems to illustrate quite clearly that a new panda dress offered by the store is a shameless rip-off of a design previously sold by an independent seller on Etsy.
Within hours, the post accumulated more than 2000 comments and countless more views and shares. This activity soon spread over to other social networks after several users noted just how strongly Spirit Halloween push their own online presence.
— The Mattatron (@Guerrillascribe) October 29, 2014
— jeffzwarren (@jeffzwarren) October 29, 2014
It will certainly be interesting to see how Spirit Halloween respond to these claims today — although other comments on the original post suggest that little will be done. A user called ‘KingVape’, who professes to have worked for the store’s parent company, had the following to say:
Spencer’s Gifts owns Spirit Halloween. I worked for them for three years in management. They steal and rip off of designs all the time, in clothing and all sorts of other areas.
You might be surprised that a retailer can dodge what seems like a flagrant case of design theft, but the legality of the situation is a more complex matter than you might think. Even the slightest change can be argued as being sufficiently different as to constitute a new product — but the wave of bad press that’s about to hit Spirit Halloween might change things. With the next couple of days being a peak time for last-minute costume buyers, this is a rather crucial time for the company.
This is far from the first time that this sort of situation has come up. Artists who use services like Etsy often can’t keep track of their designs as easily as bigger companies with more resources, and can struggle to force any action to be taken even when they do spot a copy. However, social media backlash can be very persuasive to major companies, and as such many disputes have been settled with a grassroots campaign of sharing stories via Twitter, Facebook and the like.
Last year saw skirmishes over the design of a poster for the American remake of Oldboy, where a contentious claim from a designer turned into a very public spat with the film’s director. However, you can find countless more examples being shared on Twitter — it’s clear that this is a real problem for any designer looking to work in the digital age.
— Block Club Chicago (@BlockClubCHI) May 28, 2014
PLEASE stop blogging/pinning clothes from Sheinside! The designs on there are stolen (like this T-shirt w/ my design) pic.twitter.com/BiIuqeiVoo
— Gemma Correll (@gemmacorrell) March 20, 2014
Anyone friends w/rotting out boys? We'd like to find out who's the thief behind this RO design. Stolen from a friend pic.twitter.com/GrBqaeDa4E
— Malik A (@thexessence) February 11, 2014
Would this stop you from shopping at Spirit Halloween? Have you seen any other egregious examples of designs being copied online? Drop us a line in the comments section below, or contact us via Twitter by following @SocialNewsDaily.