Why are Robots Designing Stolen Custom Apparel?
DECATUR, AL: We live in the most advanced technological age to date. Ever since we had atomic energy and an understanding of wireless signals, our society has exploded into an ever-flowing fountain of new ideas. This rapid exchange of information is why we call it the Information Age. However, with all great things, questions arrive where we don’t expect them to and we have to handle the most uncanny conflicts that we have not dealt with before. So we try to define the rules as we go along trying to catch up to the sudden growth of technology. But what does technology have to do with a custom apparel shop in Decatur, AL?
Well, it has to do with copyright, authentic design, and computer programs picking up the work of automatically slapping a design on a t-shirt.
Robots Creating Custom Apparel Without Permission
Copyright has always been a sticky situation. Sometimes you have large companies that go way too far for the level of protection of their brand. So far in fact that they will refuse to let a father bury his son in a casket with a trademarked superhero. Other times that protection is all a small artist has to make enough sales in their custom apparel so they can make rent next month. It is a battle of trademarks and brand identity that is a tale as old as time. So when bootleg merchandising sites threatens the livelihood of smaller artists, there is a perceived threat for both companies.
Small creators have to scramble to take their designs off the custom apparel sites that appear without permission and it is a nightmare for something that appears almost as soon as something gets posted at all.
This got a creator on Twitter, Rob Schamberger thinking around a month ago after the Baby Yoda phenomenon got picked up immediately from these same sites. “What if a person is not behind these bootleg shirt companies? What if a robot was picking it up?”
He warned people to directly talk to the artist about ordering custom apparel directly instead of proclaiming that you want it on the internet for the bots to pick up on it and take the work.
“I Am an Art Thief and Want this On a Shirt,”
The idea then further spread as a meme. By that logic, these robots would pick up anything that people would proclaim that they wanted on a t-shirt. So, a few of these people jokingly tested it out. Sure enough, it worked. Various messages and designs littered with getting these robots, who have little oversight in what they were picking up, were confessing to the theft in the attempt of a sales pitch.
Programs, especially ones that are not sophisticated enough to filter what is or isn’t acceptable to put on a shirt, aren’t discerning. Not like another person, so their mere existence made design theft a high possibility.
The minute users and other artists confirmed it with multiple people, someone else got to thinking about the implications and the lack of legal power regarding small business artists. It would be impossible for these artists to take down these custom apparel companies that take what doesn’t belong to them. They can’t afford a team of lawyers to deal with this sort of thing.
But there is one mega-corporation, a media empire that had all those resources. And they came with mouse ears.
Copyright Infringement in the name of Copyright Protection
Designers, artists, and other people who have suffered this problem for ages used Mickey, Pikachu, and any other mascot large corporations jealously guarded. They weaponized the copyright of large corporations to target the very bots that had been targeting them.
They did this hoping to direct the attention of these sites to the legal teams of Disney and Nintendo by doing this en masse. Disney makes the most of its money from merchandising alone. They even have a contract that states that they can sell Spiderman toys, but can’t make Spiderman movies outside of the MCU, (Sony has the film rights). So, it would be impossible for these legal teams to not take notice, especially with the sheer volume of these artists fighting these bot sites. Even if there is a word on it or not.
However, this story goes to show why we still need traditional custom apparel shops. Human oversight can not only provide high-quality custom apparel in places like Decatur, AL, but they can discern what they can or cannot make for legal or ethical reasons. If you are looking for a company that can provide both of these things, then go to www.entrustedtees.com.