Spend any amount of time on Twitter around artists’ accounts and you’ll see a very strange pattern emerge. Anytime people see something they like, you can usually find someone saying “I want this on a shirt!” Well, a group of clever artists has found a way to use that very normal-sounding phrase to fight back against sites that steal content. There are a slew of places online that use the power of bot accounts to find and steal artwork on social media. Twitter posts of art that people really enjoy end up being easy pickings for thieves of all stripes, but some of these companies didn’t even have to attach their names to a large-scale operation like this. By setting up a Twitter search and some other “clever” commands, bots deliver these images right to the companies that have no problem taking art without compensating the people responsible for it.
Naturally, as people do on the Internet, the artists found a way to wield the power against would-be thieves. Copyright infringement is a big-time deal these days with companies handing out cease and desist letters like Halloween candy. So, of course, artists started making weird fan art of major corporate logos and mascots and tagging it with “I want this on a shirt!” which inevitably gets it scooped up through aggregation. Now, people know exactly where these designs are flowing and can avoid those services.
Twitter artists tricking art thieft bots into creating stolen art t-shirts of highly copyrighted images to get them banned. (2019, colorized) pic.twitter.com/RPAlQSikMG— Shakaria is rebranding (@wildchargeart) December 5, 2019
If that wasn’t ingenious enough, some of the messages on the designs are outright crude or mocking in tone as well. So, the people responsible will get their comeuppance from giant outfits like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Disney. But, not before having to focus on why and artist decided to shade Mickey Mouse’s butt in that distinct clarity. It’s all very amusing, but also highlights a problem that many had no idea how to combat until this very moment.
It remains to be seen if any of those big companies will step in to regulate how their logos and likenesses are being used. But, it can’t be a good look for such big entities to be associated with sites who are openly stealing from freelance artists. In 2019, sometimes the world needs modern solutions for age-old problems. These artists just served up a vicious dunk for people who would take advantage of them and their work.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.