Saturday, October 30, 2021

Art Theft -- a case study in docu-series "LulaRich"

How -- and why -- do designers (or companies) steal artist-owned images they find online?? Can they make unauthorized commercial products from copyright protected works?

One case study of this common online art theft problem can be see in the 2021 Amazon original 4-episode docu-series "LulaRich"

Photos below are some screen grabs from the docu-series...

... interview subject Becca Peter, an online retailer (of washi tape) who started following LuLaRoe online retailers' stories circa 2016...

...At about 32 mins into Episode 3 "Blow Up" the docu-series crew interviews Iliana Estarellas, a designer formerly on staff at LulaRoe. She explains the pressure the company's designers were under. 

With demand ramping up, the underprepared company heads set unrealistic quotas for numbers of designs to be produced each day by their in-house designers. The daily quota was around 100 prints per day, per artist.

Estarellas describes how she coached fellow designers in ways to meet these quotas.

She was just "trying to show the other designers tips, to cheat the system like, "okay, you made this art. Take two things out of it. Recolor it differently. Completely new art piece."

At about 13  mins into Episode 4 ""Toe Up,"  the docu-series covers some of the lawsuits brought against LulaRoe regarding "defective leggings.. copyright infringement".. and "misappropriated.. artwork"

A slideshow follows with a number of side by side examples of images duplicated on to LulaRoe products...

The interview with Estarellas continues: "we were instructed from the beginning, if I'm going to take something, a piece of art from Google, wherever we sourced it from, you had to take a little piece from it and then change that little piece at least 20% in order to  not, you know, get sued or whatnot. But some designers didn't really abide by those rules, I guess."

Estarella continues a few minutes later: "... the demand was so, so insanely, unrealistically high that it forced some of our designers to rip off some other artists. Just to meet the number (daily quota)."

The entire docu-series is interesting. The portions about the artwork lawsuits are especially helpful for indie artists. Learning about precedent cases like this helps raise awareness for the value of the art that is put online by the original artists. 

Yes. You can sue big companies for infringement  -- if you have registered your copyrights.

More art theft posts here:

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