Art theft is rampant on the internet. 9 times out of 10, if you see a shirt with a cool design on it, it’s probably stolen artwork. Unless there’s an artist specifically linking to the site, they’re probably not seeing a single cent. It really sucks, but at the end of the day, there really isn’t much that can be done to stop it. Or at least… that’s what the thieves thought.
You see, the way they go about stealing art is kind of genius. They have a bot that searches Twitter for any retweets or replies that say something along the lines of “I want that on a shirt,” and they take the art from the original post and put it on a shirt.
This seemed like a great idea, until some twitter users caught wind, and realized they could do their part to catch these criminals.
Yeah… Turns out that the bots will just put literally anything on shirts. Eventually, the idea slightly changed, and people realized they could use this to completely stop the art theft cold turkey. See, if you didn’t know, there’s a couple of companies out there, who really really don’t like their intellectual property being used by other people. In fact one of them has a law named after one of their characters. It’s called the “Mickey Mouse law.” Disney is extremely quick to jump on the lawsuit train when they find out their stuff is being put out without their permission. Nintendo also famously does very similar things, most recently taking down every single YouTube channel who features any music from their games in the videos.
So people decided to take official Nintendo and Disney images, flood the replies with “I want to see this on a shirt,” and waited.
These images, and ones with Baby Yoda, Yoshi, and tons of other heavily copyrighted characters have been cropping up either on their own, which is already horrible, or with messages like “Hey Disney, we stole this art from you in order to sell these shirts and make profit. Please send a lawsuit our way.” Normally these big companies tend to be absolutely killer for small artists, but it looks like the inevitable lawsuits this will cause, is going to have a butterfly effect which winds up totally benefiting small artists more than anyone else. Sometimes Twitter can be used for good. This is one of those times.