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We Heart Tuesday Bassen: Here's What Happens When An Independent Artist Takes On a Big Retailer

Illustrator, Tuesday Bassen has been a Society6 member and artist for years, so when we caught wind of the news today about what happened with major retailer, Zara, we wanted to ask her about it. For those who don't know, Tuesday shared her story on Instagram and it quickly took off, getting picked up by Buzzfeed, Refinery29, Huffington Post, Jezebel and more, essentially breaking the internet. Here's an excerpt of what she wrote:

"Over the past year, @zara has been copying my artwork (thanks to all that have tipped me off - it's been a lot of you). I had my lawyer contact Zara and they literally said I have no base because I'm an indie artist and they're a major corporation and that not enough people even know about me for it to matter."

You can check out the full post here

We Heart Tuesday Bassen: Here's What Happens When An Independent Artist Takes On a Big Retailer

This issue seems to have hit a nerve with the creative community, as so many artists have come out to support Tuesday. I asked her a few questions about how it affected her: 

NA: When did you first find out about it? 

TB: I first noticed the copies from Zara in early 2016, when hundreds of fans reached out to me privately to ask if I was working with them or if they were plagiarizing my work. Since then, Zara has copied 4 of my designs and their lawyers claim that my work is both "too simple" to defend and that I have no base because I am a small artist with 90k followers on Instagram, but they are a major corporation with 90 million customers and only "a handful of people" would notice that the designs are mine. I plan to pursue this further, even though they are trying to belittle and bully me.

NA: As an independent artist, can you protect your work from being copied? 

TB: First of all, protecting your IP can be costly and having a lawyer on retainer is prohibitive for most artists. Though some of my art is protected, it's done little to help me. 

NA: How has this affected you as an artist? 

TB: It has an awful impact on the livelihood of an artist - this is how I support myself, and they are diluting my brand by literally stealing from me. I hope that one outcome is that I can raise awareness for how often this happens and how few artists can actually afford to pursue it. I would also like to be compensated for my work. 

Looks like the groundswell of support for Tuesday has really made an impact. In an updated Refinery29 article, the retailer responded with a statement saying "it suspended sales of the items in question after Bassen's legal representation contacted the company." You can read the full article here

We'll keep ya posted as this progresses, but in the meantime, check out Tuesday's badass work here. And feel free to share your thoughts and comments with us below! 

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Comments

Bec Vandyk commented on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 4:02pm
I have often wondered how easy it would be to copy/paste Society6 uploads. They're such large files - like when I upload a high res file for a tshirt, it is 8-10MB. Easy pickings for someone wanting to use someone else's designs... how does Society6 offer 'protection' from digital theft? obviously I cant upload a design with a watermark, because that affects the final print... how else can it be protected?
Minette Wasserman commented on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 4:12pm
Hey Bec
The file you upload is big because Society6 needs to print it, but the images they use on the site itself are much smaller (about 600px x 600px) people could copy paste these, but their copies will be pixelated and not look great. Hope this helps :)
Conundrum Arts commented on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 4:18pm
This is really sad and I hope Tuesday Bassen receives some kind of compensation for such a blatant rip-off.
Aimee Cozza commented on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 9:20pm
Bec, just like Minette said, the images on the site are much smaller and of regular screen resolution (72 dpi) rather than the higher resolution ones you upload.

EVEN STILL -- I have had my more popular designs stolen from Society6 and uploaded to "tote bag" print websites. I'm sure the quality of print is not great given when they've just copied from S6, but it didn't keep me from sending out cease and desist letters.

Good on Tuesday for using social media to make it known that this was happening. She did the right thing by approaching it quietly and with a lawyer basically amounting a cease and desist, and when she was denied an obvious claim over her own copyright on the basis of "you are small, we are big. We have money and you have nothing" she appealed to the masses -- us other artists who were/are outraged over ANYONE doing this. Work it, Tuesday! The more racket you make the more apt anyone is to do anything about it. I'm glad Zara is getting inundated with tweets, messages, and more about this. If they had just simply ceased and desisted, or offered compensation for what are clear copies of Tuesday's designs, guess what? This "attention grab" that someone in the comments on Facebook seems to think is happening wouldn't have. This sure got my attention.
smuug commented on Thursday, July 21, 2016 4:19am
This really hit home for me, being an artist myself. I hate that big companies think they can steal from us and get away from it. I mean it would be better if they SUPPORTED small artist and helped us further the cause.
Debi Dalio commented on Thursday, July 21, 2016 5:21am
I feel really sorry for Tuesday since a major corporation stole from her as opposed to the usual low-quality print knock-off thieves. This definitely requires lawyer intervention.

Artwork is being stolen all the time from PoD sites like Society6, Redbubble, Zazzle, and others. I used to have a shop on Society6, but deleted it because the image files presented to customers are much too large and Society6 provides no watermarking capability.

I belong to a group on Facebook - Who Stole My Images? (https://www.facebook.com/groups/442213309304038/) - whose members are fighting a constant battle against image thieves, trying to raise awareness in the public, and trying to get lawmakers involved in solving the problem. Without fines, criminal penalties, or some other pain to the thieves, this problem will continue. Please join us and fight with us.
Danielle Arnold commented on Thursday, July 21, 2016 6:27am
Disgusting behaviour. Why can't people respect other's work? They could have worked with her, and collaborated on designs!
Angelo Cerantola commented on Friday, July 22, 2016 1:11pm
I'd like to know what S6 is doing to protect his own artists from getting ripped off... me and fellow artists have noticed and reported many times stolen copyrighted pictures being featured on the Front Page day in day out. Yes, S6 Front Page!! And nothing was done about it, the replies we received were standard automated replies... no help at all from the S6 staff. So it's ironic that now you're even dedicating a little blog article to this "problem".
TheLuxuryBoudoir commented on Sunday, July 24, 2016 2:46am
I'm pretty lucky with my designs. They are nearly all collages, or from my own photos and manipulated, and mostly they're very complex. I keep all the bits of paper I use, and all the different layers in Ps, and everything is dated, so it would be tricky for someone to rip my stuff off, I'm happy to say. However, I think copying and downright stealing ideas is abominable and there should be an easier/cheaper way for us to protect them. Even on Facebook, I created a header image for my own personal account and a friend copied & saved it. I had to ask her (nicely) to remove it (which she did). But copying is too easy generally.
TheLuxuryBoudoir commented on Sunday, July 24, 2016 3:06am
Could Society6 add a bit of code that stops people being able to 'right click'? I know this can be done because I have that another of my websites. It doesn't stop 'screen capture' but it would be an annoyance to possible IP thieves :)
WRDBNR commented on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 2:37am
Having been stolen from tens of times, my heart goes to the Artist (s). The absolute worst part of it - if you don't take the act of stealing into account - is the hopelessness you feel when battling an industry giant like Inditex. I really hope that this incident will start a new wave of consciousness among Zara's clients, and that in turn will mark the end of artwork being taken away from their original Creators.
GingerUrchin commented on Thursday, July 28, 2016 2:26pm
but it's not a matter of how many people would notice the duplication. it's a matter of taking a design from the creator and using it on products without a request to do so, or compensation for doing so - which they would do for any inhouse designer.

how do they not get the distinction? i am really puzzled by their attitude... clearly they have no scruples in this matter, which makes me wonder about their other production ethics.

greed. plain and simple. greed

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