Tony Isabella Calls For TeeSpring Boycott Over Uncompensated Godzilla Artwork
Comic book creator Tony Isabella recently purchased a Godzilla sweatshirt from TeeSpring, only to learn that it apparently featured artwork by Todd Tennant without permission or compensation.
Earlier this week, Isabella was pleased with a Godzilla-themed holiday sweatshirt he purchased from an online tee store, TeeSpring. He wrote, "THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY: Getting a jump on Christmas with my Limited Edition Hanes Crewneck Godzilla Sweatshirt from Teespring. Kaiju Claus is coming to town! 9-30-17."
But soon after, in the comments of his Facebook post, comic book artist Matt Frank informed Isabella that the Godzilla on the sweatshirt appeared to be artwork by artist Todd Tennant, which is posted online at Tennant's website, American Kaiju. Tennant soon arrived to confirm and post his original drawing:
Isabella replied that he would stop buying from the company if they didn't compensate Tennant for the artwork, and offered to send Tennant a check himself for the cost of the shirt. Tennant said that TeeSpring didn't offer to pay him or ask his permission to use the artwork.
In a follow-up post, Isabella announced that he still hadn't heard back from TeeSpring after reporting the issue to them, and urged a boycott of the company until action is taken. "I have emailed TeeSpring insisting they compensate Todd Tennant for his art, which they pirated for the Godzilla sweatshirt I showed the other day," Isabella posted. "I told them I would buy no further TeeSpring product until they made this right…and that I would ask my online fans, friends and followers to do the same."
Isabella said he would update fans if TeeSpring responded within the 24-hour period their automated response promised.
TeeSpring, like many T-shirt flash sites, has an extensive section in their terms of services, pictured in the screenshots above and below, laying out a laissez-faire approach to dealing with intellectual property rights infringements, both pushing responsibility for verifying rights onto sellers and providing an intellectual property complaint form which the terms specify can only be used by the person or company that legally holds the rights to the property, or their legally appointed representative.
The policy would seem to exclude Isabella from being able to file the complaint, and making things even murkier, it's unclear whether it's Tennant who created the artwork, or the holders of the Godzilla merchandizing rights, or both, who would actually be eligible to file a complaint. Unfortunately, the rigorousness of the claim process combined with the limited-time nature of many of the sales could make it impractical to enforce a claim before the sale is over.
UPDATE: After writing the above article, but before publication, Isabella posted an update this morning to say that TeeSpring responded to his complaint, which read:
Thank you for reporting a potential copyright violation to us. Please note that Teespring is a platform which is utilized by third party sellers who design and promote these campaigns on the platform. The campaign that you reported to us belongs to a third party creator. We do, however, take copyright violation on our platform very seriously.
Please use the "Report this Campaign" button that is shown on every campaign page to flag this campaign to our dedicated department. This button allows you to report a campaign that violates any of our policies. These flags will then be reviewed and appropriate action will be taken. Thanks for your vigilance.
Isabella said that he will not be able to follow up for a few days.