Most Bizarre Copyright Infringement Ever

September 5th, 2009 | Posted in General

An alert e-mailer sent me this link to an online seller offering this “collector stamp sheet” from the Democratic Republic of Congo:

congo-xfiles

… which is¬¨‚Ć a rip off of this VERY old park sample of Scully and Mulder from “The X-Files” that I had on my original website back in 1996:

xfiles

Actually I’ve known about these Congo stamps for years. They surfaced around 2000 or so and featured about half a dozen of my caricature samples, apparently taken from my website, as well as caricatures by a number of other artists. There was a small country in Russia that did the same thing. Apparently there is nothing that can be legally done about it, and these same countries issued photo stamps featuring Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and other celebrities who’s estates are famous for litigating infringement of their rights of publicity. Interesting to think there might have been letters mailed in the Congo with some caricature of mine as a stamp.

You might think that was the most bizarre case of copyright infringement of my work I’ve ever seen… but you’d be wrong.

Back in the summer of 1999 I was eating breakfast one morning before I went into the theme park for another day of drawing live caricatures when I got a call from my father-in-law. He told me to open the morning paper and look at the local variety section. I grabbed our copy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and paged through the section in question and was dumbfounded as to what I saw.

Earlier that year our new governor had been sworn in- Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and the press was having a field day with it. Every chance they got to do some piece of weirdness involving Ventura they jumped all over it. In this issue they did a story about Jesse’s intense popularity with the younger generation of voters, and there was a huge picture of someone’s shoulder sporting a Jesse Ventura tattoo that was an exact copy of this park sample of mine:

jesse

Yes, that’s right… a real tattoo. Someone had bought a copy of this drawing at Valleyfair (samples occasionally sell off the wall and I have to redraw them later), brought it to a tattoo artist and had them permanently ink it on their shoulder. No mention of that in the story of course.

The most bizarre part was that since this drawing is cropped off on the bottom, the tattoo artist improvised by adding feet to Jesse, and gave him huge, Bozo clown feet. I mean giant bubble feet. It looked ridiculous… I mean even more ridiculous than having a caricature of Jesse Ventura tattooed on your shoulder in the first place.

That one is the all time champ of weirdness featuring copyright infringement of my work.

I am so proud.

Comments

  1. I think I might have funded that Congo stamp project! Got an email from some guy in Nigeria begging for money. Been wondering what he did with it.

  2. Fiona says:

    Hahaha Eddie ! It confirms my belief that the “system” is stacked against those who produce, and for those who thieve, and I include the lawyers under the latter category. So what to do ? Come up with creative ways to get back at them…steal something coyrighted to the Congolese govt and retail it as your own. Oh. I forgot. They have nothing. Produce nothing original. Can only sponge off people like us, who work for years to hone our skills. And people wonder why we become cynical ?! As a citizen of this screwed-up continent, I can only apologize Tom.

  3. So he got “Jack Davis” feet. =)

  4. Robert G. says:

    Can’t you sue to recover that shoulder, Tom?

  5. DD says:

    Does this mean that my plan to sell Dreaded Deadline Demon disposable douches is foiled?

  6. Bryan Senka says:

    The tattoo doesn’t pass the smell test ethically, but I wonder if he might be in the right legally. He put the image on his own body (personal, not commercial use), couldn’t that arguably fall under fair use?

    What’s got me wonder about this is the guys in Kiss are relentless in defending their trademarks from counterfeiters, etc. But they welcome the “homage” tattoos openly.

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