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A sad but common occurrence online is when an artist has their artwork stolen, reshared without proper credit, and in some cases – even sold illegally on merchandise without their permission. This is usually done by content-scraping bots, only this week artists have finally discovered a loophole to maybe get those bots and scam stores shut down.
Bots look for content and automatically post it to online stores regardless of the ownership of the artwork or designs. From there, the stores will sell anything from shirts, bags, blankets, and more with the attached image. Twitter users started sharing designs with the phrase “I want this on a shirt!”, a keyword phrase bots look for to grab content from and resell.
The artists asked their followers to do the same thing, and the theory was quickly confirmed – bots will scrape designs regardless of the legality so long as you post the proper keywords. From there they just started having fun, trying to get large multinational corporations like Disney and Nintendo to sic their lawyers on the bots – by posting artwork of their copyrighted content.
While big companies like Disney and Nintendo haven’t publicly responded yet – you can bet if the current flood of copyrighted material keeps increasing on these scam retailers, they’ll probably do something about it simply to protect their intellectual property.
Editor’s Note: Featured artwork is from local Philadelphia artist Keni Thomas