jeff-sheldon-Lj1S1_KD61k-unsplashIt's the rare occasion when someone seeks out or welcomes a court case, and for good reason. Our legal system is long and costly, and those seeking justice or remuneration can often leave disappointed. Even those pressing their cases through the civil courts have to feel some sort of reluctance given those facts. We'd like for the system to be better, fairer, less burdensome, to be sure, and there are those working to try to make it so, but for the time being it is what it is, which makes the case of courting a court case something worth examining.

That case in question just so happens to fall within our bailiwick of intellectual property law, and touches on other areas of interest like artists' rights to their work and artificial intelligence. In particular, artists and creators online were noticing that their work was ending up on t-shirts for sale on sites that specialize in customized apparel, without anything approaching permission or approval, to say nothing of compensation. It became the theory that bot accounts on Twitter and elsewhere were grabbing images from popular posts to then use on those apparel sites to create t-shirts for sale. It was a problem that had gone on for some time, long enough for the need to arise for heroes to step into the breach.

Enter two such individuals. According to Fortune, Twitter user @Hannahdouken sought to thwart the bots by posting an image highlighting the issue and asking followers to engage with it so that the bots would pick it up for use, which they did. A second user, @Nirbion, identified as Hans-Jürgen Eisenbeis, repeated the trick, only this time invoking a higher power: Disney. Beyond just highlighting the issue, Eisenbeis sought to catch the eye of the famously protective and litigious entertainment conglomerate by fashioning an unlicensed image of Mickey Mouse to pair with text similarly highlighting the rampant copyright theft and infringement perpetrated on those sites. And the moves seem to have had some effect: many of the sited had to remove that shirt as well as others similarly invoking large, protective brands, and the coverage should at least draw some attention to the sites and their inattention to copyright concerns.

It's not a surprise to see copyright disregarded on the internet, particularly within its more permissive sectors, and there's usually little that creators can do to fight against it. That's why, as unorthodox as it is, it's heartening to see people get creative with a solution to stolen creativity.