Congratulations Facebook Fan Page Canadian Pride, you are the latest recipient of my Social Media Jackass Award. Canadian Pride follows in the footsteps of other online notables Harpersgotago, and “teflon Jim” Stewart. Both of those jackasses were caught repurposing others’ cartoon work as their own, a practice, which unfortunately happens to a great many artists who put their art online. Canadian Pride went a step further by attempting to make money, without authorization, using my cartoon work for a design they were marketing on Facebook for purchase on a custom t-shirt company called Tee Chip Pro. A casual glance through Canadian Pride’s Reviews (boasting a 1.5 out of 5 star rating) with comments mocking the products they shill, to accusations of racism, to charges of other instances of design theft. The thought crossed my mind that Canadian Pride might have some connection to the alt-right Proud Boys group given its themes of protest against the left. However, there’s no way of telling who’s behind Canadian Pride, as the page is shrouded in anonymity, without lurking into the movement and details of Facebook likers of the page – Feel free to do your own investigation. Anyway, it is rather ironic that a group calling itself Canadian Pride uses an American company to sell its stolen work.
Nowadays, thankfully, enforcement is being levied against the pirates of intellectual property in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a U.S. copyright law that’s been around since 1996, but whose teeth seem to be getting sharper as time marches on and its might successfully fends off challengers. Social Media companies and reputable user submitted online marketplace companies are now marching in lockstep to avoid DMCA violations. Compared a laissez-faire snails pace approach from a few years ago, Internet companies act with little hesitation from beefed up legal departments, to claims of trademark and copyright infringement.
In my experience of filing two reports of misuse regarding this incident to Facebook and TeeChip.com, the powerful social media giant took less than an hour to remove the content, and the shirt company took longer than half a day.
Canadian Pride is now using the online store Moteefe with a new Elect a clown design, which is probably someone else’s design being used without permission. Could it be yours? The best advice is to keep one’s eyes peeled – this mysterious group hops around from one online marketplace to another, ripping of artist’s work, and repurposing stuff for their own financial gain. Sadly, they are not alone.