H&M's copy of roadsign artist sparks internet fury
Hell hath no fury like a crafter copied, and this week has seen the collective rage of the creative community go head to head with clothing giant H&M, which has been accused of plagiarising an original design by an independent artist based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Shown above, the message of goodwill painted on a disused sign by Tori LaConsay is believed to have been copied by H&M designers working on the brand's nascent homeware range: the strikingly similar design appears on tea towels and on the door mat shown below. Regretsy and other craft sites
have all got behind the cause, while images of the original and copy
have been splashed all over the internet.
While some have tried to argue that such a simple design is mostly made up of a popular phrase and so cannot be 'copied', this is not true in legal terms: typography and composition are all considered crucial elements of a design that can be copyrighted, so are technically the property of their creator: think about the font used by the London Underground or the original 'smiley' logo: all these are copyrighted under the same rules.
La Consay said, in an email to Regretsy seeking support for her cause: "On December 14, 2008, I painted a love letter to my neighborhood. The sign was located on the main thoroughfare on Flat Shoals Avenue.
On one side of the sign, I painted, "You Look Nice Today" followed by a little heart. This was on the side of the sign that I thought people would see on their way to work. [...] It was a small gesture that I genuinely hoped would make my neighbors feel good."
The message was duly passed on to H&M, who replied with a curt response, simply stating that no copyright had been infringed. They later published an apology on Facebook addressed to anyone who thinks 'that [they] copied'. Put under further pressure by supporters of LaConsay, they again used their Facebook page to say that they intend to start a 'dialogue' with LaConsay to rectify the situation. It remains to be seen what compensation or recognition she will be offered.