Last week, I told you about Atlanta based artist Tori LaConsay, and her discovery that giant retailer H&M was using her artwork on housewares without permission or credit. When confronted, H&M denied the allegations, then agreed to being “inspired,” and eventually posted a half-hearted non-apology on their Facebook page.
The story went viral, and H&M was overwhelmed with emails and negative comments from readers and customers. The pressure was so great, H&M publicly announced they were working with Tori to find a resolution, and invited her to a discussion. As a condition, Tori was prohibited from sharing details in social media.
Given the unrepentant attitude displayed by H&M, Tori has decided to speak openly about this situation, and has provided the following update.
On December 14, 2008, I painted outdoor art on a sign on the main thoroughfare in my Atlanta neighborhood. The sign was painted with permission, and the work itself was copyrighted.
The sign stayed up for over a year. It was featured on many blogs and Flickr photostreams.
Recently, H&M began to sell housewares in the UK featuring an almost carbon-copy of this sign. They did not obtain permission, nor did they credit me.
With the public support of friends, neighbors and Regretsy.com, new allies and consumers contacted H&M to request that the company “do the right thing” by addressing the issue honestly and fairly.
H&M issued statements via Facebook, Twitter and email, first declaring that there was no infringement and thus no issue. As public support increased, H&M eventually admitted that they were “inspired” by the work.
Within a day, the story had spread to outlets including Adweek, BBC, Village Voice, New York Observer, Consumerist.com and hundreds of others. Only when the story gained media momentum and a wealth of public support did an H&M media relations representative reach out to me.
I would like to state that my objective has never been financial gain. My goal was to be credited, and to see H&M apologize for the theft. I believed that this would make it harder for them to steal again, and would set an important precedent for other creative people.
It seemed like this was going to resolve quickly, as H&M were initially willing to offer an apology. But as discussions continued, H&M began to revise their position. They suggested that an apology would only be made as a sort of “favor” to me. Things did not improve from there.
They then implied that because the items were not being sold in the U.S., they had no responsibility to own up to the theft, manufacture, and sale of designs that they didn’t license.
Instead, they proposed a licensing agreement that would only take effect after they had sold all the products they had already made without permission. They even gave me a “suggested” media statement, wherein I would publicly claim the agreement was amicable, and that I was “very happy” about it. Obviously, I was not.
I take all of this as a clear signal from H&M they are comfortable with taking work from foreign designers, and selling it outside of that designer’s country of origin because litigation can be too expensive and time-consuming.
- Tori LaConsay
Because Tori is such a money-grubbing opportunist, she is currently helping an animal rescue raise money for Fred, who is in need of surgery.
Regretsy readers donating $15 or more who leave the words, “You Look Nice Today,” along with their name and address will receive a signed poster with a lot of love.
Animal Rescue Assistance Chip-In for Fred
UPDATE 8:40 PM PST: Fred’s surgery is funded! Thanks, assholes!
Now take a look at this:
Click here to buy your own doormat by Tori LaConsay!
Proceeds benefit East Atlanta Kids Club, East Atlanta Community Association and Atlanta Beagle Rescue.
- H&M on Facebook
- H&M on Twitter
- H&M Customer Service