Do the little Boston terriers on these pajamas and socks from department store Kohl’s look familiar? They should: you may have seen them on your Facebook feed, posted as a public service announcement by a dog-loving friend. Or maybe you’ve seen a strikingly similar dog the last time you shopped at Kohl’s, on some super cute pajamas and socks. Here’s the thing: the artist didn’t authorize that use of her drawings.
The drawings on the clothing items come from an educational graphic explaining dog body language (yes, there’s also one for cats) that is available to download for free… under a non-commercial Creative Commons license. You can’t use it to make money (say, printing it on some socks to sell) or make derivative works from it (say, printing it on some socks to sell).
Here’s that dog body language poster:
In her complaint, filed in federal court, Chin helpfully rotated her drawings from the poster and matched them with their counterparts on the clothing items. The socks came from K.B. Socks, a Kohl’s supplier.
Chin says in her complaint that she’s known about the items since April 2016, and that she contacted Kohl’s about the items repeatedly with no response. Her fans even assumed that she had licensed the poster for use. Nope, she says, and finally turned to the media to make her case.
We learned about the derivative doggies from Jezebel.
“Independent artists like Ms. Chin rely on licensing revenues from their artwork,” her attorney notes in the initial complaint [PDF]. “The ability of artists to license and control the commercial use of their artwork is critical for their
careers and livelihoods, and is a key right bestowed on artists under the Copyright Act.”