September 24, 2013

Sister Raye

Shame on Target

Author: Robynne Raye

Illustration by Michael Strassburger

Illustration by Michael Strassburger

Our copyright case was scheduled to go before a jury on Monday, September 23. Last Friday we had a 2:00 pm conference call with the judge to discuss why our case had not settled. As it turns out, 4 minutes before the court called, lawyers on both sides reached an "agreement in principle" on a settlement of $200,000 (profits and attorney fees), and we were willing to allow the defendants to make four payments.

When this deal was struck, Target was on the phone with their attorney and approved the arrangement. Unfortunately, our experience with the T-shirt designer, Jaya Apparel Group is that they have taken a very aggressive stance in trying to discredit our claim and pay nothing. To compound the issue, the hang up to that point was that Jaya claimed to have a cash flow problem, so Modern Dog was not willing to accept a mere promise of future payment.

Target's promise to guarantee payment was crucial to our accepting the deal: If Jaya missed a payment, Target would cover it. I remarked to our attorney that I was impressed with Target and that I was going to personally write their legal department and thank them when this was over.

After the case was removed from the trial calendar, the very next day (today), Target informs us that they will not guarantee the 4th payment.

Once again, the defendants are jerking us around. We believe that they have no intention to pay us the money we agreed on.

Absurdly, the defense attorney admitted to me that they have charged their clients far more than what this case is worth.

Now we can't decide who is the worst offender: Disney for not stepping up at all? Jaya for fighting us every inch of the way, and not admitting what is apparent to even a child? or Target for stepping up, then stepping back down?

It makes me feel bad that I have to keep writing about our woes with our copyright case. My next post was suppose to be celebratory, about the most awesome event I just attended in Tulsa, the annual "Art on the Hill," and all the great people I met there.

Is this thing ever gonna end?

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

{"http:\/\/\/content\/column.php?id=643":{"comments":{"data":[{"id":"1390346897863973_22271","from":{"id":"618434774","name":"Stefan G. Bucher"},"message":"Oh, for the love of... So this was basically just a tactic to get the case off the trial calendar? And as soon as you agreed they pulled a switcheroo? Just one more stall to increase your legal costs should you pursue further -- which you should --  or cut their penalty by 25\u0025? On an already very modest settlement. Just infuriating. \n\nThe book has a registered copyright, does it not? As such you are entitled to actual damages or statutory damages, right? They could lose so much money with a jury. I mean... BIG cash. And then they'd have a well-earned precedent on the books against them. \n\nThey could avoid all that by paying you what by their standards amounts to a pittance. But instead they're jerking you around? This just reflects so poorly on a brand they've spent so much care building. Target is a leader in so many ways. This is just hugely disappointing. I'll make sure to spread the word. Sigh. ","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T06:20:52+0000","like_count":27,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22562","from":{"id":"633681760","name":"Christopher Simmons"},"message":"Oh Robynne. This is yet another awful turn. So sorry. I'm not a lawyer and its not my money or life, but I think you should go the distance. Any jury worth their salt (and any person with eyes and common sense) will see that your work was copied. Hopefully you'll get some punitive damages as well and some media coverage of the trial to help shame these players into behaving themselves in the future. Dare to dream. All good thoughts and love and luck to you.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T11:10:41+0000","like_count":18,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22221","from":{"id":"703030909","name":"Misha Zadeh Graham"},"message":"Disgraceful. They should have been happy that you were willing to settle for such a modest amount. When\/if it goes to trial again, you should not be so nice. This is such an incredibly obvious copyright infringement. There is no gray area whatsoever. ","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T05:37:48+0000","like_count":10,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22274","from":{"id":"100000190837449","name":"Nickolas Nece Falk"},"message":"Never make a deal with a crook. Why in gods name would you settle out of court? Take it all the way and make them accountable for this. They are a bully.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T06:21:58+0000","like_count":10,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22764","from":{"id":"730536405","name":"Jeff Fisher"},"message":"It really is a shame that such iconic companies, that publicly pride themselves as innovative leaders in design and creativity - and as such community do-gooders - have such legal weasels working for them in the background on this issue of copyright infringement. It's not surprising, but still a shame. It is so blatantly obvious that, to anyone seeing the examples, that the T-shirt illustrations were \"appropriated\" from Modern Dog efforts. Again [as someone who has been ripped off over 200 times in the last two years alone], not surprising, but really disgusting. Hang in there as you (unnecessarily) continue to fight for what is right. And, as a friend's grandfather would have said about Target and Disney in such a situation: \"Sonsabitches!\"","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T13:40:28+0000","like_count":9,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22187","from":{"id":"1483641300","name":"Steven R. Gilmore"},"message":"As you said, a child can see that this was a blatant infringement of copyright, it is appalling that Jaya Apparel Group are trying to discredit you and shame on Disney and Target for not simply settling this and moving on.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T05:10:26+0000","like_count":8,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22958","from":{"id":"1066444586","name":"Jen Bilik"},"message":"So frustrating and demoralizing, Modern Dog. As you know, Knock Knock has had its own issues with copyright infringement, including with Target, though because Target uses outside companies to create the product that the inside buyers \"suggest\" they emulate, Target is never actually on the hook. We are reaching financial settlements with some of these infringers, but unfortunately confidentiality is an issue if you decide not to pursue an actual lawsuit, so it's hard to be as public as we'd like. It drives me crazy that Target, a company that purports to be on the creators' side, is so two-faced in this way. They even have inside buyers frustrated at other buyers because one buyer buys the knockoff that underprices and copies something another buyer is purchasing from the creator. \n\nAs you know, I've been writing about this a lot and attempting to publicize Modern Dog's case in this way: http:\/\/\/blog\/2013\/knock-knock-knockoffs\/, http:\/\/\/blog\/2012\/beyond-flattery-2\/, and http:\/\/\/?p=4364. I've tried to get national AIGA involved, contacting Ric Gref\u00e9 directly, but they have neglected to do anything about this issue so far as I know. AIGA Los Angeles held a panel partially on the subject, but it doesn't seem like very many design publications are covering this important matter, nor pulling together their membership so we can have an organized and mass presence. \n\nWe recently spotted products that copied Knock Knock from a local peer company owned by somebody I know and thought had a decent relationship with. By his response, I could see that he knew exactly what they'd done. So even seemingly decent peers are in the game.\n\nIf only this could be a rallying cry for the lot of us to make a statement on this issue. Without IP protection, IP has little or no value. This should matter to all of us\u2014retailers, manufacturers, and designers alike.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T17:44:04+0000","like_count":7,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_23408","from":{"id":"1220416701","name":"Nancy Perrone Sherrill"},"message":"I have a seven year old and we shop at Target and often she \nIs drawn to the fancy rip off \"Dsigned\" clothes, and I kindly tell her I am sorry honey, we can't buy clothes at target because they steal art and ideas from artists like mommy and her friends....\"do you need socks or panties?\"","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-25T02:15:47+0000","like_count":7,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22795","from":{"id":"765172969","name":"Jeffrey K. Johnson"},"message":"So what does a good brand do after it does a crappy thing. That good brand could show greatness and accept responsibility. That sadly is not the case with a nearly closed suit of IP copyright infringement involving Target Corp and Disney against Modern Dog Design. MD, is one of, if not THE, most progressive and prolific American design companies in the past 25 years. And in full disclosure: MD co-founder Robynne Raye introduced me to my wife nearly 20 years ago. About a year ago, a very large group of my fellow designers donated to the legal defense fund for this case. This was most definitely not charity: this was and is a survival strategy. My company, along with many others, also have experienced IP theft from large corps with no easy path for redress. Modern Dog chose to fight the long, hard, and potentially bankrupting fight to defend their property from out and out theft. This truly is a clear cut case. The defendants have as much admitted that an infringement has taken place, a settlement had been reached, and then at the ninth hour, the defendants did the wrong thing - again. I have had both Target and Disney as clients. Target was in fact one of my first clients when I started my company. My experience with both has been stellar. So again, what does a good brand do after they have done bad things. They prove themselves GREAT by making it right. Im eagerly awaiting that sign of greatness. For the people who make things for a living - those things have value. And it is our only source of livelihood.\n","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T14:14:22+0000","like_count":5,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22906","from":{"id":"584962746","name":"Kathleen Gillette"},"message":"What a shame that the giant corporations Disney, and Target would blatantly steal images from a small company's PUBLISHED and COPYRIGHTED book, gain huge profits from sales of the articles upon which those images were placed, as well as benefit from use of those images advertising and promoting an upcoming movie... then rather than complying with Copyright laws, try to bully the artists from whom they stole. Disney, you are tarnishing your lovable image of being a \"happy place\" and a company that is built on down-home admirable values. How can you behave in this evil manner, and still claim to be good? You have caused actual harm. Fix it. This is very bad press for you, and those of us in the creative industry are here to make sure the facts of this case are made publicly known. Seriously Disney, have you forgotten that your own business was built on ownership of specific images? It's high time you do the right thing.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T16:39:19+0000","like_count":5,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22805","from":{"id":"1619135929","name":"Steve Hartman"},"message":"What a travesty for two major brands that have built their empires on creativity. Instead of beloved brands, Target and Disney are just becoming examples of corporate greed. Next time they profess to do things right, I will never forget this wrong. Its not too late for these corporate giants to do the right thing in support of the thousands of creatives they rely upon.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T14:28:29+0000","like_count":5,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22821","from":{"id":"63700801","name":"Steve Wilson"},"message":"We teach our children that bullying is wrong. Yet, we grow up to run multi-bazillion dollar companies and bully the \"little guy.\" All in hopes that they will back down under financial pressure. Shameful, childish practices.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T14:51:05+0000","like_count":5,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22944","from":{"id":"1542044451","name":"Tan Le"},"message":"this case really shows the worst side of corporate business. While I don't think it's in the corporate mission of either Target or Disney to step on a small business like Modern Dog \u2014 there are clearly people who work there whose mission is to intimidate, bully, and outlast any challenge or threat to their merchandise and business. Target and Disney need to better govern their suppliers and re-examine their poor business ethics, like Costco and other reputable retailers. This is a case and a moment where Target and Disney can step up and shine, but instead they are taking the road of shame.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T17:18:36+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22905","from":{"id":"1570047725","name":"Brian Pirman"},"message":"I wish the National (NY) AIGA Chapter would bring this to its members front and center.  In checking out the current home page for AIGA - I see nothing about this.  I really can't think of anything more important than a designer being able to maintain control over their work.  If this case went National using the AIGA as a conduit to informing its members - that might give \"design conscious\" corporations pause to run roughshod over other designers.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T16:39:12+0000","like_count":4,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22872","from":{"id":"7015386","name":"Andrew Thomson"},"message":"If Target wants to play the design game and portray themselves as a design driven brand then they need to respect it, and respect creativity. This is embarrassing for their brand to watch a group as significant as Modern Dog get beat into the ground.  Total respect to Modern Dog for fighting it- I don't know if I would have had the guts.\n","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T16:00:18+0000","like_count":4,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22199","from":{"id":"586419713","name":"Brenda Sanderson"},"message":"It is so frustrating to see these tactics in practice! Target *almost* redeemed themselves. With 3 brand new Target stores set to open in Montr\u00e9al, I'll think once, twice, three times even, about whether shopping there is worth the price of how business is done. Let's hope Montr\u00e9al, as a UNESCO City of Design, will also think about whether these tactics reflect the value of design we embrace.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T05:20:17+0000","like_count":4,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22893","from":{"id":"1487311617","name":"Meg Farrell"},"message":"Target will not get my business and neither will Disney.  Ridiculous and to screw around with a small business is beyond reproach.  200k split between 3 defendants and they can't do it? Shame on all of them.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T16:29:32+0000","like_count":4,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22945","from":{"id":"1602450912","name":"Victor Melendez"},"message":"These three corporations are wrong and they know it. They are using their size and big pockets to bully Modern Dog. It's just gross. ","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T17:20:46+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22939","from":{"id":"1196068075","name":"Anna McAllister"},"message":"Infuriating. I literally can't think of anything else to say. ","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T17:16:08+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_23415","from":{"id":"718786416","name":"Kee O L Miller"},"message":"Target has no honor, no integrity. I think their lawyers are bottom feeders. I suspect they have made well over 200,000 dollars already on this case just by dragging it out. \nIt is so evident that 1. the artwork is yours. It would have been less $ and effort to just reimburse you and apologize. ( but no, that would not EVER happen. ) and 2. They negotiated in bad faith last week to manipulate the situation such that the court date was cancelled. There are no words to express how ugly they are. How do they sleep at night?\nAre their parents and children proud of them?\nI'd be embarrassed to let my family know how I make a living if I behaved so poorly. \nNo honor among theives and cheats.","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-25T02:45:56+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_23339","from":{"id":"763354383","name":"Anne Telford"},"message":"This is such predictably disappointing news. The settlement was a pittance given what you gave up to bring this to trial. It's shameful that corporate America gets rich off the creative talents of small businesses. We need to get this story out beyond the design press so that people know how big corporations really operate. If everyone boycotted Disney and Target and sent slews of letters to them shaming their actions, maybe it would effect some change. I'm so sorry to hear this. Keep up the good fight!","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-25T01:33:39+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_23406","from":{"id":"1107263147","name":"Joey Ellis"},"message":"Absolutely shameful what Target, Disney, and Jaya are doing. I grew up watching Disney movies, and having them preach morality and fairness to me. It is shameful to see that same company turn into Goliath with a bigger purse. Since having my eyes opened to this, I have heard countless other stories of giant companies stealing from artists. Absolutely shameful to watch a monster grow and devour more and more. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. \"Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?\"","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-25T02:14:42+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_23071","from":{"id":"699077517","name":"Martin Bihl"},"message":"this is reprehensible on so many levels. for target, which positions itself as being the more stylish, upscale, and responsible alternative to walmart and for disney for whom creativity and the control of THEIR copyrighted creations is legendary. rest assured i will refrain from shopping at target and patronizing disney in the future, and i will actively spread the word about the revolting way the both of them treat the creative community. ","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T19:18:54+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_22999","from":{"id":"100000873273062","name":"Duy Vo"},"message":"For such a multi-billion dollars company,  you would think that Target and Disney would treasure the little guys, not sink them.  I think its rather ironic and pure stupidity that they would guillotine the creative people and designers that helped them became what they are today. WOOH.  is there no sense of professionalism and morality anymore? ","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-24T18:31:35+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false},{"id":"1390346897863973_23345","from":{"id":"23901877","name":"Ben Barry"},"message":"This is one of those things that's so frustrating it's even an issue. It's so clear they stole it, and they're wasting everyones time dragging this out. I admire you all for sticking to it. you know you're right, keep fighting!","can_remove":false,"created_time":"2013-09-25T01:38:55+0000","like_count":3,"user_likes":false}],"paging":{"cursors":{"after":"Njk=","before":"OTM="},"next":"https:\/\/\/1390346897863973\/comments?limit=25&after=Njk\u00253D"}}}}