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Typical jokes meeting at work. Penny The Dog decides which pitches get made into T-shirts.
A day in the life of BustedTees!
We’re bringing this post to light because this kind of accusation is levied often enough we always like to confront it head on and make it clear how BustedTees works and really, how comedy writing works. If you read the post we’ve re-blogged you’ll hear about how BustedTees outright stole a comedians creative content and how the giant corporation BustedTees (we’re an office of 12 people) is just out to make a buck and hurt real comedians. In absolutely no way did BustedTees steal this idea or artwork. We published the HFC design on April 8th and started designing it April 6th, right after the episode aired. Our accuser rocom published a tumblr post with a similar design on the 6th, but so did a ton of other people including Jimmy Kimmel. We don’t follow his tumblr and never saw his artwork. It was an obvious joke and BustedTees, rocom and a whole bunch of other comedians thought of it at the same time. Subsequently, we published our shirt well before he turned his design into a t-shirt. The other design he claims we stole, ‘God Saves the King,’ was published on BustedTees March 31st while it did not appear on his tumblr until April 14th. In quite a hilarious twist, if anyone stole anything it was rocom stealing ‘God Saves the King’ from BustedTees. That said, we would never accuse him of stealing because we’ve been around the comedy business long enough to know this kind of thing happens ALL the time. It is so common for someone to become reactionary over what they believe is an “original idea” our founder and CEO wrote a blog post about it for situations just like this. We wanted to take a moment to highlight that blog post again:
My good friend Adam Frucci over at Splitsider wrote a great piece a while back about accusing people of stealing jokes. It’s a great read, and he really hits the nail on the head. I’d suggest that anyone who is about to accuse someone of stealing their joke give it a read before they fire away an angry email or blog post.
Having been in the comedy business for over 12 years since I started CollegeHumor in 1999, I’ve had to deal with countless examples of people stealing ideas. From having the South Park guys accidentally steal my CollegeHumor writers lines verbatim in their Inception episode (they quickly apologized), to having entire t-shirt companies built by blatantly stealing dozens of our exact shirt designs from BustedTees, I know how frustrating it can be to have ones ideas stolen. I’ve also been on the other side where my team has accidentally plagiarized someone’s work and we’ve had to deal with the consequences of our actions. In all cases I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, until of course I know that we are in the wrong in which case I do whatever is necessary to remedy the situation.
Recently we have had a few instances of people accusing us of stealing their ideas and putting them on shirts. We take a lot of pride in what we do and try our hardest to make sure that everything we put out is original work, so it’s very upsetting to see these accusations pop up from time to time.
Let me give some insight into how our design process works at BustedTees. For the most part, the ideas for our shirts are generated by a network of professional comedy writers that we have ongoing relationships with. We have writer’s room meetings every other week and then we take the best ideas generated in the room and put them into our design queue. Our 2 full-time designers are then assigned jokes/concepts to illustrate in order to meet our quota of 4-6 new shirt designs to be released every week.
When someone makes a point to call us out for stealing something, we take it very seriously. In some cases, after further examination it’s clear that the exact specific joke had already been made and we were in the wrong to have not caught it. When this happens, we offer a licensing deal or else agree to stop selling the shirts immediately. In other (most) cases, the joke we’re making could be somewhat obvious and it turns out that someone else made a similar joke/design on their blog or obscure portfolio page that nobody on our team could have ever realistically seen or found. Often times these jokes were even made after our joke was pitched originally as it can take several months before an idea goes to print on a shirt. Unfortunately, in these circumstances where it was clearly an instance of parallel thinking, there isn’t much to do. As Adam points out on Splitsider, “If you were the first one to make the obvious joke after an event, that does not give you ownership of that joke. Everybody is making that joke.” With the millions of people sharing their jokes, designs, and ideas on the web every day, it’s inevitable that people are going to have similar ideas independently of each other. It would be great if knowing that, people could take a deep breath and think for a minute before publishing a rant about how they were robbed of their work. Most ideas are not original.
-Josh Abramson, Co-Founder BustedTees
2 weeks ago I created a parody image of “The Hound” from #GameofThones as the KFC logo after the widely viewed premiere of the new season. The image was spread around on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and re-shops of it even reached the front page of Reddit. It was cool to see something I made get so much attention, though I was rarely ever credited for making the design. A small indie shirt company, LeRage Shirts approached me to make a shirt of the design where I would get get some commission per shirt sold, I was excited at the idea and we started selling t-shirts of my design on their online store. The next week, I made a new design saying “F*CK THE KING” as a parody of the classic Sex Pistols shirt. LeRage Shirts loved both designs and have been selling shirts via word of mouth online.
While selling my artwork in Artist Alley this weekend at #WonderCon in Anaheim, CA, friends of mine were texting me saying “This site jacked your design!” When I went to look at the BustedTees site, they have knock-offs of both T-shirts I had created for LeRage. Both! For a company that boasts connections with so many comedians and original writers to create their shirts, they obviously got lazy and stole BOTH of my parody design ideas to make theirs. Busted indeed.
Things like this happen often. Huge companies like Busted Tees steal popular ideas from smaller companies for profit. I don’t care for lawsuits, but I do want anyone that purchases from Busted Tees to know that they steal hard working artists’ ideas to sell shirts. It’s not right and the least I could do is say my piece. If you like my shirt designs you can get them both from LeRageShirts.com
You can also comment the shirts on Busted’s site to let them know they’re selling stolen designs here:
Please share this on Twitter, Facebook, your blog and so on. Let people know that BustedTees steals art to make shirts.
WORD IS BOND,
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So much truth.