Update: On Tuesday, July 21, Clay Jones tweeted: “Account restored. @Teespring folded. It was explained [to me] their system isn’t ‘sophisticated enough to pick-up on political commentary,’ though it was a human being who told me of the violations last week.” Jones noted he is still seeking an answer to his query about who registered the complaint against his alleged copyright “violation” of MAGA, or why his entire online store was deleted and not just the offending cartoons removed.
Political cartoonist Clay Jones is reporting that his online store at merch website Teespring was disabled without warning this week for allegedly using “trademarked [material] not allowed on the Teespring platform.”
The offending items? Editorial cartoons about Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick and MAGA.
Jones confirms he was not notified of the “violations” or that his online store would be shut down ahead of time. It was only after he made several inquiries did he receive an email from Teespring: “Your account was removed for containing material suspected related to ‘MAGA’, ‘COLIN KAEPERNICK’, and ‘TACO BELL’ which are all trademarked and not allowed on the Teespring platform.”
(Jones noted that he didn’t even use the Taco Bell logo in a cartoon, only mentioning them by name.)
This is similar to an incident in May when political cartoonist Nick Anderson had a Trump cartoon removed from the merch siteRedbubble after a complaint by the Trump Campaign that if violated their “copyright” of MAGA. In this case Teespring didn’t just remove the “offending” cartoons but shut down Jones’ entire online store.
Jones posted on Twitter that @teespring obviously “does not understand ‘satire’ or ‘fair use.'” He suspects someone reported his listing, and Jones is currently trying to find out if the cartoons taken down after a complaint of a Trump supporter or the Trump Campaign itself.
We here at the AAEC find the charge of IP violation a bit curious. We did a little poking around the site and discovered several sellers using the word MAGA in their products, along with one shirt listed as “MAGA 2020 Trump Landslide” using the movie poster from the 1993 film “Tombstone.”
We also discovered over a dozen items using copyrighted artwork from Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” on t-shirts and mugs. As Calvin and Hobbes was NEVER licensed, these items on @teespring are obviously bootlegged and a CLEAR violation of IP. (Feel free to back us up on this GoComics)
Clay Jones has contacted Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and other First Amendment rights organizations to see if they can bring the same public pressure to bear on Teespring that they did to help Nick Anderson get his cartoons restored to Redbubble.
UPDATE: Ok so, we did a little more digging around on the Teespring Store and within about 30 seconds found one seller with Taco Bell on a t-shirt, another with a stoner parody of the Taco Bell logo on a shirt, and a SLEW of items for sale both in support and against Colin Kaepernick.