Recently, cartoonist Jess Fink wrote on her Tumblr that two people were ripping off her original t-shirt design of a Milk & Cookie that she sells on Threadless. The first person stealing her idea, as reported by Regretsy, was an Etsy user by the unfortunate name of glitterbiscuits, who flagrantly traced Fink's original design, sold t-shirts based on the traced image, and boasted about it until the product sold out. Eventually, glitterbiscuits's account was shut down.

Unfortunately, this sort of smash-and-grab operation of artistic creativity is easier to perpetrate in the crowd-sourced websites that sell independent goods. The second questionable act, however, wasn't by a low-rent Etsy user with no talent or ambition; it was perpetrated by David and Goliath tees, a relatively well-known company founded by Todd Goldman, an artist with a long history of selling designs that many artists have claimed were plagiarized from their own work.Fink, who has had similar problems in the past both with Goldman and other outlets like Hot Topic, responded fiercely to the two startlingly similar products:

The point is that art thievery is f*cking bullsh*t. No one should buy from this girl again, or Todd Goldman/David and Goliath but they do! I'm sure that Etsy user will continue to steal and D+G has merchandise in every major crap store in the world. Help me spread the word that these people are VILLAINS and not in a cool way.

In this article we're going to make sure that everything we write is carefully constructed, so that we are not potentially sued by the frequently litigious Goldman. For example, we're not going to accuse anyone of outright plagiarism. Just so we're clear, we're not saying that. Legally, we wouldn't ever claim such things in print.

What we will say is that Todd Goldman's art, if you can even call it that, is, in our opinion, uninspiring, soulless, and potentially damning to the human condition, and we feel bad for anyone who has wasted their hard-earned money on such talentless crap. Again, just so we're clear, we did say that. We're saying that now. And we think you should say something like it as well.

Todd Goldman's terrible work has come under fire in the past because many people believe that a good deal of it appears to be based, almost entirely, on previously created material. Roman Dirge brought up that Goldman's Eve L looks strikingly familiar to his own Lenore, and others have noted a pattern of similar, highly unlikely coincidences.

Fink points out in her note online that Goldman offered her a job in 2006, which never flourished into a career. Months later, she found David and Goliath Tees were selling designs striking similar to her own Threadless t-shirts. Threadless issued a Cease & Desist letter, and the designs were take down from David and Goliath.

Well, theeeeey're baaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

Jess Fink's Milk & Cookie design has been up in the Threadless store since September of 2005. But, a pajama set featuring the exact same concept is currently a rotating feature on the home page of David and Goliath Tees. You can make your own judgments as to what's what by looking at the image above. The one on the left is Fink's original, while the one on the right is the subsequent pajama design.

Unlike the shoddy Etsy milk and cookies t-shirt, the pajama set currently up at David and Goliath Tees isn't an exact tracing, but we will say that the pajama set that the company is highlighting on their site this month is nonetheless a shameless, shallow, and cowardly way to conduct business. And, to me, the biggest difference between their design and Fink's original is that their marketing photo has a hot blonde in short-shorts eating a melting ice cream cone.

Way to go, advertising up your unoriginal, poorly drawn, tasteless junk with good ol' fashion T&A! Maybe, just maybe, it'll distract you from the stone-cold fact that Jess Fink poops more creative and talented things every day of her life than you could make in a thousand years.

That's right, a poop joke -- that's what it's come to.

It's also worth noting that online stores like Etsy and David & Goliath Tees should be beacons of profit to young and relatively-obscure creators looking to find an audience and willing to share in the reward with a distributor, and one of the priorities of those companies should be to conduct reasonable creative licensing checks before attempting to sell new products.

Ensuring a brand's integrity is a basic foundation of longevity and standard practice for other businesses. The online resources are available, and those costs should be factored into production. In today's market, neglectful actions for Internet-based companies are nothing short of embarrassing, and probably worse. It's 2011, ladies and gentlemen, and amateur hour ended years ago.

Jess Fink's (totally NSFW) webcomic Chester 5000 comes out in a print edition from Top Shelf Productions in May. I hope it sells a million copies based on karma, and a second million based on sheer talent.

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