Hot Topic Steals Soap, Slips and Falls On It


Left: the original Lil Soap by Jess Fink. Right: the Hot Topic rip-off.

Jess Fink, an illustrator and creator of dirty comics published by Fantagraphics, created the shirt design on the left, dubbed Lil Soap, and sold it through her Threadless.com shop. Hot Topic distributed the shirt on the right soon after. Jess wrote to the company that made the eerily-similar shirt for Hot Topic, and the presidents of the company (which is named New Breed Girl) responded with the following:

“It is my poiicy (sic) to encourage freelancers to use the free Getty photo images as reference points & we also use sketches from the Japanese free clip art books, which have inanimate objects with cute faces & legs etc. which are also very similar to the soap.”

Hmmm. Jess plans to take up the matter in court. In the meantime, friends have banded together to show their support by making parody images which include some hot soap-on-soap slash. It was way too early in the morning for me to behold this Harry Potter image (NWS?).


Friends of Jess have shown their solidarity by making images such as this.

15 Responses to “Hot Topic Steals Soap, Slips and Falls On It”

  1. lizzelizzel Says:

    Not that it makes it right, but for the record it wasn’t Hot Topic that created the shirt. Hot Topic purchased the site from a company called NewBreed Girl. It was NewBreed Girl’s representative that made the above statement.

  2. Nadya Says:

    Thanks, Lizzie! I have made the post more clear.

  3. Mer Says:

    Argh! It’s always a pisser when this kind of stuff happens.

    Wish I could remember the name of the cartoonist who draws cute, sort of potty-mouthed characters who has been going through this exact same thing with a t-shirt/marketing ripoff artist. Anyone know who I’m talking about?

    Jonathan Viner went through some rather incredulous bullshit last year of a similar nature.

  4. fogbat Says:

    Schmorky, who contributes a lot to Somethingawful.com had a design ripped off by David and Goliath.

  5. lisa g Says:

    I think Natalie Dee (www.nataliedee.com) used to have a similar t-shirt that even preceded the Threadless one … a cute soap with arms saying: “Come on, wash up! The butt too!” (Instead I bought the askew cupcake saying “Hey, cupcake.”) (Not sure if she’s the artist Mer’s talking about, though.)

  6. Hot Topic: Stealers (that steal) « Blog of Interest Says:

    […] Thanks: Coilhouse […]

  7. Io Says:

    Wow, can you say, “copyright infringement?”

  8. Skerror Says:

    Yeah this was blatant. Apparently some guy named Todd Goldman ripped this design off for a painting as well (not as blatant but still…): http://flickr.com/photos/23184972@N02/2279191355/

    Hopefully Jess can take a little bit of solace in the fact that people who engage in this kind of theft are mired in a deep-rooted swamp of unoriginality. Sure, they may make a few bucks…but they are going to pay quite a bit more in their souls. These poor wretched people are feeling the shame…and if they aren’t, they’re in an even worse mess.

  9. Tequila Says:

    Ugh…this happens far too often and Skerror bringing up ole’ Todd only reminds one that many get away with it. In the case of Todd though he ripped off many designs and sold them for serious $$$ to assorted collectors.

    As much as this does suck can one really fight this? Hot Topic or whoever owns them these days can tie up an artist in court for years if they want.

    The best one can do is get the word out and hopefully kill potential sales of stuff using ripped off designs.

    This kinda stuff skirts that fine line of art and commerce. As we look around one can get away with ripping off another’s idea provided you have better marketing.

  10. Erica!!! Says:

    i have not been having much luck with manic panic, and in my search for a funky hair color that actually works, I remembered that in high school I used to get some awesome stuff from hot topic. When I went a lookin’ for said stuff I was told that the small company that made this awesome hair color that worked beautifully without bleaching first and on naturally dark hair to boot, had been taken to court for issues related to what basically amounted to shipping and billing inconsistencies. HT sued them for their recipe and I think the guy said they where out of business now too.
    But Whatever. Hot topic generally sucks giant zombie testes anywho.

  11. Betty Says:

    Copies of copies. I remember the Natalie Dee one as well. Perhaps when Jess Fink gets paid she can pass it on to Natalie Dee who can give it to…

  12. why god hates me » Hot Topic Steals Yet Another Design And Sells It As Its Own [Hot Topic] Says:

    […] this year, Newbreed Girl took another artist’s image and sold it on Hot Topic. And before that, we wrote about Hot Topic selling another artist’s tattoo design as their […]

  13. Lee Frank Says:

    That really sucks. Stealing designs is terrible. The worst part is that the first one is way better.

  14. Hot Topic rips off yet another designer | Michael Salamon Says:

    […] The thing is, Newbreed Girl has a history of this. In fact this is the third time. They were originally busted for totally biting off illustrator Nina Matsumoto, and then they were caught lifting a Threadless design by Jeff Fink. […]

  15. Gabriella Says:

    I know that some things are directly ripped off, purposely, and I am not defending hot topic, but what if you just have a similar drawing style or concept? Does it count if I draw original art and someone says it looks like there’s when I’ve never heard of them nor have I seen their art. Take comic book swipes for example, some are blatant, but there are only so many ways you can draw someone looking heroic.