Wednesday 5 March 2014

Artists v Cody Foster

Hot on the heals of the story of M&S allegedly ripping off the designs of an independent artist, comes a similar tale from the US.

An article by Fast Company details the most recent activities of US company Cody Foster & Co. Most recent, because it seems that this is not the first time Cody Foster & Co. has been accused of copying artists' works.

Indeed, as background to the current story, in the last few years Cody Foster has been regularly accused of selling numerous items on its website which are very similar, if not identical, to the works of several different artists and designers.

Many of these small artists, unfortunately, do not have the resources to bring a legal claim against Cody Foster. Therefore, they have tried to bring the company to account by publicising its actions on the internet and via social media. To some extent this has been successful - with some major retailers ceasing their dealings with Cody Foster. This does not appear, however, to have stopped Cody Foster. In fact, rather than produce their own original pieces, Cody Foster is just trying to suppress the claims against them. The Fast Company reports:
"Accused of ripping off the designs of a number of independent designers late last year, [Cody Foster & Co] is now trying to settle one of the lawsuits that has sprung up in the wake of the allegations. 
...The details of the agreement were initially this: While Cody Foster denied having pirated Smith's designs, Cody Foster was still willing to agree to a license to use Smith's deer antler designs, both retroactively and going forward in perpetuity. In exchange for this license, Cody Foster was willing to pay Smith $650 as long as she submitted to a gag order, which would not only prevent her from talking about the dispute in the future, but which would require Smith to delete any mentions of her dispute with Cody Foster from the web, including tweets, Facebook statuses, blog posts, and more. Smith would also have to acknowledge that she had defamed Cody Foster in the eyes of the company's clients."
In other words, Cody Foster is mainly concerned with cleaning up its online reputation. [Although, I'd argue that it can't be that concerned, considering it was only offering $650.] In any case, whether the artist accepted the settlement or not, Cody Foster still has a way to go. From a quick search on Google for 'Cody Foster', apart from the company's own website, the majority of the results contain references to the copying allegations.

The Fast Company article which provides some excellent detail on Cody Foster's activities, as well as comparisons of artists' designs and Cody Foster's offerings, can be found here.

Source: Fast Company, 5 March 2014 & 18 October 2013

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