New York (The Verge) — How a flailing purple bird became a cautionary tale for the pitfalls of viral fame theverge.com/2019/9/3/20841….
Syd Weiler’s Facebook sticker set, Trash Doves, were mostly known as a fun, viral phenomenon that briefly swept the internet. But for the creator, the doves changed her life in ways beyond her control when they spiraled onto 4chan and spawned countless bootleg merch.
The virality of the doves opened them up to a flood of bootleg merchandise, games, and apps that tried to profit from Weiler’s creation. Compiled into a Google Doc, Weiler and her fellow illustrator friends documented over 80 pages’ worth of links to unauthorized merchandise. For every site that stole her work, she had to compile an individual copyright takedown notice, many of them dedicated to counterfeit clothing items like shirts and hoodies on Amazon.
Weiler’s story highlights the risks indie artists have to take when creating anything for the internet, and the unexpected consequences of when a creation spirals beyond their control. It’s every artist’s worst nightmare: fighting to maintaining control over copyright in the face of knockoffs and bootlegs, and dealing with the worst-case possibility that their artwork could be co-opted into a hate symbol. — Dami Lee/@verge