I don't think I've ever posted anything criticizing the way shirt.woot is run. I love this place: it gives me warm fuzzies. I often will buy a shirt from here versus another site, not b/c of the price difference or the use of blanks (most of the t-shirts sites use AA-quality or an equivalent), but because after as many purchases as I've made here, the satisfaction w/ the product, and the quality of the customer service, I've got that elusive thing that marketers always aim for: brand loyalty. I just love woot shirts beyond rational reason, and I find myself constantly getting rid of old t-shirts in my wardrobe (Goodwill, mostly) to make room for more woots.
The shirt today is cute and appealing, but I must admit that my first reaction was, "how is this not yay taco but with a vegetable instead?" That being said, I still thought about getting one for my nephew (his mother's a vegetarian and would _love_ this shirt).
But when it came out this was a livetrace of a copyrighted photo . . .
I guess here's my problem Joel--these shirts are marketed as original works. When the concept is lifted from someplace else and the actual _image_ that forms the main basis of the shirt is lifted from someplace, well, how is it even an original work anymore? I've never criticized the use of clipart on principle b/c how it's arranged is all part of the art of design as far as I'm concerned. But if the image is from elsewhere and the basic idea is from elsewhere as well, that's a different matter entirely.
Even taking all of that into account, I wouldn't be posting this if I knew that the designer told you about the picture ahead of time and you guys arranged for use of the image before posting up today's shirt. You weren't really specific in your explanation, though, Joel. We still don't know if you had to bail out the designer after the fact by paying off the owner of the image. If that's what happened then I can see how you acted completely properly, but the designer most definitely did not.
If the designer was not open with you then, as a consumer, I would like for the designer to be punished, perhaps by having payment refused for breach of the artist agreement contract quoted earlier in this thread. Not punished out of some sense of malice, but so that there is disincentive to repeat IP theft in the future. Without being 100% transparent with your customers and designers, you're basically leaving the possibility open that IP theft is ok and that there are no penalties for it.
The designers, well, I can see why they'd be pissed at that. But as a consumer, I'm worried that this just means that every week we'll have one shirt where someone steals an image. And I don't want my money going towards someone who would do that. I don't shop at businesses where I don't like where the money is going, and if I know my money is funding dishonest designers, I'll be less likely to spend my money there.
If, of course, the image was paid for ahead of time, great, end of controversy. Just please let us know.
I love the site, and I'm really doing my best to be respectful to all the hard work the woot staff does--I know it can't be easy dealing with such a vocal, opinionated community.
edit: Clarified one of my sentences.