Hey folks, Athena’s Wink has responded to my emails saying that they have many Nepeta hats left in their inventory they would like to sell even though they’re aware it’s not legal. (And yes, I can provide a screenshot of this if necessary, but I don’t think it is.)
Please just don’t buy them.
What really gets me is the statement made that they would “stop selling them once [Andrew] bothered to contact” them and told them not to. If someone has the sense to e-mail a creator asking permission to sell a product, presumably because A) they realize that permission is something they should get first and/or B) the creator has publicly requested that selling something in this manner should not be done, then why would they think it’s okay to do until told otherwise?
It’s never a bad idea to exhaust every possible means of getting ahold of someone whose permission you think you may need to do or sell something BEFORE you do or sell that thing. Even if they never respond, after what is ideally more than one attempt, it’s up to you to make an informed decision, and even then it’s best to err on the side of caution (ie: not do it). Since Andrew’s stance on this is very well-known at this point, and even a cursory search on the subject yields many relevant blog posts, including an official FAQ page, I just can’t see how anyone can look at all the information readily available to them and think, “Yeah, this is a good idea.”
You just really need to think hard about the ramifications of what you’re doing when you decide to sell art or products based on someone else’s IP. Copyright law highlights the concept of impact under its Fair Use clause which is, in simple terms, a way to determine whether or not your use of that property is a big deal or not.
If you’re selling drawings or hand-crafted items based off characters in a cartoon produced by a big time studio like Nickelodeon, it’ll have little to no impact on the source. One or two sewing machine savvy individuals pose no threat to the image of, or profits on, the real deal. It still doesn’t technically make it LEGAL, it just isn’t likely going to matter to anyone important, and satisfies the needs of the fanbase to acquire unique items related to the things they like.
But when the source is another independent creator, the impact is HUGE. Assumptions will and can be made as to whether or not the vendor is representative of the source. Their behavior and craftsmanship can and will reflect on people’s impression of the original content. In certain cases, it even represents potential loss of income, when people sell products that are similar to those being sold in an official capacity, or that will be sold and are still under development.
It’s still a very grey area, and as most of you probably know, I’m no lawyer, so none of what I say technically (or legally) matters. BUT in addition to being a matter of legality, it’s a matter of personal morality and respect. If you couldn’t give two shits about THE LAW or THE MAN, consider the individual behind the content you love, and how disrespectful it is to blatantly disregard their feelings and rights. It’s a pretty rude thing to do, and makes them feel pretty bad about it! Especially since they know the people who do it aren’t usually trying to be assholes, and just want to make and sell a product other people will like.
So uh… tl;dr please don’t buy those hats.