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Twitter users are trying to take down art-stealing bots – by getting Disney lawyers involved

There’s a war developing between online artists and thieving bots who like to steal their designs. In an attempt get some well-earned revenge, artists are now tricking the bots into creating slanderous Disney merchandise.

The slander itself is fairly tame. In the circulating image, a Mickey Mouse lookalike claims that he smells of rotten eggs. But given that it bears a striking resemblance to the very famous rodent, it could be enough to earn the wrath of the Disney legal team.

For background, online artists have been finding their designs cropping up on various t-shirt flogging sites for ages, despite not giving printing permission to these outlets.

Related post: Disney is looking to strengthen its piracy fighting operation

It transpires that some evil-minded thieves have created bots that trawl through Twitter looking for phrases along the lines of ‘I’d love this on a t-shirt!’ The images attached to these tweets then end up on cheap, mass-produced t-shirts. And to prove that this is happening, artists have created a sweet little honey trap for the bots.

The first trap came courtesy of artist @Hannahdouken, who created a simple piece that should shame any bot-thieves out there.

After they had posted the design and encouraged everyone to express their burning desire to see this work of art on a t-shirt, it was soon spotted at an online retailer.

But what could the community do next? How could they up their game from just shaming these companies to something even grander? Enter Mickey.

Created by @Nirbion, the Disney knock-off design soon became very popular on Twitter and managed to wangle itself onto an online retailer.

This t-shirt design has since been taken down by some outlets, presumably because of copyright issues, but elsewhere it remains online but ‘currently unavailable.’

Related: Twitter brings in two-factor authentication to help protect accounts

It’s not clear if this is because of any involvement from Disney, or if it is indeed out of stock. In a weird, very on-brand internet move, a lot of people have been buying the t-shirt to be part of this new ‘ironic movement.’

We’ve reached out to Disney for comment.


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