Is Hot Topic's use of "Strange Emily" copyright and/or trademark theft or not?

Note: This site may do bad things to your computer----->[“http://youthoughtwewouldntnoticeDOTcom/blog3/?p=1701”]Per this article the theft seems pretty blatant, but in the comments section some seem think proving it will not be an open and shut case.

The original theft is absolutely blatant. There’s no way that’s coincidental. The characters are not just similar, they’re the same, down to the punctuation of the phrases below them.

The question is whether Hot Topic is liable for expanded use of the character. Their argument seems to be that “ummm, well, maybe the first version of Emily the Strange was a ripoff. But we’ve changed the character since then so all the money we made since then isn’t a ripoff.”

I’m not sure that’s going to get them off the hook.

FYI, I got a virus warning when I attempted to load the linked site.

Odd, I’ve got some pretty powerful AV software loaded and it likes the site just fine. It’s just a current events style blog that’s advertising biz and design centric.

Yup, it completely crashed my browser (Chrome), citing a problem with the Acrobat plug-in. Would not recommend clicking that link.

It’s not copyright or trademark “theft”, that’s for sure.

It’s not trademark infringement, either. The original author doesn’t (and can’t get) tm protection on the original art.

That leaves us with copyright infringement.

The author no doubt has a valid copyright on the book. The skateboard guy probably would be found to have actually copied it, since it was apparently a successful children’s book that he would have seen, and the drawings are highly similar.

It’s not certain that it was misappropriated. This one is up to the lawyers and the judge, but I wouldn’t be too surprised at either outcome. A gothy looking weird girl is certainly not very protectable, and later art changes removed the similarities in drawing style and presumably the text as well. My guess is that the clothing line as it is now is probably ok, and earlier, more infringing uses are dead for statute of limitations, but the law is also somewhat fuzzy there.

Then we have defenses. The taking was one page of the book, and later versions just “weird girl”. It might be a de minimis taking.

It’s not fair use. You could argue that it was, but the odds are really slim.

There aren’t likely to be any of the equitable defenses, like abandonment, though laches might apply.

In my best estimate without getting a good look at the facts, they don’t have much of a case, though some fancy lawyering could stand a chance.

It crashed Opera for me, but Firefox handled it okay.

Semi messed up Firefox for me and sent up a warning about a problem with Adobe. I sure hope I didn’t get bugs - I’m sort of not talking to the guy that usually fixes this thing.

I actually own an Emily shirt. It’s the “Welcome To My Nightmare” one, where she’s dressed “nice”. Now I wonder if they got an okay for that?

The original stuff is obviously a complete ripoff of Rosamond. They’ve moved away from it, but I think they should pay up for something.

It completely crashed IE 7 for me; Process Explorer revealed two unexplained Adobe Acrobat apps that were apparently running in the background. I stopped both of them, and everything is back to normal.

Yeah, the original is definitely a ripoff. Was anyone able to check out the prices on some of the stuff on the Emily website? Yikes.

Me too. I went ahead and broke the link as a precaution.

For me, Norton found three threats: Backdoor.Tidserv, d.exe, and SpywareProtect2009.

I think you should break the other links in this thread right away, fluiddruid.

I was on a work computer, so I’m smilin’ :slight_smile:

The link is just misformed. The original started with “hhttp,” which is probably why browsers crashed. Other issues probably occurred when people tried to fix it on the fly. Entered correctly, it goes to a perfectly normal page.

In any case, it look very much like a case of plagiarism. Whether it’s copyright infringement depends on many factors. If that’s the only panel, then it’s probably not. Also, the design of the character isn’t copyrighted; both girls have similar features, but I’m sure you could find dozens of examples of girls with that look all over the place, and possibly even some predating Nate the Great. The words are more problematic, but one panel does not mark infringement.

Got any hints for getting rid of those? My Google searches are being redirected to ad sites, and I can’t run SpyBot or System Restore.

A perfectly normal page that loads a bunch of malware. As you can see below.

This is what happened to me too, and the damn virus blocks Norton, Malwarebytes, and other programs that might clear it out, from running. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I ended up wiping the partition and reinstalling Windows. It’s bad.

MODS! Break the “corrected” links in posts #2 and 3, please!

I had no problem with malware when I followed the correct link. I was using Firefox.

It’s possible that Antivirus XP hijacked the site for a time, and it’s been fixed. But the link was perfectly fine when I tried it.

I just removed the links from the quotes. Anyone who wants to visit the site can get the URL from the OP.
General Questions Moderator

EEK, I clicked on the link back when the thread was first posted… That was a couple of days ago and as far as I can tell nothing bad’s happened - nothing crashed, my Google searches are fine, no virus warnings, nothing Adobe-related. I’m running an AVG scan now.

I’m using Firefox and I’m crap with this kind of stuff. Does it seem like I’m probably OK, for whatever reason, as long as the scan doesn’t find anything? If not, what do I do?

Okay, I just copied-and pasted the URL in the OP without reading all of the follow-up, and was treated to a nice little TROJAN HORSE!

That’s nice that the ensuing discussion points out that there’s a virus, but shouldn’t the OP be edited to add “THIS URL WILL INFECT YOUR COMPUTER WITH A TROJAN HORSE!”? For those of us who foolishly attempt to read the article before reading the SD commentary?

Or can this whole thread be removed before more damage is done?