Tisha Campbell is publicly calling out a clothing company for using her image without her permission.
The Jasmine Brand reports that the actress took to Instagram to talk about the situation. In an Instagram Story, Campbell said that a friend of hers went into a store that had her likeness on shirts for sale.
“So my friend, he’s in the mall, he goes into a store that has all these shirts, all this gear, shorts, everything–with my face plastered all over these shirts!” she said, adding that she doesn’t blame the store manager and employees, who she said were “really lovely” and “really cool.”
“But the manufacturer who are making these shirts–I think it was like Head Gear Classics or something like that–my brother, I’m all for the come up. I truly, truly am. But you can’t just put somebody’s face on a shirt without their permission and then pocket everything–and then go into a store saying, ‘Don’t you think this is honoring Tisha Campbell?’ You’re telling the store that you wanted to see it to honor me. Honor me with a check!”
1. "Honor me with a check!"
Campbell showed some video of the items for sale, which include bomber jackets, basketball shorts and shirts featuring drawn images of Martin Lawrence and her characters on them.
Even though the merchandise looks stylish, it would clearly be better if the merch was officially licensed, leading a problem many stars and artists have had regarding their likenesses or intellectual property.
There is, in fact, a store called Headgear Classics that sells pop culture jerseys and hats online. While it’s not clear if this is the same “Head Gear Classics” Campbell is referring to, the store does have jerseys featuring many properties, such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In Living Color, Nickelodeon cartoons, popular album covers and more. A search at other sites shows some of their other merch not listed on their storefront. For instance, at The Spot, a “Martin & Gina” shirt is for sale featuring artwork of Lawrence and Campbell’s characters. Another site, City Man, has more of Headgear Classics’ Martin merch for sale.
People selling merchandise based on existing properties isn’t new, and it certainly isn’t unprofitable. Many businesses have cropped up on the internet in the past decade or so featuring designs based on existing pop culture icons. The clothes or other merch are sold under names that skirt past copyright infringement laws. While many people make merch to sell to other fans without seeking a big profit, some people create full businesses on pop culture nostalgia.
2. Fair use of art?
Artists also have trouble keeping people from stealing their designs. Artists online have often complained about small businesses stealing their artwork and repurposing them onto merchandise without proper permission. As such, the artists lose out on money that could help fund their livelihood. Some of the images used on Headgear Classics looks as if it could be fan art, which, of course, leads to artists potentially losing out on money and exposure.
Small businesses aren’t the only ones who have stolen from artists online. Hot Topic was accused of making merchandise from fan art in 2014. According to the Daily Dot, the merch store allegedly plagiarized work found on popular art site DeviantArt. DeviantArt created a Tumblr post stating they don’t sell artwork and don’t retain rights to art posted on the site. Hot Topic also put out a statement stating the art they procure is officially approved and licensed by third-party vendors.
It’s unclear what Campbell’s next plan of attack will be regarding the unlicensed merch being sold “in honor” of her. But what is clear is that her issue is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unlicensed merch being sold as if it were officially approved.