As some of you might have noticed, recent upgrades over at Teespring have allowed us to change the way we offer Techdirt gear. Instead of running individual week-or-two long campaigns that only print and ship once the whole thing is completed, we've now got our logo gear (in two styles) and our I Invented Email gear running on a cycle with new orders printing and shipping every three days, so you don't have to wait nearly as long to get your hands on it. Those of you who already ordered should be getting your shirts, hoodies et al soon!
Another batch closes tomorrow (Sunday) night — so order now to get in on the next shipment! The Email gear won't be around forever, so don't wait too long.
Have you hit up our super-early holiday gear sale yet? Because you've only got until Monday, and then it's all going away for the rest of the year! Of course, there has been some debate about what exactly our designs mean. Since Teespring lets us superimpose our gear onto a parade of photogenic models, I figure we'll let force them to do the talking, with speech bubbles! So if you're confused, prepare to be enlightened:
Did you come out of last night's debate feeling thrilled about your choices for president? No? What a surprise. Though there are fans on both sides declaring victory, most of the thinking/awake public saw what we expected: an intolerable buffoon babbling on one side, and the resultant lack of scrutiny for the hard-to-like career politician making worrying statements on the other. Perhaps nowhere was this clearer than on an issue of importance here at Techdirt: would you prefer Trump's directionless ramblings about "the cyber", or Clinton's coherent but terrifying overtures of war with Russia? Take your pick, America. And when you do, we've got a shirt for you.
There's less than a week left to order your Vote2016() gear. The campaign ends on Oct. 3rd so you can get it just in time for election day — and then it's gone for good!
Yes, that's right — it's a September holiday sale! We know it takes some time for your orders to arrive from Teespring, so we're leaving a nice big window for those of you who want to gift some Techdirt gear in December. All our past shirts — plus one brand new design — are available from now until October 3rd.
This is the last time we're offering any of this gear in 2016, and we won't be taking reservations once these campaigns close! Most of the shirts will come back eventually, but we can't promise when and it might be a year or more. Also, Nerd Harder is now available on hoodies, mugs and stickers for the first time.
Remember, you've only got three weeks from today to place your orders, and everything will ship with plenty of time for the holidays. As usual, t-shirts are $20, hoodies are $35, mugs are $14 and stickers are only $4 — though not all designs are available on all products! Hurry up and get your gear before it's too late.
So, last week we launched our new Copying is Not Theft t-shirts (and hoodies, and stickers and mugs). It's a nice shirt:
We thought the message was fairly straightforward, building of the wonderful song and animation done by Nina Paley: Copying Is Not Theft:
That doesn't necessarily mean that copying is always legal or morally correct. But it pretty clearly is not theft.
The shirt is selling fine (get yours soon, because it's only available for a few more days!), but what's been surprising is how much it has resulted in pure rage from some people who seem really, really pissed off that we'd dare suggest the simple fact that copying is not theft.
Earlier this week, we wrote about the head of the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group promising to make counterfeit copies of our t-shirt (which seems a bit... odd, no?), but today I wanted to highlight some of the other responses we've received. The fact is, many people do understand the message and seem to appreciate it, but I'm somewhat surprised at those who disagree with it who feel the need to not just disagree, but to act as if merely stating a four word factual sentence is somehow offensive. It started in our comments where someone insisted that saying copying is not theft wasn't just wrong, but was "ignorant and irresponsible." Huh.
There have been a few similar comments to our posts, and a few angry remarks on Twitter, but the real action has definitely been on Facebook, where some people are just really, really angry. Here's just a sampling:
And, then, of course, you have that one person who always thinks they have the "gotcha" moment:
Then there's the guy who's so confused and angry that he's sure we've got our offices stacked high with infringing material, so he's "reported" us (to whom...? no idea...)
And then there are the people who get so frustrated that we're being accurate that they then need to mock us for using words as they're supposed to be used.
We've been doing this long enough to recognize that it stirs a lot of passion and emotion, so it doesn't surprise us that some people don't like the message on the shirt (and certainly plenty of others seem to enjoy it). But, we're still fairly astounded at the level of brainwashing that seems to go on, such that people get so angry about trying to separate out the fairly fundamental differences between copying something and stealing it.
Either way, if you're looking for a t-shirt that is a... uh... proven conversation starter, check out our Copying Is Not Theft gear while it's still available...
Every so often when people find out about the position we tend to take on copying, they hit back with what they think is a "gotcha" of something along the lines of "you wouldn't feel that way if someone copied your stuff." They really do. All the time. There are a number of scraper/spam blogs that copy and repost Techdirt's content, and it's really no big deal. As we've noted for a long time, all of the content that we publish directly we've declared to be in the public domain, so feel free to copy it with some caveats (which we'll discuss below). Last week, we launched our latest T-shirt, the "Copying is Not Theft" shirt:
So far there's been a great response to it, but some people seem really upset by the basic message. On Twitter and in our comments, we've had a few people pull out the "Oh, well how will you feel when I copy that shirt!" line of thinking that they'd found some sort of gotcha. The oddest, of all, however, was John Anderson, who apparently runs something called the "Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group" insisting that he's going to counterfeit our shirt.
Yes, yes, he's obviously just being snarky and thinking he's making a point, but it still seems odd for someone who insists he's against counterfeiting to basically say he's planning to counterfeit our shirt. At the very least, it actually gives us a platform to make our point: if he really wants to do so, he can absolutely go and make those cheap $5 shirts. But they won't sell. Why? This is the whole point we've been trying to make all this time. The reason people buy shirts from us is because (1) they like the shirts and (2) they want to support Techdirt. Somehow, I get the feeling that the community that John Anderson has built up around his Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group aren't exactly the kind of people who would jump at an offer to buy "Copying is Not Theft" T-shirts, even if they are 25% the price of our T-shirts.
This is the point that so many fail to get when they freak out about people copying. If you've built up a community of people who want to support you and people who like and are interested in what you do, there's nothing to fear from copying. It's only when you don't have that kind of support, or when you're trying to force something on people that they don't want that you suddenly have to worry about copying.
This is why we've always pointed to the same response when people say they're going to copy us and prove that we really are worried about copying or that copying really is theft. It's not. Here's what I wrote nearly a decade ago and it's still stands true today:
We have no problem with people taking our content and reposting it. It's funny how many people come here, like yourself, and assume you've found some "gotcha." You haven't. There already are about 10 sites that copy Techdirt, post for post. Some of them give us credit. Some of them don't. We don't go after any of them.
1. None of those sites get any traffic. By themselves, they offer nothing special.
2. If anything, it doesn't take people long to read those sites and figure out that the content is really from Techdirt. Then they just come here to the original source. So, it tends to help drive more traffic to us. That's cool.
3. As soon as the people realize the other sites are simply copying us, it makes those sites look really, really bad. If you want to risk your reputation like that, go ahead, but it's a big risk.
4. A big part of the value of Techdirt is the community here. You can't just replicate that.
5. Another big part of the value of Techdirt is that we, the writers, engage in the comments. You absolutely cannot fake that on your own site.
So, really, what's the purpose of copying our content in the manner you describe, other than maybe driving a little traffic our way?
So, if you really want to, I'd suggest it's pretty dumb, but go ahead.
This same thing holds true for counterfeiting goods as well. When we launched our first shirt, the Nerd Harder shirt, we saw a few copycats spring up on Teespring, complete with the language claiming that the shirts were from Techdirt, when they were not. We reached out to Teespring telling them we had no problem with them leaving up the T-shirts, but we would appreciate it if they didn't say that supporting them was supporting Techdirt. That's been consistent with our position all along, that in the realm of trademark, the one thing that does make sense is when it's used as a form of consumer protection. If buyers might be confused about who is really endorsing the product, that's a reasonable concern. But someone copying our shirt without pretending it's from us? That's totally cool. In fact, maybe they can make it better.
I mean, it's not like we even came up with the phrase "copying is not theft" either. It's the name of a truly wonderful song that Nina Paley wrote and illustrated:
Did we "steal" her song in taking the title and making it a shirt? Hell, no. We made a new thing. We took something that she did and we built on it to offer something new (cool T-shirts) to a different audience (ours), and so far, it seems to be working. If John Anderson thinks he can compete with his audience, he should go for it.
Hell, we'd be happy to compete with anyone doing so, because we know the message resonates with our audience. I'm not so sure it would resonate with the audience of some random person trying (and failing) to prove a point. So, bring it on.
And, yes, we've even made it extra easy for folks like John Anderson. If he likes, we've made the original image available as both a vector SVG file and a high-res PNG. So go ahead, John Anderson from the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group. Go ahead and counterfeit our shirt. Knock yourself out. I imagine you'll sell somewhere close to zero of them. Though the members of your group may find it odd that the head of a Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group's first response to seeing a T-shirt he doesn't like is to talk about counterfeiting it. Right, John?
Anyway, if you'd like to make a point to John Anderson and the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group, here's your opportunity. Buy one of our lovely Copying is Not Theft T-shirts.
Normally we only have one t-shirt available at a time, but thanks to a big order that rebooted one of our Teespring campaigns, this weekend there are two to choose from! First, there's our new Vote2016() t-shirt, which is only available until Monday night:
Then there's also our highly popular Takedown t-shirt, which is available only until tomorrow night:
As usual, in addition to men's and women's t-shirts for $20, we've got hoodies at the low price of $35. For the Vote2016() design, you can also pick up a high-quality sticker! After these campaigns end, we can't be sure when they'll relaunch — so hurry up and grab your Vote2016() t-shirt or your Takedown t-shirt (or both!)
Instead of the reading list, this week we're reminding folks that two of our most popular t-shirts are available on Teespring, but only if you order quickly. Our popular copyright takedown t-shirt is available again, after someone pre-ordered a whole bunch yesterday, tipping the campaign and re-opening it. But you've only got 3 more days to get in on that one.
And then we've got our new Vote2016() t-shirt explaining your Presidential voting choices this year in code (and, yeah, yeah, we've already heard all your comments about third parties, but let's keep this real here and admit that the code here is what most people are actually looking at). That one's available for just four more days, and you should order soon so you can wear it as much as you want this election season (that one also has stickers which have proven to be quite popular as well!).
Either way, once these campaigns end, that's it for getting those t-shirts, unless there's suddenly a major new influx of demand -- so don't miss out. Get yours today -- and help support Techdirt in the process.