The bane of online writers and artists is plagiarism, where people unashamedly steal their ideas and material for their own ends without giving any compensation or credit to the original creators. Something like this happened to Adam Ellis, a cartoonist of repute, who boasts of over a million followers on Twitter.
Ellis worked as a cartoonist for Buzzfeed for four years and climbed the ladder of success and fame through his spooky experiences recounted in his ‘Dear David’ tweets. Not only did his tweets depicting a child haunting him catch the attention of the public, it also showcased his distinctive style of drawing.
All his cartoon characters possess distinctive bulging eyes with a dot for an iris. This style probably impressed Coldstone India, an ice cream company, that unauthorizedly used it in their Instagram account. This amounted to plagiarism. Of course, his Twitter followers were not happy about it and freely expressed their disgust at such an act of plagiarism by a leading ice cream company.
When Ellis came to know that his cartoons are being used in a Coldstone Creamery ad for its Indian branch, he accused the company of plagiarizing his drawings for its ad campaign. But, instead of suing the company for plagiarism or asking for monetary compensation, he thought out a unique form of revenge.
He messaged the ice cream company on Twitter: “Hi @ColdStone@ColdstoneIndia, it appears you stole and traced a bunch of my art for a large campaign. Normally, I’d send an invoice to license my work, but in this case, I’m asking you to make a donation to Inner City Arts to help underserved kids. Thanks. http://www.inner-cityarts.org.”
Inner City Arts is a creative workshop in Los Angles that helps children to explore their creativity. This message and Ellis’ plea for donation caught the attention of Twitter users.
Under fire from Ellis and his Twitter fans, ColdStone responded within a week. Ellis updated their response, thus: “ColdStone has donated $10,000 to Inner City Arts. I’m glad they did the right thing.”
This outcome did not go down well with some of Ellis’ Twitter followers. One of them wrote: “You not invoicing @ColdStone for PLAGRIASM teaches companies that they can steal from freelance artists and get away with a slap on the wrist. You should have invoiced them and donated the money yourself or prosecuted them.”
In response, Ellis took the plea that companies often ignore his invoices and by publicly asking for donation, he had put pressure on the company to act.In this case, his ploy worked and how!