Weekend Heller: Todd Oldham Talks DIY, Modern Dog Bites Dog

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Todd Oldham Speaks His Mind on DIY

On June 26 the Future of StoryTelling organized a fascinating roundtable conversation. Designer Todd Oldham lead a Google+ Hangout titled, “Digits Meets Digital: Technology and the Maker Movement.” He was joined by Kiera Coffee (Author, Alexander Girard) and Michele Romero (Photo Editor, Entertainment Weekly) to discuss how handmade, DIY culture has spread to the tech world.The conversation is part of a weekly broadcast that is organized for FoST’s online audience of over 400,000 followers and archived right here on YouTube.

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Modern Dog Bites Dirty Dogs

The Seattle design firm Modern Dog has been involved in a dog eat dog law suit against Disney, Target and the Jaya Apparel group, claiming they stole their artwork of dogs (below) used on the end papers of their monograph. The defendants printed it on t-shirts and sold it without Modern Dog’s permission. The case has been ongoing and costly.


Columnist Linda Thomas wrote In My Northwest.com:

I’ve seen images of the dogs as they appear on the t-shirt sold at Target, under the creative direction of Disney and its partners including the Jaya Apparel Group. Jaya is the private company behind the expensive jeans “7 For All Mankind.” The images are strikingly similiar .

Modern Dog has continued to dig their canines into this case. In a recent email from Modern Dog partners Robynne Raye and Michael Strassburger, they report “After misleading us into thinking they were going to settle our case without mediation, the defense filed a surprise motion on May 14th to have our case thrown out. They no longer deny (or admit) that they copied our illustrations, instead the defense is claiming that your illustrations are not entitled to a broad copyright since the dog illustrations lack “expression” and fall into the “natural world” category. This was the first time we heard them make this claim.”

Modern Dog’s principals cointinue: “The attorneys representing the defendants are the only people who have ever labeled Modern Dog’s work as technical, so of course we are going to fight like hell. We have an expert opinion from Mike Essl that our illustrations fall somewhere between realism and abstraction (and of course they filed a motion to have that testimony thrown out, but the judge ruled in our favor so it stays). Mike Essl’s analysis came after we waited 150 days for the files they delivered to the T-shirt manufacturer in China, to be delivered to Modern Dog’s expert. The defense only delivered the files to us because the judge stepped in. After getting the files, we know why they didn’t want us to see them as they match up surprisingly close. We believe the designer used a Wacom tablet to trace on top of our illustrations.

If they manage to win this motion and the judge rules that our copyrights are “thin” – we can still prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that the designer either downloaded our illustrations off the “look inside” Amazon feature, or directly scanned them from our book. This proof came from another expert witness, a PhD in mathematics from Stanford, stated that there is less than a 1 in over 2,000,0000 chance that they did not trace the dogs from our book.”

The court hearing on the motion is scheduled for next Wednesday, July 10th at 10 am. The trial is on the docket for September 2013 – less than 10 weeks away.