Back in February of 2017, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted this since deleted photo of a mug featuring an illustration of a unicorn farting out fuel for electric cars...
Tom Edwards was the artist who created both the illustration and the mug.
In 2010, Edwards began selling a coffee mug from his pottery business, Wallyware, that pictured a unicorn farting into the engine of a car with the message:
“Electric cars are good for the environment because electricity comes from magic.”
Apparently, Musk's tweet led to a boost in his mug sales around the world.
But then, a month later, Musk tweeted out this photo that looks like Edwards' illustration.
Only it wasn't exactly the illustration on the mug.
The picture was one based on Edwards' image that was created on Tesla's new 'sketch pad' feature which had just been launched in their cars...
So the image served as an advertisement for a new Tesla product feature.
The artist, Tom Edwards, was prepared to let this imitation go as just the sincerest form of flattery.
That is until he found out that the image was being used on Christmas cards that Tesla was selling as well as in their cars as an icon.
Edwards told The Guardian...
“It’s part of their branding now."
"I love the fact that it’s in the cars, but I just want them to do the right thing and pay me adequately for it."
"Elon Musk can be a hero for standing up for artists’ rights.”
Because Musk had previously tweeted an image of Edwards' work in which he acknowledged the artist, Edward's lawyers believe this is an open and shut copyright violation case.
Edwards told The Denver Post:
“You can’t just steal someone’s art, tweet about it and then say ‘We’re even ’cause I sold some of your work for you’.”
Edwards' daughter entered the fray on Twitter...
Her tweet received this since deleted questionable response from Elon Musk's official Twitter account...
To which Edwards' daughter responded...
Which was met with this since deleted snark from Musk's Twitter account...
People immediately came to the artist's defense, including a few famous names...
Someone even asked Musk to consider how his mother, famed model Maye Haldeman Musk, would feel if it were her likeness used without permission or compensation.
Although some asked why the artist wouldn't just welcome the free exposure.
People were happy to explain uncredited exposure of original artwork does not help an artist.
Edward's daughter shared on Thursday, the day after her exchange with Musk's account, that she had been blocked by Musk on Twitter.
Regardless of how this case eventually plays out, please remember: exposure does not pay the rent.
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