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Shopee MY apologises for stealing cartoonist’s artwork for 12.12 sale

Shopee Malaysia has apologised after being called out by cartoonist and former Buzzfeed writer Adam Ellis for stealing one of his comics to promote its 12.12. Birthday Sale. In a tweet last week, Ellis said: “When are brands gonna realise that ‘memes’ aren’t free clip art for them to use in advertisements?”.

In a follow up tweet, Ellis said: “Anyway Shopee Malaysia, lemme know where to send an invoice.”

The initial comic showed a lady looking at her phone and tearing up after seeing an image of a gay fanart featuring Sonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles the Echidna. The edited image by Shopee, however, features the woman tearing up over “Shopee Midnight Madness 12am-2am”.

In response, Shopee said it would like to sincerely apologise for the regretful event. “We appreciate the hard work that comes from being an artist, and the value of your work. We want to make this right and have dropped you a private message to discuss further. Thank you,” the company said. A+M has reached out to Shopee for additional comment.

Here is the original comic by Ellis drawn earlier this year.

Several netizens on Twitter were unhappy with Shopee’s actions, calling Shopee “shameless” and urging Ellis to either report or sue the brand, as well as watermark his work. Some added that while Shopee is able to pay footballer Cristiano Ronaldo “and a bunch of big artists”, it has “no idea” how to respect an artist’s work. Another added that if the brand can pay Ronald, it can pay Ellis too.

Shopee is not the only brand to have been embroiled in such an incident. In June this year, smartphone company Xiaomi said one of its designers used artworks by artist Peter Tarka without permission and immediately dismissed the individual. This came after Tarka took to Twitter to expose the incident, which also involved some artworks that were commissioned by LG. The image was also used as the lead banner on Xiaomi Spain’s website.

Meanwhile, MyNews Holdings was sued for copyright infringement by two artists from Homework Studio for reportedly using their artwork without permission. It later clarified that the artwork which it had allegedly used without consent was in public domain effective 23 November 2007, without any notice of copyright attached to it. Published in a blog on 2007, the artwork made no reference to the author or creator of the artwork, nor to the artists who sued for copyright. According to Companies Commission of Malaysia, the two artists only established as a business entity on 24 January 2014, the Bursa filing said.

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