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Superbalist accused of ‘large-scale design theft’ [Update]

Update: In an emailed response to Memeburn, Superbalist said it had a “zero-tolerance policy towards plagiarism or copyright infringement” of items.

“On immediate inspection, it appears that we may have some issues in this regard. The items in question have been pulled from the site and we will deal with any substantiated claims arising therefrom swiftly and fairly,” it concluded.

Original article: E-commerce website Superbalist has been accused of stealing scores of designs from artists and creative types.

The platform’s actions came to light after Twitter user Karmen Wessels (@spotfishy) accused Superbalist of copying a mug design from British artist Gemma Correll.

The e-commerce platform responded to the tweet, saying the design was “illustrated in-house and inspired by a few sources”.

Superbalist eventually pulled the mug, claiming it would be taking steps to ensure it didn’t happen again.

However, Wessels spotted more questionable designs on the website, tweeting as she found each one.

Wessels’s tweets were also spotted by actor and comedian Rob van Vuuren, calling Superbalist’s actions “large-scale design theft”.

The website has since issued a statement on Twitter, saying it was investigating “any closely referenced designs in our Apartment section”.

It added that it was contacting affected artists to resolve the matter.

In an email Q&A with Memeburn, Wessels said she was doing last-minute Christmas shopping when she stumbled upon Correll’s mug design, having owned the same t-shirt.

“Then I got curious and wanted to see how many other designs they’d lifted, because I know big companies like Zara have been guilty of stealing quite a lot of work from smaller artists before. I reverse image searched a few, used keywords on others, and with some I literally just typed the phrase in and it came up as the first option in Google Images,” Wessels wrote.

Wessels also criticised Superbalist’s “pretty weak” response to the matter.

“Their designs weren’t ‘inspired by’ or ‘closely referenced’, they were blatantly stolen. In some cases they didn’t even bother to change the colours,” the Twitter user explained, saying that there were still questionable designs on their platform.

Superbalist is at the centre of the latest copyright scandal in SA

“They say they’re removing the items proactively, but there are a bunch of items still up that I’m looking into, that I’m 100% sure they didn’t design themselves. They’re only reacting. I want to know how they let it get so bad.”

Wessels added that Superbalist was contacting artists not spotted by her, suggesting that the e-commerce website “knew they stole from them right from the start”.

The Twitter user said that another person had drawn attention to the issue last year. The website responded to the tweet at the time, claiming that the design was used as a reference.

Featured image: Karmen Wessels via Twitter

Author | Hadlee Simons

Hadlee Simons
Terrible puns make Hadlee Simons difficult to work with, but he brings almost seven years of tech journalism experience to the table. When he's not at work or watching motorsport, he's in the foetal position on a jiu jitsu mat. More