Elon Musk Accused of Stealing Farting Unicorn Art For Tesla Easter Egg
Very few would argue the fact that Elon Musk has one of the most impressive minds of the 21st century when it comes to tech, complex systems, and other forms of convergent thinking, but maybe art just isn't his strong suit. According to reports, an artist named Tom Edwards is claiming that instead of designing one himself, Musk took the artist's farting unicorn artwork and has been using it without permission or compensation in the Tesla operating system.
I saw that #ElonMusk was trending so thought it must be about a new Tesla model or a breakthrough in battery technology, but no, it's all about a copyright spat relating to a farting unicorn mug. I kid you not. I'm now off to lie down in a dark room. @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/fsZtThoK3f- Phillip Hughes #FBPE (@phillipmhughes) June 28, 2018
Tom Edwards' mug, Image via Twitter
Edwards says that he drew the image back in 2010 and has been selling it on ceramic wares ever since. Musk tweeted that the farting unicorn mug was a favorite back in February of 2017 which Edwards told Westword resulted in a boost of around 100 sales. Fortune reports that Musk posted a copy of the artwork on Twitter in March of 2017, but both tweets about the mug have since been deleted.
Screenshot from Twitter via archive.org
Fortune also reports that Musk responded to Edwards' daughter via the social media site and told her that her father was paid "in exposure," but the artist has now hired an attorney to seek actual compensation.
Edwards' legal representation sent a letter to Tesla in May of 2018. "Please don't take this as a shakedown," the letter read. "What we are seeking instead is a discussion, and a mutual decision in a way to value the past and continuing use of the image, in a way that both sides can feel good about." After a month, Edwards says they have not gotten a response. "I'd like for them to contact my lawyer and start the process for what this unicorn is worth."
It seems that Edwards does have a case as the confirmed artist of the image (there is a de factor copyright in created works even if they are not formally copywritten, according to Edwards' attorney), but it may be less egregious of an offense on Musk's part than if he had stolen the Tesla logo. That would be worth a lot more than an Easter egg in a car's computer.
i love this ?? pic.twitter.com/ExFLzW9Dfl- Liam Bolling (@liambolling) March 30, 2017