Sorry to say, but you're probably picturing art thieves all wrong. Gone are the days of suave scoundrels in black turtlenecks Cirque du Soleil-ing down domed ceilings to switch Monets for money. Today, an art thief is just some douche who uses algorithms to steal from struggling artists on social media to secretly slather their work on sweatshop-grade t-shirts. But other social media artists want to fight these awful practices, and they're delivering payback in the only currency they know -- exposure.
Putting the laundry back in money laundering, shady online t-shirt printers are constantly having bots scour social media to swipe any and all images linked to keywords like "T-Shirt" and "money." It has gotten so bad, online artists are starting to warn their fans to no longer to show their appreciation by commenting something like "I want that on a T-shirt," because that command will summon an intellectual property thieving bot to fulfill that wish like a flea market bootleg 'Genny' from 'Aladdoon'.
But other artists are getting more creative in putting the word out. Instead of telling their fans not to draw the auto-art thieves to their work, they want the exact opposite, subtly asking fans to lure them in so they can steal and commercialize their posted images -- which all happen to be either useless copyrighted sketches of corporate mascots...
Or just some text that calls them out for the stealing scumbags that they are...
And since, like all plagiarists, the human Fagins who use these armies of urchin bots are too lazy to double-check their filched loot, they'll gladly advertise on their own front pages that "Poo poo pee pee this site uploads stolen art."
Of course, being both humble and broke, none of these crafty creators foster any illusions of this getting these T-shirt stores to do anything but to better fine-tune their crime spree. This might explain why, suddenly, thousands of people are also commenting "I want this on a T-shirt" under every image on the official Disney Twitter account, hoping the T-shirt they'll get is of a court sketch of these thieves being torn to shreds by ruthless Disney copyright lawyers.
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