A Belfast illustrator who licenses her artwork to companies that reproduce the images on T-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, mugs and other items has sued Amazon in federal court in Bangor alleging that the giant online retailer and other websites are illegally using her designs.
Hillary White claims Amazon and 10 unnamed websites have infringed on her copyrights for illustrations titled “Bury Me With My Cats,” “Cretateous Nights,” “Kittycorn Pizza Rainbow” and “Wolf Beach,” along with six other designs.
White is seeking unspecified damages but the complaint cites copyright law that allows penalties of up to $150,000 for each violation.
On her website, hillarywhiterabbit.storenvy.com, the artist describes herself as: “ … a Belfast, Maine native, born from the salty depths of a bubbling cauldron overflowing with ’80s pop culture, classical art, and Alice in Wonderland. I spend most of my time painting classical art and pop culture mash-ups, and designing T-shirts.”
Copies of the images in dispute were included in the complaint. The “Bury Me With My Cats” illustration depicts a skeleton in a coffin with cats perched on top of and inside it.
Several of White’s designs include dinosaurs. “Cretaceous Nights” depicts the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex wearing heart-shaped sunglasses with palm trees in the background.
“Kittycorn Pizza Rainbow” includes drawings of a slice of pizza flanked by kittens sporting unicorn horns. The design includes unicorns, rainbows and hearts. Three wolves wearing sunglasses emerge from a curved wave in the work titled “Wolf Beach.”
The artist obtained copyrights for the work between July 5, 2018, and March 31 from the U.S. Copyright Office, according to the complaint.
In April and May, White submitted notices to Amazon under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act informing its copyright division that 198 links from its website were to sites that sold items using bogus designs copyrighted by White.
As of June 5, when the lawsuit was filed, just 82 of the websites had been disabled by Amazon.
Amazon has until July 29 to answer the complaint.
Stacy Stitham, the Portland lawyer who represents Amazon, said Monday that the company does not comment on pending litigation.
White’s attorney, Emily Danchuk of Falmouth, also declined to comment Monday.