Banksy: Walmart Selling Ripoffs, Mislabeled Street Art. So Are Amazon, Other Mega-Retailers

Walmart is selling copies of Banksy. Unauthorized copies of Banksy for anywhere from $26.87 to $868.99 if you want it super-sized. And yes these, like the Banksys you can get on eBay are not official Banksy art, which makes them not really worthless or valuable. But this is not one Banksy’s pranks.  Jo Brooks, Banksy’s publicist told LAist:

The Banksy canvases you showed me are counterfeit reproductions and we are currently dealing with Walmart about them.

Walmart appears to simply list these prints which are actually sold and shipped from other websites like Wayfair.com and PlumStruck; and those sites, which sell the pieces for the same price as Walmart, don’t reveal where they get the work. But wherever it’s from, it’s not authorized by the artist. Now granted, Walmart or any retailer could sell a picture that you or I took of a Banksy, but they couldn’t say it was art by Banksy, instead it’s a photo by me or by you of a Banksy. But that isn’t what’s being done.

And some of the images aren’t even Banksy! There’s a Mr. Brainwash, Life is Beautiful, that’s identified as Banksy (and apparently being sold through Walmart without the artist’s permission). And Eddie Colla–whose artwork stenciled with

If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission

and mislabeled as a Banksy is being sold (without permission) through Walmart–told L.A. Taco exactly how he he felt about mega-Borg-mart selling his art

I made a piece about individuals controlling their own fate and not making their success contingent on the approval of others. It then gets adopted by a neo-feudal corporation like Walmart. A corporation whose employment practices have created a 2 million person underclass in this country. That’s where this becomes an issue of conviction…Walmart is right there on the wrong side of history. As far as the Banksy thing, that’s just ignorance. It’s common when a group of people try to cash in on something they know little or nothing about. All they see is an opportunity to exploit something and make some money. They see a stencil and call it a Banksy.

Colla took matters into his own hands, creating a new print mocking Walmart with the words

It’s Only Stealing If You Get Caught

The print run is sold out. Colla’s original If you want to achieve greatness… is also being sold by Amazon as a Banksy.

Amazon and eBay both have lots of “Banksy” available, so this is a large problem of artists’ work being appropriated stolen and sold though online retailers who either have no clue or don’t care.


One is Banksy, one isn’t.

This is Mr. Brainwash:

These are Eddie Colla:


Eddie Colla says:

Walmart waves American Flags, kowtows to a hypocritical right wing Christian ideology but that’s merely a marketing strategy. If Walmart actually believed in any part of that ridiculous rhetoric they would certainly never put work by an artist like me in their stores.

 Art geek side note: The term “rip off” comes from the turn of the 19th century when posters would be slapped up to advertise operas, plays, circuses and the like. Crooks would follow behind the postering crews and literally “rip off” the posters from the walls, either to sell or because they worked for rival productions.

Hypocrite Amazon Now Hard Target in Peaceful Anon Protest

Hypocrite lecteur,—mon semblable,—mon frère!

Amazon took away the WikiLeaks server. And now the mega retailer is swimming against a tide of peaceful protests launched from couches, basements, dorm rooms, retirement homes, kitchen tables, and cafes–not unlike the old traditional coffee houses–Bewleys of Dublin, Lloyds of London, across Europe and into the New World–as a few hundred/thousand people support freedom of speech on the internets.

Amazon is currently the target of a peaceful online protest, what one droll wag on CNN this morning called

pranksterism, a protest for the modern era

Delightful Everyone loves a peaceful protest. Until the party van comes. Or the banhammer gets dropped.

What is really pretty disgusting is that while Amazon has no shame in yanking down WikiLeaks, they are certainly happy to sell copies of the WikiLeaks documents expose US foreign policy conspiracies. All cables with tags from 1- 5000

Which has readers pretty much asking:

Can I pay for that with PayPal?

I wonder who, if anyone, owns the copyright on those? The American people, since our tax dollars paid for them? Amazon kindly insure that We the People of the United States get our penny per book, kthnx.

Also, there is no attempt to close Amazon for a bit in a “WikiLeaks protest” or “attack.” This is not being orchestrated by WL, or Julian Assange, who is currently in jail and hopefully being taken very good care of. As one pseudonymous protester, the cutely named Coldblood, told Reuters:

It’s very hard to get hold of anyone from WikiLeaks. The only (person) you could really get hold of was Julian, but unfortunately he’s not available at the moment.

This is a bunch of people acting anonymously of their own free will, deciding whether or not they want to DDoS Amazon, or wherever. Whoever feels like it, on whatever “target” they feel like. Or not.

I have [srs bsns]/ L8rz

Also, just to clarify, WikiLeaks is not gay plot despite the tin foiled ravings of  Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis” for the conservative Christian group the American Family Association and Ann Coulter. David Taintor at TPM nicely breaks it down:

Fischer assumes that the alleged WikiLeaks source Private Bradley Manning was “at minimum” seriously confused about his sexuality. He then really stretches things when he suggests that Manning leaked the documents to wage war on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

In Fischer’s own words:

Regardless, he is a one-man argument for keeping open homosexuals from serving in the military in the first place. If the 1993 law – which flatly prohibits homosexuals from a place in the armed services – had been followed, there would be no PFC Bradley Manning and no WikiLeaks.Apparently Fischer isn’t the only one who feels this way. Ann Coulter also wrote last week that Manning’s supposed homosexuality is to blame for his alleged decision to leak the documents, calling him a “poster boy” for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

And if you have been poking around, so to speak, on 4Chan, you may notice the word  “fag” thrown around. A lot. That is British schoolboy slang, may the Captain rest in power. It kinda freaked me out at first, but then I recall reading Stalky & Company by Rudyard Kipling  when I was 13 and being sort of taken aback by the use of fag, and having to process it. Honestly it still kinda weirds me out. But considering Anon has been a presence attending and as marchers in Pride Parades, and has a queer, queer side, I have to just take a really deep breath.

So as of now, Amazon is still up, and Twitter is calling the waaambulance, saying they’re not blocking a#wikileaks, hoping Anonymous will play nice (or maybe the social network is just stalling to set out some honey pots), and has explained to MSNBC why #wikileaks is not a Trending topic

Sometimes a topic doesn’t break into the Trends list because its popularity isn’t as widespread as people believe. And, sometimes, popular terms don’t make the Trends list because the velocity of conversation isn’t increasing quickly enough, relative to the baseline level of conversation happening on an average day; this is what happened with #wikileaks this week.

Amazon/”Everything…Gay Porn Stars” Score One for the Internets

Amazon has lifted their ban on carrying John Roecker’s documentary “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Gay Porn Stars” after first declining it for content. Amazon carries a lot of adult material, gay and straight, as well as plenty of indie films and small documentaries.

When the mega-online retailer’s stance was made public, people emailed and called the company, and Amazon now stocks the two disc set.

Let’s see what happens with Target now that it’s come out about their donations to anti-LGBT candidates because the PAC that supports Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer is “good for business.”

Why Isn’t Gay Porn Star Documentary Available on Amazon?

John Roecker set out to explore the world of the sex industry and wound up making frank, bold documentary Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Gay Porn Stars,*But Were Afraid to Ask! The seven episodes which aired on Here! TV featured some of the hottest names in the male sex industry, talking about the how and why of their careers. The actors discuss their past history as abused children, their drug use, their love lives off screen, their pasts and their futures. It’s gritty and gnarly, moving. Out of 16 of the actors, two are now dead, and one, Harlow Cuadra, is in prison. Roecker told me:

I want these guys to be heard, I want to give them a voice.

But the opportunity to learn about the human side to these men has just gotten smaller, even though the DVD collection of Roecker’s documentary is about to be released.

I went to Amazon to pre-order Everything as a gift for a friend who is a fan of  gay porn and the band Rancid and punk hero Tim Armstrong who donated music for the series.

Everything wasn’t listed as available now or for pre-sale. It wasn’t listed at all. But Salo with fourteen year olds having sex was. So was Behind the Green Door. And Deep Throat. And The Devil in Miss Jones. Jenna Jameson’s autobiography, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star is readily available. Oh heck, Amazon sells Paris Hilton’s sex tape, and have pre-orders available for thousands of books, CDs and DVDs. Why not Roecker’s look at the gay sex business?

Oddly Amazon doesn’t stock another film from the same distributor, Dream Boy, an R-rated feature which was released theatrically with good reviews. The film features the rape of young gay male character by another young man. The rapist claims he is straight. Amazon stocks Hound Dog with Dakota Fanning as the victim of a brutal on-screen rape.

One person who queried Amazon about Everything received this stock reply:

As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking. That selection includes some items which many people may find objectionable. Therefore, the items offered on our website represent a wide spectrum of opinions on a variety of topics.

Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable. Therefore, we’ll continue to make controversial works available in the United States and everywhere else, except where they’re prohibited by law.

The letter goes on to suggest perhaps buying a gay porn DVD and/or a documentary on a straight porn star. Yes, but what about this specific documentary about gay porn stars? It is not listed at all. Why?

Email and a call to Amazon’s PR department were not returned.


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