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Metal Crimes

ANTHRAX Sued For $1 Million Over Ugly Hanukkah Sweater Design Infringement

Posted by on February 8, 2016 at 10:58 am

A few months ago, Anthrax released its ugly Hanukkah sweater in response to all the bands that were releasing ugly Christmas sweaters. Everyone got a chuckle out of it, I'm sure the band sold more than its fair share of the clothing item through Rockabilia, and the world kept on turnin'.

What's interesting is the design first appeared in a MetalSucks joke post in 2013, where they just found a random Hannukkah ugly sweater and stuck an Anthrax logo on it. Then, somebody from Anthrax's camp printed that exact design without notifying the original designer.

Well, that designer, Aaron Cummins, definitely saw the new Anthrax sweaters and the Detroit Free Press reports that both the band and their online distributor, Rockabilia, are being sued by designer for $1 million. Cummins claims he has a copyright filed from 2012 for the design the band used and now he wants to get paid!

In a unique copyright infringement lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, a Detroit artist and businessman is suing Anthrax and others for at least $1 million in damages, claiming his whimsical blue-and-white Happy Hanukkah design is showing up on Anthrax sweatshirts, which are being sold for $28.99 on a website called Rockabilia.

The website is being sued, too,  along with the merchandiser who supplied the corny crewnecks, which appeared in a 2015 Twitter post that is now being used as Exhibit 3 in the lawsuit. It shows a man in a long pointy beard sporting the Anthrax Happy Hanukkah sweatshirt, while making rocker hand gestures. Comments include: "Limited edition of only 300! Get em by Dec. 6" and "keep the Jewish metal spirit."

"This is the first I've heard that there's any issue with it," said Frankie Blydenburgh, a Minnesota-based buyer for Rockabilia.com, who learned about the lawsuit from the Free Press. "We got (the sweatshirt) in November. It's still on our site, but it's a limited edition."

According to Blydenburgh, Rockabilia bought the Anthrax Hanukkah sweatshirts from a company called Global Merchandising Services, which is also a defendant in the Detroit lawsuit.

So we'll see how this goes, though if Anthrax or Rockabilia really were using the design without permission from the artist… well, things are going to get costly pretty quickly.  The $1 million dollar figure seems a bit steep seeing as though only 300 of these were printed, at about $30 a pop, that's a gross return of $9,000. So good luck getting that mil!

Ultimately, it seems a bit hypocritical that Anthrax's Scott Ian goes on about how bands' art is being ripped off by streaming services such as Spotify, and then his band goes on to literally rip off another artist without compensating them, but we'll let this play out in court.

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