Art Market

Elon Musk and artist Tom Edwards settled their copyright dispute over an image of a farting unicorn.

Eli Hill
Jul 24, 2018 4:08PM, via Ars Technica

On Friday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a series of emojis and a link to Colorado-based potter Tom Edwards’s personal blog. For those that have been following Edwards and Musk’s clash over the latter’s copyrighted image of a farting unicorn, the tweet was a white flag, signaling a truce between the two.

The feud started in February 2017, when Musk tweeted out, “maybe my favorite mug ever,” with a link to Edward’s mug, on which he’d painted a unicorn farting energy into a car. For Edwards, whose father and step father both worked in the aerospace and defense industries, the Tesla CEO’s admiration felt incredibly special––until he found out the company had used the image on their holiday cards and even inserted it into the Tesla’s operating system without his permission.

While the artist never wanted to sue Musk, he did contact a lawyer, who agreed that the usage overstepped copyright protections. What followed was something of a childish internet storm between Musk and the artist’s daughter. The Twitter battle ended with Musk offering to not use the image, followed with another tweet stating: “He can sue for money if he wants, but that’s kinda lame. If anything, this attention increased his mug sales.”

Despite the CEO’s nippy comment, Edwards did not sue for money; instead the two reached an undisclosed agreement. On Friday, Edward’s posted an entry to his blog titled, “Copyright Issue: RESOLVED!” The post did not give many details, but it did state:

I am happy to report that we have reached an agreement with Tesla that resolves our issues in a way that everyone feels good about! It’s clear there were some misunderstandings that led to this escalating, but I’m just glad that everything has been cleared up. I’ve always been a Tesla fan, and I’m looking forward to getting back to making pots and selling them in my online store.

Following this statement, Edwards plugged a new farting unicorn mural that will be going up near Tesla’s headquarters, in collaboration with Arts Bridging The Gap’s LA Street Art Initiative.

Eli Hill