It’s easy for people to make the artwork of others their own, especially in the world of anime fans.
Billie Eilish, along with European streetwear fashion label Siberia Hills, have been accused of doing just that. Eilish and the brand have dropped their new merchandise collaboration, called Love Live! Eilish shared a link to purchase the product and people quickly noticed that the character in the art was Nozomi Tojo, and the art itself appeared to have been made by popular artist Makoto Kurokawa.
Siberia Hills posted a statement on Instagram on Saturday apologizing for using the art.
“To talented artist Mr. M_Qurokawa, we apologize for taking your illustrations for our business collaboration with Billie Eilish,” the company wrote. “Billie and her team weren’t aware that we were using your art, they just believed in the product.”
The clothing company went on to explain that anyone who made a purchase would be reimbursed.
The use of the stolen art was first reported by Twitter user @nestuur.
“Billie Eilish sells stolen Nozomi art in her merch, what is it. It’s peak 2019, in a bad way,” @nestuur wrote in a tweet that has since amassed thousands of retweets.
Billie Eilish is selling stolen Nozomi art in her merch what the fuck
This is peak 2019, in a bad way pic.twitter.com/XD1VHa2siO
— Nessie (@nestuur) August 8, 2019
The collaboration included two hoodies and a t-shirt, all with a graphic of anime girls in four different poses. “Billie” is written in Katakana.
i just look at the billie eilish x siberia hills hoodie with nozomi stolen art and wonder what else is stolen too pic.twitter.com/E2b8ejKf6B
– rekka 🌻 (@ rekka236) August 8, 2019
I sure as fuck hope the original artist is properly compensated for this theft, and it swept under the rug with a “oopsie sorry we removed it from the store uwu” https://t.co/A3riElI3Fs
— 🌸 yazy 💡 (@bestgirlyazy) August 8, 2019
Many were quick to point out that Siberia Hills had allegedly stolen art before.
“This ‘brand’ Siberia Hills are creators of pirated products who steal written materials and sell them for exorbitant prices, which is illegal under US and Japanese copyright laws,” the user wrote. from Twitter @NoiresDusk.
Also wanted to add that this “brand” Siberia Hills are bootleg merch creators who steal copywritten materials and sell them at exorbitant prices which is illegal under both US and Japanese copyright laws. Billie please dont support these kinds of practices. pic.twitter.com/HBKcemRS6l
— 💙💖Noire💖💙 (@NoiresDusk) August 8, 2019
Eilish has yet to comment publicly on the matter., but his original tweet promoting the product is now gone and all of the product has been taken off the website.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Katakana is not a language.
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* First published: August 11, 2019, 9:41 a.m. CDT
Elizabeth VanMetre is a Wyoming-based reporter. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and her work has been featured on ETOnline, the New York Daily News, Yahoo Travel, and more. She hosts a local morning show in Wyoming.