Meet Cody Foster & Co., the design pirates who help big retailers rip off artists

Here's another storming article from John Brownlee, this time about Cody Foster & Co, a purveyor of cheap accessories that's becoming infamous for freakishly shameless swipes of other people's work. By handling the dirty work of creative misappropriation, its clients — reported to include Anthropologie, Fab, Nordstroms, and more — may sell work designed by cool artists without paying them a cent. In the latest example, pictured above, even the artist's signature was present on the clone.

In 2011 and 2012, Congdon drew a series of illustrations wearing uniquely patterned red-and-green jackets. … perhaps Cody Foster and Congdon had drawn inspiration from the same source, like a vintage textile? Not a chance, according to Congdon: the blankets painted on Cody Foster's ornaments prominently feature a black, jagged shape which Congdon says is her own unique artistic signature.

"If it had been less blatant, I would have thought twice about going public with this," says Congdon, who published a post about Cody Foster on her blog this week. "Sometimes, the lines are blurry. But this imagery is very unique to me. You won't find anything else like it out there on the Internet." Cody Foster & Co. did not respond to several email requests for comment and telephone messages from Fast Company seeking comment.

There's now a flickr group dedicated to Cody Foster and Co.'s knockoff designs. The average cost of taking a copyright lawsuit to a verdict is now a six-figure proposition: "Design pirates count on the fact … the legal costs of enforcing that copyright will be too much for most artists to endure."