Does This Kohl’s Shirt Rip Off YACHT?

By Michael Nelson / March 7, 2013

I feel like some version of this happens all the damn time: A couple years back, Forever 21 started selling a Flipper T-shirt that bore a distinct resemblance to a shirt worn by Kurt Cobain on Saturday Night Live in 1992 (which Cobain had created himself with a magic marker). Last year, UK fashion house Hardware appropriated Crass’s logo for their own merchandise. Heck, two weeks ago designer Jeremy Scott showed a line that blatantly ripped off iconic skateboard graphics created in the ’80s by Jimbo Phillips. (Disney’s mind-destroying Joy Division Mickey Mouse T-shirt belongs somewhere in this conversation, too.) Now, LA-via-Portland dance duo YACHT are alleging that Kohl’s lifted both their lyrics and their logo for a new T-shirt. And, as you can see from the photo above, the evidence is pretty damning. Wrote the band on their Tumblr:

Listen, we’re interested in how ideas circulate through popular culture, but this “If I Can’t Go To Heaven” triangle t-shirt is too much. Kohl’s is a huge corporate entity that stands to make way more money off our lyrics and design than we ever will. Please share this image and let Kohl’s know it’s not OK to rip independent artists off this blatantly.

Yeah, ideas are in the ether and all that, but unless I’m missing something, this is just corporate-enabled theft; in my limited experience, artists have little to no recourse in cases like this. But maybe I’m missing something? What say you guys?