We’ve previously touched on what a scourge counterfeit merchandise can be for bands. In terms of nuisance, it’s in the same club as ticket scalping, especially at a time when touring and merchandise are a major cash cow for bands.
AC/DC have such contempt for merchants selling counterfeit T-shirts they even tapped law enforcement to police certain gigs on their North American tour and immediately shut down any counterfeiters and seize their funds and contraband.
But it’s one thing when some creepy-looking guy sitting on the ground outside a venue is trying to sell you a T-shirt the band did not approve, but it’s quite another when you have a multi-national clothing giant doing it.
By now we’re used to seeing rock merch in department stores and you may even own a Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones T-shirt that you bought at K-Mart or Big W, though you tell everyone you got it at some trendy vintage store.
But these have been approved by the bands (at least as far as we know) and the stores have a right to use the band’s trademarks, such as their name, their logos, their fonts, and the likenesses of the band members.
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The Gap, who saw revenue of US$16.148 billion in 2014, didn’t really bother with seeking rights to any of these things when they decided to start selling what shoppers likely assumed were T-shirts made in collaboration with The Shins.
The effectively counterfeit merch has since passed through the radar of Shins frontman James Mercer, who wasn’t exactly pleased to see the monolithic clothing retailer reaping a profit from his band without sending a penny to them.
“The Gap is selling a ‘The Shins’ T-shirt that I never approved,” a seriously pissed-off Mercer wrote on social media. “If you want a proper rock T you can go to theshins.com. That would be awesome!”