In a story on how Grumpy Cat—the dwarf cat that people (including The Beat) will line up for hours just to see—is worth $1 million, it’s revealed that one of her signature catch phrases first appeared in a cartoon by Kate Beaton. Which wouldn’t be so odd except that Grumpy’s manager, who is a “meme manager”, is very litigious about other people stealing his own memes. Beaton, who hasn’t received any money from the cat or her manager, is philosophical about the whole thing, writing:
No, I never authorized anything. And some people will argue that I never wrote the joke, that it’s “been around forever.” But I made a comic, and one panel became a meme, and that’s fine. The nature of a joke is to take on a life of its own. At some point, the meme was applied to Grumpy Cat, where it fit well. It is only how Grumpy Cat is aggressive about protecting their brand with that joke as part of it that has ever rubbed me the wrong way. But it’s not like I can do anything about it, and I suppose I’d get a lot of grief anyway if I tried. I think it’s just an example of people not caring where content on the internet comes from, until they are the ones making it. Then it’s important.
Cat vs Kate Beaton, there can be no winner. Manager vs Beaton…that’s a different story.
She’s right though. There is no way to win on the internet until you make the T-shirt first.
It’s but the latest in a long series of image and IP rip offs, including the now-Google blacked out complaints about Todd Goldman, and on and on and on. Seriously, the only thing you can do is squawk and make a T-shirt. We still like Grumpy Cat though.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.