Snapchat Is Stealing Its Filter Ideas From Makeup Artists

Think before you Snap. 

By Eric Shorey

I am but an elderly near-30-something with one foot in the grave, so things like Snapchat filters are already, like, 10 steps beyond my understanding of how The Youngs interact. You take selfies, and then put designs on them? Or something? I mean, okay, that sounds fun, I guess.

What's less fun is when said designs are blatant rip-offs of the work of independent artists. With the popular social media platform delivering new filters on what seems like a daily basis, young makeup experts are finding their designs ripped-off by the start-up with little recourse to fight back.

Take, for example, the Joker filter, which was suspiciously removed after experienced makeup artist Argenis Pinal called out the company on the rip-off:


“I came across it and I was like, ‘Um, this is exactly the same drawing I did of myself a couple months ago,” said Pinal to The Ringer. “And it was weird, because I literally just reposted a picture of it a week ago on Instagram. Sort of a re-shout-out to it.”

Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first or last time something like this has happened. In May, Snapchat released an interesting geometric design, also obviously mopped from a different artist. “We agree that this lens is similar to other artists’ creations and we have removed it," Snapchat responded to the scandal at the time. "We are sorry for this embarrassing mistake and we are taking action to make sure it won’t happen again.” Except that it did.


“Most recently their support team has not responded to my tweets [as well as tweets from others] wanting answers on this recurring issue,” said Mykie, another artist whose art was stolen by Snapchat. “I also filed a report through the app with my particular case when the filter first appeared and their response was that they ‘Don’t believe that the filter infringes any copyright.’ That would ultimately be up to a judge to decide if the work had been altered enough to count as a new work.” This design was also removed from the app shortly after complaints were issued, but Mykie isn't seeing any kind of real apology (or royalties!) any time soon.

“If only I could afford the time and money it would require to pursue this process against a large company’s legal team!” says Mykie. “I believe many makeup artists do not have a lot of recourse in these situations because of that factor, more than anything else.”

There is, of course, a thin line between paying homage and straight-up stealing. But when major companies with endless power and money are so clearly stealing from young, poor artists, what can be done? Snapchat's paltry responses are hardly enough: "The creative process sometimes involves inspiration, but it should never result in copying," they recently said. "We have already implemented additional layers of review for all designs. Copying other artists isn’t something we will tolerate, and we’re taking appropriate action internally with those involved.”

Sure. That'll work. Until they do the exact same thing again in a few months...

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