When Phanart gets Confiscated: Antelope Shirts at SuperBall IX

Matt Mead traveled to Super Ball IX filled with anticipation, restless excitement, and made 30 limited edition, high quality, 6 oz cotton T-shirts designed with a 4th of July Antelope design on the front and the back features Watkins Glen, a star with IX in it and the date commemorating the festival. On the inside collar, there is a screen printed tag that reads “Set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul, you’ve got to run like an antelope out of control.” This shirt was part of a special edition release as part of his clothing company, Cess Clothing.

However, luck was not on his side. 15 of his shirts were confiscated and he was cited for illegal vending. Read about Matt’s story, one that has happened to many fans over the years and still a risk when making Phanart.

“My campsite was in the first row of cars closest to the entrance in Arkansas. As I was walking down the main drag towards the other states, I had the shirt on my shoulder, and a backpack of shirts. As I turned off the main strip into shakedown street area, a passer-by asked me what shirt I was selling. I held it up, he liked it, took out his wallet and was about to purchase one. Two rent-a-cops who showed no identification came up behind me on a golf cart, took the shirt out of my hands and saw the back said Watkins Glen. He alleged that it was a trademark violation: claiming I could not print Watkins Glen with the corresponding Super Ball dates on a shirt. Further, he also said that I was illegally vending. They literally took the backpack off from my back, asked me if I had any drugs, searched my bag, and took out the t-shirts from my bag. One of the guys laughed and remarked “Ha, you put a lot of time into this one didn’t you!?” He then demanded my ID, scanned it with his cell-phone, and then told me he had to take my picture. I refused to look at the camera and had my head turned to the side.”

“Passer-bys booed and taunted the rent-a-cops asking why I was having my merchandise confiscated. One of the guys said “Hey, don’t complain to me. It’s not us, it’s the band.” I asked what was going to be the result of all this and he said I would receive a letter from the band regarding the trademark violation and illegal vending. It really put a sour taste in my mouth for the rest of the day. I was pretty bummed, not to mention I was financially in the hole as the shirts were how I was going to finance the weekend. The rent-a-cop was right: I did put a lot of time into it. I only use high quality inks, fabrics, and meticulous design, You win some you lose some I guess.”

Matt only has three left (one Large and two XL’s). Each shirt is $20 with $5.50 shipping. This is a case where a fan fell into gray area and an example of the risk potential for all fans considering making their own Phanart. We have a community that is given a great amount of leeway with our fan made creations by the band and their management but not carte blanche. Matt’s story could be retold by dozens of others, from established artists to fans who got frustrated with their great idea being seized. It happens but the story just doesn’t get shared very often. In the interest of preventing this kind of incident in the future, check out previous articles on this topic here and here.

Weigh in below in the comments section. Have you ever had anything seized? Got a story to share or opinion on this or other stories? Post them below.

this shirt is now sold out

12 thoughts on “When Phanart gets Confiscated: Antelope Shirts at SuperBall IX”

  1. Don’t break the band’s rules and you won’t have to worry about this. The dude was in clear violation of both the band’s intellectual property as well as the “no unauthorized vending” rule at the festival.

  2. Phish’s lawyers’ attempt to control “Watkins Glenn” and the dates on the same shirt are bullshit, but Matt was wrong (risky, maybe even dumb) to try to vend w/o a permit. It’s easy to get, cheap to cover, and a perfect defense, as long as you’re on public property. (On private property, you’d need the landowner’s permission – which you’re not likely to get at a festival.)

  3. chalk it up as a lesson learned…and at least it was only a few shirts…while the phish-police were perhaps not totally correct (nothing wrong with using a city name, phish or any other band has no right to that) but the use of a full lyric? well, like i said, lesson learned…..excellent execution of a cool idea though, don’t be discouraged matt, just be careful to tread on the right side of the line ~~rk~~

  4. PhunkyPhresh is wrong. The band doesn’t have any interest, and certainly no intellectual property, in either “watkins glen” or the dates. They didn’t name the location, and they didn’t invent the calendar.

    Matt’s hosed on the unauthorized vending aspect, largely because he was on private property, and without a permit. But had he been on public property and/or had a permit, he’d have grounds to object to the shirt seizure – and I’d be encouraging him to fight it.

    Phish is a great band. Their Vermont team are golden. But the scum-sucking lawyers (are there other kinds?) who surround them and dole out these seizure requests, are goons, loons, and baffoons, who intentionally overstate all of their claims.

    THAT’s why Hampton was a free for all – not a lack of dotted ‘i’s, as Pete wrote in another thread, but a basis of bullshit. Some group of fans should set out to set this straight, fighting Phish’s goonsquad city by city.

    1. I should have been more clear. You are correct that Phish does not own the rights to the name “Watkins Glen”, but Who Is She? certainly owns the rights to their lyrics, and Phish Inc.’s team works to protect that.

  5. You can’t reprint lyrics for commercial purposes. Those are owned by the publishing company and the writers of the song.

  6. I feel for you, Matt. I had about 10 posters confiscated. It didn’t have any copyrighted words or images on it. I was not seen selling it. Dude just took them for the same reason of having “Watkins Glen” on it. I was stopped later on in the weekend by another guy on a golf cart. He checked the poster, compared it to his own list of things to look for, handed the poster back, and told me to enjoy the rest of the weekend. So, clearly not all of security was on the same page. I still made out though. Didn’t lose money. Just didn’t make what I needed for leg 2. But that’s okay. We always make it work.

  7. As Ryan Kerrigan said, chalk it up to a lesson learned.

    While indeed there was a rule against illegal vending, if you were at Super Ball IX, you would have seen countless people selling items without permit. All vendors were issued a green wristband, different from the red wrist bands all other attendees wore. After having my shirts confiscated, I was much more observant to this fact and found that many people who were selling items like t-shirts or posters, were not legally doing so.

    While hundreds of wrongs do not make a right, I understand why the shirts were confiscated. As for intellectual property and a host of other issues, I simply wanted to make a shirt that a true phan could appreciate. I have sold T-shirts from my brand at other events, specifically on the lot at other Phish shows, but producing this T was my first attempt at making a show-specific shirt.

    I have no ill-will towards to band, mind you. I had the greatest time of my life at Super Ball IX. Thank you for your feedback, and most importantly, Thank you Pete for posting this story and providing an outlet to the Phish community.

    Matt Mead

  8. Its a shame. One of the reasons i decided to forgo heading to superball was vending situation. The trip and tickets alone would cleaned my pocketbook and it seemed the band was serious about shutting down people who were ‘illegally’ vending. But it also seems the security was confused. The rules clearly stated there was to be no vending by people without license. But some people were clearly just getting checked for violation of Intellectual Property. hmmm..seems like a phish show..hahaha

  9. I have been making shirts for about 15 years. Things are inconsistent between venues in addition to what you are making. From what I have found in my experience, you may not print the dates, the venue name, images of the band, or the band logo. Lyrics are a grey area, but they usually let it go (yes, they are property of the band, but they usually let it go). I have lost shirts in the past too for having the band in likeness to Simpsons characters, but my other designs passed the test (had 3 other shirts with lyrics- chalkdust, fluffhead and funky bitch). Incidently, given that Funky bitch is a cover, they can’t do shit. At this point, I never add the venue name, the band name or the traditional Phish logo or the word Phish. Also, I was sort of under the impression, that the reason it changes between venues somewhat is often because of the contracts between the merchandising people in each city and the band. For example, at Red Rocks, it is always the same guy busting people at each show (phish, Panic, Furthur, umphreys, etc). I see him all the time. I assumed he works for the venue or is contracted with the bands at the venue. He is the one taking your stuff at that particular venue. I just assumed that it is up to the merchandising people in each place to determine how hard they want to fight it. They obviously have money into the official merchandise and want to sell everything with the venue name and dates, etc. You know how it is, some places crack down and others are free for all. Probably should just keep conversation going about each place and what the ‘security’ is like so people kinda know what they are in for. Speaking of that, headed to the Gorge soon with a bunch of shirts. Haven’t been in a few years, so can’t remember if they are easy going or hard asses there. Anyone? I know they took some fungus from us last time right before we were about to dine, but that is a whole different ball game. At least I wasn’t selling that:) Anyway, don’t be discouraged Matt! Keep the creative juices flowing, just play by the informal rules and only have a few shirts on your person at any given time. They will follow you to your car though, so be prepared for that too!

  10. They took about 30 of my 90 MikesSong Dri-Phits cause the back had “SuperBaller” as the name on back and the number 9 as the jersey number. Refused to consent to search or give my ID unless they got a cop. Cut my losses and gave em the shirts so I could secretly sell the rest.

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