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caption: Seattle bedroom pop musician Robin Edwards, who performs under the name Lisa Prank, called out Tesla creator Elon Musk on Twitter Tuesday for using her dad's art without permission. 
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Seattle bedroom pop musician Robin Edwards, who performs under the name Lisa Prank, called out Tesla creator Elon Musk on Twitter Tuesday for using her dad's art without permission.
Credit: Courtesy Photo/Kelly O.

Elon Musk stole my dad’s farting unicorn art, Seattle woman says

Last February, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted out a photo of a coffee mug with a farting unicorn on it. He declared it his "favorite mug ever."

That was good for the ceramic artist who designed the mug, Denver-based Tom Edwards. The artist says he sold about 50 farting unicorn mugs because of that tweet.

Two months later, Edwards said he was surprised to see his mug artwork repurposed by Musk again. This time, it was being used to promote a software upgrade on all of Tesla's cars, Edwards said. The flatulating unicorn was used as a logo on the Tesla app, too.

That meant some more mug sales for Edwards, but he didn’t like that Musk used his art without asking.

That's when the Seattle music scene jumped into the fray. Edward's daughter happens to be well-known Seattle musician Robin Edwards, who performs under the name Lisa Prank. She posted on Twitter Tuesday that Elon Musk ripped off her Dad’s farting unicorn.

Robin's friends, Seattle musician Bree McKenna of Tacocat, Julia Shapiro of Chastity Belt, and Stacy Peck of OnonoS, jumped into the Twitter commotion to lend 280-character maximum support.

Following an article about the farting unicorn debacle published by The Guardian, even more celebrities started tweeting about Edwards and his art.

J.K. Rowling wrote this:

Then songwriter Vanessa Carlton urged Musk to "be the hero."

But what is the right thing? What does Tom Edwards want?

“My main mission here is that artists should get paid for their work,” Edwards said.

He acknowledges that it may be "kind of a tall order," but Edwards wants to convince Elon Musk to negotiate a price for incorporating his art in the Tesla brand.

Eugene Beliy, an entertainment and intellectual property attorney based in Seattle, says that in cases of copyright, the rights holders have to enforce their rights. The biggest deterrent to doing that, though, is usually money.

“Musk is saying ‘come sue me’ knowing full well that it's impractical for the artist to follow through on a full litigation, even if they have a pretty clear-cut case,” said Beliy.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tweets authored by Musk were deleted Thursday.

To Beliy, the deleted tweets mean that Tesla Motors lawyers might be intervening. Does that mean the farting unicorn potter will see a quiet settlement from the tech mogul soon?

We'll update if we find out.

Brie Ripley is KUOW's social media producer. She wants your tips on Pacific Northwest internet happenings. Email her: brieripley@kuow.org