I got you a gift! It’s niche TikTok drama.
Two TikTok creators who create maximalist interior decorating videos have gotten into a tiff that has created discussion online about who really owns artistic ideas and what counts for plagiarism in a space that actively encourages DIYs and dupes.
First, you’ll need to get to know our TikTok Main Characters. There’s Tay BeepBoop, who does maximalist interior decorating for her nearly two million followers. There is also Kaarin Joy, who also does maximalist interior decorating for her nearly two million followers. Both creators have “DIY” in their bio which might lead you to believe that they want to show you how to do what they do at home so that you can do it yourself.
Last week, Tay BeepBoop posted a video in which she says: “I’m about to be so petty.” And, by god, the girl did not lie.
In the video, Tay BeepBoop called out Kaarin Joy out for copying her work
There are rules among artists that you shouldn’t copy what someone else did, word-for-word or color-for-color, and call it your own. For instance, if someone tweets a joke that does well, there are bound to be other people on Twitter who copy and paste the exact same tweet to get their own virality out of the joke. Most of the time, the repeat tweeter will be faced with dozens of tweet responses calling them out for copying. It’s just not cool.
But these rules are stretched in the DIY world. Here, creators are showing their followers exactly how they are making something and are encouraging their followers to make that art, too. So, if someone is making DIYs on their page, it’s assumed that they might not have created the entire DIY recipe on their own; some inspiration was taken, and that is, typically, allowed to an extent. Even when you’re creating another person’s DIY, crediting them is typically valued, but oftentimes a DIY is an amalgamation of many other DIYs — crediting every bit of inspiration isn’t always doable.
Which is why, when Tay BeepBoop posted her video calling Kaarin Joy out, TikTok users did not agree with her. They commented that the two images of interior decor didn’t look particularly similar and that the dates that the videos were posted wouldn’t really coincide with Kaarin Joy copying Tay BeepBoop’s work — there just wasn’t enough time between the posted interior decorating videos. Creators don’t generally film their work right before they post it, so when a video is posted doesn’t necessarily coincide with when the project was completed.
Tay BeepBoop deleted the video later that day, and then posted this onto her stories: “I posted a vid today that I should have continued to handle privately. This isn’t what I want my page to be about so I’ve removed it! I’m passionate about giving credit to designers and creators, and I wish that could have been the case here when it was first addressed.”
By the time Tay BeepBoop deleted her video, Kaarin Joy had already made a response video of her saying that Tay BeepBoop is an inspiration to her, but that she didn’t outright copy any of her work. In fact, Kaarin Joy said she had even bought some of Tay BeepBoop’s wallpaper line and used it for her projects. Kaarin Joy called Tay BeepBoop’s work “colorful” and “fun.” She said that about two months ago, Tay BeepBoop had asked her not to do her DIYs, which Kaarin Joy said she “totally understood.” She stopped posting videos of Tay BeepBoop’s DIYs after the request — but their work was still similar because, well, the work they create in general is pretty similar.
Tay BeepBoop started posting her regular content in the days following the disagreement, but commenters were not having it. And then, Tay BeepBoop’s ex-friends started coming out of the woodwork, claiming that she gets inspiration for the DIYs she shares with her audience from places like Pinterest and her friends and her boyfriend. Then, a new consequence: the company that produces and sells Tay BeepBoop’s wallpaper stopped selling her work.
Tay BeepBoop then released an apology video, and all of her previous videos calling Kaarin Joy out appear to have been deleted.
It looks like the drama between Tay BeepBoop and Kaarin Joy has come to an end, but it has sparked dialogue online about what forum a conversation is meant for. One TikTok creator said they think this is exactly what group chats were created to do. Tay BeepBoop could have messaged her friends to say she thought Kaarin Joy was copying her instead of putting it online.
The drama, and the ensuing debate about what it means to plagiarize in the DIY home decor world left behind a series of unresolved questions as TikTok’s attention moved in to seek out another niche drama to consume. If you show two million people how to make something, and other people make it, is that considered a terrible deed? Or does the deed only become dangerous when the copier makes financial gains off of it? How different do you have to make an object for it to not be considered a cheap replica? And where does the line between inspiration and intellectual theft lie?