Lots of red faces as a French copyright enforcement agency seemingly gets caught out doing what they’re supposed to enforce against. That’s irony. Germans have a name for the joy people take in such things..

Wiki defines Schadendreude as a German word that translates into “pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others” and often involves some form of chronic, comical irony. If there was a case of logo design schadendreude, this might be the poster-child, as French-based file sharing enthusiasts are taking great glee in pointing out. To wit:

Three strikes you’re out.

As a result of a controversial ruling late last year, the French government tabled a series of copyright centric HADOPI laws, the lofty goals of which are “promoting the distribution and protection of creative works on the internet”. Using a fiercely contested “three strikes you’re out” principle, HADOPI attempts to encourage compliance with copyright laws and is an acronym for “Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Œuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet” (High Authority of Diffusion of the Art Works and Protection of the (Copy) Rights on Internet), replacing a previous agency, the ARMT. Anyhoo, despite howls of protest, the French government unveiled a web police force – also known as Hadopi – and touted them as a agency that was going to stop piracy and clamp down on illegal downloaders. Fair enough, I suppose, and like any other government agency Hadopi needed a logo, the final version being breathlessly introduced to the public by French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand, who told everybody that with the new design, Hadopi “finally had a face”. Nifty so far.

Que up the schadenfreude…

Only took a few hours before graphic designer Jean-Francois Porchez realized that the logo incorporated Bienvenue, a font he had created for, and sold the exclusive rights to, communications giant France Télécom back in 2000. Oh dear. So who’s Jean-Francois Porchez? Glad you asked. Only a world-renowned French typographer and former president of ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale), a leading organization of type designers. Porchez has designed custom typefaces for customers such as Beyoncé Knowles, Costa Crocieres, France Télécom, Peugeot, RATP (Public Transport in Paris), and distributes his retail typefaces internationally via his typofonderie.com website (Facebook page here). Further, Porchez has won a slew of international awards and prizes for his work and he is, in the French typography industry, a very big deal.

Logo Faux pas used by opponents of HADOPI.

So what we have here is a government anti-piracy organization, quite possibly using a pirated font set, from a very high-profile typographer, in their logo. Worse, the logo had already been officially registered for 2 months with the National Institute of Industrial Property. After a lot of red faces, Plan Creatif, the design agency responsible, had to admit it used the typeface “by mistake” and a hurriedly “tweaked” version of the logo was rolled out using officially licensed fonts purchased from several other foundries. France Télécom have stated that they’re not going to take legal action, but Porchez is quoted on several websites as being “in talks” with his lawyers. Naturally, this faux pas is being used by opponents to the HADOPI law, particularly the “three strikes” portion, to illustrate how draconian the copyright infringement punishments are.

Official launch of that bit has been delayed until August.