Steve Douglas on November 24th, 2014

the logo factory on fiverr lead

Disruption, the “Shared Economy,” the “Collaborative Economy,” the “Gig Economy,” Crowdsourcing, all refer to the same thing. Lots of people doing something at a price much less than previously, often at the expense of previously established safeguards and standards. Case in point – the time we bought our own logo, for $5 (plus .50 processing fee) from Fiverr. And when we say our own logo, we literally mean our own damn logo.

It’s no secret that designers, myself included, aren’t huge fans of so-called “gig” platforms like Fiverr. Not going to rehash all the reasons why (you can check out our Fiverr is awful post if you’re so inclined) but one of the main beefs is that these services are rife with knocked-off logos and plagiarized artwork. Here’s a recent case from end of October:
logo design on fiverr
Claims of being “Exclusive on Fiverr” notwithstanding, that particular image is a copied version of an old factory logo that I worked up – about 5 years ago – for our technical manuals and how-to’s. You can see it here. Problem is, and despite this happening frequently, Fiverr are generally pretty unresponsive about copyright issues. They require you to open up an account in order to report infringements, a general pain in the ass when you have no interest in a Fiverr account and simply want to report something that’s slam-dunk obvious. Fiverr also requires any new sign-ups to accept their relentless email notices, and will spam your addy without mercy until you unsubscribe from their list, something I had to do several times before my deluge ceased. This wasn’t my first rodeo with Fiverr either, so rather than mess around with their support department yet again, I contacted this ‘Design Hut‘ fellah, the seller who was using our art, and told him to knock it off. To his credit, he did PDQ.

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Steve Douglas on October 9th, 2014

theft vs copyright infringement

Sure, copyright infringement sucks, but it isn’t theft. Fair use isn’t really a thing, and the government won’t help you enforce your copyrights. We tackle the sometimes confusing area of design ownership and property rights and debunk the top 13 misconceptions about copyright.

Before we begin, let’s get this out of the way: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Tee Vee. Any legal stuff you’re about to read is worth pretty much what you paid for it, and for serious legal advice on copyright, trademark and related matters, you should always, always, consult a live attorney. With that out of the way, we can begin..

Ah yes, copyright. It’s either the magic bullet to protect your intellectual property rights, or not worth a thin red dime, depending on who you talk you. Truth is, both are sorta true. Copyright will protect your artwork to a great degree, but there’s no copyright enforcement agency just waiting for your call when that great design of yours shows up somewhere it shouldn’t. So, what exactly is copyright? Let’s quote some legal guys:

“A copyright, by definition, is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to the creator of an original work or their assignee for a limited period of time upon disclosure of the work. This includes the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work.”

Basically, copyright is the right to copy something. Print it. Put it on T-shirts. Throw it on a website. The idea behind copyright protection is quite simple – it was originally intended for books because as a society we realized that they were integral to our well-being, and people had to be encouraged to write. If they spent half their lives writing this tome or that, only to have it knocked-off by some other unscrupulous author, there wouldn’t be much incentive and nobody would bother writing anything. By allowing an author to copyright his work, he could monetize it, and thus would continue to write great stuff that would enlighten society as a whole. Nowadays it applies to art, music, drawings, photographs and just about anything that can be created (except for ideas and words – patents and trademarks would protect those.) In the context of this blog, we’re going to talk about design in general, logos in specific, and because there’s a lot of nonsense floating around about copyright, we’re going to have a go at the top thirteen common misconceptions and debunk them, one at a time.

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Steve Douglas on October 8th, 2014

designers working for free

From dancers to writers, designers to musicians, the expectation of free work from the creative industries has become ubiquitous. While working for little or no pay has been gussied up under the so-called “sharing economy” by “disruptive” companies, it’s still not a good idea.

Picked up a great read on the Twitter machine a couple of days ago. It wasn’t specifically about design per se (though it did touch on some of the creative industries) using Lena Dunham‘s upcoming Not that Kind of Girl tour as a framework. Entitled Don’t work for free for rich people, It bemoaned the current trend of creatives and artists being expected to work for free, either to get a foot in the door, or as part of a speculative pitch in the hopes of getting hired. The takeaway is this:

“This isn’t just about unpaid labor. One reason people, especially young people with creative aspirations, work for free is to form valuable relationships that will push their careers forward. But you can’t form a valuable relationship with a rich person who can afford to but won’t pay you a reasonable wage, because your entire relationship with that rich person is based on their failure to acknowledge the value of the work you’re doing for them.”

That all rings true, no? If your work isn’t valuable enough to pay for from the get-to, how do you expect it to be viewed differently down the road. We can bring it full circle:

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Steve Douglas on October 8th, 2014

copyright thief

As the Western Bulldogs logo flap illustrates, it’s probably best to keep your new logo design under wraps until you’re ready for full bore implementation. Otherwise, you may have your lovely new mark sniped from under you.

A couple of days ago in our random design goodness feature, I told you that we were reluctant to post, tease or leak client material until it had been locked down, or at least released into the wild by the client themselves. There are several reasons for this, the most important being that when logos are tossed willy-nilly onto the internet, they’re vulnerable to getting knocked off PDQ. Sure, showing off our upcoming new logos is fun and all, but if they’re not at least moderately protected, we run the risk of them getting snapped up by folks who are, to be charitable, ethically challenged. Then we get to play a game of “who’s the chicken, who’s the egg?” in order to wrestle rightful ownership back and to stop the usurper from using our stuff to promote their stuff. This is a real and ongoing issue for designers and design buyers alike, has been for a while now and yep, it’s even happened to us when we were a little hasty in teasing some internal logos and WIP logo projects. Which brings us to today, on Twitter, when a story broke out that illustrated this position quite succinctly.

Out with the old. In with the new

Our tale features two players – The Mornington Cricket Club a Melbourne-based organization that’s been around for over a hundred years, and the Western Bulldogs, an Australian football team, also known as the Footscray Football Club and also from Melbourne. They’re no youngsters themselves, having been around in one form or another since 1877. For several years, the Bulldogs’ logo (referred both affectionately and disparagingly as RoboDog) looked like this:
robodog logo western bulldogs

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