Monday, August 27, 2012

Plagiarism

Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. 

A while back, I wrote a post about how Google Image Search can be used to find out whether any of your artwork has been "borrowed" for use by others. Occasionally, when I'm sitting at the computer, I run searches for a few of my images. Last week, I found my humble little pinecone drawing (a personal favorite, mind you) all tarted up and masquerading as someone else's art—right in their banner! And the most offensive part is that the company is a design firm that offers graphic design, branding, and other creative services! Frankly, judging from the quality of their website and their other images, it's not a very successful company. But if they don't understand artwork copyright infringement, who does?





I decided to play nice to begin with, and sent the company this email:

"As a design firm, I would think that you would understand that it is illegal to use an artist's work without permission. The pinecone drawing being used in your banner and elsewhere on your website is my artwork, and was taken from my website, www.sarahmelling.com, where it is protected by copyright. If you are interested in purchasing rights to use it, I will be happy to send you a quote. Otherwise, please remove it immediately. I will look forward to your reply letting me know which option you choose."

I received this reply yesterday:

"Thanks for informing, it will be rectified soon.  Designer has been asked to remove it."

No apology, no explanation. And as of this writing, the drawing has not been removed. Grrr. I'll keep you posted.


Update! They removed it today, August 28!

16 comments:

  1. Wow, that's scary! How did you find out? Did you search for your own name on google image search? I've never tried that. My daughter is a graphic designer and she has been taught that nothing on the internet is available to use in any of her work. That's a 'given' standard in the business. That firm should have known better, they're lucky they aren't being sued (yet).

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  2. Since reading your post about Google images, I search that way frequently myself but have yet to find my work anywhere. Unbelievable that people have that much gall. I like the phrasing of the e-mail you sent; it's very well-written. I hope it all ends easily and to your satisfaction!

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  3. I think it happens more than we ever know. I think people change a slight feature and then they think it is different. This one is just disgusting. It is blatant. They actually lifted the entire image! And it was done by a designer firm? Can you imagine the company that hired this design when it finds out that it was stolen? Don't let this go. This is just sickening. Good luck.

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  4. Sarah, if you have a friend who is an attorney, which I suspect you do, ask him/her to send a snail-mail letter to the poachers. It will probably scare them into removing it. Good luck, and be sure and let us know how it turns out.
    Grrrrr.

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  5. There has to be a special hell for people like this. We can all GRRRR together. Make sure you check back to make certain that they actually do remove your art from their site. I wonder if there's a place to publicly shame them so nobody hires them?

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  6. I hate to tell you this, Sarah - but it is still there (or has been put back). Either that or they have some clever way of telling that I'm in the UK (not evident from the URL).

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  7. You're right, Amanda...I just checked and it's back! The saga continues.

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  8. Ok, this time it looks like they've taken care of it. My pine cone has been replaced by their grapes (well, hopefully they didn't steal those from someone else!)

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  9. I tweeted your post with a reference to @ajooba_ca (the Twitter name for Ajooba Web Solutions). I thought it would be of interest to their followers to know what kind of company they are following. Hope it helps!

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    1. Thank you, Lucy! That's one of the things that really unnerved me...that they are marketing themselves under false pretenses.

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  10. Oh my goodness! How absolutely horrible. I can just imagine what you were feeling when you made the discovery. So sorry!

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  11. How horrible Sarah... you have handled it well.

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  12. Sorry to hear about this Sarah, glad you managed to have it removed. No excuse for plagiarism!

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