Logo Theft and Fighting Back

As it is illegal to break into someones home and steal their belongings it is also illegal to steal work from a designers portfolio. There is no difference, that is the designer's (and likely a paying client's) property and no one else has the right to use it.

Im not talking about a designer getting a little too much "inspiration" from another. I mean actually 'Save As > to desktop' lifting, stealing, copying, THIEVING, from a portfolio and using the work for their own promotion. This is something every designer should be aware of. This is something logo designers Fraser Davidson and Joe Bosack, among others, face constantly. Their designs have been stolen multiple times from semi-pro sports teams to wannabe-graphic designers. Below, is the most recent example of theft from Fraser's portfolio, an Oakland Raiders concept. So far, the thieves have been completely unresponsive.

Matt Kauzlarich is another recent victim of logo theft: http://matthiason.deviantart.com/art/SJ-Sharks-Boucher-Helmet-Logo-116705549 His Sharks word mark concept lifted by an airbrush artist to paint the on Sharks goalie Brian Boucher's helmet.

The purpose of this post is to make the public a little more aware of this injustice. It seems these designers are in a losing battle as legal action can be costly and time consuming, and in the most recent case with Mr. Davidson, the thieves dont respond to email or messages at all. Im not asking anyone to read my other articles or for any type of self promotion, but i do ask that you pass this particular post along anywhere and everywhere you can. This is about making as many people aware of the stolen property as possible in support of Fraser, Joe, Matt, and anyone else who has faced a similar problem. Be sure to add other examples if you can!

Fraser Davidson: http://www.fraserdavidson.co.uk
Joe Bosack: http://www.joebosack.com
Matt Kauzlarich: http://matthiason.deviantart.com

I believe the more exposure their work has the safer it is. Pass it through Twitter, Facebook, Google +, make a flyer and hang it up! However you can just send it out there! In the meantime, heres some tips for the rest of us to protect our work and/or try to get it back. I wasnt able to find any current stealings from Joe Bosack, but he did have this to say on the topic. . .

As designers our greatest means of promotion is our work and the only way to exploit that is to get that work in front of people. Clearly one of the best ways to do that is via the internet in a number of forums, including personal/corporate sites and places like Dribbble or Logo Lounge. The other edge to that double edged sword is that the work is now neatly packaged for those who want to claim it as there own.

I'm not a big fan of watermarking a design as I think it can distort things and presents the work in a way that it was not intended to be seen. Adding an effect might be a better solution as you can control the context in which it is seen and in some instances enhance the presentation."
- Joe Bosack, Joe Bosack Graphic Design Co.

Watermark Everything - its unflattering for a portfolio presentation, as Joe points out, but a watermarked image is less "usable" than an unmarked one. just an option to keep in mind. You could also have an unmarked PDF version to send to clients/creative directors that you trust.

Use effects on presentations - This is one of Fraser's tricks that others have used as well. Skewing the perspective, using lens blurs, and adding grunge textures to your logo presentations make them harder to lift and reproduce.

Send thieves and invoice? - This is my idea, but i honestly cant be sure of the legality of it. if theres no binding contract i suppose the invoice is worthless, but its just a scare tactic. Double or triple the value of your work and send it to the thieves on an invoice. Hopefully they will drop the stolen work rather than pay the large invoice. if they do happen to pay it? Congratulations i suppose.

Cease and desist letter - Try writing a C&D email. this is probably the best action to take immediately if your work has already been lifted. Take a look at this one: http://www.rightsforartists.com/examcease.html

Have a lot of friends - The more people you know, the more "eyes" you have working for you. Networking is something every designer should be doing, but now theres another reason to do it. And if you recognize someone elses design being lifted, let them know about it.