Home » » Plagiarism


Let's All Just Plagiarize! Yes, that's what I said. It has become very disturbing and sad that every day, I see someone who is using someone else's work and selling it online as their own.

For instance, I just came across a group for (the now cancelled series) Revenge. Someone is selling t-shirts with the show title and main star's photos on them. Do they have licensing rights? Probably not. Did this "designer" take the photo they are using? Absolutely! They took it right out from under the actual photographer's and network's noses and stole it to sell on their own shirts. Photographers work very hard at what they do and deserve their paychecks too, and I don't think networks look at this kind of theft lightly.

I also keep seeing Oakland A's t-shirts appear on my Facebook feed. While cute, many border on copyright infringement, but these so-called "designers" will just continue making money on the Oakland A's name as long as people continue to support them by making purchases.

I created a tattoo many years ago and posted it on DeviantArt. And even though it had an explicit disclaimer on it saying that it is original work and my copyright, someone used it on their artwork and claimed it as theirs because they found it online. I was able to get them to delete the offending work of art.

Another instance where we at Sabre Design were researching, we found that two nonprofit organizations had taken a custom flyer that we created for a client and Photoshopped it. They simply replaced the empty areas with their own verbiage for their event but kept the rest in place. This practice is very disturbing. We called both offenders (the old fashioned way; via telephone) and were told the same excuse, "A staff member found 'clipart' online and simply used it." When we explained to them that the "clipart" was custom, they said that it looks like "clipart" so that gave them the rights to use it. Then we explained further that the so-called "clipart" had to be Photoshopped in order to be utilized, they apologized. Unfortunately we will never see damages from the use of our work and neither will our client. We also took the opportunity to discuss infringements and how a nonprofit such as theirs could lose everything they've worked so hard for by doing something they felt is so trivial. It especially hit home when we told them who the client is that they stole from.

It's a very scary world out there for us "real" artists and illustrators. No one wants to stop creating original work, but when people continue to read how so-called artists/illustrators such as a well-known one who continues to reap the millions of dollars he does for plagiarizing other's work, it just becomes a matter of time when just anyone with a computer starts being recognized as a full-fledged "designer" because they stole someone's work.

The law needs to work better for those of us who are honest in our works.

If you're a "real" designer/artist/illustrator and you're reading this, please educate others, especially your clients. It starts with you protecting your work. If you're not any of these, please educate yourself, protect yourself by not using just anything you find online. Give credit where credit is due and make sure you get permission, because forgiveness can be expensive in the world of copyrights and trademarks. 

Article By Christina Wilkinson


About cw