Designer Accused of Copying His Own Work By Stock Art Website

April 5, 2009

This angers me too much to describe. Judging the by reaction across the internet the case just blew up in the law firms face.

Read the full article here

I was first contacted by a stock art site in July of last year. They hit me with a bill for a whopping $18,000! I had an account with the site. Years ago I purchased an illustration of a chef’s hat for a client’s project. So, I thought this was some accounting mistake. Nope. This was a bill for new images. Very familiar images. They were images from several of my logos; 65 of them in fact. That breaks down to about $275 per image. They actually wanted me to pay them $275 for each one of MY images!

Once the sticker shock wore off the obvious question came to mind. Where the hell did they get these from? It seems as if most or all of them were lifted from my LogoPond showcase. They especially seemed to favor the ones that made it to the gallery.

My theory is that someone copied my artwork, separated them from any typography and then posted them for sale on the stock site. Someone working for the site either saw my LP showcase or was alerted to the similarities. They then prepared the bill and sent it to me. The good thing is that the bill gives me a record of every single image they took from me. That helps me gather dates, sketches, emails, etc to help me prove my case. The bad thing is that despite my explanations and proof, they will not let this go.

When I refused to pay the bill they hired a law firm specializing in copyright infringement. The attorney called and offered a settlement of $18,000. How is that any different than the bill? I refuse to pay THEM for work I created. That is the epitomy of ridiculous. The attorney didn’t like my response. He threatened to sue. I say BRING IT ON! I have no doubt I can win in court.

Here’s the link to the newly revived LogoPond discussion from August 2008: Copyright Lawyer

However, the new tactic I discovered this morning is so much harder to fight. They are calling or emailing every one of my clients they can find. They inform the client that I’m being investigated for copyright infringement and that the logo I designed for them may have been stolen from their client. After discovering my ban from Design Outpost I began contacting clients to see exactly who they’ve been in touch with. So far, I’ve heard back from three. In every case so far my client is furious with me. They took the lawyer’s warning at face value without bothering to contact me. I understand their reaction to an extent. I’m sure they’re worried that they may be sued as well for using ’stolen’ artwork and the best thing they can do is distance themselves from me.

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