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Old Nov 11, 2012, 09:20 AM   #1
marty1990
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Design plagiarism?

I've been contracted to design an infographic surrounding Star Trek. In my infographic there are cartoon versions of Kirk and Spock, however I'm a little concerned. For you see, the company I have designed the infographic for really like the look of my 'cartoony' versions of the characters, but, after looking on visual.ly, I've found an Obama/Romney infographic, and the style of Obama and Romney is pretty much the same as mine. If I keep that look on my infographic, could I be done for plagiarism, or would it be classed as just a standard design?

http://visual.ly/what-obama-and-romney-voters

That's the original, I shan't post mine as the company is hoping to use my infographic as part of an online campaign, and they don't want it live yet.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 10:44 AM   #2
Drunken Master
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Just claim it's "an homage".

That's how everyone gets away with shamelessly ripping people off these days.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 10:50 AM   #3
marty1990
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Thats the thing I didn't attempt to copy, I designed this infographic, sent it to my client, they liked it, then a friend showed me the Obama one, and now am worried.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 11:09 AM   #4
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One cannot copyright a style, only content. If your web page can be mistaken for their web page then you may have violated copyright. If it is only a similar style but with different content then there is no copyright violation.

This does extend to sub-parts of the page, for example if you lifted a cartoon on Romney, but you did not do that.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 11:18 AM   #5
marty1990
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So, even though my Star Trek characters are in the same style as Obama and Romney, it's okay if this were to get published online?

Last edited by marty1990; Nov 11, 2012 at 11:27 AM.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 11:22 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by marty1990 View Post
So, even thought my Star Trek characters are in the same style as Obama and Romney, it's okay if this were to get published online?
Aslong as the rest of the design/web page isn't similar, then you're good to go.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 12:07 PM   #7
marty1990
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yeah, everything is my own, even the characters. just the design of the characters is similar to the romney/obama on the above infographic.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 12:07 PM   #8
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Personally, I would be more concerned about the potential copyright infringement of Star Trek.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 12:15 PM   #9
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I've seen other very similar info graphics but they had different content, like yours I'm guessing, so I have to agree with everyone else. You're good to go.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 12:35 PM   #10
marty1990
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Personally, I would be more concerned about the potential copyright infringement of Star Trek.
Yeah, that was my concern too, but they aren't bothered, so that's their decision. The characters are my doing, but if there's similar designs, I'll just leave them as they are then.

Thanks.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 02:00 PM   #11
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If general styles could be copyrighted, everyone, myself included, would be getting sued once a month. Like someone else said, I would be more worried about Star Trek than anything else. That's more of the client's concern, though.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 08:43 PM   #12
lucidmedia
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That's more of the client's concern, though.
I respectfully disagree. You cannot absolve yourself of legal responsibility just by saying "someone else told me to / someone else paid me to...". The courts do not work like that (unless you can prove you were coerced).

If you drew it, you infringed it.

If a copyright lawyer comes after this project, both the artist and client will bear responsibility. Do you think your client will protect you? Pay for your damages? In my experience clients are pretty quick to throw designers under a bus.

I am not a lawyer, but I have hired copyright lawyers to protect my intellectual property and won. These guys make $800/hr and, in my case, hit the other guy so hard his book publishing company had to declare bankruptcy.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 08:56 PM   #13
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I respectfully disagree. You cannot absolve yourself of legal responsibility just by saying "someone else told me to / someone else paid me to...". The courts do not work like that (unless you can prove you were coerced).

If you drew it, you infringed it.

If a copyright lawyer comes after this project, both the artist and client will bear responsibility. Do you think your client will protect you? Pay for your damages? In my experience clients are pretty quick to throw designers under a bus.

I am not a lawyer, but I have hired copyright lawyers to protect my intellectual property and won. These guys make $800/hr and, in my case, hit the other guy so hard his book publishing company had to declare bankruptcy.
You know, I wasn't really sure of that statement. I probably shouldn't have put it. I've never had to design something with content from one copyrighted entity for another entity, so I really have no idea what I'm talking about.
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 07:55 AM   #14
R1PPER
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The bottom line is...dont worry too much. There might be a 1% chance of there being any repercussions from this. Just answer the brief and if anything negative comes then pull it or adapt it.
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 09:18 AM   #15
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You probably have nothing to worry about but seriously, I wouldn't take legal advice from an internet forum. If you have concerns then speak to a lawyer. If you can't afford to then raise your concerns in writing with your client and make sure you have indemnity insurance.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 05:52 AM   #16
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You've made an infographics with star wars characters and are worried it may look too much like a list infographics with two faceless people? i wouldn't worry the slightest.

i think you will find plenty more examples of similar styled graphics if you do a search.
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Old Nov 15, 2012, 12:48 PM   #17
tgurske
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It has to be damn close to be an issue. It's hard to protect a design. If you take text, a photo or an exact drawing, then you're screwed. But, an overall design has to be extremely close to even be considered a problem.
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