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[personal profile] janecameron
Someone else is copying my designs! What can I do to stop them...?

There's a lot of things you can do ...
  • Watermark your pictures - that way people know where they have come from.
  • Look up intellectual property law etc. - the British Library run sessions.
  • Consider being a member of ACID (anti copying in design) or Own-It. There's also the Creative Barcodes scheme too.
  • If you have created an unique product / design and want proof that you did it first, then consider taking a photo of each new item and emailing it to yourself. If you want to print and post it you could do that too (as that way you have email timestamp and/or date postmark on proof of posting form). If you do the postal thing, sign across the envelope flap and don't open it when it arrives!
  • You can also get a boilerplate "Cease and Desist" letter (ask your local friendly lawyer) which threatens action unless they stop doing the direct copy, which you can send to them.
However, unless it is something which only you do in that very specific way, you often can't do much about it.

Here's an example: If you do round coasters with fish on, and someone else copies your idea and does the same thing but with birds on then you can't do anything as round coasters are a common thing, but if they use your own unique hand-drawn fish designs without your permission then that's another matter entirely!

If you see another person (possibly on Facebook) who has started using your own unique designs in their own work, a polite message is the best starting point, as often that may be all it takes to stop them using your designs. Occasionally, if you were considering licensing your designs, this may be able to be turned to your advantage (profit!) as you may be able to consider a partnership.

"Naming and shaming" in public just makes you look really bad.

Here's another few helpful links:

Sample of "Cease & Desist" letter.

What to do if you see someone copying your work on the internet.


Important Note: This is just my opinion, which is no substitute for proper legal advice. If you have any other resources you would like me to include in this post, please do add them below. Thank you!
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September 2015


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