Designer Threatened With Copyright Infringement Claims... On His Own Work

from the hurray-for-copyright dept

A whole bunch of people have been submitting this story all weekend, about how designer Jon Engle is is accused of copyright infringement for his own designs. The site is down right now, but Google cache has it. Basically, the story is that a stock art site claims that it owns the copyright on 65 logos that this guy created for clients -- and is demanding he pay $275 for each one (which is actually somewhat low, given what they could demand). He's not sure how the images got on the stock art site, but it looks like someone just took the images of logos from a showcase site, removed the text, and uploaded the icons themselves. He explained this to them, but instead of an embarrassed apology:
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.
So what did the lawyers do? They started going after all of Engle's clients, telling them that their images infringe on its copyright and that Engle is "being investigated for copyright infringement."
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.

I feel like this is nothing more than an underhanded campaign meant to demoralize me and destroy my reputation. If you read through their website you can see they work on contingency. This means they don't get paid if their client doesn't get paid. I've also made it very clear there's no way in hell that I'll ever pay up. I'll declare bankruptcy and go to work for McDonald's before that happens. Are they thinking they can beat me into submission? Do they think I'll agree to a settlement to make it all go away? Guess again. I have the truth on my side and I will NEVER pay a rip-off artist or their extortionist lawyers.
Nice to see copyright law "protecting" the artist again.

Filed Under: accusations, copyright, design, jon engle


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  1. icon
    chris (profile), 6 Apr 2009 @ 6:46am

    Re: The problem with WH's view...

    it presupposes, as immutable natural law, a reality in which every transaction, indeed, every action, requires the services of a lawyer. A sort of mirror reality wherein, if the artist's act of creation failed register a ripple in the legal ether, his creation must be deemed to have never happened!

    that's a scary thought.

    the idea that you need a lawyer to bless your idea before you can create or do anything is precisely what's wrong with concept of intellectual property. this new requirement for due diligence BEFORE the creative process is going to really hurt the creative process.

    the idea that all creativity and innovation require some sort of corporate and/or government authorization and that failure to obtain that authorization leads to some sort of punishment is positively orwellian.

    i am surprised there isn't some sort of doublespeak term for it, like createcrime:

    "In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face...; was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime..."

    the problem with that line of thinking is that it creates a notion that anything you do that might prevent an incumbent corporation (or the legal team of said corporation) from profiting is somehow criminal. i see that in the "that's stealing!" meme that comes from posters here and from the corporations themselves when a new work or idea threatens what has already been established.

    listen to anything except CD's you purchased? "that's STEALING music!" let's call that earcrime.

    read news and events anywhere but in the newspaper that you have paid to subscribe to? "that's stealing news!" let's call that readcrime.

    watch anything except network tv with the commercials or DVD purchased at the full retail price? "that's STEALING television!" let's call that eyecrime.

    use VOIP or your cell phone instead of purchasing a landline? "that's STEALING phone service!" let's call that phonecrime.

    carpool with friends or take the bus instead of leasing a new car every two years? "that's STEALING transportation!" let's call that wheelcrime.

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