You’ve seen them on Facebook. People asking their friends to copy something they found on Pinterest or even worse, asking them to copy your design on your own post! In the age of the internet and the low probability of getting caught, swiping another person’s design and selling it to make a quick buck is a rapidly spreading phenomenon. I constantly deal with copycats of my wreaths but most recently it involved my Louisiana Strong signs.
Two people alerted me to a woman shopping my photo around private Facebook groups looking for someone to copy my sign. They both stood up, letting her know what she was asking for was wrong and the woman who agreed to copy my work was also made aware of the situation. Like most non-artisans, they saw nothing wrong with it and believed it was their prerogative to do what they want without consequence.
“But she’s just copying the writing.”
The font style & placement of phrases on the sign is what makes it my design. You can write “Come hell or high water” & “Louisiana Strong”, on a Louisiana state sign all you want. You can also personally copy my design. What is not allowed is copying my design for profit. This includes putting it on other signs, cups, t-shirts, stickers, etc.
Why pay the designer if someone else can make it for half the price?
That’s the thing about capitalism. Everyone can not afford everything.
Besides being illegal, copycats take money away from designers. We all believe we should be compensated for the work we do, correct? When you sell another person’s design, you are accepting money for work you did not do. The person paying the copycat is just as guilty.
In total, I put 50 hours into this one sign with another 2 hours spent photographing & editing before I could even start selling it in my shop just for someone else to copy me! It’s infuriating. $50 doesn’t seem so expensive anymore, does it?
How would you feel if you spent 50 hours working on a commission based project and someone took it off your desk because it was obviously up for grabs being out in the open, and then receives the commission instead of you? That is the exact same thing as seeing something on Pinterest, copying it and then selling it like it’s your idea.
Would you keep putting in 50 hour weeks if in the end someone else was paid for your work? No, you wouldn’t. If you want beautiful things, buy from people who actually make them, not the chick who says she can copy it for $5.
*”Designers” includes anyone who makes original work. Ex: painters, craftsman/woman, graphic designers, architects, crafty person next door.
While you’re at it, learn more about what it’s like to be a maker and why you shouldn’t ask these 5 questions.