copyright issues

So this is kinda scary, but I thought I should put it out there because there are a lot of artists on Tumblr.

Years ago when we first opened the shop, the tattoo artist we opened the shop with “created” some art for our logos. We didn’t realize he’d stolen the logos from a couple computer games until about a year later when one of our customers recognized it.

We freaked and called a lawyer. We were worried the game company would come after us. We took the logos down and started coming up with new ones, but everything had been up for a year, we had business cards out there, and once things are on the internet, it’s permanent, right?

The lawyer looked at everything and told us “change the direction of three tufts of hair on the animal you used for the main logo and on the second one just change the shade of red to a visibly darker or lighter color.”

We were like uhm okay? But what about copyright issues.

He said, “If you’re that worried, mirror the image, but make sure you change the three small tufts of hair. That changes the original artwork enough that it won’t stand up in court if the game company comes after you. Do that and they can never touch any of your money or your business.”

It was a shock to all of us because why the hell are there copyright laws if you can just smudge things a bit and you’re good to go after stealing someone else’s work?!

We ended up taking all the art down and creating new logos anyway because I didn’t like the idea of stealing someone else’s work, but still it’s something that boggles my mind, especially when people complain about companies like Hot Topic stealing art.

If you go after them, you’ll lose. They have professionals who can change the art JUST enough that you can fight it all you want and you’ll still lose in court along with all the money you spent on a lawyer.

One of my current artists used to work for a big company making designs for them, and every time he did, he had to hit 300 points on a dot system for their tiny logo, keeping the logo EXACTLY the same so the computer didn’t throw up any red flags, otherwise it wasn’t considered their exact logo. A 10% change from their logo was all anyone needed to keep the lawyers from that company from going after them.

Until copyright laws catch up with technology, artists are risking everything by sharing their work online.