Douglas Okasaki of Gulf News
has started his new column
7 WAYS TO AVOID PLAGIARISM IN DESIGN
Look, it's copycat! I've seen it before. It's the same design used in other brands or advertisements. Is this acceptable? Why this is happening nowadays? Is it very creative or lacking creativity? No new ideas? Where is the originality gone? Is it lack of talent? Or plain laziness?
It is noticed that lately a large number of "coincidences" in design work has been appearing with a big similarity to the public knowledge either in print or online. What should be happening? Are designers copying more nowadays? Or is it just coincindence ? Or is it pure plagiarism?
The truth is that with the advanced technology and Internet it has become easier to access visual information in a high resolution; Google image has option to choose images from 70 MP (megapixels) enough to print in a good quality; the increase of online free service website to upload images and photos such as Flickr, Fotolog, Facebook, that can also serve as online portfolio. With all these facilities, it has become very easy to copy a design or be inspired by the work.
With the same advanced technology and, of course, Internet, it has become very easy to discover and detect plagiarized design work; the social networking sites fulfill this function of sharing any information instantly. With this platform, many people can easily publish a plagiarized design anywhere in the world. However, there is high probability that plagiarized material will be discovered sooner or later. The network has no boundary.
All designers have already this concern or conflict in mind about plagiarism or copyright issue in any situation during a work process of producing a work as layout, information graphics or simple illustration. Often, it is believed, erroneously, that any content available on the Internet now belongs to the "public domain" and may be freely used. This is a mistake that has brought serious issues to people who, through ignorance of the law, improperly appropriated texts, images or other types of content available on the Internet. Worse still is the ownership and use of digital products marketable.
Each country has specific laws applied for Internet, but many countries use Berne copyright convention. In the US, almost everything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is copyrighted and protected, whether it has a notice or not. Then, plagiarism and copyright issues are very serious matter that all designers need to pay attention to avoid any future problem. Here are the seven ways to avoid being labeled plagiarism.
1 ASK FOR AUTHORIZATION
If you found an image or picture on the Internet that you really want to use, enter in to a contact with the author and ask for authorisation before using it. Never use the original material without prior knowledge of the originator.
2 REDRAW. RECREATE AND TRANSFORM
Reinvent or recreate the image based on the original; you can use the image as reference and redraw in illustrator, using different colours, texture and put your personal touch or impression, but the result need to be very different from the original copy.
3 BORROW THE IDEA BUT NOT STEAL
You can be inspired by the layout diagram, great illustration or typology, but you can never copy the PDF page and only update your text in the stolen page. It is hard work to redraw or reinvent the page, but definitely it would be harder to explain the plagiarism if discovered.
4 ASK FOR HELP
If there are illustrators in your art department, ask for their help to produce the illustration or image that's on your mind, instead of using any image from Internet. It is safer and it is original.
5 IMAGE LIBRARY
There are aplenty of commercial website with huge royalty free copyright that you can use for a monthly or year fee cost. Here are some of the useful links:
6 PRODUCE YOUR OWN IMAGE
If you have a good resolution camera, why not produce your own image? You can ask your friends to be the model or you can make the production for the shot, and the advantage is that you will have all control between image and page layout.
7 IN THE DOUBT, DON'T USE IT
Make it as a rule, if you have a doubt of the image source, do not use it. It is better to take this precaution before it is published to avoid all the problems it can cause for you and your company.
Be aware about Internet and copyright issues. Below is a list of useful websites to inform you of the rules: