GDE730, GDE730 - Week 3

Week 3 : IP Law and Copyright & Workshop Challenge

This week is another huge topic which is full of vital information. the Ideas Wall has been so useful in finding out where people stand with certain cases and highlighting how the Copyright area of graphic design is so vague.

My intention for the next few years is to work within a design studio and therefore knowledge of Copyright and IP Laws is necessary but when I decide to eventually branch out and follow through with my “speculative” idea of my own studio space, it’s absolutely paramount to fully understand these laws. Of course, having a fantastic legal team such as Jonny and Kevin from this week’s podcast, they would be able to help you in any scenario. We can turn to the internet for answers, however due to the slight differing laws in different countries, we have to be extra careful in searching for answers that way.

Paperwork – Firstly, it’s become super evident that you MUST have your paperwork in order. Not only to save from future headaches when asked to show the relevant paperwork but also to ensure your designs etc are correctly protected. They must be correctly signed, filed and stored.

Social Media – this has been a huge factor in the majority of the cases we’ve looked at this week. I’ve found it super interesting how the power of social media is something that can really help a designer when taking on a bigger corporation for copyright. Suddenly, having the backing of hundreds, if not thousands, of social media users can completely tilt the outcome of an argument. Take Tuesday Bassen for example – I read so much into this online because I was hugely fascinated. Firstly, she was notified on social media by someone who had seen her designs for sale in Zara (another benefit of social media in all of this). But, as I read more into this case, I was really on the fence about who was in the wrong here. Part of me recognised her designs in the items Zara was selling and understands, as a designer that’s really frustrating to see. BUT, her work would never have gained that much traction without this case, and she appears to be doing very well for herself. Admittedly, as Callum pointed out, can we hold this against her? In taking on this big corporation she’s really made a name for herself and wouldn’t we all want some sort of compensation like that.

It led me to thinking about what happens to our designs when we post to social media – I do this with my photography and in posting it, acknowledge that it could be used elsewhere without my permission but isn’t this the main problem with social media?? I know, if people were doing things the right way, they’d contact the designer and use the property within the laws. But it’s almost easier to just copy something and take the design without following the legalities. I don’t think you can feasibly freely post something onto social media and get pissy if you found someone had taken the design – your work is protected and you could take them on quite easily but you put it out there in the first place to gain more followers…

Perhaps a very cynical view, but the more I researched into this, the more I found designers taking on bigger corporations with the social media backing and coming out of it very well off.

Take, for example, the other plagiarism instance – the Tokyo Olympics and the Belgian Theatre de Liege. Seriously, could the designer on the Tokyo Olympics have ever seen the Belgian theatre’s logo and gone “oh ye, perfect, I’ll have that for the Olympics”. If so, seriously bad designer and seriously bad imagination.

Armin Vit, who defended Sano;s design said the following:

With a logo this simple and using basic geometric shapes, similarities are bound to happen… Anyone that says the Tokyo 2020 designer plagiarised the Belgian theatre logo has no idea what they are talking about, and is just adding adding noise to social media. It’s a coincidence and nothing more.”

Armin Vit

I honestly couldn’t agree more – granted there are similarities but the shapes are SO simplistic and familiar I just don’t believe it’s not a coincidence. The Belgian theatre was fairly unknown and this is probably the most amount of media coverage it could ever have.

Vit goes on to discuss how, with the rise of social media and globalisation within design, it’s becoming “exponentially more difficult” to launch a logo and not be taken down by someone who somewhere, 10 years ago, had a similar shape in their design. If you, as a designer did copy someone’s design cut and dry, then you kind of don’t deserve to have that logo/design attributed to your name for lack of imagination.

And, in the case of the Floating Islands and Avatar – if you look online, there’s hundreds of artists, designers, stage designers and even kids drawings of floating islands. So Roger Dean just decided to take on Avatar because of the amount of money involved and the exposure the film got. Again, relating to social media, Dean’s argument was that there were hundreds of comments online about the similarities. Can this really be used now!?

It’s made me think A LOT about how quickly and easily we put our work out there, in danger of someone else taking our work but also wanting to celebrate what we do at the same time. It’s so important to protect your own designs before launcheg. with date stamps on digital work or clear watermarks.

And on the other hand, how amazingly easy it is to build a case against someone using social media even though the case could be spectacularly weak – as Jonny Mayner said on the podcast:

there is a very interesting correlation often between the weakness of someone’s legal case and their willingness to go public, including on social media, just to shame someone for what is perceived as copying…

Jonny Mayner

I really enjoyed this week, there were thousands and thousands of examples of current or previous copyright violations. I’ve loved reading the other blogs studying current IP examples. But, the more I thought about what Alec said on the Workshop Challenge video, to look at speculative objects and consider the legal issues they could face…

The Future of AI and IP…

There are so many debates surrounding the use of AI to create art – is it changing the meaning of “creative”? Is it a dangerous way of permitting AI to have more freedom when perhaps we’re not ready for it?

I’ve been loving this topic but really struggling to find one example of work that is more speculative that I can focus on for this challenge. Personally, the whole topic is hugely interesting. Conventional UK IP Laws do allow for AI produced works but state the following:

Without a human author the work does not satisfy the requirement to be subject to copyright law (section 1(a) CDPA).


They cover the issue of AI produced works and still the copyright is owned “by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken”. There are still no laws yet to cover the work that could be created completely autonomously without human input. We are not far away from this either – meet AICAN. A “nearly autonomous artist” that has learned from genres and styles of art to produce it’s own work. This article makes for a really interesting read…

Should this be taken much further, Copyright Laws will have to change and adapt to the changing world of AI… Surely just a computer programmer can’t be the sole owner of the copyright? Granted the computer (hopefully unless some I,Robot crap happens) won’t fight back and claim the Copyright… When the AI machine is the only “thing” responsible for the computer generated works, will it continue to be purely just a human that owns the copyright?

At what point does human intervention become so little, the IP ownership can’t be granted?

Should AI generated works have any protection whatsoever?’%20Art%20%26%20AI%20Lab,from%20that%20of%20human%20artists.


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