Plagiarism and Copyright on the Internet

CopyrightThe simplest advice of all is if you want to protect your Intellectual Property and don’t want it to be copied, stolen or abused – don’t publish it on the Internet. Be your work words, photographs, websites or anything else that can be described as creative this is the only sure way to protect yourself. However, it’s nigh on impossible these days to run any business without making a certain amount of examples and information about your business easily available. (The same can be pretty much applied to your private life too with the prevalence of Social Networking sites like Facebook!)

Now, here’s a short story for you by way of example; After a somewhat ‘entertaining’ evening I knocked together a little t-shirt design for a bit of fun on a site I use – I am not going to mention the site here, for the simple reason that despite feeling let down by them, it remains one of my favourite sites and I have no wish to get myself banned…

This t-shirt – drop your politics and personal opinions here – was a mickey take of the (in my opinion) Diana inquest fiasco. Having been subjected on a Lanzarote forum to an ongoing, and ludicrous debate, from a number of conspiracy theorists I decided to have a joke with a couple of friends.

If you’re easily offended by comments on this topic – look away now. The image appears lower down the page…

In bullet points, here is the chain of events;

  • The t-shirt design was uploaded to the site in question on 6th April
  • It received a number of positive comments from like minded individuals who took it in the vein it was intended over the next couple of days
  • About 6 or 7 days later, as I recall, someone sent me the address to this article from the Daily Telegraph in Australia about an Australian t-shirt company called Goat Boy who had seemingly copied the idea
  • Strictly speaking this is not a breach of copyright as nobody owns ‘words’ or the image of Diana, but for a company claiming to be ‘original’ it’s pretty poor form
  • A number of other comments arrived in the ensuing couple of days which led me to believe that other users of the site saw what this company had done as a copy, and a very nice lady in Australia approached them on my behalf to ask. They responded that they had been sitting on the design for five years? (does that really sound very likely?)
  • Rather perturbed that what I had done as essentially a joke was getting mass media coverage on TV and in the press, and being used for financial gain, I decided to write to both the Daily Telegraph and The Today Tonight show – no replies
  • To get Goat Boy to crawl out of the woodwork (they had already been given my email address and had ignored mail from me) I posted another t-shirt design on the site accusing them by name of stealing ideas, the description said that I would happily remove it if they provided the documentary proof they claimed to have
  • Sure enough Goat Boy did crawl out from under their stone, got that t-shirt removed – which, frankly I expected, and responded with a comment that they had this same documentary proof (calling me a ‘whinging Pom’ – really guys for someone who sells themselves as ‘original’ it´s not very imaginative is it!)
  • I responded telling them I would remove my original design when I’d seen that proof, by this time I’m actually getting bored of the whole thing – but I’m not really the type of person to let things drop
  • Of course I have not had a response
  • From this point the website removed my original, saying that I had breached copyright in using the image I had – which is not the case – it was taken from the public domain and manipulated before use
  • The website again passed my details on to Goat Boy to allow them to contact me – of course they have not.

So here it is the design on the t-shirt….

Diana: She’s Dead, Get Over It! t-shirt design

…and here is the link to the Goat Boy version that I allege was an imitation. (I’ve refrained from using a thumbnail so as not to get accused of ‘stealing’ it from their website)! I wonder where they sourced their image?

I’ll leave it to our viewers to judge for themselves whether they think I’m right or not here…

Goat Boy (Peter isn’t it?) – if you are reading this my offer still stands, I am happy to remove this post when you supply me verifiable copies of the documentation you have claimed on three occasions to have. I can’t really say fairer than that can I? Do feel free to ‘whinge’ about my allegation in the comments on this site as I am happy to enter into either open or private discussion…