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You found out your Paid Artist is plagiarizing something?

Discussion in 'Visual & Sound Design' started by Xyphien, Nov 25, 2017.

  1. If you've been working with an artist for a decent amount of time, and after a huge investment, let's say of around $2,000 you found out that the person has been plagiarizing his artwork. Not in an illegal way, however in a way that it is quite obvious he/she is stealing the artwork. Example below:


    What would you do in that situation? It's enough changes that it's not illegal, however if you sell your product you know people will eventually put two and two together.
  2. First of all I'd review the contract that was written out to see if anything was written there that would help shed light on what to do. A contractor shouldn't be putting your company into legal hot-water.

    If you're not a limited liability company then it's even more dangerous should the original material's creator decide to pursue legal action.

    Ignore anyone who says "it should be fine, keep it" - that is not sound legal or business advice. You should consult legal counsel if you have access to any.

    The options you have are:
    • Request a re-draw at no extra cost (this is the best case scenario).
    • Request reimbursement and agree that you are fully rejecting the work (difficult to pursue).
    Next time make sure there's a contract of work that covers this scenario and is very explicit about it so there's no question about what you should do. Make sure you are very clear about your request for original artwork.

    A lot of these issues is down to poor communication, rather than malice intent. I expect this artist saw inspiration and thought it would be okay as they weren't made clear that this is commercial work that needs to be in clear water legally.

    Again, absolutely ignore anyone who says "it should be fine, keep it", there are a lot of amateur developers in this community with no legal experience or experience dealing with contractors and employees.
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  3. How do you steal something in a not illegal way? XD
    Anyway, it's one thing to get inspired by something or get told to make something look like something, but it's a different thing to outright copy something. It's fine to use references but your finished product should visibly and obviously differ from any references used. I don't think that's the case for the example and I would definitely call the artist out on it and hear them out because if I pay that much money I expect proper service.
  4. well, if you trace over the mona lisa people will still notice (yes, it still is illegal), but it rather looks like a quote, though as it's supposed to be something own you should ask your artist if they can do something else? Like they can look at references but not trace it, if you know what i mean. IDK man, for that price I'd expect them to come up with their own stuff. Tracing things and claiming it to be all yours is lying and illegal, especially when you want to sell the products. Just DON'T do it, ask them to redo the drawings.
  5. To be honest, I don't think the changes there are enough to not give the original artist(s) a case against you if the artwork is consistently this close to the original(s). There's absolutely nothing wrong with using artwork as a reference while drawing, but in this case the creature, pose, outfit, even the stone he's holding are nearly identical. Your artist failed to adapt these elements into anything original.

    As far as what to do next, Xilefian is right on the money. Most problems stem from some form of miscommunication by one of the parties involved, so in the future make sure you're very very clear on what you're looking for.

    I hope you can work something out with them - they've clearly got the talent to get the artwork done, but taking shortcuts like that risk both your and their own reputation.
  6. The Mona Lisa is in the public domain, so you can do whatever you want with it, although i doubt the Louvre would let you trace it :)

    You can do anything you want with art released into the public domain. Then there are various creative commons licenses with varying restrictions. In this case, I'm guessing the original work in question is NOT public domain or CC. as such, it's probably okay to make a free game that uses that level of inspiration (basically an 7 or 8 out of 10 copy) but if you're making a commercial project you'd likely run into copyright issues. i'm not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice (i do a lot of work with public domain art so i try to have a good grasp on the copyright stuff). ask an attorney, but i definitely would NOT move forward with that art in a commercial project.

    ask for a re-do. if you've given that much work to the artist, s/he should be more than willing to make this right since it's unusable commercially. you'll need to ask if there's any other work with such a high degree of similarity too. hopefully the artist will be honest with you. i guess you could always run the images you get through google image search and see what pops up, but that's burdensome and if you can't trust the artist, well, that's not good.
  7. No, it doesn't matter if your title is freeware or paid software, doesn't matter if it's a poster you stuck up outside a shop or a poster you're selling to hundreds of people - the same copyright restrictions and issues apply. Whether you are chased down for it or not is based on what the original material's legal team decides is best for their interests, it's not based on how much money you're making from their material.

    Some studios allow you to use their properties and images with some restrictions (as a sort of community license, Sega is an example here with Sonic fan-games, as is Microsoft for all their game properties - bet you didn't expect that from Microsoft?), but unless you've read the fine-print and are willing to defend it in court I still think it's a bad idea to distribute work that is plagiarising material.

    Again; ignore anyone who says "it should be fine, keep it".
  8. Update: after getting in touch with the person, he will be re-doing all the pictures that he's done like this. 5 out of 20 of the images were like that, and he said he's more than happy to have them changed :)
  9. Forget all the legal stuff. The point is, he almost copied it to a T. He probably would have made it identical if it wasn't illegal. Get rid of him, get someone else who is going to make your work look original and legit.

    If I was paying an artist and he tried to get away with that, he'd get a mouthful from me

    Although, I will say this: If he used the original image as inspiration to create his own variation... I might let it fly.
  10. There's like 12 Mona Lisa's xP. All of them identical but made from different artists since the original. But yeah, that is a very obvious ripoff of the original artist right there. The artist you're paying for "original" content is not giving original content, which would only hurt your project and you in the long run, especially if you've been paying them for almost all of your art assets. That's not a real artist in my eyes...that's just someone who lacks creativity and isn't deserving of payments anywhere near that high.

    What could be done to make such an image different even with the same pose? Simply put, change the background, color of the orc, change what he's wielding from a rock to something like a hammer or an axe, and make enough changes to his face so that is actually looks original and unrelated. Sure, it might be obvious where you got the pose, but since it is now adapted to your own means, this would be original content. A good artist can take any reference and adapt it, and if they're being paid $2000 lol they better know the basics of how to do something like that if they want to use other people's work as a reference.

    But yeah, people try to rip devs off all the time with things like that sadly. Especially when it comes to new devs, who might not be aware of where that content came from originally until they start getting heat from players who notice it. Not the type of attention you want on a project lol if you want that project to survive day 1.
  11. The image of the Mona Lisa is in the public domain, so people are allowed to copy it as much as they like. It's a different situation to this one.
  12. Yep, but I mean they have literally 12 copies of it in the museum it's in too. xP It prolly has like thousands worldwide I'd imagine. It's not exactly too difficult to copy either since it's rather simple in the style it was made in. Very different situations for sure.

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