Take a look at this short video by BBC; an interview with four UK designers discussing how other brands have copied their work, and in most cases, selling exact knock-offs. The clincher is these brands sell the copies as their original designs.
With the explosion of the internet came the belief that content on line should be free, and a casual attitude developed towards using copyrighted work. If you use or download copyrighted digital content without paying for it, or sell other designers work- you are stealing from the creator. In the knitting world, I have seen patterns created by designers, and knit by others to be sold as originals. This behaviour is often innocent enough, but is also stealing – pure and simple. My work has been posted on sites without my permission. And until you have felt the sting of this behaviour you can’t know how the creator feels.
I strongly believe that all creators, including designers, writers, and musicians deserve the recognition, as well as the monetary benefits from their creations because designing is their job. You certainly would not expect to be unpaid for the work you do. During my university education, I came face to face with academic plagiarism. The following is a story of an experience I had as an undergraduate student.
One evening I was painting fabric in the lab for a textile surface design class. I decided to leave my portfolio of samples (I was using them to paint from) out overnight because I was returning to finish them in the morning. When I returned the next day, my portfolio samples had disappeared. The portfolio had been evaluated, so I didn’t have to redo the samples. None the less I was upset, considering my portfolio was the only one taken. As it turned out, I never did find my samples. Move forward a year later; I was sitting in a graduate seminar, in which students presented their theses topics. As one student was presenting her design portfolio, I watched in shock as my design motifs appeared before me on the screen. I was livid, so I went to the Graduate Students Association for advice, but there really wasn’t anything I could do. I resolved my anger by believing that what goes around comes around. Here’s the thing about designed material; all one has to do is tweak a detail or two and claim it as one’s own. It is very difficult to prove. What this student should have done was ask for my permission to use the designs, and I would have been more than happy to oblige.
If you’ve read my posts, I admit to using other’s work as inspiration, and to replicate designs, but I never claim them as my own or sell the work. Like art, another designer’s creations is purely for my enjoyment. I also make sure I reference the original creator, and reveal where any images come from. In the end a designer wants to be appreciated and acknowledged for the work they create. They deserve it!