We're all outraged by the lies and distortions told by the endless parade of propagandists from Fox News and Sarah Palin to Dick Cheney and John Boehner. I find it despicable. I'd be a hypocrite if I was silent when I caught somebody "on my team" guilty of similar unethical behavior.
Silence is consent.
So, in an effort to persuade these self-proclaimed progressives to do the right thing, I'm calling out two prominent people on the left today. It saddens me that this is necessary, and it especially saddens me that I've already spoken directly to one, and she knows (without a doubt) that what she's continuing to do is illegal and unethical, she flat out refused to correct her behavior, claiming an attorney told her she could get away with it.
So. Not. Cool.
First, Ed Schultz. Wednesday night, Ed showed a video of George W Bush with Bill Clinton on a rope line, shaking hands with Haitians. The video allegedly shows Bush shaking a Haitian's hand, then immediately wiping his hand on Clinton's shirt.
Believable, huh? Yep. Funny, too. But it isn't true.
The video (embedded above) was manipulated. It was slowed down, cleverly, right as Bush's hand pats Clinton's shoulder. In the original BBC video, it's clear that Bush is patting Clinton on the shoulder (two quick pats; seen at about 00:48) to nudge him back on schedule, as they were running late. Bill was talking too much....George was trying to keep them on time.
Now, I admit I missed Ed Schultz last night, so if he already retracted this I apologize for calling him out now. I looked around his website for a retraction or an apology, but didn't find one. Please post a link in the comments if you find one.
The thing that really bothered me about seeing Ed do this was that I saw the story about this hoax on the BBC Tuesday morning, long before The Ed Show aired. So, a simple Google search could have vetted this story before Schultz aired it at 6pm EST. That bums me out.
[EDIT] It wasn't the BBC that I saw the hoax story, it was the Guardian. It links to the BBC video:
George Bush's clean hands in Haiti George Bush unfairly mocked after video appears to show him wiping hand on Bill Clinton after handshake in Haiti
C'mon, Ed, you gotta be more conscientious! Maybe I'm an idealist, but I want progressive media to be above reproach! How else can I stand on my high horse and look down my nose at the hacks on Fox? I would really hate to give that up. Really. Don't take that away from us.
Email Ed and ask him to correct this on the air.
The second person I'm calling out is much more upsetting to me, as it has a direct impact on my (in)ability to make a living.
I've had my graphic design work stolen many times. Once, another designer put his name on my work and added it to his online portfolio. It was easily resolved; I sent a "cease and desist" letter and it was removed. Somebody once sold copyrights to my work to a third party, and that third party had no idea it was stolen work. They paid a thief for hot property. I've never been compensated. It's not really that big of a loss; it's the principle. I studied graphic design for nearly a decade, and I've invested thousands in software/computers/fonts/books etc. It's my vocation and my passion....I've been laid off three times in the last ten years.
So, a few weeks ago, I check out the Coffee Party. As a designer, I quickly see they could use some help. I consider volunteering. But, something is bugging me: the logo? It looks mighty familiar. I reminds me of something...ah, yes, it's the big iron coffee cup on the wall of my favorite indie coffeehouse nearby! I Google to see if I'm right, and the first hit I get shows the original designer of this EXACT coffee cup is this little sign-making shop in PA. Not cool.
Now, designers get inspiration from each other all the time. It happens every day, and inspiration is acceptable. Necessary, even. Sure, we all hope to create wholly original designs, but sometimes a client won't settle for anything other than "just like" another design. I once had a client who insisted on a "letter orb" exactly like one they'd found online. I refused to copy it, but I did create this (right) for them. (I really hate it; it's a knock-off and the shape of the B is all wrong! The client insisted on the shape...and the client loved it.) It's SO not original, but it's not stolen, either. The original orb? Awesome!
So, I contact the founder of The Coffee Party USA Annabel Park (Annabel'sbio) to quietly let her know her inexperienced designer has stolen a copyrighted design and this opens her and the Coffee Party to a lawsuit. I figure as soon as she knows, she'll want to act on it quickly to avoid even a hint of unethical behavior. I don't hear back from her immediately, but I finally get confirmation from one of her moderators she's aware of the problem and she'll contact me for help with a new logo. I have some free time, so I start playing around with designs. We email back and forth, she tells me she really loves my work, then, she asks me to call to discuss it further. I call her twice during the windows she told me to, and both times she doesn't answer. So, I figure she's just busy.
She calls me back, finally, and to my complete shock, she informs me that she's consulted "with several lawyers" and they told her "not to worry about it." She says they're keeping the stolen logo, as is. I'm shocked. Up until this point, I thought the whole reason we were communicating was so I could volunteer my time to help create an original logo for The Coffee Party.
Apparently, while I was working on design ideas, making sketches and getting her feedback, she was preparing a defense for plagiarism? (Why?) As soon as she reveals this, I tell her I think it's crazy to violate copyright law, and it's no way to start a "middle class" movement. This ticks her off. A lot. I apologize four times for using the word "crazy" because she keeps bringing it up, over and over. She then claims the logo is clip art, which I'm about 80% sure is wrong, but if she's right, fine. She can use royalty-free clip art legally. The conversation ends with an awkward, tense silence, then a little while later she sends me this:
March 20 at 1:28pm Report
Eileen, I just wanted to reiterate that I think you're really talented and I am very interested in working with you. I'm sorry about your disappointment with the logo but there are many opportunities coming up to contribute your design talent.
I shake off the possible implication(?) that I'm "disappointed" she's rejected my offer to redesign her logo for free - as if that's some privilege? To work for free? Designers get that a lot. Companies offer you "the chance" to design their multimedia advertising campaign solely for the "opportunity" to "build your portfolio." Yeah, I made the same offer to my accountant. No dice.
Anyway...I reply to Annabel:
I'm really struggling with this. I just can't be a party to co-opting somebody else's work.
I just spoke with the manager (I think she was the owner?) at Jamma Designs. They did, in fact, custom draw that coffee cup by hand, and therefore, they do own the copyrights, just as their website states they do. I didn't tell them why I was asking, or mention the Coffee Party in any way, and I promise I have no plans to do so.
Attorney permission or not, does this change anything for you?
Yep, I called Jamma Designs. I told them I was a graphic designer and I had a client that wanted to use their Coffee Cup for a logo, and was it possible to buy the copyrights for this purpose. She said the design was drawn by them, and they have no interest in selling the copyrights. I figured if Annabel KNEW for a fact it was copyrighted material, she'd want to do the right thing.
Three days later, Annabel finally replies:
I am comfortable with my lawyers' counsel about the current logo.
I would like for you to stop sending me messages about this to me.
OK, now I'm disappointed. I thought progressives cared about not ripping-off the little guy? I searched around, then tell her how easily I found more evidence of copyright infringement by H Daniel Marquez Rios and used as her Coffee Party logos. He even puts his name on these obviously stolen designs! Duh.
This Seattle version of the Coffee Party logo is clearly ripped off from Frasier, and the "new" space needle? That's stolen, too. Both these images come up on the first page of Google image search for "Seattle Logo."
And I finish by telling Annabel this:
Aside from inviting lawsuits, you should be deeply ashamed of yourself for defending your theft and plagiarism. I sincerely hope it never happens to you.
I'm not surprised her response was to "unfriend" me.
It's one thing to be so young and inexperienced that you don't know any better. It's entirely another to know what you're doing is wrong and defend it - for no good reason! I offered to DONATE an original and professional logo that she responded to with: "Wow that's great!" But for some inexplicable reason, she'd rather steal somebody else's work. I don't get it.
Many people assume design work is "just a drawing" and therefore not valuable. If it's so worthless, don't steal it!
We all know plagiarism is wrong, right? Design plagiarism is equally wrong and HUGELY financially damaging to designers. Most think copyright infringement harmless, but it's so not! Here's why; lets say this Coffee Party gets big - five years from now, it's like MoveOn.org or DFA. The logo is doing it's job, being the face and name ("the official stamp") of the organization.
Before it (illegally) became the logo for the Coffee Party, Jamma Designs was making and selling this sculpture to the restaurant industry. Who knows? Maybe they invested in a warehouse full of this "generic" coffee-cup sculpture? Now...it's not just their sculpture anymore, its more (it's become an identifiable logo!) how many people are going to buy a wrought-iron "Coffee Party Logo" to decorate their restaurant? (Now they have a warehouse full of junk.)
Now, what if everything "Jamma Designs" creates and advertises online gets stolen and used as a logo for another company? What would be left from them to sell? Not much. Without copyright enforcement, what could they possibly advertise that wouldn't be stolen?
It may seem like nothing but a doodle of a coffee cup, but the Nike swoosh is far less complex and we all recognize it instantly. Same with Target's red bullseye. Logos are valuable; and they are VERY hard to design well. If it was easy, people wouldn't be stealing them so often.
I hope Annabel will change her mind and make it right by either re-designing the logos or getting legal permission from the original designers. (No way I'm going to do the design work, though!)
Who's already joined the Coffee Party on Facebook? I encourage you to post on the wall and tell them to make this right! Are you going to Coffee Party meetingsthis weekend? Bring this up! Don't condone unethical, illegal practices that hurt small businesses. If we liberals don't hold "our own" accountable, we lose the right to bitch about conservative hypocrisies.
The Coffee Party/Annabel's slogan is: "Wake Up and Stand Up!" So, I'm following directions. I'm standing up. Obama says it all the time: Sunshine is the best disinfectant. What the Coffee Party is doing is wrong. Hold them accountable! My private efforts failed. I hope you'll help by shining more light on this, Kossacks.