It's OK to admire. Not cool to steal.
I just got a very polite response by Ina Bobnjarić, International Relations Manager from Lado. Their site, as it usually happens, was outsourced to a design company and she will investigate with them to find out what happened - only to reach the unmistaken conclusion that they copied our work instead of coming up with an original piece for their client. This could be a typical case where Lado is also a victim, like me, of people with no ethics or, in the best scenario, not much critical sense.
In another e-mail, Lado tells me they contacted their designer and "he apologizes for this event and says it was not he's intention to use anyone’s design so that this was coincidence". This was a direct quote. What's shocking here is that their designer actually thinks he can claim the design wasn't copied. It looks the same and it has our code in there, but that's just coincidence.
Why do people copy other people's work? I have no idea. And I have tried really hard to understand it. But at this moment, I can't. I used to think it was a matter of bad ethics and making up for the lack of skills. But I've seen some very capable people doing it before.
This week, I found two "admirers" who copied a design I did for my own site, back in 2010 (not the current version).
The first is a photography magazine from the south of Brazil, my home Country. The moment I knew about their "homage", I noticed their link was almost an exact copy of my site. They took all the code and even some of my text and images (which I am guessing they are replacing as they go along with construction). Here's their awesome job, for your appreciation.
The second "fan" is a Croatian traditional music company stabilished in 1949, called Lado. Here's their work done over my design.
They even left bits of code referencing to my domain (which is how I found out about them). I wrote both sites about the copy and told them is not OK to use it. Haven't heard back from any yet.
A lasting issue
This is not the first time my work is used without my permission. The same website was copied by another photographer from Brazil right after it was released. The guy even got my pictures (he is a photographer, remember?) to use as background. After a few back and forth e-mails he eventually "Frankensteined" the design enough to make the act a bit less obvious.
Last year, my studio did the whole branding for Tony Loureiro, a coach and leadership speaker. Another Tony Loureiro from Spain thought that, since sharing the same name as our client, he would just grab the logo we created and use for himself. And so he did.
Some of my friends working with photography, design and illustration have also had similar issues. I know it's not an exclusive privilege of mine to be honoured that way. I just wish I could know why people do it.
Have you had a similar problem? Do you know the answer to this post's dilemma? Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.