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Derivative Work Clarification?

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I mentioned this in the MLU logo contest thread, but figured I'd bring it here since this is probably where most designers are.

As expected in a "spec work" contest, somebody sampled a piece of clip art, modified it a bit, and presented it as their own. Here is the concept.

574610_497169866984198_1463181207_n.jpg

And here is the piece of clip art they copied:

stock-vector-fish-skeleton-92700247.jpg

I called the designer out, he got pissy, and his buddies immediately jumped to his defense citing that I'm a "sore loser", a "big baby", and that my opinion wasn't needed, simply because I called someone out on copying another logo and presenting it as their own.

First of all, am I wrong for pointing this out or do my instincts serve me correct to bring this issue to light?

Second, somebody called said that the author is protected because of "derivative work" which I've never heard of. The person who claims this says the designer is protected and basically alluded to the fact that it's commonplace in the industry to do "derivative work." I asked for proof that this is common, but he says he shouldn't have to "hold my hand" for me to use Google. Anyway, is he correct? Is the designer really protected? My guess is that he is unfortunately protected, but morally, it's wrong.

Help?

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from wikipedia, so take it for what it's worth...

For copyright protection to attach to a later, allegedly derivative work, it must display some originality of its own. It cannot be a rote, uncreative variation on the earlier, underlying work. The latter work must contain sufficient new expression, over and above that embodied in the earlier work for the latter work to satisfy copyright law’s requirement of originality.

the problem is, originality is a subjective measure...while i don't think this is particularly original (in terms of idea OR content), others might

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Well, more specifically, and probably an easy question for the real designers here; is this something that most graphic designers do? The guy who brought up derivative work basically says that this is commonplace in the industry.

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My first thought was "that doesn't look too egregious." But upon closer inspection, yeah, there are definitely points where you can tell it was lifted from the clipart. Why though? If you're gonna go through the trouble to modify it so much, why not go all the way and just redraw the whole fish?

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My first thought was "that doesn't look too egregious." But upon closer inspection, yeah, there are definitely points where you can tell it was lifted from the clipart. Why though? If you're gonna go through the trouble to modify it so much, why not go all the way and just redraw the whole fish?

The bigger question is why can't the people in the contest realize the difference between tracing an element on a monument and copying a clipart image. Apparently, according to some people, it's the same exact thing.

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It's not common amongst good designers, and not industry standard.

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Thanks, pcgd.

As an update, that logo actually won the "Fan Favorite" award for that particular team. Wish they weren't reaward stolen logos....

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