Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A logo's worth
April 7, 2009 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Today has turned into a real-life nightmare. I wish I could wake up. This nightmare started 9 months ago and has been recurring ever since.

Designer Jon Engle is being billed $18,000 by stockart.com. Some people are trying to save Jon.

Jon Engle's gallery at logopond / one reddit commentator's comparison of Jon's logos with stockart.
posted by wundermint (217 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some people are trying to save Jon.

They may want to start with Jon's web server.

That's just a fancy way of saying his site is down right now.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:17 PM on April 7, 2009


Cached version.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:21 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holy fucking, fuck, fuckity, fuck! If what I'm reading is true, well shit... Goddamn it.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:23 PM on April 7, 2009


Today has turned into a real-life nightmare. I wish I could wake up.

The catastrophe language is hilariously narcissistic. Without trying terribly hard, I can think of several real-life nightmares worse than a legal dispute over 18 grand.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:24 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: A legal dispute of $19,000?
posted by boo_radley at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


An illegal dispute over eighteen bucks?
posted by box at 1:28 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell: The problem isn't the $18,000 - he'd been dealing with that for months. The problem was that opposing counsel fucked with him by calling up his clients and saying that the work he was doing for them was stolen, thus destroying his career to an extent.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:29 PM on April 7, 2009 [18 favorites]


Without trying terribly hard, I can think of several real-life nightmares worse than a legal dispute over 18 grand.

That's a pretty odd things to say. I mean, sure, there are worse things. There are also better things, such as not being in a legal dispute over $18,000 which is, by the way, a hell of a lot of money.
posted by ORthey at 1:29 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's not just a legal dispute over $18k, the lawyer for stockart is contacting this dude's clients and basically ruining his reputation and ability to attract new work by claiming that he's committing copyright infringement.
posted by sciurus at 1:29 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Plus what Navelgazer said.
posted by ORthey at 1:30 PM on April 7, 2009


Cool Papa Bell: "Today has turned into a real-life nightmare. I wish I could wake up.

The catastrophe language is hilariously narcissistic. Without trying terribly hard, I can think of several real-life nightmares worse than a legal dispute over 18 grand.
"

Even the Cliff Notes version is hard to believe:

1. Artist Creates
2. Cocksucker rips him off and reposts his work on stockart.com
3. Stockart.com goes after the ORIGINAL artist accusing him of ripping off his own art.

I won't even add the part about his reputation being battered by stockart.com lawyers.

Damn.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:30 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looking at the comparisons it's pretty clear that someone is ripping someone else off, but it's not at all clear who was first. (at least according to internet detectives). It seems that if it's not Jon Engle, it may be Peter Buttecali of Woodpile studios. A DC area designer/agency to whom I applied for, but never recieved, an internship during college. Liked the work, and they were close to my parents house.

Funny how small the internet is these days.
posted by fontophilic at 1:31 PM on April 7, 2009


I'd read that the company's lawyer was contacting his clients -- is that a standard move for a copyright claim?
posted by boo_radley at 1:31 PM on April 7, 2009


Is there any evidence cited showing which was the earlier work? Sure, bulldog attorney and possibly illegal intimidation tactics notwithstanding, but is there actual proof showing his work is the original or not? I'm not going through the trouble of sharpening my pitchfork until I know where it's going to be used.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:33 PM on April 7, 2009


The catastrophe language is hilariously narcissistic. Without trying terribly hard, I can think of several real-life nightmares worse than a legal dispute over 18 grand.

It comes off as narcissistic because it isn't just a matter of money. This is a matter of a person's integrity -- not just about everyday matters, but about the thing this person has dedicated his life to -- being stripped away. I can't imagine being falsely accused of plagiarizing someone else's writing by someone I know has actually plagiarized from me. That would be a nightmare.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:34 PM on April 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Copyright was only ever intended to protect creators from exploitation by publishers with far greator resources. So stories like this one strongly suggest eliminating copyright or massively readjusting to favor the little guy.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:35 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds fishy to me, especially the part about "contacting my clients". That sounds to me (speaking as a lawyer) more like something a hysterical person who has convinced himself that he is in the right when he really isn't, than something an actual IP lawyer would do. Especially since his claim is the only evidence we have that anything like this really happened. Unless further evidence comes up supporting him, I'm in the "Jon stole the art, and its owners are trying to stop him" camp.
posted by yhbc at 1:35 PM on April 7, 2009


Scam?
posted by IvoShandor at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2009


yeah fonotophilic, that's what struck me as so strange about the whole mess. It seems to involve other designers. Will Peter Buttecali be getting a bill in the mail too, did he collaborate with Jon in creating the designs, or are they his own?
posted by wundermint at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2009


Man. For his sake I hope this works out well, and I kind of hope that it DOES go to court so that he can counter sue those assholes. Pretty sure that if he can prove that he's the one who's work was ripped off he could have a pretty good suit for damage to his reputation and lost wages as a result of this action against him.

Fucked up situation.

Assuming it's true of course, and he's not just trying to cover his ass after doing exactly what he's accused of. If that's the case, well, things stand a bit different.
posted by Stunt at 1:38 PM on April 7, 2009


He appears to be accusing multiple artists who contribute to Stockart.com of theft in turn.
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on April 7, 2009


He registered his copyrighted work, hopefully. Could he sue for libel?
posted by starman at 1:41 PM on April 7, 2009


Man, ever since Kaycee Nicole, those damn cynical mefites don't give anyone the benefit of the doubt!
posted by orville sash at 1:42 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Have Peter Buttecali or Sherrie Thai commented on this?
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on April 7, 2009


I'm in the "Jon stole the art, and its owners are trying to stop him" camp.

Yeah, that would be the side that would make the most sense given the evidence that is out there. Either several established artists found his completed logos and shopped them into generic logos, or he used generic logos to create his logos without paying for them. The latter seems more plausable because it's one artist being lazy and not expecting to be caught, rather than several artists conspiring to reverse-engineer the work of another completely unrelated artist. That's just a guess though, thanks to morern technology there should be enough timestamps and records involved to prove beyond doubt who is at fault.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:46 PM on April 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


...those damn cynical mefites don't give anyone the benefit of the doubt!

part of me almost wants to believe he is somehow at fault, because that would mean an innocent designer was not being attacked on his work and character.
posted by wundermint at 1:46 PM on April 7, 2009


From the timeline it appears he sat on this for almost 8 months without contacting a lawyer. If his original material was really stolen and being sold by stockart, I would think he would have at least shown some interest in investigating it.
posted by rocket88 at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


part of me almost wants to believe he is somehow at fault, because that would mean an innocent designer was not being attacked on his work and character.

Count me among those damn cynical mefites. I'm just not good at conveying my sense of humor in type
posted by orville sash at 1:51 PM on April 7, 2009


If his original material was really stolen and being sold by stockart, I would think he would have at least shown some interest in investigating it.

Unless you're broke.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:52 PM on April 7, 2009


This calls for a betting pool.
posted by swift at 1:52 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Via SA via http://www.thelogofactory.com/logo_blog/index.php/stock-logos-copyright-twitter/
If you're involved in the online graphic design community, you couldn't help stumble over the fracas that occurred over the weekend when a young designer - we'll call him Jon - told us how he was being harrassed, sued and billed $18K for "stealing his own work" by stock agency Stock Art (StockArt.com) and their ferocious legal beagles, The Intellectual Property Group (ArtLaws.com). According to Jon and his growing group of supporters, Stock Art had "stolen" his artwork, placed it in their library, and then turned around and billed him $18,000 for the use of that work. It's the stuff internet legends are made of.

Further, if you lived under a rock, or were out for the entire weekend, you may have missed the various incarnations of the tragic tale when it was everything that designery people on Twitter were Tweeting about. But Twittering and Tweeting they were. A hash-tag campaign called #savejon was started, and as I write this, howls of protest-laden Tweets are still ripping through at the rate of one every three minutes. And why not? The design community is outraged. One of our own was under attack by some Corporate giant and their sleazeball lawyers, and he needed our help. And man, did he get the design community's help. Hitting the front page of DIGG took out Jon’s blog and company website, such was the traffic, but still the internet noise continued unabated. Boycotts, and worse, were called for. This legal outrage needed to be fought back, and fought back hard, so a legal defense fund was set up, and at this moment it boasts $1800 in contributions from concerned internet citizens (though it will probably be higher as you read this). Designers saw a great injustice being done, and admirably sought to help by blogging, Twittering, DIGGing, Slashdotting and forum posting their avenging angel vibe all over the web. Thousands of e-mails were ripped off to the corporate bullies - some terse but professional, others less so. Others were disturbingly threatening, no doubt spurred on by the anonymity of internet communication. All bore a similar variation of the message - "How dare you steal someone's artwork and then try to charge/sue/harrass them for it."

It was, it seemed, the internet at its very best, a juggernaut that could be tasked to help the downtrodden and harrassed within hours, the echo chamber bouncing the message from one avenue to another, recruiting one concerned designer after another. It's always a compelling story when the internet helps the little guy fight back 'The Man' and to take down 'The Villain'. Trouble is, none of the story may be true, 'The Man' may be right and the 'Villains' of this story may not be villains at all.

Let’s back it up a bit, to August of last year when Jon was hit up for a bill from StockArt.com, a stock artwork licensing agency, supposedly for the use of his own work. Let’s read a bit of the original post as it appeared on Logopond, a gallery site for logo designers.

Someone has apparently ripped several of my icons and sold/posted them across a couple stock illustration sites. The stock site watchdogs ran across my portfolio and is now threatening to sue ME. They sent me an $18,000 bill and said if I don’t pay up they'll sue.

Well, that’s certainly going to get any designer’s attention. The idea that someone could not only copy your work and put it on a stock art site is one thing, but threatening a lawsuit if you didn’t pony up $18 grand for using your own artwork? I get freaked out when my credit card company calls to tell me my payment is late. Quite oddly, the issue went on the forum back burner until this past weekend, when another post hit the thread, but this time, Jon seemed a little more frantic.

Its becoming a bigger problem. I was banned from Design Outpost this morning which led me to start talking to clients. Apparently, they're calling EVERYONE they can find to tell them I’m under investigation for copyright infringement.

Woah. Now that's a whole different ball game. The legal beagles contacting Jon’s clients and telling them that he was under investigation for copyright infringement? That's certainly not fair. But wouldn’t it also be on shaky legal grounds as well? When I first read it, the words Slander and Libel entered my head. But it also posed a question - what kind of lawyers would expose themselves to such legal pain in order to get even with someone even if they did copy work from their clients? Surely such actions would invoke all sorts of sympathy for the young designer, who from what I've managed to find out, was only trying to get by. Seemed to me that it was a case-destroying move, and one that was certain to garner the wrath of half the internet.

I was certainly right about the backlash. The first Tweets started on Saturday. I happened to be desk bound, so I added my comment into the feed. Those comments were re-tweeted. And again. And again. So on and so on. Before long, comments and protestations about the events had taken on a life of their own, and the news about the hapless designer’s predicament began to spool out past Twitter and onto other social sites like DIGG and Slashdot. Something was happening. There was a movement afoot, and every iteration of the news added a new detail. A new wrinkle. Trouble is, no-one really knew anything, and other than the first fairly well-informed tweets and posts, everyone was making it up on the fly. Not surprisingly, the design community wanted more as it's hard to keep up the moral indignation without some salacious details to write about. Jon told us that he was hurredly working on a blog post to be published later that afternoon. That news went out via Twitter where it was added to the cacophony of drama. And to DIGG. And Slashdot. And Hacker News. The items started to number in the thousands but all the posts, blogs and Tweets had one thing in common. This outrage would not go unanswered. And sumbitch has to pay. When the blog post finally came, it was a highly anticipated event. The post itself turned out to be mildly anti-climactic.

Once the sticker shock wore off the obvious question came to mind. Where the hell did they get these from? It seems as if most or all of them were lifted from my LogoPond showcase. They especially seemed to favor the ones that made it to the gallery.

The details of what had actually transpired were strangely vague. There wasn't any real explanation of how the artwork was absconded with in the first place (other than some impractical theory that Stock Art had somehow reverse engineered John’s artwork from Logopond, removed the typography from the featured logos, and added them to their site). To make matters worse, there wasn't even any examples of ripped design with the original for comparison. Rather than take everything at face value, I decided to poke around a little deeper. I didn't know much about Stock Art, but their site looked legit. They had an impressive roster of established illustrators - all of whom with impressive portfolio sites of their own - and it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that made sense for a company with a client list of well-heeled companies, some of them belonging to the Fortune 500. Thinking that their lawyers might be the hardcases in all of this. I took a look at the ArtLaws.com website and the various pages and reference materials inside. It didn't look shady at all, and if anything, they seemed to be champions of designer and illustrator IP rights, as opposed to the sleazy ambulance chasers they were very quickly, and loudly, being portrayed as across most of the internet.

They were certainly legit, and have even been involved in the Zapruder Kennedy assassination movie copyright battle from a few years ago. Something didn’t appear right. Not right at all. Jon had admitted to us that he was a buyer on Stock Art after all, having opened an account a few years ago. Trouble is, there are no artist accounts per se, nothing is uploaded to Stock Art's server, and Stock Art are extremely picky who they represent, claiming a roster of only 150 illustrators. One of my original theories on the 'misunderstanding' was that Jon had uploaded artwork to Stock Art for licensing and then sold the artwork to someone else. As neat and tidy as that theory would have been, it’s not how Stock Art operates, their licenses don't work that way, and even Jon never claimed that he was represented by Stock Art. No, what we had here was a pretty cut-and-dry case of someone using someone else’s work without payment and/or permission. But who did what to whom? The tens of thousands of people now involved in this growing controversy knew who they thought was the ripper and the rippee. But I was starting to have doubts over my original assumptions. Besides, I always like to get both sides of a story, so I decided to reach out and touch ArtLaws.com lawyers and ask them if they’d like to comment on the deluge of bad internet mojo that they were receiving.

To their credit, they did, calling The Logo Factory studio shortly after reading my email (apparently, out of thousands of e-mails, I was the first one that asked for their side of the story). I talked at length with Jamie Silverberg and John B.. Mason, two of the lead lawyers at the The Intellectual Property Group, and found them to be civil, pleasant and quite willing to discuss matters, to the extent that he was legally allowed. Not the "ambulance chasing scumbags" they were beifng called in the latest round of Twitter postings. Firstly, IPG have extensive experience fighting on the behalf of designers and illustrators (as they believe they’re doing in the Stock Art matter). The partners have experience in the graphic design industry itself, helping to organize several chapters of the AIGA. They told me that "nobody" is being sued nor has a suit been filed over the Stock Art artwork, and that rather than ignoring Jon’s pleas of innocence, have been trying to communicate with him ever since the licensing issues became apparent.

Seems Stock Art are ferocious in protecting their illustrators property and copyright (certainly something that I'd demand if Stock Art were representing me). Silverberg denied harassing Jon's clients, but told me that they had contacted two in order to see if the clients had legitimate licensing rights to their client’s work. I wondered how likely it would be that Stock Art's established illustrators would risk their reputation, and Stock Art's business, by copying some designer they found on the internet. To make matters worse, the issue revolved around the licensing for no less than 65 images to which it appears typography was added and the images uploaded to various portfolio sites like Elance and Logopond (while they didn’t expressly tell me so, the $18,000 bill is likely the result of licensing fees for the 65 images in dispute. Works out to about $275 a pop). I was also told that before contacting anyone, IPG perform extensive research into the background of any disputed images, including creation date, history and when it was added to the Stock Art site, pointing out that some of the images "in question" have been on the Stock Art website for almost a decade. Logopond, the supposed source for the designs (at least according to Jon's blog), had only been online since June of 2006 at the very earliest. The worst point, from a designer’s point of view anyway, was the dispute involved the work of over twenty illustrators. With illustrations and icons that just happened to mirror their exact personal style. And if that wasn’t enough, Jon had previously been billed for other Stock Art licensed work, after it was discovered that it may have been used without permission. He paid that bill.
Hmmmm....
posted by unixrat at 1:54 PM on April 7, 2009 [73 favorites]


If his original material was really stolen and being sold by stockart, I would think he would have at least sued the bastards for copyright infringement himself long before now.
posted by wendell at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2009


he sat on this for almost 8 months

Which is a bit odd, given that the logos linked to by the reddit guy were submitted to logopond in october 2008, december 2008 - and today?
posted by effbot at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2009


Today has turned into a real-life nightmare. I wish I could wake up.

The catastrophe language is hilariously narcissistic. Without trying terribly hard, I can think of several real-life nightmares worse than a legal dispute over 18 grand.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:24 PM on April 7 [+] [!]


18 grand is some people's entire salaries. In the interest of honesty it is about half of my yearly salary. That would absolutely cripple me financially and I wouldn't be able to pay current bills, loans, etc. It would be disastrous for my family. Yes. not life and death. But certainly lively-hood.

How is that not a real-life nightmare?
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


This calls for a betting pool

I'll put five bucks on "liar's lies spiral out of control as he piles lies on top of lies to try to cover up his lies."

However, to hedge my bet, I'll also put five bucks on "Corporate thugs stamp booted heel into little guy's face... forever."
posted by dersins at 1:58 PM on April 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the comment, unixrat. It does look fishy.
posted by voltairemodern at 2:03 PM on April 7, 2009


Someone call Cory Doctorow!
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


It looks like tomorrow will be an even worse nightmare for this guy.
posted by snofoam at 2:07 PM on April 7, 2009


one reddit commentator's comparison of Jon's logos with stockart.

Looking at the comparisons it's pretty clear that someone is ripping someone else off, but it's not at all clear who was first. (at least according to internet detectives).

Peter Buttecali copyrighted his submissions to stocklogos.com, aka stockart.com, copyright numbers VAu000526739,VAu000505508 (et al) beginning 2001" *

It appears that Jon's uploads are from 2008.
posted by ericb at 2:08 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


nice find, unixrat.
posted by wundermint at 2:09 PM on April 7, 2009


It appears that Jon's uploads are from 2008.

Oh, man, they steal this guy's work AND refuse to give him the credit he deserves for having invented time travel. Disgusting.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:09 PM on April 7, 2009 [31 favorites]


With the article unixrat linked to added the circumstantial evidence against Jon is too much to ignore. I'd bet $50 on the artwork not actually being his, and I don't lose very many prop bets.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:10 PM on April 7, 2009


Internet crazie has a posse.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on April 7, 2009


Strange indeed.

Interesting comment from the "comparison" link:
"Uh oh: http://logopond.com/gallery/detail/29240 is by Relevant but

http://stockart.com/show_preview.php?autoid=31532 is by Sherrie Thai

http://logopond.com/gallery/detail/11793 is by Relevant

but http://stockart.com/show_preview.php?autoid=31536 is by Sherrie Thai

If you look at the portfolios of Peter Buttecali and Sherrie Thai, at stock photos and their own sites, you will see they have many images that are thematic with each other. For example, Peter Buttecali has several animals in the style of the skunk, and Sherrie has done several dragons.

Jon's art all looks different and is not artistically thematic.

It looks very much like Jon is a copycat."
posted by ericb at 2:14 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


The first example in the reddit link shows two works from the stock art site, one from Engle, and none of them are exactly alike. The rest of them are exactly the same. If we accept Engle's story at face value, someone not only ripped off his design, but then made TWO derivative designs and uploaded those without stealing the original.

The second stock image and Engle's are nearly exactly the same, except that on Engle's the glasses have been changed to make them symmetrical and not repaired.

So either the person who maliciously stole Engle's stuff decided to break with his/her modus operandi and make two derivative images without uploading the original, or Engle stole the second one and said "the client will like it better if I make this change..."

I know which one of those scenarios seems more likely.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:15 PM on April 7, 2009


All blue ovals look alike to me.
posted by Iron Rat at 2:23 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wes Butan?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:31 PM on April 7, 2009


I think Jon is either insane, or lying. The post above at thelogofactory.com makes sense, and Jon's story doesn't. Having been threatened in the past with a law suit over IP for online content, his version just doesn't ring true to me. If he had contacted a lawyer about this last year, even as a free consult, the lawyer would have told him to keep his mouth shut. The worst thing he could do is try and make this blow up and say a bunch of things that will be used against him.

Ditto the development files. These would be incrimental Photoshop or Illustrator files right? Lots of files? Stored on back up media forever? When I had someone claim I'd stolen their work in was a real short conversation - "I have the Canon RAW file. You don't. Case closed."

Someone is stealing IP here, no doubt about it.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:32 PM on April 7, 2009


If his original material was really stolen and being sold by stockart, I would think he would have at least sued the bastards for copyright infringement himself long before now.

That would, of course, have required him to regularly browse Stockart's website in search of art that is suspiciously similar to his own work. Multiply that by however many other stock art websites there are out there. This is not exactly something a freelance artist can afford to take the time to do...or hire someone to do for him/her.

Frankly, I'm amazed something like this hasn't happened before now. Graphic design has become a low-rent commodity and clip-art services like Stockart has helped push it there. I'd be very surprised if Stockart does any vetting as to the originality of any of the art they sell.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


From Jon's Twitter feed
"It's a shame how quickly people turn against you. The other side posts a story and suddenly I'm the bad guy. :(
17 minutes ago from TweetDeck"
posted by ericb at 2:43 PM on April 7, 2009


I was kinda shocked when a designer didn't know about meta data. Is that because I'm a dork, or do people that work with this stuff every day really not know these things?
posted by inigo2 at 2:43 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Lawn chair? Check. Popcorn? Check. Beer? Check.
posted by ericb at 2:44 PM on April 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've got 5 bucks on this being an elaborate viral marketing scheme propagated by stockart.com.
posted by freq at 3:00 PM on April 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


And if that wasn’t enough, Jon had previously been billed for other Stock Art licensed work, after it was discovered that it may have been used without permission. He paid that bill.

Ouch.

Seems to me that this is going to come down to a fairly simple time-stamp check. When did any one of his logos come into the public realm and sit on a server with an unambiguous time-stamp? Does that predate the stock art on the site that he supposedly worked off of?
posted by quin at 3:12 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Suckers they come a dime a dozen."
posted by swift at 3:16 PM on April 7, 2009


18 grand is some people's entire salaries. In the interest of honesty it is about half of my yearly salary. That would absolutely cripple me financially and I wouldn't be able to pay current bills, loans, etc. It would be disastrous for my family. Yes. not life and death. But certainly lively-hood.

How is that not a real-life nightmare?


What's funny is that this comes just below a huge comment which comes damn close to proving that Jon's "real-life nightmare" is a result of he himself being a rather flagrant thief of others' work.

Reminds me of that story about the guy who believes he saw the ghosts of the hunting party, rather than that they were just out hunting and the girl was pulling his leg. you know the one I mean.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:21 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe it was something like this? Except, you know... hundreds of times.
posted by ODiV at 3:22 PM on April 7, 2009


How is that not a real-life nightmare?

Well, for one thing, when it turns out not to be true.

Or, instead of a nightmare, you could say that it's only a dream.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:22 PM on April 7, 2009


Maybe he had tried to email the logos, but Hotmail changed his ISP's POP settings?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:31 PM on April 7, 2009 [19 favorites]


To make matters worse, there wasn't even any examples of ripped design with the original for comparison.

That was a minor red flag for me when I saw this elsewhere yesterday, yeah. Along with..

I was kinda shocked when a designer didn't know about meta data. Is that because I'm a dork, or do people that work with this stuff every day really not know these things?

The three best designers I personally know are a business major, a music major, and self-taught. Note the lack of actual, major training on any software... yet all three of them know about metadata.
posted by niles at 3:32 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or, instead of a nightmare, you could say that it's only a dream.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:22 PM on April 7 [+] [!]


Internet or Newhart? You decide!
posted by basicchannel at 3:32 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is bad. Designers, like artsist, rip off other designers constantly, both deliberately (bad) and subconsciously (hard to avoid when you breathe design with your eyes). Good ones, careful ones, they learn to not trust themselves, and double/triple check everything they THINK they invented, just in case it came from something they snapped a picture of once, or saw in a presentation slide.

But 65 images? From a single source? No, not an accident or an innocent mistake. And the timelines just don't work in Jon's favor here, making his decision to go public (and loudly) look like a very bad decision, as if his survival instincts failed him badly.

In the absence of actual evidence to support the twittering hordes, this looks like a pretty elaborate and poorly-supported conspiracy theory designed to FUD the original offense. The right move would be to shut up and negotiate something less than $18,000 in private.

But now, after this excessive drama, I am having trouble seeing how Jon survives this. Literally. This could end up being about the Internet creating and eating its own at very high speed. 65 small bad decisions, one really big bad decision... boom.

I am worried about... well, a followup post in a couple weeks, citing a small news clipping from the Albequerque Journal.
posted by rokusan at 3:36 PM on April 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


However, the new tactic I discovered this morning is so much harder to fight. They are calling or emailing every one of my clients they can find. They inform the client that I’m being investigated for copyright infringement and that the logo I designed for them may have been stolen from their client.
How is this not tortious interference?
posted by pwnguin at 3:41 PM on April 7, 2009


it's not tortious interference if the people who actually own the copyright to the images are asking the people using the images where they got the license from. If it's this Jon character, they may not actually have any right to use them.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:43 PM on April 7, 2009


I was kinda shocked when a designer didn't know about meta data.
The three best designers I personally know are a business major, a music major, and self-taught. Note the lack of actual, major training on any software...


I can add an ex-lawyer, ex-dental-assistant and two self-trained slackers to that anecdote list, with dozens of fancy-design-school-degreed no-talents on the other side of the ledger.

The best designers I have known and worked with have always been quality critical thinkers first, lateral-thinking problem solvers... and only average or worse hands with software. Some could not even draw well, but a designer is not an artist or an illustrator, and that's something few outsiders realize.

The public notion of a "designer", it seems, is someone who is a Photoshop whiz, and thinks they're an artist. I think of these more as graphics-technicians, and there are a thousand of them in the job market for every single person who can scribble one brilliant problem-solving idea on a napkin with a blunt pencil. The latter are the ones worth something.

The "art school" handling that many aspiring designers receive does not help, and the intersection of "design degree" with actual talent or ability has been pretty low in my circles.... and I have worked with hundreds of designers.

Longwinded way of saying "you can't teach smart", I guess.
posted by rokusan at 3:44 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Stockart may not timestamp, but the Internet Archive does: Peter Buttecali's work, with timestamps. Specifically, this one from Peter Buttecali appeared before August 2004. Its copy appears at Logopond here.
posted by Upton O'Good at 3:47 PM on April 7, 2009 [14 favorites]


(Sidetrack shout out to Google engineers: I wanted to check the name of the biggest newspaper in NM for my comment above, so without looking, I quickly typed "Mew <Exocp mews[a[erd" in a second window... my stupid fingers all mangled out of home position... and Google turned that into "New Mexico Newspapers" in the search results anyway. Slick.)
posted by rokusan at 3:49 PM on April 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


In my past life as a graphic designer, I've been on both sides of something like this. Just out of college I worked in a design agency where I spent half of my time removing watermarks from downloaded images, the other half bullshitting clients. When we were caught, my boss reacted just like this guy. I was looking for a new job from day one and left as soon as I could.

On my third job, we found that some kid was stealing our, and other's, work. No one had the money or time for lawyers, so some of us just let him know he had been made. First he reacted by accusing us of stealing HIS stuff, then he said that good designers will always arrive at very similar solutions, he changed that to say his work was only 'inspired' by other people. Someone challenged him to make a coupld of logos in any of the styles he had 'mastered', he failed. Finally he broke down and asked one of my friends for a job. At least I've shown that I am good with illustrator, he said.

We contacted some of his clients and showed them all the sketches we'd made for the logos they had bought and offered to make them new ones at a very reduced rate.

So, based on my 2 data points, this seems very fishy to me. Some website selling logos with no attribution is one thing, a bunch of established illustrators with reputations on the line doing this sounds less likely.

Someone should challenge this guy to produce a couple of original logos as good as the ones he claims they stole from him.
posted by dirty lies at 3:51 PM on April 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Peter Buttecali's website and portfolio seem pretty accomplished and professional. Jon is essentially accusing him (and other artists!) of ripping off his designs and putting them up on the stockmarket site.

Jon's website is apparently not operational.

I think we've got a pretty clear picture of what's happening here.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:52 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Today has turned into a real-life nightmare. I wish I could wake up.

"Hello, Jon? This is The Internet with your wake-up call. Good morning!"
posted by Floydd at 3:55 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter Detective Squad, activate!

I mean that seriously. If anybody can get to the bottom of this, it is the MDS.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:57 PM on April 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


it's not tortious interference if the people who actually own the copyright to the images are asking the people using the images where they got the license from. If it's this Jon character, they may not actually have any right to use them.

Exactly. The attorneys representing Stock Art appear to be diligent and are seeking to enforce the copyrights allegedly held by the original artists/designers who are Stock Art clients.

As above:
"Seems Stock Art are ferocious in protecting their illustrators property and copyright (certainly something that I'd demand if Stock Art were representing me). Silverberg denied harassing Jon's clients, but told me that they had contacted two in order to see if the clients had legitimate licensing rights to their client’s work.

I wondered how likely it would be that Stock Art's established illustrators would risk their reputation, and Stock Art's business, by copying some designer they found on the internet.

To make matters worse, the issue revolved around the licensing for no less than 65 images to which it appears typography was added and the images uploaded to various portfolio sites like Elance and Logopond (while they didn’t expressly tell me so, the $18,000 bill is likely the result of licensing fees for the 65 images in dispute. Works out to about $275 a pop).

I was also told that before contacting anyone, IPG perform extensive research into the background of any disputed images, including creation date, history and when it was added to the Stock Art site, pointing out that some of the images 'in question' have been on the Stock Art website for almost a decade.

Logopond, the supposed source for the designs (at least according to Jon's blog), had only been online since June of 2006 at the very earliest. The worst point, from a designer’s point of view anyway, was the dispute involved the work of over twenty illustrators. With illustrations and icons that just happened to mirror their exact personal style. And if that wasn’t enough, Jon had previously been billed for other Stock Art licensed work, after it was discovered that it may have been used without permission. He paid that bill."
posted by ericb at 4:01 PM on April 7, 2009


Okay. Dude is busted. I'm starting to think that 65 images is the tip of the iceburg. This guy is toast. There is going to be a big line queuing up to sue him.

I'm also thinking about the legal fund over at savejon.net. $2200 and climbing. I suspect everyone who donated is going to be watching this case. And I can't believe any defense lawyer would let it go to trial at this point. So that "legal defense" is basically going towards trying to reduce the damages after he admits guilt.

In his original post he was talking about standing tough and living out of his car if he had to to stand by his reputation. That sort of sounded weird to me at the time. He says he has the timestamped files...... so how could it end up with him on the street. In hindsight it sounds like he knows it's going to go badly, and his best bet is to play the victom.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:13 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm just waiting for the UserFriendly webcomic of these developments.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:20 PM on April 7, 2009 [19 favorites]


So that "legal defense" is basically going towards trying to reduce the damages after he admits guilt.

As far as I can tell, Stock Art has not "sued" Jon, but has presented him with a "bill."

Jon will undoubtedly be happy to receive any amount from online efforts, so that he can pay this bill, as he has been known to pay (at least) one previous bill from Stock Art.
posted by ericb at 4:26 PM on April 7, 2009


As Inspector Clouseau would say, the case is solve-ed.
posted by wundermint at 4:27 PM on April 7, 2009


MetaFilter Detective Squad, activate!

Kaycee Nicole, Holden Karnofsky know all too well the power of the MDS.

Miko-signal illuminate!
posted by ericb at 4:29 PM on April 7, 2009


Jon will undoubtedly be happy to receive any amount from online efforts, so that he can pay this bill, as he has been known to pay (at least) one previous bill from Stock Art.

I love the idea that people on the Internet are falling all over themselves to give this guy money because he claims to be the victim of The Man.

So stories like this one strongly suggest eliminating copyright or massively readjusting to favor the little guy.

Yeah, no, they so fucking don't.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:39 PM on April 7, 2009


How is this not tortious interference?

Again, when it doesn't happen to be true.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:42 PM on April 7, 2009


18 grand is some people's entire salaries. In the interest of honesty it is about half of my yearly salary. That would absolutely cripple me financially and I wouldn't be able to pay current bills, loans, etc. It would be disastrous for my family. Yes. not life and death. But certainly lively-hood.

How is that not a real-life nightmare?


Losing money is not a nightmare. It's not even close. It's infuriating and frustrating and worrisome, sure - but I can think of about 500 things right now that are so much worse that if any of us suffered them we would look back on losing 18 grand as "the good old days." I think a lot of folks need to recalibrate their fear meters.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:45 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm having trouble believing this. I can't imagine a gang of plagiarists would, first of all exist, and second of all really go around call the original artists' clients and libel them, but I can imagine a caught plagiarist making up a crazy story in order to profess his innocence. But I suppose anything is possible.
posted by delmoi at 4:53 PM on April 7, 2009


Having the end user of the copyrighted image on the hook for damages is a complete disaster. Now the poor slobs who bought from this guy in good faith will be paying twice.

Is there a reasonably good way to ensure that graphics one buys are not 3rd-generation swipes? It seems like the only way to get images and be absolutely sure they aren't swipes is to make it yourself. I know Getty uses an image recognition bot to find infringing works, it would be nice if the US Copyright office allowed users to check image uploads against the existing copyright database - Buttecali's copyright record is here, but you can't see the actual images.
posted by benzenedream at 4:56 PM on April 7, 2009


Thanks again to unixrat for that great quoted comment.
posted by mediareport at 5:08 PM on April 7, 2009


Okay I read the whole thread. Nice to see that mefites basically saw though this in just a few posts (of course, it had been posted way later then on digg and reddit) but still.

I think this guy just thought he could make a few bucks off a "viral" sob story, and wasn't prepared for just how much attention he actually got. Paypal might confiscate his donations, we'll have to see (Actually I expect this guy will mostly just disappear).

Here's the last few of his "tweets":
# So, I'm either the most audacious liar on the planet or a drooling moron. That or I told the truth! I'm done fighting. Decide for yourselvesabout 1 hour ago from TweetDeck

# I shouldn't have to remind everyone I broke the damn story. If I'd kept my mouth shut none of you would have heard a thing about any of thisabout 1 hour ago from TweetDeck

# Everyone's calling for my proof, but the lawyers say I to keep it to myself until we go to court. Screwed if I show, screwed if I don't.about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck

# It's a shame how quickly people turn against you. The other side posts a story and suddenly I'm the bad guy. :(about 3 hours ago from TweetDeck
Oh well, what a douchebag.
posted by delmoi at 5:10 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another reason this doesn't add up - if I were going to go through all of that trouble to edit all of those logos, then hire a lawyer to ruin someone - I'd do it for a HELL of a lot more money than 18 grand - AND, I'd go after someone that actually has some money. This smells of epic fail all the way around.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:11 PM on April 7, 2009



Dear Sirs,

Who do I make the $18K check out to?

Your friend,
Jon
posted by digsrus at 5:12 PM on April 7, 2009


Haven't seen anyone link the great page comparing the images directly from the person who wrote the comment unixrat linked. The Stock Art images are on the left, and Jon's use of them to make client logos at LogoPond is on the right. It's not looking good for our man Jon.
posted by mediareport at 5:18 PM on April 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


A Gang of Plagiarists sounds like a great idea to me. Like a sequel to that opening 'trailer' in MP's Meaning of Life. They sail around the world in their converted design studio, pillaging the logos of others.
posted by mannequito at 5:19 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


thanks for that link, mediareport.
posted by wundermint at 5:26 PM on April 7, 2009


Just following unixrat's lead...
posted by mediareport at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2009


A friend of mine worked at a company who hired The Big Name in logo design firms here in Seattle to do their new logo, I think the whole ID package came out at $60K. Three months later they were sent a note by the holder of a suspiciously similar and well-established logo asking that they quit using their fancy new logo or be sued.

So it's not just the pipsqueaks like Jon who rip people off.
posted by maxwelton at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


with regard to the time-stamps. They can *easily* be altered . His statement that he had never heard of them sounds like a way to try and bolster the value of the stamps on his files since he "couldn't have altered them... he didn't even know they existed". This is why his statement that they won't tell him the dates of the images makes total sense. Of course you wouldn't do that. You don't want to tell someone what date to shoot for when trying to back date their derived work.
posted by lucasks at 5:30 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Holy damn. What a mess.

I quickly typed "Mew <Exocp mews[a[erd" ... and Google turned that into "New Mexico Newspapers" in the search results anyway. Slick.

My experience was slightly less seamless:
Did you mean: Mew <Exocp mews[a[er
On the up side, though, this thread was the top hit.
posted by cortex at 5:35 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Haven't seen anyone link the great page comparing the images directly ...

Oh, my. Jon, what do you have to say about this?
posted by ericb at 5:41 PM on April 7, 2009


My favorite comparison, given the initial story. In Jon's telling, someone was lazy enough to copy an ambulance, but still conscientious enough to 1)"de-italicize" it, 2)use some basic rules of composition, 3)add in additional, and arguably more complex, elements.
posted by niles at 5:45 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


So it's not just the pipsqueaks like Jon who rip people off
He isn't such a pip squeak. According to his original post he counts Warner Bros as a client for work he did on Smallville and Birds of Prey.
posted by PenDevil at 5:45 PM on April 7, 2009


Based on what I'm seeing at mediareport's link, Jon seems to be committing libel in addition to plagiarism. He's likely about to find himself on the receiving end of a lot more than a lousy $18K bill- lawyers are expensive. He's doing what he accused the stock house of doing- trashing their reputation. Raising money under false pretences may also cross the line into criminal liability.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:51 PM on April 7, 2009


A number of images at mediareport's link can also be found on the Internet Archive:

Larry Moore's coffee cup
Paul Dolan's snake
Bill Mifsud's pen
Matt Brownson's football

Unfortunately, most of the others (including the rest of Peter Buttecali's work and all of Sherrie Thai's from the Reddit thread) aren't in the archive that I can find; I guess it's lucky it caught any of them in archiving.
posted by Upton O'Good at 5:55 PM on April 7, 2009


I swear I have seen this logo on a bottle of beer (or on the side of a six pack) somewhere around here in the Seattle area. Not saying someone stole it, but it definitely looks familiar.

Really, I just want to know, because I want to drink that beer, not to get another company into a lawsuit.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:00 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


benzenedream: There are ways to avoid being in his clients position.

First, don't go for the cheapest designers you can find. They will invariably suck. A good logo takes many hours of work. Someone charging $100 for a logo either spent 2 hours making it or values their work at $5 an hour. Expect to spend at least a couple thousand dollars.

Second, get involved with the design process. Look at sketches, check on the progress a couple of times, and at the end ask the designers for some of the sketches. We always thought it was cool when a client asked for a page of pencil sketches with our signatures on it, like a piece of art. Never trust a designer that goes from spec to finished product in one step.

Third, and the only one that matters, make sure you are signing a good contract. Get a lawyer if you need to, the risk is very high for a corporate image package. I don't know anything about US law, but we used to have a contract that would release us from any copyright and trademark issues arising from any material the client provided (we had a lot of plagiarizing clients) and released the client from the same things coming from our side.

AIGA has (or at least had) on their website a very good contract template and many articles on this subject. Our basic contract was 8 pages long.
posted by dirty lies at 6:02 PM on April 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


so how could it end up with him on the street. In hindsight it sounds like he knows it's going to go badly, and his best bet is to play the victom

It's entirely possible that he knows what he did and *still* believes he's a victim because he's the little guy trying to scrape by. To do some things you almost have to believe you're the victim to rationalize it.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:05 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


In Jon's telling, someone was lazy enough to copy an ambulance, but still conscientious enough to 1)"de-italicize" it, 2)use some basic rules of composition, 3)add in additional, and arguably more complex, elements.

I think the image of the rose is even more damning. Seemingly the only two possibilities are: 1) Jon took the original B&W image, filled in the white areas with color, and erased the black lines; or 2) Someone took Jon's color image, painstakingly drew in an outline that corresponded perfectly to the contours of the flower, and added extra details (the thorns on the stem).
posted by pluckemin at 6:08 PM on April 7, 2009


Here's the Flickr photostream for user "Relevant" with some of the logos mentioned in the various articles and upthread. All of the images were uploaded on either April 4 or March 19.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:12 PM on April 7, 2009


aren't in the archive that I can find

In my experience, a "not in the archive" can sometimes mean "that disk isn't mounted right now". But if you look carefully, you'll at least find the image names in the directory listings, complete with timestamps (the oldest I've found was from 1998).

On the other hand, Mr Engle just removed all his stuff from Logopond, and all his sites seem to be down, so I'm beginning to suspect that we won't see much from that guy in a while...

http://logopond.com/members/profile/4978
posted by effbot at 6:13 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there a reasonably good way to ensure that graphics one buys are not 3rd-generation swipes? It seems like the only way to get images and be absolutely sure they aren't swipes is to make it yourself. I know Getty uses an image recognition bot to find infringing works, it would be nice if the US Copyright office allowed users to check image uploads against the existing copyright database

One pretty useful tool for searching for duplicate images using image recognition is tineye. It's pretty good at picking out images even when the context is different, such as in these examples.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:18 PM on April 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


While his logopond account may be offline, you can still find at least one offending image on his flickr account.

I wish I could give Upton O'Good a million favorites for some good old-fashioned archive.org investigative work upthread.
posted by lantius at 6:19 PM on April 7, 2009


What do people think about his argument that he could have just kept quiet about the whole thing? That's the only part of this that does seem to speak, slightly, in his favor.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:27 PM on April 7, 2009


"I think it would be a good idea."
posted by ryanrs at 6:36 PM on April 7, 2009


Regarding him keeping quiet or not - my thoughts are that if he didn't speak up he was going to be forced to pay the $18k or be taken to court anyway, so he thought he had nothing to lose by making a big noise, pretending to be the victim, and trying to gain some amount of sympathy money via his SaveJon.net fundraiser thing. Which unless it will be refunded, currently sits at more than $2000.
posted by Meagan at 6:37 PM on April 7, 2009


What do people think about his argument that he could have just kept quiet about the whole thing?

I don't think it speaks in his favor as much as it is an indicator of his desperation. First, he gets notice of this debt almost a year ago. I don't know about you, but I don't let a $10 debt go if I believe that it's not valid and I don't intend to pay it. What seems to have brought all of this on is that the law firm is contacting his clients, either to slander him or to alert those folks that their logo may contain stolen work, depending on who you believe. Now, by his own admission, his clients are pissed.

Faced with this hit on his livelihood and reputation, it would seem that the only thing that he could do was to try and make himself the victim of The Man, either because he is or because he thought that would resonate and earn him a few bucks towards the debt. Who knows?

He had a lot more to lose from not throwing this into the public forum than the IP firm did. Unfortunately, it would seem, for Jon, the whole thing took off to a point where people started asking questions and finding their own answers...
posted by rollbiz at 6:41 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


All I know is that we are definitely blaming the victim here. What I'm not clear on is who the victim is: Jon or StockArt.com.
posted by DU at 6:56 PM on April 7, 2009


Imagine my surprise and shock when I looked at Jon's site a day ago (when it was still up) and saw MY WORK there with his brazen claim it was his. I'm not talking about the logos either. He had 'Print Ads' on his site for various TV shows like CSI, Alias, Supernatural, Lost etc , of which many are mine. Photography I shot for props in the ads, photo shoots I was at with the talent, stock photography we paid rights for -- just sitting there representing this scam artist as if he himself did all of the hard work. Many of my friends who are also in entertainment advertising got a quick email from me to take a look at this affront. Many were not happy and let him know about it.

And down goes the site.

So, having been personally involved in his misrepresentation, I have to say that StockArt most likely has a case if they choose to pursue it. This is not a single incident. It is not just logos. I would not believe a single thing this 'audacious liar and drooling moron' said or posted on his site. And if you donated any money to a this scam I would see about getting it back.

His disingenuous crying about his integrity and repuatation while he rides the backs of others. Are you kidding me? This is about as low as another designer can go.
posted by artdyrector at 6:57 PM on April 7, 2009 [68 favorites]


What a disgusting crook. It's even more obvious when you read this forum thread at LogoPond and hear his silly "excuse" for up and leaving all of a sudden: Because [my clients] don't believe me, along with everyone else as of this morning. I deleted my showcase, website and everything else. I don't care anymore. If this is what it costs to be a designer then I don't want any part of it. No actual designer says that one bit. Calling him a scam artist is even too much credit.
posted by Meagan at 7:02 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


with regard to the time-stamps. They can *easily* be altered . His statement that he had never heard of them sounds like a way to try and bolster the value of the stamps on his files since he "couldn't have altered them... he didn't even know they existed". This is why his statement that they won't tell him the dates of the images makes total sense. Of course you wouldn't do that. You don't want to tell someone what date to shoot for when trying to back date their derived work.

This is starting to remind me of Mock Trial... so many holes and dependencies...
posted by limeonaire at 7:07 PM on April 7, 2009


Imagine my surprise and shock when I looked at Jon's site a day ago (when it was still up) and saw MY WORK there with his brazen claim it was his.

This thread is getting very interesting.

Lawn chair? Check. Popcorn? Check. Beer? Check. Refills? Check!
posted by ericb at 7:09 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Imagine my surprise and shock when I looked at Jon's site a day ago (when it was still up) and saw MY WORK there with his brazen claim it was his.

OK, yeah, this gets weirder and weirder. Whoever artdyrector is, s/he just ponied up the $5 to join today, and has no profile to speak of.
posted by limeonaire at 7:12 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not even sure whether that was supposed to be a joke or something, but if it's not: artdyrector, could you elaborate?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:15 PM on April 7, 2009


I wanted the information out there about the Print Ads and it was the only way to do it. It seemed relevant and worth the five bucks.

But don't take my word for it -- it's easy to check the actual credits on the ads. You can look at Impawards.com and then find agency sites per show. Feel free to check it out. And if you're really ambitious you can see how many of them hired Jon Engle. I can tell you now. Zero.
posted by artdyrector at 7:17 PM on April 7, 2009


Can you guys wait about an hour to have a crazy awesome scam thread? I have homework to finish up, and I want to watch the show too....
posted by Kimothy at 7:18 PM on April 7, 2009


Ninety percent of all art is imitation of other art.

(I may may not have said that but I think I'm going to claim I did.)
posted by jfuller at 7:20 PM on April 7, 2009


wow. The plot thickens. I'm curious artdyrector, how long did Jon have your work on his site?
posted by wundermint at 7:28 PM on April 7, 2009


What do people think about his argument that he could have just kept quiet about the whole thing?

This only goes to show, you can never be too careful.
posted by hippybear at 7:35 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


While his logopond account may be offline, you can still find at least one offending image on his flickr account.

How long before his Flickr account disappears?
posted by ericb at 7:35 PM on April 7, 2009


No idea -- just saw his site the other day. And then it was gone.

Hey, I get it -- I'm new here, this isn't what I do, I'm not tech savvy particularly, but seeing someone else take your work like that... Not cool. I saw this thread and jumped in on a whim. Figured it had bearing on the logo discussion.

But it's prudent to not just take someone's word for it -- especially someone you don't know. But there it is -- thought you all would find it interesting. Do with it what you will.
posted by artdyrector at 7:37 PM on April 7, 2009


Here's a cache of the page on Engle's site claiming credit for a series of Lost print ads. The "View Designs" popup is working in the cache.

Scroll down to the "Portfolio" section on the same page and click on the "+VIEW PRINT DESIGN GALLERY" link.

impawards.com has a lot of those posters listed, but I can't figure out how to make it give me information on the designer or agency that put them together.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:39 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


artdyrector: welcome, join, and please stay. I read this forum for nearly 10 years before I finally worked up the nerve to join. It's rewarding and educational, and may possibly be the best thing you can do with your online time, period.

Well, outside of emailing your mum.
posted by hippybear at 7:39 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"He threatened to sue. I say BRING IT ON! I have no doubt I can win in court."

Still confident, Jon?
posted by ericb at 7:40 PM on April 7, 2009


Yeah the Impa redesign sucks. It got a lot more complicated especially for TV shows. I'll try to find another source that's easier.
posted by artdyrector at 7:41 PM on April 7, 2009


Thanks for posting, Art D.
posted by box at 7:41 PM on April 7, 2009


His company page is still in Google's cache, in case anyone wants to look at Lost and Smallville posters (click on "Cached"):

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22http%3A%2F%2Fwww.relevantstudio.com%22
posted by effbot at 7:49 PM on April 7, 2009


"He threatened to sue. I say BRING IT ON! I have no doubt I can win in court."

You know who else said "BRING IT ON!"
posted by Floydd at 7:50 PM on April 7, 2009


Well, considering that Relevant and Jon Engle are not listed here (but the list is probably not thorough), it isn't looking good for him. I would think he would lay claim to 3 of his posters being featured on impawards.com (or they would have listed him on their designers page).
posted by mrzarquon at 7:54 PM on April 7, 2009


Folks at the fundraising site are skeptical. Ya' think?
posted by ericb at 7:54 PM on April 7, 2009


Damn that, Impa. Okay not so easy.

Also, CW does their advertising 'in-house.'
posted by artdyrector at 7:56 PM on April 7, 2009


A full of his print ads claims, as of 2007, are here. No images, though.
posted by Upton O'Good at 7:57 PM on April 7, 2009


The impawards.com posters I can cross reference against Jon's work show no studio house names against them. Need another reference.
posted by Neale at 7:59 PM on April 7, 2009


...but it looks like they can be found here.
posted by Upton O'Good at 7:59 PM on April 7, 2009


I just let know folks know at Fundable.com (contact) that they may want to keep an eye on this.

If Jon Engle is proven to be innocent and an aggrieved party, I'll be the first to say he deserves the money, the support and the accolades for standing up to "The Man." If not, well then, your reputation is/will be up for interpretation for ages to come.
posted by ericb at 8:04 PM on April 7, 2009


No images, though.

http://www.relevantstudio.com/images/portfolio/print/

His home page says that it's parked by his ISP, but the subdirectories are still there.
posted by effbot at 8:05 PM on April 7, 2009


Reddit: "Jon Engle, the guy being sued for $18k by StockArt.com for stealing his own work, may not be telling the whole story, is not actually being sued, and is likely not the victim at all."
posted by ericb at 8:06 PM on April 7, 2009


The smallville poster is credited to CW Print Creative, which I assume is CW's inhouse.

At least one of the Lost posters is credited to BLT & Associates, but the specific poster on Engle's site doesn't appear to be credited.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:10 PM on April 7, 2009


"High profile clients include Warner Brother’s, Touchstone Television, CBS, Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, Professional Lawn Care Association of America, and Southern Baptist Convention of New Mexico."
I'm guessing the last two may be true....
posted by Floydd at 8:12 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Curious Case of Jon Engle -- "It just keeps looking worse for old Jonny-boy’s case."
posted by ericb at 8:19 PM on April 7, 2009


thanks ericb, I had already linked to this thread at iso50 but it was worth linking to Scott's post from here.
posted by wundermint at 8:31 PM on April 7, 2009


BLT did all of the Lost posters. I believe CSI bounced around from Shoolery (shuttered) to ...and Company. A friend at Fox's in-house agency was a bit miffed they didn't rate on Jon's site.
posted by artdyrector at 8:33 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like the grocer's apostrophe in "Warner Brother's" especially since they've officially been known as Warner Bros. for some time.
posted by maxwelton at 8:36 PM on April 7, 2009


wundermint -- ah, yes. I see your comment/link to this MeFi thread there.

For posterity sake, let me correctly post the more precise hyperlink to the iso50's "The Curious Case of Jon Engle" thread.
posted by ericb at 8:36 PM on April 7, 2009


Cortex: I guess my meathooks didn't have a d there.

http://www.google.com/search?q=Mew+%3CExocp+mews[a[er
posted by rokusan at 8:40 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


BLT's totally annoying, all Flash interface website here:

http://www.bltomato.com/index_full.html

The Lost photo is listed on there.
posted by Neale at 8:46 PM on April 7, 2009


This thread won't really get going until Engle's girlfriend gets an account.

If you're out there, Mindy, I'll front the five dollars.
posted by rokusan at 8:47 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I can't imagine a gang of plagiarists would, first of all exist,"

Well, that's their first weapon…

In terms of the linked art comparisons, a lot of it did look like generic design that I've seen year after year, and that could have come from convergent evolution. If tasked with coming up with leaves, well, those leaves would look a lot like the ones there.

But that so many are so close, well, yeah, I know I'm just another anonymous internet jerkwad, but it doesn't look good for Jon. I mean, like, that pen logo, that the edges clip off exactly where the bounding box would be? Ugh.
posted by klangklangston at 8:48 PM on April 7, 2009


Looks like his resume is a boatload of lies as well.
posted by bigmusic at 8:52 PM on April 7, 2009


All of those kneejerk tweets and retweets—shit they didn't even have to type anything to be a crusader—from the rabble-rousers calling to #savejon are fucking hilarious.

@kneejerks Moar #criticalthinking plz.
posted by defenestration at 8:53 PM on April 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


But that so many are so close, well, yeah, I know I'm just another anonymous internet jerkwad, but it doesn't look good for Jon. I mean, like, that pen logo, that the edges clip off exactly where the bounding box would be? Ugh.

Heh, although the icons are what started this off and where the $$ portion comes in, I think the fact that the posters in his portfolio (ok, at least one proven so far) are a direct, unadulterated, provable, lie kinda drives the nail into his coffen.

As a knee-jerk retweeter myself, I hope that tying the two together helps right my karma with the universe.
posted by Neale at 8:58 PM on April 7, 2009


It's like forwarding hoax emails all over again—now in 140 characters or less!
posted by defenestration at 9:05 PM on April 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


BLT's totally annoying, all Flash interface website here:

http://www.bltomato.com/index_full.html

The Lost photo is listed on there.


Yeah, that's pretty damning there. Why would anyone think they could get away with such blatant rip-offs? It's a mystery.
posted by dead cousin ted at 9:20 PM on April 7, 2009


> The Lost photo is listed on there.

All of the posters from Lost that he listed on his portfolio are also listed at bltomato.com. Mirror of "his" posters here.

Unless he was freelancing at bltomato and decided not to qualify as such in his CV/Portfolio (we had designers come in and work on our clients image/branding for their next season at times, so I can see that happening. However, bltomato is in Hollywood, and Jon is in New Mexico.

It might be possible that he was called in to do contract work at those places, however, the designers I've worked with who have done such freelance gigs usually know they don't get to keep the rights to call that work their own, and have much more impressive stuff as the centerpoint of their portfolios. As it stands, giving Jon the benefit of the doubt, he may have gotten some freelance gigs to work on those posters (or the projects that became those posters), but he is probably a little overzealous in taking credit for them. Folks working directly with ad print stuff would probably know what is common practice.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:24 PM on April 7, 2009


I had the foresight to download the files from effbot's link above which went offline after he posted it.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:33 PM on April 7, 2009


bltomato.com

My god. That website.

The horror.


The horror.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:41 PM on April 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


"How long before his Flickr account disappears?"

Two hours and fifteen minutes? (It's gone now).
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:52 PM on April 7, 2009


Interestingly, a look through the 'network television' section in the flash interface at Shoolery Design shows that the Veronica Mars poster, the CSI:Miami poster, the CSI:NY poster, and the CSI poster come from there. (Can't link directly to flash, sorry.)
posted by Upton O'Good at 9:52 PM on April 7, 2009


bltomato.com
My god. That website.
The horror.


It made me nauseous. Really. Honest. I had to stop.
posted by mediareport at 10:17 PM on April 7, 2009


So, I'm already ashamed of my previous comment (way up near the top) which assumed that this guy was telling the truth. Indeed, Jon, how quickly the world turns against you once the other guy gets his chance to tell the story, particularly when his story comports with reality and experience and yours doesn't.

Part of me still wants to believe that he's telling the truth, but even that part of me knows deep down that he isn't. And yet, as shitty as his actions are, I nonetheless feel an instinctive bit of sympathy towards the drowning man, thrashing his arms about for anything that might save him.

He has clearly been in survival mode for a long time, if only in his own mind, and has done immoral things as a result. From what I've gleaned so far, here's my narrative of his story:

Jon is, indeed, an artist, and not one completely without skill. He's worked on major campaigns, and for all we know done so with his own work. One does not go into an art field for the cash, after all. One goes into artistic fields because they want to artistically express themselves in one way or another.

Still, Jon can't build up the portfolio he wants. Maybe he lacks the talent, or creativity, or maybe he simply can't be inspired without a tangible product in front of him, and so he makes the first of many bad decisions, and looks for inspiration on stockart. From there, he's able to find things that he thinks match with his sensibility, and make mock-up logos for fake companies from them. But then, lo and behold, real companies want those same logos. Jon tries to convince them that he can come up with something better, something more, I don't know, original for them. But they're having none of it.

So stockart figures out what's happening and bills him for $18,000. It's time to pay the piper, but he doesn't have that kind of money laying around. He tells them one thing, and then another, searching for a way out of this while really hoping they'll just get tired of chasing him and give up.

This is his second big, bad decision: not hiring a lawyer right then and there, or else paying off stockart and living to design another day.

So the months go by until stockart is forced to mount an investigation, part of which involves talking to Jon's clients to get information about the license agreements. Now Jon is well and truly fucked. He's caught, and with no income to help him defend himself. His dream is dead, his career is dead, his life as he understands it is over. Because of something stupid he did to get people's attention so that he could make a living selling his own work (in this best-case-scenario narrative.)

So he goes online and tells a story about how his work was stolen and then he himself was sued over it. It fits people's presumptions about the internet and lawyers. People rush to his side, until someone bothers to look into his story, and finds it full of holes.

Now, Jon is more fucked than he was before, and with no lifeboat in sight. An $18,000 bill has now become a very public career suicide. I'm with rokusan in being worried that a more literal one might be soon to follow.

And all of this over a designer doing something stupid (and yes, unethical) in order to make ends meet. I don't know how young he is, but I know that he's destroyed his future with this series of escalating bad decisions, probably because he couldn't face anyone and tell them the truth long enough to get any decent advice from the get go.

So while I have no respect for his actions, I still feel very, very sorry for the kid. He brought this shitstorm upon himself awith no way f how to handle it, and that is awful.

Meanwhile, Eric Bauman is a free, rich man, enjoying zero consequences for his own, far more blatant, thefts.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:24 PM on April 7, 2009 [11 favorites]


they say one will change careers several times in ones lifetime.
posted by el io at 10:46 PM on April 7, 2009


"I know that he's destroyed his future"

I think he's in his mid twenties - plenty of time to start a new career. However, assuming he is guilty, and continues to prevaricate in his business and personal dealings, the above statement will probably come true.
posted by HopperFan at 11:06 PM on April 7, 2009


Vallenwood, you're correct : "He started designing at the age of 14 years old. He started as a volunteer, designing websites and brochures for his church."

I'm sure you're joking about contacting Mike Engle, though, right?
posted by HopperFan at 11:09 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's worked on major campaigns

All of those have been proven in these comments to be fraudulent. The only campaigns it seems were legit (in some ways, it seems the work was still partially plagiarised, but the contract was his) were for a local church and a gardening association.
posted by setanor at 11:14 PM on April 7, 2009


So while I have no respect for his actions, I still feel very, very sorry for the kid.

I'm trying to feel sorry, but that legal defense donation page ain't helping.
posted by ryanrs at 11:32 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Another church he supposedly designed was www.fbcbf.com, which uses a template system for churches called E-Zekiel.

Actually, that appears to be the first page he designed. If you notice, he doesn't really have any overlap in his church work, so I'd say that his $relative moved from one church to the other. Given that the two churches are within miles of each other, I would say that it could be any blood relative moving between the two and kicking him back the work.

If he started work at 14 and his first client on his resume was in 1996, I'd say he is 26.

Poor guy. I'd say he's gone through college courses and been soloing it this entire time, not ever actually working in another design firm. If you notice, nothing on his resume shows that he had worked with other design professionals. It sounds like he is real small time operation and he is stuck out in the exurbs of Albuquerque New Mexico having to take whatever work he can get. Which means picking up clients who wont pay for the expensive design skills of folks whose office is in Albuquerque proper.

This just goes to show while you might be a big fish in your own little pond, the internet is the fucking ocean, and don't you forget it.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:40 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Realtime results for #SaveJon.

Not looking good for you, Jon!
posted by ericb at 11:45 PM on April 7, 2009


That seems like a seemingly accurate tale of events except for being fairly generous. As far as we know know, this guy's only relation to major campaigns is taking credit for things he didn't do.

Really, this guy seems like just a million other no talent hacks that ripped off people to build his own reputation. His initial defense (although he's since killed all of his "work" sites) plus his donation site is the only thing I find noteworthy about him. Good luck with that, btw buddy.
posted by dead cousin ted at 11:46 PM on April 7, 2009


Eh, that was in response to Navelgazer.
posted by dead cousin ted at 11:48 PM on April 7, 2009


The dude's even deleted his artwork for his twitter page - how much of stuff did he steal?
posted by bigmusic at 11:48 PM on April 7, 2009


From his Twitter feed:
"So, I'm either the most audacious liar on the planet or a drooling moron."
I'll go with either interpretation.

Similar to the Bernie Madoff defense:
"Either I'm a financial moron, or a crook" You decide!
posted by ericb at 11:54 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"So, I'm either the most audacious liar on the planet or a drooling moron."

What is 'both', Alex?
posted by dead cousin ted at 11:57 PM on April 7, 2009


Another church he supposedly designed was www.fbcbf.com, which uses a template system for churches called E-Zekiel.

What he designed 10 years ago and what's on the website now isn't exactly certain to be the same thing.

But really, I am just commenting here so I can quote that. E-Zekiel. I love it.
posted by rokusan at 11:59 PM on April 7, 2009


> What he designed 10 years ago and what's on the website now isn't exactly certain to be the same thing.

It looks like the E-Zekiel page could easily be a new project, a drop in replacement because their designer moved to a new church along with $relative.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:12 AM on April 8, 2009


I'm guessing it's a bad sign that the fundable page now says "This collection has been deleted."?
posted by dead cousin ted at 12:15 AM on April 8, 2009


Wayback Machine shows FBCBF.com has been using E-Zekiel since at least May 2002.

In 2000, their site looked like this (brace yourself).
posted by jamaro at 12:21 AM on April 8, 2009


"Wayback Machine shows FBCBF.com has been using E-Zekiel since at least May 2002.

In 2000, their site looked like this (brace yourself).
posted by jamaro at 12:21 AM on April 8"


That was pretty bad, but the bltomato site is still worse. I think I feel sick.
posted by HopperFan at 12:24 AM on April 8, 2009


Reminds me of that story about the guy who believes he saw the ghosts of the hunting party, [...] you know the one I mean.

The Open Window

posted by the latin mouse at 12:44 AM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


One of the fascinating (for me) things about this has been how this guy's use of social media completely blew up in his face. He's signed up at just about every random site imaginable and while he's been busy taking down portfolios all day, there's still plenty out there displayng artwork which has been shown to not belong to him. This profile is my favorite one, though, a boilerplate endorsement from a site I've never heard of:
"Honesty and openness are sometimes undervalued traits - many would prefer to hide the past, rather than to allow others to freely and publicly record it for all to see. By creating an iKarma Profile, Jon Engle has demonstrated a firm commitment to maintaining a responsible and sincere reputation online. Such people, both rare and precious, are a credit to both business and society."
(heh)
posted by jamaro at 12:52 AM on April 8, 2009


ok ok, we've all seen a car wreck before. you wouldn't want a horde of people gawking over your carcass by the side of the road, would you? move along now, folks. there's really nothing more to see here.
posted by sexyrobot at 1:05 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing that really kills me about this is that $275 is chump change in "real" logo work, an expense easily passed along to the client.

Even on the inexpensive "local small business" end of things, a few typographic treatments added to stock artwork couldn't take more than a couple of hours, which means even at $500 (including paying the stock house their fee out of that) you'd be doing OK. You're not Saul Bass but you get to make rent and buy groceries.
posted by maxwelton at 1:09 AM on April 8, 2009 [10 favorites]


That was pretty bad, but the bltomato site is still worse. I think I feel sick.

Oh God, I thought you guys were exaggerating until I went there myself. Gaaahhh!
posted by TungstenChef at 1:13 AM on April 8, 2009


I guess I'm the only one that thinks the bltomato site ain't that bad? I had fun playing with it anyway.
posted by jcruelty at 3:40 AM on April 8, 2009


Oh stop whining. BLT do great work. With the sheer amount of great work they have on there, the presentation does suffer a bit, yeah. Click in to the main site for something not-quite as confusing.
posted by flippant at 3:49 AM on April 8, 2009


The dude's even deleted his artwork for his twitter page - how much of stuff did he steal?

Guess he just removed everything he could remove (can you remove your own tweets?). Forgot his favicon, though. And a few other things that I won't link to here.

an expense easily passed along to the client

That's assuming that you have actual clients, of course.
posted by effbot at 3:50 AM on April 8, 2009


Also: don't forget that Jon is a person in all of this. Sure, he made mistakes, and sure he tried to turn many of you into pawns against "the man", but he's still a human being, despite his faults (and unsound business practices).

ok ok, we've all seen a car wreck before. you wouldn't want a horde of people gawking over your carcass by the side of the road, would you? move along now, folks. there's really nothing more to see here.
posted by sexyrobot


Yeah.
posted by flippant at 3:51 AM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


template system for churches called E-Zekiel.

I know, off topic, but you can't make this stuff up!

On topic, this guy thought he could get away with it. He can't. I do wonder, though, if part of the problem here is the commodification of graphic design. Clients see these clipart or prepackaged logo sites selling stuff for 300 bucks and then expect a designer they're hired to do the same thing, plus meet all of their mysterious and unexpressed expectation, as well, for $400.
posted by miss tea at 4:44 AM on April 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Last update from the man himself on the Logopond forum in which he adds:

"Also, I'll be closing the fundraising page and everyone should see the money returned shortly. They've taken my business and my reputation, but the last thing I want is for anyone to think I started a massive hoax in order to scam people out of sympathy money.

I'll have to see if I can find someone to work on contingency. If not, I'll proudly fight them in court by myself even if I lose. At least I know I did the right thing."


So he will have his day in court!

You know, this has all the makings of a ratings-smashing TV legal drama: He was a reputable graphic designer - but then a team of professional crooks stole his career. So he became Jon Engle - Designer At Law.
posted by panboi at 6:10 AM on April 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'll give him some credit for sticking too his story. I'm a wussy liar, and would've just given up by now.
posted by graventy at 7:38 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yet, as shitty as his actions are, I nonetheless feel an instinctive bit of sympathy towards the drowning man, thrashing his arms about for anything that might save him.

Even though I never assumed he was telling the truth, I feel the same way. He's a hack artist, he's continually lied to everyone, and it looks like most or all of his clients have been victims of fraud, but there are a lot of hacks and liars out there that don't see the whole Internet turn against them in one career-destroying day. Obviously it's a good thing that he's not able to continue pretending to have worked on high-profile projects and using other people's work without credit, but I wouldn't wish a crash and burn this massive on anybody.

With all of the talk about newspapers shutting down and the controversy around random blogs becoming major sources of news, I think this is an interesting example of how a news story can develop without being picked up by any legitimate news organization. On the one hand, the story would never have become national or even local news in the first place without the Internet. In the unlikely case that a reporter did decide to cover the story they wouldn't have just given Jon's side without doing some fact checking, which would have prevented the misguided crusade to help him. On the other hand, it didn't take much time for a few random people on the Internet to do the same fact checking and make their voices heard effectively enough that the truth came out and a backlash ensued. The process was significantly messier without real reporters being involved, but the Internet as a whole ultimately has the capacity to come to a consensus on many matters that traditional news sources can't or won't pick up.

It also shows one of the beautiful things about communication on the Internet: it's very easy to use it to get your message out to large numbers of people, but nearly impossible to prevent those that disagree with you from doing the same. In the traditional publishing world, the people or governments that own the newspaper or TV station can control the content, but on the Internet even methods as draconian as the ones used by China can never really stop the opposition from organizing and spreading their message. That freedom means there is a lot of noise to sift through on the Internet, but it also means that the truth can never stay hidden for very long.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:00 AM on April 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


I've been working with an illustrator for the last several months designing a logo for a business I plan on starting up soon. I can't imagine anything like this happening with us, but that's partly because we've been through about 10 comps of sketches and numerous discussions. We're only now getting to the vector and lettering part. If you have a process like this, it's very difficult for someone to pilfer someone else's work. Of course, it's taking a long time and is not exactly cheap, but I'll end up with a unique logo that looks professional and exactly the way I want it. My understanding in working with this illustrator is that a lot of clients don't want to go through this and will just settle on the second or third comp without providing any direction, but why bother working with a professional if you aren't going to participate in their creating the branding for your product? In that case, maybe someone wouldn't care about reused clip art, but it seems like a waste if so.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:01 AM on April 8, 2009


Also: don't forget that Jon is a person in all of this. Sure, he made mistakes, and sure he tried to turn many of you into pawns against "the man", but he's still a human being, despite his faults (and unsound business practices).

He's a thief and a liar and he's fucking up the careers of others by devaluing the profession. Fuck him. I hope he never works in the field again.

Also, this is similar and the funniest goddamn thing I ever read: another shitty designer gets busted for his all-clipart portfolio. (Forum NSFW): lol scorpions portfolio is all MS Office clipart
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:03 AM on April 8, 2009


"Oh stop whining. BLT do great work. With the sheer amount of great work they have on there, the presentation does suffer a bit, yeah. Click in to the main site for something not-quite as confusing."

The work looks great. The website is fun, sure - for about 10 seconds. Then it's really annoying - both the entry and the main area.
posted by HopperFan at 8:19 AM on April 8, 2009


with regard to the time-stamps. They can *easily* be altered . His statement that he had never heard of them sounds like a way to try and bolster the value of the stamps on his files since he "couldn't have altered them... he didn't even know they existed". This is why his statement that they won't tell him the dates of the images makes total sense. Of course you wouldn't do that. You don't want to tell someone what date to shoot for when trying to back date their derived work.

Smart thinking, lucasks. That sounds exactly right.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:27 AM on April 8, 2009


This is just like that time I told everybody there were WMD in Iraq, except there weren't and everyone got all pissed and I can't be president again.
posted by klangklangston at 8:40 AM on April 8, 2009


burnmp3s: I love what you're saying here, and I think you have some great points. It is interesting to watch the internet work through situations similar to this one, and it does seem that the truth does, in the end, come to the fore. In general, I think the internet is even better than print about what I shall suddenly call "the retraction issue", because it is typically much easier to find the "correct" version of a story after having read the "incorrect" version online, than it would be doing the same research in, say, a newspaper microfilm archive.

I would, for conversation's sake, offer just a couple of observations.

1) Where do we get the in-depth reporters a la Seymour Hersch in a blogosphere world? They uncover truths which are NOT going to be sussed out via the hive mind, simply because most of the time, those who know the truth are playing the game at a level where you don't find it sitting around on the internet waiting for 4chan or whomever to dig it up. That level of reporting is what I fear we will lose once the "old media" slips away.

2) Your point about the dissemination of point and counterpoint is excellent, but could easily vanish if net neutrality is not enforced. Imagine an internet where those who control the pipes get to decide if they are going to carry content based on where it is posted online. If Time Warner Cable decides to get all proprietary about content and suddenly won't link to any media not provided by one of its sister companies, or if Verizon suddenly gets on a moral high ground and stops allowing their users to access servers with "questionable content", whatever that may mean to them... we can see this break down pretty quickly, I think.

I love the idea of the citizen reporter, always linked in, helping uncover the truth even when exposed to bald faced lies. But ultimately, I think the model breaks down. *sigh*
posted by hippybear at 8:50 AM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder if this isn't a much more severe case of this type of thing. The TV show poster stuff, though, that just makes no sense.
posted by odinsdream at 8:53 AM on April 8, 2009


Note to future clients of designers like this: You really want your copyright-infringing designers to "defend, indemnify and hold harmless [your company] from all claims, costs, suits, and damages, including attorneys fees arising from the use of this work." Except have a lawyer. Just, y'know, fyi.
posted by dersins at 9:34 AM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have two words for Jon Engle: Todd Goldman.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:03 AM on April 8, 2009


What a sad, sad man.
posted by Laen at 11:06 AM on April 8, 2009


Where do we get the in-depth reporters a la Seymour Hersch in a blogosphere world? They uncover truths which are NOT going to be sussed out via the hive mind, simply because most of the time, those who know the truth are playing the game at a level where you don't find it sitting around on the internet waiting for 4chan or whomever to dig it up.

I agree that this is a major potential problem. There's probably an analogy here to open source software: sometimes there is programming work that will only be done if you pay someone to do it. A web browser like FireFox can rival major commercial alternatives using open source volunteers, but for something like boring accounting software wouldn't generate much interest in the open source community. Without reporters paid to care about specific important issues, there's a chance that the Internet masses will drop the ball and let major stories go unnoticed.

The current news system isn't perfect either though. There aren't as many Seymour Herschs as there should be, and an advertising-based revenue system rewards news organizations more for doing things that attract readers than for sound reporting. In many cases, major news stories are less a matter of reporters going after stories and more about people involved handing stories to the press. A modern day Deepthroat could just as easily pass on confidential information to a blogger as they could to a traditional news source.

Imagine an internet where those who control the pipes get to decide if they are going to carry content based on where it is posted online. If Time Warner Cable decides to get all proprietary about content and suddenly won't link to any media not provided by one of its sister companies, or if Verizon suddenly gets on a moral high ground and stops allowing their users to access servers with "questionable content", whatever that may mean to them... we can see this break down pretty quickly, I think.

The nice thing about this scenario is that unless the nature of the Internet changes a great deal it would never be accepted by consumers. People would have accepted a crippled version of the Internet if it had been originally introduced back when the alternative was dialing into BBS boxes, but these days people expect to go anywhere and do anything online, and that would be difficult to remove any of that freedom without alienating their customers. And the Time Warners and Verizons of the world are the ones who most benefit from the Internet being a generic pipe for all possible content. As long as they charge enough for bandwidth, it doesn't matter if customers are reading blogs, watching TV shows on Hulu or downloading porn, the more people who use the Internet the more money they will make.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:56 AM on April 8, 2009


I have two words for Jon Engle: Todd Goldman.

You mean that guy who, in spite of being a blatant plagiarist, continues to make thousands upon thousands of dollars a year through the sale of work cobbled together from clip art and stolen catchphrases?

Yeah, the internet sure showed that guy what was up.
posted by orville sash at 12:10 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where do we get the in-depth reporters a la Seymour Hersch in a blogosphere world?
Here.
posted by scrump at 12:24 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just in case anyone still reads this thread, BoingBoing has a comment from StockArt's owner, and a list of the "lost logos":

http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/04/08/stockartcom-founder.html

(there doesn't seem to be 65 logos in that list, but I guess Mr Engle might have used the same logo in more than one context...)
posted by effbot at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a little disappointed that our brave defenders at Boing Boing *didn't* leap in to defend the guy before getting their facts straight.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on April 8, 2009


Before we totally crucify Jon, let's try to use a little perspective. I truly believe that all people who've made egregious mistakes such as this deserve not only our scorn, but also encouragement to get through it, fix their mistakes, and become a better person from it. Jon's gotta be receiving a TON of hate mail right now, enough that could make a person suicidal. I'm not saying that he doesn't deserve the hate mail, I'm just saying I'd hope some people show enough compassion for him that he can get through this.

He did a horrible thing, but in the grand scheme of things it's a drop in the bucket. I'm sure I'll be jumped on by people saying I'm defending the guy, which I'm not. I'm just hoping that this whole thing turns into a lesson for him, and he's able to survive the enormous amount of hate mail to become a better person from it all.

He deserves to learn that we won't put up with this kind of shit. He doesn't deserve our forgiveness. But most people don't. That doesn't mean we shouldn't show a little compassion towards someone who's perhaps made the biggest mistake of their life.
posted by premiumpolar at 2:15 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Askew writes:
I have been fighting for artists rights for over 11 years to the point where it has devastated both my business and the livelihoods of my artist alliance . I'm guessing we only license 1 image these days to every 50 which are stolen and profited from. I personally have uncovered over 500 for- profit companies whom have stolen over 8,000 images from my artists!!!! I can not expose this story to the point which will soon be shared, but please know one thing about this irony! I have fought this matter with my own personal investments to a point of bankruptcy. I love my artists and their right to earn money from their unique, artistic, intellectual property! If anyone is interested in the entire story of my experience, please contact me personally ... I do want to personally thank you for your concern. I understand your concern! Stockart.com is proud to advocate and represent the copyrights and works of the many award-winning and talented artists who have provided their work to Stockart.com for rights managed licensing for over a decade.
It's not that I have a horse in this race, and it's pretty likely Jon is in the wrong and burying himself further with every missive but one observation: Jon, even when defensive, comes off sounding more coherent and consistent in voice and tone than Askew does. Askew sounds... cagey and weird.
posted by abulafa at 2:25 PM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree that this is a major potential problem. There's probably an analogy here to open source software: sometimes there is programming work that will only be done if you pay someone to do it. A web browser like FireFox can rival major commercial alternatives using open source volunteers, but for something like boring accounting software wouldn't generate much interest in the open source community.

People are paid to work on firefox. In fact, it makes millions of dollars a year from search advertising.
posted by delmoi at 2:31 PM on April 8, 2009


Of course, it's taking a long time and is not exactly cheap, but I'll end up with a unique logo that looks professional and exactly the way I want it. My understanding in working with this illustrator is that a lot of clients don't want to go through this...

You are right that that is a big mistake, often made.

Another mistake made more often is assuming a logo is yours, or unique, just because it was made for you. Even with best intentions, it's quite possible you're accidentally tromping over someone else's trademarked (or registered copyright) logo without realizing it. A good identity design includes legal searches to be sure you can actually register the thing. Otherwise you'll be shut down anyway when the owner of the similar-logo (designed earlier) sees yours.

(Adjust language for your own favorite nation-state's legal system. Short version: pay for searches to find conflicts before buying.)
posted by rokusan at 2:31 PM on April 8, 2009


posted by Artw I'm a little disappointed that our brave defenders at Boing Boing *didn't* leap in to defend the guy before getting their facts straight.

Maybe they objected to Jon unpublishing himself.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:58 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


People are paid to work on firefox. In fact, it makes millions of dollars a year from search advertising.

Yeah, kind of a bad example. A project like GIMP is more what I was talking about in terms of being run by volunteers.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:10 PM on April 8, 2009


You know, I was starting to feel a real bit of sympathy for this guy -- I mean, the level of fuck-up he's achieved would make for a compelling character in, say, a Jonathan Franzen book -- but then I went looking through the backlogs of his twitter feed, and it's just terribly obnoxious.

Obviously all the self-congratulatory thanks to the people following his story before things turned bad are the worst, but going further back we find small ironies like:
A potential client told me I didn't have a enough logo design in my portfolio to get the job. Guess 210 logos wasn't cutting it for them.

Designers: is it better to display a lot of work in your portfolio or just the best of the best? If the latter, how do you choose?" -- followed shortly thereafter by "@brandsimplicity Sounds like a good idea. That way you don't get pigeon-holed with one style of design

RT @iamkhayyam: "Good artists copy. Great artists steal." ~Pablo Picasso

@juliekapral I've come up with logos that look like other logos, purely by coincidence. Are we all in danger of being lynched like this? [this is from a month ago, in response to someone else being accused of plagiarism]

@cobaltcow I've had tech support accuse me of lying. They never believe the problem might be on their end.

@timm3h We only have huge egos when selling to clients. With each other, we're much more humble. :)

@logoholik Wow, these people amaze me. Nothing's a secret on the web, of course they'll get caught. [a month ago, referring to someone else's problem, I think]

@juliekapral I wouldn't be. The better you are, the more people want to take you down a notch. Take it as a compliment. ;) [again, unrelated to all of this]

RT @lisahickey: Personal branding tip: Get out there and make mistakes. Then show the world how you fix them.
posted by nobody at 7:29 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


RT @lisahickey: Personal branding tip: Get out there and make mistakes. Then show the world how you fix them.

Well, he certainly got the first part done!
posted by delmoi at 7:56 PM on April 8, 2009


Following up on my earlier post: a longer version of that message, signed by StockArt's owner, was posted to reddit by the signature "stockartcares".

Favourite quote:
"Stockart.com intends to use an appropriate "legal" forum to resolve Stockart.com's concerns about the above and many other works; one which will allow Stockart.com to explain why Stockart.com claims rights in the many images which these artists have provided to Stockart.com, one which affords dignity to the artists whose work Stockart.com represents; one which will treat Mr. Engle with dignity and respect; one which will give Mr. Engle an opportunity to explain why he believes he has authorship or copyrights in the many images with which Stockart.com is concerned."
posted by effbot at 10:21 AM on April 9, 2009


« Older Happy 40th birthday, RFC 1!...  |  I, for one, welcome our new si... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments