Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Tale of Two IPs

About 7 weeks ago I was contacted to design a logo for the Second Life Birthday 8 Celebration. I was contacted by a friend because of the work I had done on two other logos for LL - one for Burning Life and another for Burn2. I said yes, despite my experience of the last time working with Lindens.

Did some mockups of design; main elements, approach, focus. Tried to ask questions about the parameters, because I was being told "needs to look good at 64x64" but then also about "the maaaaagic of SL" and etc, so I wanted to know if they wanted a LOGO or a GRAPHIC so I could design for a poster (denser, busy) and also a logo (spare; recognition at a glance).

Went to a meeting with all kinds of Important People and some Lindens. Pitched my idea about the Magician's Top Hat as a main element/metaphor of "magic" and the particles/stars & letters coming from it and showed them both the physical mockup (it was made in prims for shooting photos) and the photo of the 3D mockup. A lot of stuff came up about the colors and people not liking this one, that one, whatever one ("we had green last year, I don't ever wanna see green again!"). I told them basically please come up with a color set/theme so I could work without having to redo the whole thing if people decided the "theme colors" were going to be different somewhere down the road; I suggested purple because of the obvious "magicness" associated with it, but there was no consensus so I said I needed to know the color schema in order to redesign the logo in the colors picked...

Then a few people IMed me about a week later, "congratulations!!!" - this is how I found out I was listed on this page as Logo/Graphic Designer AND under Estate/Buildouts/Exhibits, although I had not requested a plot and had no intention of building at SL8B.

I heard nothing from anyone associated with this for 6 weeks (except for the Legal Dept.'s "no!" on use of the Hand) and figured they got pissy after my little quiz on what they wanted and blew me off.

Well, today someone tweeted this logo - which is pretty much the graphic design idea I showed to that Committee. Oh yes; they tilted the letters and the Hat about 38 degrees... they used little paint tube stars (mine were multi-colored with particles also); they used a flat-style lettering instead of my beveled chrome letters... but this is my design. And who is this logo attributed to now on that Linden Lab Official: SL8B page? Jillian Linden.


Now, you need to know a few other things: when I was asked to design the logo for Burning Life (you remember, the one that looked like a cheap western KOA/motel sign) I went through this same process; spent a good amount of time going back and forth with it.... and ended up in the same position: I got my design lifted, rearranged and attributed to other people. I thought the redesign so tacky that I demanded my name be taken off the credits (they had stuck my name on it with two other names).

I also had the Linden Hand incorporated into this design, backing up or holding the Hat; I mean, SL8B is an Official Linden Thing, right? Brand awareness and all that? Well, it took 8 days for a Linden to get back to me with this message from Legal: no, you can't use our logo in our own logo.

So Linden Lab has a big bunch of wind to say about Intellectual Property, but when it comes right down to it, they are happy to lift design work from other people. Did I mention there was no pay ever involved for graphic design? Of course not. No, I am not being bitchy because I wasn't getting paid, but it's interesting that Lindens who get paid to do stuff are ok with asking someone to spend a couple hours design and graphic time for free so they can use it... like I should be so happy to be asked to work with Lindens.

Well, I'm not. This is the second time I've been worked for ideas that are then appropriated and redesigned and attributed to someone else. Hey, Photoshopping is all kewl 'n stuff (I mean, check out the lovely ersatz metallic sheen on those flat tin letters!) but design is 80% ideas and 20% execution.

To add insult to injury, someone changed the Logo/Graphic Design credits to Jillian Linden on that official wiki page but still left my name in Estate/Buildout/Exhibits (which I had never volunteered for, and specifically chose to ignore SL8B this year).

So am I such a big name they need to leave my name on this page? When the real work I did was appropriated, sucked up and regurgitated with someone else's name on it? If I was a meaner person, I would have copyrighted that logo design and be in the process of jamming some DMCA takedown notices up LL's butt. I mean, that's what they do, isn't it?

So here's a little note to any Linden who'd think I'd be thrilled to be used again:
Talk to the hand

DISCLOSURE: hand turkey credit to plmiller@


sororNishi said...

I have mentioned before in a post how we do so much of the work that LL should be responsible for, from code fixes, noob education, maintenance reporting etc, but this is such a blatant rip off.

The hand in their logo is a con anyway...I used that logo back in 1980's

Lalo Telling said...

That's just reprehensible.

Mera Kranfel said...

I lack of words!! =(

Nice pic though xxxxxxxxxxx
and thumbs down for LL

=IcaruS= said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miso Susanowa said...

thx guys :)

soror: yes, it seems a small variant on the Hand of Fatima, a very old symbol.

Brinda said...

our world, our imagination...nope
Their world, our imagination.

Brinda said...

(and I'm so pissed at having to use Chrome to be able to comment)

google help had a ton of responses to same prob.

OH WELL, I'M Back! =^..^=

ladysakai said...

yea I had a similar experience with a danish Autism society some years back.. I hade a folder with input from other parents, to have as an easy readble handout on autism you know for doctors, drivers, etc that comes in contact with our kids.
The society expressed an intrest in the folder and i thought "Yay, if I get them to help we can haveit al official and with nice printups and easy distribution across the country"
Would have been nice to have had a little recognition for it thou. Something you can actually show to future employees and say "I made that" and having ones name on it.
Ops there I went ranting again .. Basicly just expressing my sympathies hun *Hugs form the north *

Wizzy Gynoid said...

i heard a rumor today that courtney linden left the building...

Darrius Gothly said...


Do it. If they do not respect their own rules, if they do not abide by the terms of the DMCA, they lose their protected status. They have FAR more to sacrifice than the pittance they paid their employee to lift your design. And they need to either provide copy showing prior invention of the logo .. or put your name on it AND pay you for its use.

They rejected it at the meeting, refused to accept it, thus they have stolen it plain and simple. Your time is valuable. Claim that value back and help teach Linden Lab the proper way AND the pain of being ripped off.

for Paisley Beebe said...

This is disgraceful !! And to be honest I thought the same thing when I saw the logo yesterday. This sort of thing really pisses me off. Honestly designers should get paid for spec work, some do but the greater insult is seeing your idea done by a lesser designer and screwed up! The hand issue is just hillarious when did LL get sooo uptight it's just so anal and stuck up. Talk about shooting yourself in the...hand I'd love to see your designs Miso can you show us your version ? Did you get that far?

Bliss Windlow said...

Having people rip your ideas and represent them as their own is rife in both RL and SL. Doing tons of work and someone else taking credit or not giving any credit to the proper people is also an issue. I am really sorry this happened to you. You are so correct when you say, "design is 80% ideas and 20% execution."

I don't suppose it is much comfort that their effort to rip you off produced a significantly inferior product - which is almost always the case. People that use other people - ideas and work - always get found out because it is never the quality of the original source.

If there is anything pro active that can be done to help address this with LL, count me in.

Miso Susanowa said...

Paisley: the original was done the same way I did the others, in 3D/prims as a mockup for design elements. Then I photograph them... I do that so elements can be shuffled and rearranged. I did this post in a peeve at 4am so I didn't search my giant "I have uploaded these images to SL but haven't filed them properly" drive/partition. I know I sent the photos to at least two people and they were used as my pitch for the "Hat" design at the initial meeting.

Was the basic design of the Hat to represent "magic" with a wand evoking the lettering; the wand had particle effects that I wasn't sure would come out well in a photo. I wanted the Hand holding the Hat or Wand; I thought it would be neat brand-awareness. Never heard back (except the big Legal "no!") so I assumed it was blown off.

Darrius: I was upset the first time this happened. This time I didn't get worked up over it, just peeved.

Gwyneth Llewelyn said...

I'd certainly complain and use the DMCA file claim. I'm sure that you can use snapshots of your in-world design to prove you've designed it first, since the prims will have timestamps on them... said...

I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience, Miso. I hope it resolves as a series of misunderstandings that can all be worked out.

As for the general challenges of any type of "design by committee," this comic immediately came to my mind:

Iggy O said...

LL needs a new official logo: foot with hole shot in it. Or maybe the LL hand picking a pocket.

Very sorry that this happened to you, Miso.

It's not the first time LL did this. They ripped off the Savage Worlds RPG's slogan "Fast Furious Fun" for their "Fast Easy Fun" campaign in Philip's waning days as CEO:

My post ran July 5, 2010. On July 30, 2010 LL announced its new slogan. Who says the Lindens don't read our blogs?

jayjayzifanwe said...

report it Miso

Deoridhe said...

That so sucks. 8( I'm really sorry they did that to you.

oobscure said...

Miso, had you sign any legal agreement (even in digital form) with regard to the making of the logo?

If yes, can we read its content please?

Jeri Rahja said...

Miso, maybe now - you will no longer offer any more assistance to LL - let them find a new "person" to prey off of - move long my Talented Friend - chalked this up as a horrific lesson learned - one thing to remember - NEVER show your design to anyone without aquiring some down payment PERIOD (at least 1/3 to 1/2) - then if they do not accept - you got some payment ....

oobscure said...

Miso, feel free to ignore my previous question - the answer isn't as relevant as I had thought.

Chestnut Rau said...

I am going to boycott SL8B because of this and will encourage others to do the same.

Mr. Crap Mariner said...

You know, i kinda like that turkey drawing.

How much you want for it?


Rowan Derryth said...

Miso, you need to file the report. This is unacceptable.

Simeon Beresford said...

nod file one Miso i know its seem like a lot of hassle but if you don't Linden labs will continue trampling over its residents. It not just for you.

livingvirtually said...

I'm joining the crowd that wants you to file a DCMA. Yes, ripoff is rife in SL and RL, but that doesn't mean it should go unchallenged.

Xavion Saltair said...

Very, very bad move made by LL. I was just discussing with someone about IP and legal infringement on a different subject.

I say file the report also.

Saffia Widdershins said...

oh lord, another head desk moment ...

I am so sorry, Miso.

My advice would be... calmly gather your evidence, but in the mean-time contact the Lindens you know at the Lab, and point out that this has happened as it isn't right that you are given no credit at all (even if it's "By Jillian Linden from a concept devised by Miso Susanowa") and also request that your name is removed from the exhibit builders.

I operate on the philosophy that a lot of mistakes are simple cock-ups and that when pointed out, people will try to correct errors. If they don't, then they get the slap.

In other words, if you get no response to a calm and civil approach, file.

mistletoeethaniel said...

I'm with Saffia on this. Gather and present your evidence. Approach it calmly and civilly. You don't need to have copyrighted it if you made it first; it's already copyrighted to you just by virtue of existing and being made by you first.

I will also suggest, at the risk of making myself as popular as a griefer here, the need for a rational and level-headed approach from all of us on this. I'd hate to see this become another example of what was displayed at (about the Etsy seller who claimed her design was stolen by Urban Outfitters, raised a stink about it, and turned out to be a big misunderstanding all around).

vwestland said...

Miso, The copyright status of your work requires no formal filing to be enforced. Secondly, it sounds like you were contracted to do work, in the form of "logo concept design," under verbal contract by one or more representatives of LL.

Your compensation for this contract was to be the recognition of your work on various official pieces of communication, websites, etc. This compensation, although not in cash, has great and measurable good will marketing value. LL knowingly violated your copyright and failed to abide by the terms of their verbal contract with you.

If nothing else, you've got a great "case" for the court of public opinion! I would hook up with a in-world CNN I-Reporter and be ready to turn this into a black eye for LL / SL8, unless LL makes things right!

Ron T Blechner said...

And here I was beginning to think that Linden Lab's right-hand-not-knowing-what-left-is-doing-too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen-developing days were behind them with the layoffs! ;)

Iggy O said...

I hope my first reply was not too flip. Here's my legal advice: get a legal clinic that does pro-bono work to write a simple letter to Linden Lab.

This worked wonders for a friend who had cancer-treatment denied by an insurer with pockets deeper than Linden Lab's fondest dreams.

One letter later, they opened their check-book if not their hearts.

If a formal legal request does not get you credit for the design, lawyer up and file.

alizarin said...

aw, Miso, that really stinks. Somehow it doesn't surprise me in the least though. Kinda makes IWz stand out, doesn't it? Hugs, Ali

Thirza Ember said...

next time be smart, and stay away from lindens, and 'prestigious' events of all kinds. You don't need them!

alizarin said...

Miso, Photoshop User magazine has been running a series of articles in "The Copyright Zone" about how to file a DCMA - want me to scan 'em and send them along?

Tuna Oddfellow said...

On the contrary, Ron, Linden Lab gets rid of their best chefs. Then they serve us, from a recipe that alienates the residents.

Miso, the content creators more than feel your pain. we feel our pain, as the lab continues to erode our world and take credit for our imagination.

What can our community do, to raise awareness of this inequity?

Being the David to slew Goliath, is not something one Second Life artist can expect to do on their own.

What resources do we have to make this an issue that the art community stands behind and effect change?

Vaneeesa said...

I'm with Paisley on this unfortunateness. I think the core problem here is unpaid spec work.

I do think a client needs to be in a position to take something that's been worked on... give it to someone else (internal or external, either way) and have them do additional work.

If the client doesn't have enough IP rights to do that, they're in a difficult position. Designers, from graphic designers to architects to everyone else, love to tell the client they know best, and often do, but I do believe in a client having that flexibility.

But the client really has NO right to that on unpaid spec work. The client should PAY a designer to do concept work with a clear understanding that on delivery of concepts and payment for them the client can use as is, have the designer do additional development, or have someone else do additional development.

Everyone who is a part of the chain from concept to implementation should receive credit.

Miso Susanowa said...

Ok... I am exhausted trying to keep up with this today. So this is my last comment.

Tuna Oddfellow's comment on the original post is what I am best able to process at this moment and why I am duplicating this last comment to both posts. I am not about black eyes, contrary to what you might think after my initial post. I was irritated; I sounded off in my little diary and didn't expect to become a flag. As Paisley commented, cockups happen and that's just how things go. I've been as open as I can be about my own mistakes and lameness in this matter.

I understand that I have touched on a very sore issue for many people that has long historical roots and teeth. I also understand that this was mostly a bad failure of communication on both sides and that this is the actual underlying issue. I am thankful for all of your suggestions and I understand why you made them.

I made the mistake of blowing off steam in a public forum which had repercussions I never intended or foresaw. DMCA notices are part of something that concerns me a great deal these days about IP, copyright and the whole mess that is strangling creativity and common culture. It's a complex issue and no one really has a grasp on the repercussions of such things in this age of digital shift. I do not think my issue in this case would rise to the level of such a thing.

Tuna commented:
What resources do we have to make this an issue that the art community stands behind and effect change?

I'd say to Tuna: the resources we are all, artists/creators and LL alike, supposed to be involved in- communication. It can't happen when something like my snarky post escalates into DMCA Notices at 50 paces, nor can it happen when the other side rallies behind a wall and refuses to simply admit there'd been a screwup and try to deal with it by rote principle of denial. People mess up; I messed up. The whole firestorm that's happened over the last 24 hrs illustrates this huge rift in communication and the problems it breeds and engenders; the deep underlying feelings of betrayal and mistrust that have surfaced in this whole mess.

I've tried my best to calm things down today because I am responsible for lighting this match. The feeling of "not being on the same team" appears to have touched many people in a sore spot. It's this rift I worry about a lot and I feel is at the heart of the problems between LL and its consumers/users/residents in terms of the profitability and future growth of Second Life.

I'll say again: I think Rod Humble shows more awareness of exactly what SL is about as a platform than I have seen from previous CEOs in the three years I have been in SL. I think he's walked the walk so far of a good match for a company involved in social media and I have nothing but respect for him. I have hopes that he can actually get a team together that could work on these deep fractures which appear to be inside LL as well as outside in Residentland and I do not appear to be alone in this hope. Such a thing would be the best for all of us, company and consumer alike; that is a platform I'd be more confident about trusting and bringing new people inworld to experience. It would also be a profitable business model and serve the interests of LL as a profitable company with a future because customer loyalty has been the single best advertising and retention tactic for a business for thousands of years.

Trill Zapatero said...

Boycott, hahaha love the turkey hand. That's the official boycott logo now!


flora nordenskiold said...

I'm with Trill....we now have a new official boycott logo!

Bliss Windlow said...

wow Miso I have so much respect for your last post - I really do. " breeds and engenders; the deep underlying feelings of betrayal and mistrust that have surfaced in this whole mess." Thank you for reminding me to stay focused on solution and not hysteria. Sometimes being "right" just costs too much and forces polarizations that are not helpful.