Loss Aversion: we hate losing what we’ve got.

When we copy, we justify it. When others copy, we villify it.

Most of us have no problem with copying – as long as we’re the ones doing it.

For almost our entire history ideas were free – the works of Shakespeare, Gutenburg and Rembrambt could be openly copied and built upon.

But the growing dominance of the market economy where the products of our intellectual labors are bought and sold produced an unfortunate side effect.

It is acceptable to borrow from others as long as we make something now out of what we borrow. It is also essential that we are willing to acknowledge our sources.

If a graphic designer includes a photograph of a succulent plate of food on the packaging of a frozen ready-meal – just like every other ready-meal in the supermarket freezer – is this plagiarism, or someone following an acceptable commercial convention?

Plagiarism is ‘taking and using another person’s ideas as one’s own.’ Plagiarism is either:

– Perfectly innocent (coincidence)

– Subconscious (you saw it before but didn’t realize it)

– Intentional (you’re hoping you won’t get caught)

Q: “But the mock-up is perfect, so why do we need to spend more money and do more? Lets just use these?”

A: Firstly, because the mock-ups are fictive. Secondly, we don’t own the copyright to the images used, so we have to create our own. Thirdly, mock-ups look beautiful in double A4 size because they’re small. But the larger you make the photo, the more pixels are used, and the more detail is lost. Fourthly, research must be conducted to validate the idea and verify that it doesn’t exist elsewhere to avoid legal problems in the future.

Ignacio Rodrigues, International Account Manager for TBWA