Ethics Assignment

Entry 1: A)

I have been with my internship for two weeks now. Within that time, I have designed 13 different pieces for two tasks. My first task was to create the cover of the digital June Newsletter. The second task was to compose a newsletter article page layout. The organization instructed me to use any photograph or other content website I choose to create designs. I wasn’t given any specific information about copyright infringement or how to credit the photographer/artist. However, I know from experience that credit is mandatory when using a design, regardless of whether or not the sources are free or paid. When I submitted my designs, a photo credit was not required, but I included it anyway for one design. The Communication Marketing department and I never discussed whether or not artists should be credited. However, according to the AIGA design and Business ethics handbook, “there should be agreement as to whether the photographer will receive ownership credit for the photography that appears in the final design.” Since I have used “pre-existing” open-source stock images, I am not sure if there are specific license agreements connected to the use of its content. Because the photographs will not be sold and only used as a communication/promotional source, I do not think that is something I need to worry about in this case. According to, “You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash…” However, each photo provides the photographer’s names, and I will credit them going forward. 

Upon my start, I received the companies logos and brand guidelines. The guidelines allowed me to understand how the logo should and should not be used. There are two main versions of the logo: full white and golden. The white version is utilized on a dark or busy background. For all my designs thus far, I have employed the white logo version. 

I did not have to sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement for my internship opportunity. However, I treat all work with professionalism and dignity. Everything I produce for the organization is to the best of my abilities, and I excel with feedback, which I have been receiving. Other than for class purposes, I will not reveal designs I create unless it is publicly available on their website. What I post on the class ePortfolio site will only include a design intended for external marketing. If I am given an assignment that is internal or confidential, I will not post those designs. Instead, I may speak of my ideas and tactics in written form but will not go into any details on the content. I strive for professionalism and understand the value of confidential agreements, whether or not it is been verbalized. Regardless, I will use my judgment and experience to make wise choices when displaying designs that are not publicly available. If ever I am in doubt, I will email my superiors and/or legal department to ask if I may use the design in my portfolio or other personal circumstances. 

Entry 1: B)

In the back of my mind, I always knew that photographs and other elements I use in my designs need to be credited and may be copy-written. Because my work is often for school projects, I never paid close attention to whether or not I might be infringing on any copyright violations. My perspective on this matter has changed a lot after reading the Fairey Copyright Case and the Copyright section of the AIGA handbook. In the past, I assumed if I made edits to an image I found, it’s no longer protected. However, I have learned that is not the case. Although individual stipulations include certain angles and postures that cannot be copyrighted, the work is theirs and should be agreed upon by them if I plan to use it for purposes outside of education. 

I recently took a Publication Design Class. At first, I only used open-source images out of caution regarding copyright laws. But then, I was informed by my instructor that as long as I do not plan to make money on my work and it is for school purposes, it is ok to use images that are protected, but I must credit the author. Throughout the class, I designed a 28-page magazine using many images found through image search engines that pertain to the topic of the publication. To accurately credit all the different entities the photographs and artwork were from, I dedicated a Credit Page that listed all the artists and sources the works originated. That was an appropriate way to allow others to obtain their acknowledgment. 

For my internship, photo credits are not expected. However, moving forward, I will include them with my final designs so the organization may utilize that information appropriately, should they choose. All the images I use are from open-source websites and not blindly obtained from Google, so even if they do not credit the source, I know the photographs are safe to use without future repercussions. 

Entry 2: A & B

After reading the Fairway Copyright Case, I have a new appreciation for the complications of copyright restrictions. This case was interesting to read, and its details are overly involved. Garcia did what many other photographers have done in the past. He positioned his camera and settings in such a way to capture a subject, in this case, Barack Obama, in a specific way that made him appear prominent. The photography was then published in newspapers via the AP and soon after was forgotten.

Fairey, a graphic designer, wanted to create a poster for the Obama Presidential Campaign, and Google searched images of him that had a “classic political post” for inspiration. He found a few but selected the Garcia image because it “best suited his purposes.” According to the article, Fairey used photoshop to manipulate the photograph, alter the color, and crop out elements from the background. Because of the changes he made, Fairey did not question whether or not it was ok to use the image due to copyright reasons. However, without any remark of copyright laws, Fairey continued his project for an Obama Campaign poster and designed a successful concept. 

I understand that Fairey edited the original photograph to fit his needs by “brightening areas of his chin…, darkening his right ear, moving some of the highlights on his cheek, and darkening his right cheek.” However, altering an existing image does not remove the copyrights of the original author. I believe that one idea comes from another, and inspiration comes from our environment, including the internet, tv, and magazines. However, a new creation should be designed from the ground up and not a redesign of another work. 

To further prove the guilt Fairey felt, he went out of his way to deny claims the photograph came from the AP. He also “destroyed some documents and fabricated others to buttress his continued claims that the reference work had been the Garcia Clooney photograph.” That proves to me that Fairway knew he was in the wrong using a photograph that was copyrighted. Instead of taking responsibility for the mistake, he attempted to conceal it until the evidence against him was overwhelming, and only then did he retract his ignorance. 

The AP had every right to file a suit against Fairey. Although Fairey did not initially plan to profit from the design, he ended up making a nice sum of money, about a million dollars, and four “fine art” versions. One is located at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. In the hypothetical situation, Fairey made the poster for a school project, and it ended there, I would agree that he would not have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. However, because he made a profit and used the image for public display, I feel he is.  

The outcome of the case was more than fair. Fairey got off easy, considering the amount of publicity the work has gotten and the money he made from it. I further think that both parties sharing the rights is an intelligent decision and allows both parties to profit and claim ownership. The case presented many strong arguments on both sides, but the most significant factor, in my opinion, is the original photograph is owned by the AP, and regardless of the edits, permission should have been sought, or Fairey should have recreated the image from scratch as inspiration and not as a copy. 


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