Ethics Assignment


The word ethics is defined by the Oxford dictionary as, 1. moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of activity; and 2. The branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles. Companies are governed not only by policies and procedures but by ethical values that protect them from both legal and financial liabilities. Ethics within an organization raises its status and trust-worthiness with it, clients and competitors. The ethical practices will showcase the integrity of the organization and determined how respected it will be in its profession.

By the same token designers have a moral obligation to adhere to ethical principles as defined in the AIGA guidelines and building solid trust-worthy relationships with the people they work with. Designers should endeavor to obtain an in-depth knowledge of the business and design standards and shall act in the client’s best interest within the limits of professional responsibility. They should avoid all conflicts of interest, should treat clients’ information and work product with respect, and protect the confidentiality of said material. 

The designer should not engage in any practices even if those practices were given to the designer as part of the creative brief. The designer should correct the client’s breach of ethics or refuse the job. It is very important that the designer maintain his or her integrity as this become a problem for their career in the future. If a designer is known for lack integrity and ethical value that career will swiftly come to an end. 

Professional designers must always adhere to ethical standards be it in relation to the client customers of fellow creatives within the industry. It is of paramount importance that ethical values and practices govern the work and behavior of designers as they practice their craft to influence and make meaningful contributions to the greater good of humanity as a whole.

The Real-Life Times Newspaper where I am doing my internship is a small organization that operates mostly through volunteers coming and giving back their time to community service. Therefore they do not have a lot of intellectual property to protect. The informational resources we print are covered under the Fair Use Doctrine. The ethical standards are adhered to with regards to companies send their information and logo to us advertise their business.

I did not have to sign an NDA for volunteering, which is not a part of their culture mostly because the material is most information on where to get help and what to do in certain situations. The only restriction is the photos. If I attend an event and take pictures myself I can use them, however, I cannot ask the company photographer for pictures taken for company use unless it is required for a project I am working on.  

Personally, I know about intellectual property rights because I am a published author and songwriter. So I understand the need to protect work created by industry professionals. I have in the past taken images from the internet and use them for my school project. I did not give credit to the creator or site I took it from because I was just using it for projects and only my professors were going to see it. I had no intention of using it as a tool for unjust enrichment.

This semester, however, I did a portfolio class and was required to put my work online. I did mostly video editing for the creation of advertising and PSA. I got footage from and youtube and music from which I used on my adobe portfolio online so I made sure I gave them the credit they deserve. Even though I had prior knowledge about ethical guidelines it was refreshing to read again and I learn even more than I knew before having read the AIGA chapters. Every creative professional and newcomer needs to make sure to arm themselves with this vital information for their edification and career protection. 

Copyright laws are there to protect the designer’s original creative work for good reasons. I have first-hand experience with copyright infringement. I did a poetry CD back in 2005 and it was about my native culture living on the island of Jamaica. I wrote poetry that showcased different aspects of Jamaica culture I was being likened to the late great Dr. Louse Bennett, a prolific Jamaica poet. I did not try to sell them mainstream, instead, I sold them at local churches, community events, and concerts where I would perform live. The CD was so popular everybody wants a copy. My CD started to appear in music stores and on the streets all over the five boroughs for a little less than my originals and was no longer making money from my own creative work. 

I believe it is grossly unfair for creatives to spend time and money to create something special and some unscrupulous person or persons decide that they have the right to just unjust line their pocket with the fruits of your labor.  The AIGA article laid out in great detail the copyright laws and penalties for their infringement.

I spent a lot of time reading the Shepherd Fairey copyright case. I heard about the copyright infringement case linked to the HOPE poster but did not take the deep dive I took looking at it until this assignment. Having read the copyright infringement laws in the AIGA article; I can clearly see what is conspiring in the whole saga the reads like a movie script, the flagrant copyright infringement in action, and the legal ramifications. 

I now understand why I needed to read 29 pages of a copyright case and write about it. Clearly, Mr. Fairey was lacking in knowledge about intellectual property rights laws.  According to the article, Fairey did a lot of work on the photo, He worked on it in photoshop, then Illustrator, then back into photoshop then he did some cutting with his hand. That is a lot of work on somebody else’s property only to get himself a lawsuit. A costly lesson indeed. I can understand why the AP sued him for copyright infringement. He was using it on his products and made a lot of money. According to the AIGA article Fair use permits someone to use work without permission for a purpose that is basically not going to compete with or injure the market for the work. What Fairey did has not met the terms required under fair use.

According to the AIGA article, “Copyright defines the ownership of work created by a designer. Copyright is what allows a designer to control whether or not work may be copied. If the designer permits work to be copied, it is the copyright that gives the designer the right to negotiate for fees or royalties. If the client of a designer is to be protected from the theft of designs by competitors, it is because the copyright law gives such protection.”

Fairey infringed upon the protection AP had under the copyright law. According to the court document Fairey offered to pay the customary license fee. Which I think was ridiculous, however, AP wanted a share of all revenue from the hope poster. After realizing his mistake about the two different photos he lied and tried to cover up his mistake which speaks to his integrity and character as a designer a breach of ethics.

Fairey argued that not all because he copied some parts of the photo was copied and whether the portions that were copied fall under the copyright protection. He also argued that only the aspect that was original was copyright protected. He said that there were two dimensions of the photo that were not entitled to protection. Fairy also argued idea/expression or fact/expression, a feature of the natural world captured in a photo does not constitute a copyrightable expression. AP argued that Fairey’s conduct was improper and further argued that Fairey chooses the photo precisely because it makes Obama looks presidential. This case is very intriguing and has a lot of lessons for creatives to contemplate and learn.


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Journal Entry #15 An App I Tested

These days there is an App for everything and I have used quite a few apps so far. I use apps for banking,  for playing games, for watching movies just to name a few. I have even created a design for an app to help new writers starting out in the industry find jobs where they can gain experience and make their mark as writers.

I have only tested one creative app and I really liked it. The app is called Sketch Master and it allows you to transform a photo into a sketch that looks more like a cartoon character. I was not allowed to use it for any of my projects because my professor advice against it. They wanted the student to use their own creative skill to which I can appreciate. I think it was a great idea and it works really well. It gives the option of doing the picture in color or black and white.

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Journal Entry#17 The Poetry Showcase for National Black Writers Conference


I attended and participated in a poetry competition hosted by the Center for black literature held at Medgar Evers College at the beginning of the year.  I met writers, poets UX/XI designers, and people in the film industry. The completion lasted for about an hour and a half which was quite entertaining and informative.

I participated in the auditions and even though I did not win the spot to perform at the actual conference I met some wonderful people. The conference was canceled because of COVID, however, I have been communicating with organizers via email and hope the relationship will bear some good fruit post-pandemic. That was a great networking experience.

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Journal Entry #16 Network Mixer

Prior to COVID, I attended a Networking workshop at City Tech organized by professor Garrastaggi. It was a group of young black men from different specialties within the creative industry who came to share their experiences breaking and working in their field. They talked about the different twists and turns on their journey and how they came together to help other upcoming creatives avoid some of the pitfalls they experienced.

I found it to be profoundly informative and I was able to ask questions and voice some of the concerns I had about the industry. I was able to make some connections and got a lot of information that I know will help me on my quest to break into the industry and have some measure of success.

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Journal Entry #12 My Role Model

I have met a lot of influential people over the years while volunteering, however, I would say my supervisor and her husband are great role models. They go above and beyond to raise funds to make these community projects a success and fight for the causes they believe in. Making these sacrifices to help others shows how deeply they care about the well being of others.

I admire their drive and passion for community service and the impact they make in the communities they serve. It is my honor to serve alongside them and gain more experience, however, I would not want to take that on as a full-time job. Because as amazing as it feels to help others it cannot pay the bills.

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Journal Entry #11 Self- Evaluation

Upon reflecting on what I was able to accomplish so far, I am proud of my contribution to help save lives. I was given the opportunity to influence others to protect themselves and members of the community through messaging and design. I was able to help distribute masks for protection from COVID as well as participate in distributing food to feed hungry families.

I was able to accomplish the task while doing school work and taking care of my family. I had wifi trouble, technical computer issues, and a whole host of other challenges that Murphy’s law tossed in the mix on a daily basis. I have had some tight time crunch, but I got it done and for that, I think I did well under the circumstances.


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Journal Entry #10 Collaborative Project

Working with Real Life Times Newspapers meant being in constant communication with people from different strata of society.  We comb through a lot of government and local agencies to find the resources needed to help the community. So our work starts with finding the information and resources then deciding what content goes in that month’s issue of the newspaper.  We also plan outdoor events like masks and food distribution.

A collaborative project I worked on was the COVID-19 Relief Drive mask and food distribution. There we about ten volunteers on the team, three worked on acquiring the masks, five worked on acquiring food and two of us including myself worked on messaging and design. The object was to encourage people to wash their hands, practice social distancing, and wear a mask.  We also wanted people to recognize that we need to help the most vulnerable because of pre-existing conditions.

We made sure that all the safety protocols were in place, social distancing signs, hand sanitizers available. We distributed food and mask to families and distributed flyers with messaging encouraging them to take care of each other. I believe the project was a success because we accomplished what we set out to do.

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Journal Entry #9 Learning on the Job3

I learn that it is important to know all aspects of the job, especially in a small work environment.  I did some designing, some copywriting, and a little editing.  I attend meetings, mask and food distribution drives as well as some clerical duties on the days when I work on site.

A typical day working from home would be to call my supervision to discuss what was done the day before, if there were any impediments, what steps were taken to resolve them.  If the issues were not resolved what needs to be done.  After discussing the plans for the day, I would then settle down to get the assignment accomplished. Some days were punctuated with constant communication and other days I work quietly on my own and report the next day.

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Journal Entry #8 – Learning on the job2

One of the things I learned on the job is that the local community is not very trusting of what is being said in the mainstream media. They depend on community leaders with whom they have built trust over time for credible information. The community-based organization is therefore tasked with reassuring the grass-roots communities especially if an action needs to be taken.

The COVID pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy and people are suffering as a result. The message that is put out there needs to be data-driven but empathetic and optimistic. I learn that people are seeking answers and calm in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Being able to change behavior is paramount to saving lives and our messaging must be persuasive enough to effectuate that change.


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Journal Entry #7 Learning on the job

I learn that the print industry is in a steady decline because of the digital marketplace. There is a movement to transition in the digital space where the action is happening. The onset of the COVID pandemic only serve to make matters worst. Small businesses who normally do print ads are opting for social media advertising where most of the eyeballs spend the majority of their time these days.

I also learn that there is a demographic that will never fully gasp the advancements in digital technology and to some extent will always perfer print. Real Life Times have transition to digital but still print to accomodate those who are not digitally inclined. Getting information to the community is of paramount importance in the midst of the covid crisis.

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