While I was doing the first round of logo drafts, I did research about two in particular. I meshed together VCU’s current ram logo with a cornucopia, but as I said in my last post, I wasn’t sure if that would infringe upon copyright laws. When I sent the scans out, I warned everyone in the e-mails that there was a chance those could get thrown out because of it, and sure enough, I was right! To use that logo would be illegal! Personally, I have no interest running into trouble with the University, and would prefer not to get sued. So my attempt at a clever logo option is officially off the table!
Looking on the bright side though, this issue did get me interested in the rules surrounding logos and copyright, so I decided to some research on the topic. I found this link very interesting because it talks about something that most people don’t think about: http://justcreative.com/2009/01/14/logo-design-copyright-laws/
Art theft is a huge problem as is, but when branding is brought into it (particularly with logos), it can make stealing or mimicry a lot more serious. One thing that really interested me about this link was that it brought up an issue that I hadn’t really thought about with the use of typefaces. I don’t think this issue comes up as much in my logos (since they are focused more around imagery rather than just words), but this adds another whole legal issue into the profession. Thinking back to my previous research with the other food banks and school food pantry logos, did the creators of the text-only logos consider this? It really makes me wonder. Especially in the case of the school logos, which were most likely done by an inexperienced student who isn’t aware of all the regulations (kind of like how I just was). In my case, VCU branding would never have let my logo go through because it had imagery already copyrighted with the school. I’m fairly certain though that if it had simply been text in the logo, it would have been approved just fine (the typefaces are copyrighted to their original designer, not the school). Something like that could potentially get a person into a lot of trouble…especially if the logo was being used for a business that was making money off of it.
I feel very fortunate that I am still a student who is learning the ropes and getting experience before I graduate. One of the biggest things I’ve taken from this link and research is that I’m sure that issues like these can easily become very complicated and controversial. It seems like there a lot of loopholes people can escape through, and also it appears like a lot of these issues could be argued over in court. Here is an excerpt from the link:
“Font Licensing / Design Patents / Trademarks”
“‘On this topic of font licensing one should also know that:
“When a font is ‘purchased’ the user never really owns the font – they typically receive a license to use that font ON ONLY ONE COMPUTER. These End User License Agreements (EULAs) differ between companies but generally state quite clearly that the fonts may only be used on machines for which there is a valid license.’
Based on this fact, this means that you can not send clients any fonts unless the user agreement specifically allows it. Fonts must be purchased separately per user otherwise it is a violation of the end-user license agreement between the logo designer and the typeface designer.
This leaves me to one question that I could not find the answer to… Does this mean the client will have to pay for another license of the font to be able to use the logo design or do they only have to purchase another license if they want to use the whole typeface? I would presume the latter but I could be wrong.”
The reason I included that excerpt is to specifically say that this can get very confusing! This has reminded me that, 1) I clearly still have a lot to learn, and 2) The legal restrictions people must abide by when creating logos and other types of branding seem like a nightmare. My advice to anyone who is going into any type of art project is do your research beforehand. Educate yourself, so you can avoid stressful and potentially harmful problems later on!