In our weekly installment of Clients from Hell, a hilarious collection of anonymously contributed client horror stories from designers, we present “Umm … That's copyrighted”. For previous posts, click here .
I’m an amateur web designer working to build up my portfolio. A local business owner in the Heating & AC industry decided he’d have me build him a basic website, but would not provide any information at all, other than that he wanted to use the colors orange and brown. I tried to coach him through the basics .
Me: First things first: Do you have a logo created already that I can use for your site, or did you want some help with that as well?
Client: No, I have one.
What he emails is a pixelated, jagged-edged, tiny image that looks like it was pasted together in MS Paint. It’s got the well-known silhouette of Michael Jordan doing a slam dunk, and clip art, with watermark, of an AC condenser pasted on the hand where a basketball should be. The customer’s company name? Air Jordan.
Me: Uh, just so you know, it’s illegal to use someone else’s logo like that. Even if you did slap some clip art over the top of it.
Client: What are you talking about? I had this made specifically for my business!
Me: Those two images aren’t yours to use. You do know you could be sued for copyright infringement, right? Fines can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus legal fees.
After some grumbling and back-and-forth arguing in this same vein for a couple of days via email, voicemail and text messaging where the customer insisted I use his ‘custom logo' and pictures he’d scanned out of magazines, I still refused to use his shady materials.
Client: You’re really serious about this copyright stuff, aren’t you?
Client: Why can’t you just relax?