Michael Samson is co-founder of crowdsourced design company Crowdspring. You can followhim on Twitter on@mike_samson
Inan articlepublished on Wired.co.uk on 12 April, David Airey, a well-establishedand talented graphic designer, argues that businesses take a huge risk when theyuse online design marketplaces to source their creative work. Airey implies thatdesign communities likeCrowdspringare populated by amateur designers whowill sell a client a plagiarised design because it is "faster" to do so.Interesting notion, but the data doesn't bear this out. In just four years Crowdspringcreatives have submitted almost 3 million individual designs to projects on the site.Of all of those creative works less than 0.09 percent have been found to be inviolation of our intellectual property standards and policies. Of these, outright
plagiarism (which Airey seems to think is an unchecked problem) is incrediblyrare. Most IP violations are for far less egregious offenses, such as subtle forms of concept infringement; outright theft of a design only occurs in approximately oneout of every 50-70,000 entries submitted.Airey also quotes the executive director of the AIGA, referring to designers whochoose to work in online marketplaces as "those who are least likely to beexperienced, knowledgeable designers." This is just flat out wrong; onCrowdspring the average contributor has close to 10 years of experience in thedesign industry (one out of 10 Crowdspring creative have more than 20 years of experience). In addition, our community is highly educated: over 78 percent hold acollege degree, 41 percent have a design degree, and almost 15 percent holdadvanced degrees in design. Respect for intellectual property rights is one of ourcore values and clients (and creative contributors) are very well protected in ourcommunity -- we have in place a range of features and policies designed to protectour users.First, ourcopyright policymakes it very easy for copyright owners to reportviolations of their intellectual property rights. Additionally, ouruser agreementprohibits people from "reposting, or using the content foundoncrowdspring.comwithout the express written permission from the owner of thework". We have taken many other proactive steps to protect IP, includingdeveloping comprehensivestandards of conduct for creativesandbuyers;customlegal contracts provided with every project; tools to make it very easy to report apotential violation; enforcement of the licensing restrictions of third parties, andmuch more.Unfortunately, there will always be those who lack a moral or ethical compass andwho are willing to steal IP, and this is as true in the offline domain as it is online.But, after four years of helping businesses large and small source great creativework, we know for a fact that this is a tiny percentage and that both sides of ourcommunity are well protected. Can a client in Airey's world say the same? Many of the protections found on Crowdspring are simply not available in a traditionaldesigner-client relationship.When a client contacts Crowdspring for help with an IP dispute or other issue wehave in place a satisfaction guarantee and IP policies to protect the client'sinterests. I do assume that Airey provides his clients with a legal contract when hedelivers his services, but should something go wrong do they have any meaningfulrecourse? Airey states in his article, "So who bears the real risk in design contests?