Since the beginning of this blog, I have always spoken up for copyright laws, trying to emphasize the importance of intellectual property and respect for others’creations. The copyright and intellectual (or industrial) property values may seem obvious to us, creators, but the truth is that it is still all too foggy for most people. And when it comes to big – enormous – companies, it seems that their creative teams are keen to take advantage of this disinformation.
What came to me last week is another (unfortunately just another) case of unauthorized use of intellectual property by a large company. So far, nothing new. Since remembering is living, I’ll leave here some links to the very well known case of Zara vs Tusday Bassen, and Brazilian Riachuelo vs Marlene Freimanis (and some other “lucky” artists — article in Portuguese only).What surprised me most about the case I’m about to report is the person involved in the situation.
Do you remember of the movie Joy? I’ll give you a few a spoilers here: the movie is about the inventor Joy Mangano, who created numerous innovative housewares, and it shows the beginning of her career. The movie focuses on the difficulties she went through to manage to launch her first invention, and also her fight against people who tried to steal her patent (save this detail).
A few days ago, I saw this ad on Instagram:
Moshik Nadav and the stolen typography
Moshik Nadav is a typography artist, born in Israel and now based in New York City. His typefaces have an elegant look, they are serif tailored font families, designed mainly for high-end fashion and luxury industries. His work is really beautiful, and I know how complex and difficult typography design is. I’ll leave here some pictures that impressed me most:
I wrote in this blog, some time ago, about the importance of visual identity in branding (article in Portuguese only). The creation of a logo is one of the most expensive works in graphic design, due to its complexity regarding research, time involved and responsibility that is its creation. What happened, long story short, is: the creative team of Joy Mangano bought the font family Paris Pro from Moshik Nadav with a non-commercial license and used it as a logo. So who created the logo, after all? The team of Joy or the typography designer? Yes, the latter. But what is happening now is that Joy Mangano refuses to acknowledge it, and uses as a visual identity project — which is making millions, by the way — the creation of another person without paying the fair price for it.
The succession of facts
Nadav took note of what was going on in 2016. In 2015 Joy’s team bought the non-commercial license of his Paris Pro font family. This license, due to the fact that is a lot cheaper, does not allow any commercial use such as logo, packaging or mass production design.
When his lawyers contacted Joy’s team, they denied having used the Paris Pro Typeface to create the logo. In the process, to make the situation even more disturbing, they tried to claim that many other typefaces look like Paris Pro, and that the similarity between his typeface and the logo is pure chance. Is it?
Meanwhile, the design team decided, for some reason, they could pay a small amount for the commercial use (at first they had not used the typeface at all but then they decided to pay. Weird, isn’t it?). Although what they offered as payment was a ridiculous amount which Nadav did not agree to. When he finally managed to contact Joy in person, as well as the company of which she is partner, HSN, he got an email from her lawyers threatening him to do not try to contact Joy at all, neither try to sue her, or else they would sue him back.
Nevertheless, the nonsense of the case goes on. Nadav managed to take the case to court in New York City, where both parties had to explain about the creation process (this reminded me of that movie Big Eyes, but with a less exciting end …) and after a few days the case was dismissed. The judge held that Nadav does not own the copyright claim of his own typeface (?). Then, in order to file the lawsuit in state court, it would take about 5 years and lots of money on a lawyer.
In a last attempt to receive fair payment for his work, Nadav contacted Joy’s lawyers asking for an agreement, or else he would bring the story to public. In response, they again talked about suing him if he published the story. They would do anything only to not pay for the commercial use of the logo. After all, Nadav decided to tell the world the obvious (and unfortunate) difference between Joy Mangano played by Jennifer Lawrence and her not so noble-minded real life counterpart.
Nadav was kind enough to speak with me by email, telling the details of his struggle. I’ll leave here his words:
Since then, I haven’t heard from anyone, Joy keeps making her millions using my design. Shes refusing to pay for it and think that I’ll forget about it. But this won’t happen. Today it’s me, tomorrow it’s someone else and I won’t let it happen. So I’m fighting her using social media until she will understand her mistake, apologize, and pay for the commercial use.
After he published the story, the design community has joined forces, and everyday hundreds of people comment on Joy Mangano’s social media profiles — mostly on Instagram. A profile that once had only a few comments a day, now gets lots of engagement, but not in the way I would like to get if I were Joy. Her team tries to delete comments and already blocked some people, but more and more people join the fight everyday.
User license and the moral issue
“If Joy’s team has bought the typeface, aren’t they allowed to do what they want?” Well, legally, they’re not. It would be exactly the same situation if someone bought a print of one of your drawings, scanned it, and went out selling T-shirts with it! Or else, imagine the design team of a billion dollar company buying an artwork from your online shop for, let’s say for $ 300, and using that same artwork in all their packaging of all their products?! And that same company will be earning millions using your work while you can barely pay the bills. How does that sound? Pretty unfair, right?
When we buy a digital product, it comes with a text file called License. This document says what you can or cannot do with the product you have just purchased. One of the most common terms is “you may use but may not redistribute” (colloquially speaking). Like when you download a database image which the license allows X reproductions, and the more reproductions permitted, more expensive gets the license.
“But the owner can’t control it, I can do whatever I want.” You sure can, if you mean that no one’s physically stopping you. But in addition to being illegal, is it not immoral? From author’s point of view the answer is pretty obvious, but I’ll leave here as a reflection. And as for Joy Mangano does not make any difference the fact that it is illegal, since it is a billionaire business woman vs a typography artist (ie, she has the best lawyers), let’s just remember that she has been there. She had her creation stolen and struggled to retrieve it, but seems to have forgotten what it’s like to be on the other side. And now she’s doing to someone else the same thing they tried to do to her. Disappointing.
Let’s help Moshik Nadav in his fight. Spread the word! Share this post: