Recently and by the most random occurrence of chance, I discovered a piece of work that I originally was awe-struck and inspired by to be lifted almost directly from another source. This piece was intended for commercial use and then (fortunately?) rejected in favor of another. Still, this left me feeling a variety of things: shock, disbelief, amazed. It also leaves me questioning the other works done by this person. Was this a one time thing? Does this happen often? Is any of their work really theirs?
With the ease and quick access of the internet and most things technological, the chance to steal and “borrow” inspiration, ideas, fonts, illustrations, images, and anything of the sort is incredibly available and almost ripe for the taking. One of the most valuable lessons a developing designer SHOULD learn are copyright laws, rules of appropriation, the Creative Commons licenses, design ethics, permissions, and how to read/find/decipher other assorted licenses.
I am not sure if all of this is taught in the graphic design program here at Wayne State. I know that during the completion of my web programming associates, the topics of ethics and copyright were only briefly touched upon in my final web theory class. There really should be a course devoted directly to the subject and required early on in order to instill good practices in design.
The following are a couple of good resources to self-educate and read more about these topics: