Jon Engle: The Logo Scam Artist

6th April 2009
All posts

[edit 21/8/09: Jon Engle is proven to be a scam artist. Glad I didn’t donate money to him, but feel suckered nonetheless.]

I can barely put into words how scary and unjust confusing this lawsuit against Jon Engle is. Edit 4/11/09: Hrm. And now the website is gone. Interesting.

To summarize, Jon has posted his portofolio work to LogoPond and other similar sites only to find out those images have been “re-appropriated” to one or more stock image sites. Now he’s being sued for this being charged for misuse of his logos on a particular stock site, something he (claims) he did not do.

The stock image sites, not understanding that the stolen logos were in fact his work, are now suing him for copyright infringement!

It gets better. Lawyers offered him a “settlement” that equalled the amount he’s being sued for. Ludicrous.

The question

The question in my mind is, as you get more successful in your work (Jon has worked on some very famous campaigns in the United States) how do you protect yourself from having your work used against you? It seems that not only is creative ownership at stake, but the freedom to show ones own work online as well.

Once again greedy companies on the internet who don’t bother to fact check are able to ruin independent designers simply on the basis of how much cash they have in their coffers. When does it end and when does the world wake up and start enacting real legislation instead of these ambiguous copyright laws that don’t apply to today’s content or today’s economy?

Content creators should be protected because they enrich our world.

I’m proud New Zealand has struck down its awful s92a legislation, so poorly worded as to be completely draconian idiotic by accident (I hope!), because at least it shows that when the masses speak here, justice can still be done.

In the States things are so litigious that people sue each other not out of principal but for principal (eg. $$$!). The only way out of being sued, more often than not, is to succumb to paying a fee that is somewhat less than fighting the lawsuit would cost. That’s not justice, it’s criminally insane.

I was in a front-ender (got backed into) and my then insurance company decided it was better to just pay $1500 to fix my car rather than go after the money from the driver’s insurance company. Wha?

With Obama in office it’s become a much friendlier environment and it seems the quiet protests of the last 8 years are finally beginning to be heard.

But why do we have to wait for the world to rise up before we realize something’s fundamentally wrong with our laws governing creative content? We have too many facts now to ignore but still not enough, apparently, to stem the tide of cash the corporate establishment is using to try to protect its interests.

And Jon Engle is now a casualty of this corrupt system. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this. Jon Engle has made his case online, and there are those who think he might not be telling the whole story (The Logo Factory Blog).

What can we do?

The time is now to send the message that we want our rights protected, not squandered and sold to the highest bidder. Before long we won’t have any original content left out in the open — it will all be underground, like the French Resistance in World War II.

This must happen even if it costs more than the lawsuits. Creativity is at stake.

(Photo credit.)

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Nathaniel Flick

I'm a Front End Web Developer passionate about usability. My primary specialties are HTML5, CSS3, SCSS, LESS, and jQuery and I am very familiar with Foundation and Bootstrap frameworks. I've worked on top of and with Rails, Python, and ASP.net/Umbraco back end frameworks.

  • Douglas Muth

    Interestingly enough, there seems to be another perspective on the matter now:

    http://www.thelogofactory.com.nyud.net:8080/logo_blog/index.php/stock-logos-copyright-twitter/

    There are some interesting comments to that post, as well.

    It’s enough for me to take pause, as I was one of the people who originally felt that Jon was being treated unjustly. Now I’m not so sure.

  • Nathaniel

    How can you trust his “speculations” (because that’s all they are) over Jon’s first hand experience? I don’t think doing a Google search is enough evidence, though I do agree the twitterverse, and the public at large, jump to conclusions pretty fast both ways.

    Maybe I’m guilty of that too.

  • Lost

    You are guilty of it, no doubt about it. Instead of waiting to hear both sides of the story, you felt compelled to believe one side. If the justice system was operated by people like yourself, people would be guilty until proven innocent.

    Consdier, for example, this post on Boingboing:

    http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/04/08/stockartcom-founder.html

    It’s a list of the people Stockart says actually drew the logos Jon claims are his. Now instead of this issue being about Big Bad Business Versus Tiny Artist, it’s about thirteen individual artists against one guy.

    You’d have us believe that these thirteen artists ALL stole from him?

    MAYBE. However, now that the other side is starting to present their case, things aren’t nearly as black and white, eh?

  • Chairboy

    It’s interesting that you’ve clung to this view so stringently in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.

    Journalistic ethics don’t make the transition to the blogosphere everytime, I guess.

  • Nathaniel

    I’m only clinging to moderation. And no, sir, I’m definitely not a journalist. Nor is anyone else commenting on this story I might add.

    If you read my post again you’ll see I’m questioning the witch hunt, not just defending Jon.

  • Chairboy

    It seems pretty evident that you’ve decided Jon Engle is being persecuted. The title of your post: “Accused! Jon Engle Sued Wrongfully”. Your text continues to push this idea, etc.

    It’s interesting: When Jon Engle broke his side, you jumped into his camp full bore. When the company demonstrates pretty damn conclusively that Jon Engle is full of it, you switch tone to… Jon Engle is still being wronged.

    You wrote: “Once again greedy companies on the internet who don’t bother to fact check are able to ruin independent designers simply on the basis of how much cash they have in their coffers.” That’s still intact. Awesome. Completely wrong, but still stated as fact.

  • Nathaniel

    Chairboy,

    The title of the article is Jon’s, I’m just quoting it.

    Jon Engle isn’t just being persecuted, he’s being proclaimed guilty before any concrete proof has been laid by his accusers in a court of law. I don’t accept Google Sleuthing as proof and neither would a court.

    Has anyone seen the contracts and copyrights for the work? That will show who owns what and who’s responsible, and/or guilty, for what.

    Are you so confident in the “facts” that you’re willing to sue Jon for $18,000 and ruin his reputation with a clear conscience without actually seeing all the facts? I hope not.

    Because anyone who supports this rash behavior is no better than a lawless country that doesn’t uphold its own laws just because popular opinion might be swinging a certain direction.

    But that’s what’s currently happening now that people on the internet are starting to feel burned by this story and are retaliating.

    What’s your opinion on this? Have you proclaimed Jon guilty just because it’s cool and the voices of dissent are louder now? Well, you might want to rethink that.

    I don’t know anymore if he is fully innocent, but I make pretty clear that this witchhunt that’s now going on is unacceptable. Justice is not done by the screaming masses.

    Sure, I was swept up in Jon’s words a bit, but my stance now is let the courts decide. Don’t smear Jon’s name before he gets a chance to defend himself.

    Wouldn’t you demand the same for yourself?

    Jon deserves his day in court, as do his accusers who, I might add, have already ruined his reputation AND extorted money from him, which I think is just not right. That does not paint them in a good light, but I have not accused them of anything and give them the same courtesy I give Jon.

    So why is your profile private?