Edit: They finally responded and the cartoonist and his work submitted has been disqualified from that competition.

I recently found out that a cartoon which was drawn just like one of my own posters has won a bronze in a contest in China. The cartoonist is from my country.

enter image description here

The left poster was designed by me 2-3 years ago (2016-2017). The right cartoon won a bronze this year (2019). I uploaded my work on 3 social networks (Coroflot, Behance and Instagram) and pinned one of them into Pinterest as soon as I learned that doing so is useful (which was 2 years ago). Anyone can find my poster by searching Water Poster on Google and Pinterest. Isn't it something that we all should do?

Can we call the right cartoon a copy of my poster? Why? What's the right thing to do in these kind of situations?

Some says using different colors and designs, make the cartoon different. That doesn't sound like a logical reason to conclude it's not a copy. Everyone has his/her own style, even if he/she is using somebody else's idea. If that's the case, can we just get exact ideas from somebody else and change its colors and some lines based on our styles, and call them ours?

I've already read answers on this question. But designs on that page are too broad.

P.S. I'm not saying that the designer copied my work. I'm not sure what's right.

  • 2
    Hi mrmowji, I asked a similar question a while ago What's the limit that defines a copy of a design?. Although it has been closed, it has a couple of answers that can help you. For me it's still a correct question to ask.
    – user120647
    Jun 28, 2019 at 11:28
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    @Danielillo Based on your example of fingerprints, I added the times these designs are done. There is no record of that cartoon that's indexed before 2019 and I could find.
    – mrmowji
    Jun 28, 2019 at 13:00
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    I voted to close this. I'm uncertain what answers you anticipate beyond "Yes" or "No" opinions. I do not see how any resolution to anything could be accomplished via any answer. If you feel the artwork is infringing upon your intellectual property, contact an attorney.
    – Scott
    Jun 28, 2019 at 13:50
  • 2
    It is really hard to get this plagiation case done. First the drop shape is common in hangmans nooses. Second your image does not really invoke water. So the only real commonality is that you have 3 loops.
    – joojaa
    Jun 28, 2019 at 21:20
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    @Danielillo I did actually. No answer though.
    – mrmowji
    Jun 29, 2019 at 4:39

3 Answers 3


My advice would be to let it be. The only thing the "copy" has in common with your work is the idea of a noose with a drop of water. The style is different and the context probably also.

It's not hard to imagine that someone could come up with this concept without knowing about your artwork.

Actually it seems that someone already created a poster with a noose and a drop of water back in 2008. Have a look at this.

So your design isn't the original, but still I guess you feel that it's your original idea? It is! Doesn't matter that someone else also came up with it.

  • 1
    wow, we should bring Cameron Nelson to participate here :-)
    – user120647
    Jun 28, 2019 at 23:01
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    This is a great find. Thanx for the research.
    – Stan
    Jun 28, 2019 at 23:54
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    Wow, thanks for your effort. Well done. May I ask how did you find it?
    – mrmowji
    Jun 29, 2019 at 5:19
  • Although I'm not sure the date on the link is correct (I'm not saying that's fake), and couldn't find other references to that poster, but I decided to accept your answer. It seems that letting it go is the best thing to do. I can't find what's really happened. No time and money to follow the case.
    – mrmowji
    Jun 29, 2019 at 5:47
  • 3
    I did an image search on DuckDuckGo for "noose water". Found it near the bottom.
    – Wolff
    Jun 29, 2019 at 8:01

My lawyer told me that, in simple terms, a design infringes another if an uninformed person could mistake one for the other.

At the very least, one could be described as an alternate or alternative design to the other.

To me, the dead give-away is the conceptually identical filling-of-the-gap created in the empty loop created in the line shape. That's not a change from one shape or colour. That's a unique concept to my way of thinking.

I'd venture to say that another instance of a similar concept duplication is not available.

I'd vote for revocation of the award given to the latter "realistic rope" version.

  • 3
    See :) I'd kind of disagree. The concept can't be copyrighted and beyond the overall concept, next to nothing is similar - not the placement of the highlight, not the rope, certainly not the coloring or quality of execution..... In fact, the only aspects which are similar is the idea and the 3 rings on the noose..... and ideas aren't protected as intellectual property.... definitely an arguable case (for either side) in my opinion.
    – Scott
    Jun 28, 2019 at 21:25
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    @Scott I see your point. I have an interesting dilemma, now, in that I agree with you, too. It's the "turns" and where they are that "make" the rope. The realistic brown drawn "rope" version is just redundancy to push the issue which kills the elegance of the design. Good comment though. Thanx.
    – Stan
    Jun 28, 2019 at 23:50
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    Thanks. Good to hear a lawyer's opinion. But as others have mentioned, beside that there was already another same work, we can't really conclude if the cartoonist has used my work or not, and that's a huge pressure if we keep thinking about. On the other hand, I don't believe that just using different colors or lines makes a work different. If he's a cartoonist, he draws the idea based on his own style. That says nothing about how he came up to the idea. That's not a logical reason to my mind.
    – mrmowji
    Jun 29, 2019 at 5:54
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    @mrmowji Ideals are not protected intellectual property. Anyone is free to use any idea. It is the only the implementation of that idea which can be protected. Everyone reading this is free to go out and create their own "Noose with Water highlight" image. You can't claim ownership over a concept.
    – Scott
    Jun 29, 2019 at 16:56
  • 1
    @mrmowji An algorithm is the physical implementation of a non-tangible idea. it is not the idea itself. Ideas are not protected intellectual property. What you are suggesting is that since Google had an idea for a search algorithm, then no one else should be allowed to create a search algorithm.. .. Google having merely the idea should give them all rights to any similar concept??? I'll stress again that ideas or concepts can not be protected. There is zero intellectual property rights over an idea.
    – Scott
    Jun 30, 2019 at 7:52

There needs to be more clues to the context of both pieces to determine that. I can figure yours but not so much the other's.

Yes they look the same, but without the context, both are a hanging rope with a drop.

In all honesty, I don't believe any other human being would've got there without much help due to the simplicity and universality of both simbols.

  • As I replied to a comment, if that's a common shape and those symbols are simple and universal, so is the idea. And brings the question: Aren't we supposed to search for previous works on the same idea? How about judges?
    – mrmowji
    Jun 29, 2019 at 5:41
  • 1
    Absolutely agree. We need to stay current in our disciplines to not repeat ideas if we wanna bring some differentiating value to our work. And so for the judges. And so for ourselves.
    – Hector
    Jun 30, 2019 at 12:07

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