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How can designers deal with plagiarism?

We explore the difference between coincidences and plagiarism.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” It’s a quote that's often attributed to Pablo Picasso, and has famously inspired the likes of Steve Jobs. But while it’s a memorable zinger, the line touches on a prevalent issue in the design industry: where do we draw the line between a coincidence, or imitation, and outright plagiarism?

Plagiarism isn’t a new problem for designers, but the internet seems to bring more opportunities for pointing fingers (or Tweets) at possible copycat designs. With even the most obscure source material being dredged up on social media, and rightfully defended if a new piece of work emerges that bears more than a passing resemblance, there's more pressure than ever for creatives and brands to play fair. In this day and age when news – and accusations – spread like wildfire, it's also a lot more embarrassing and potentially reputation damaging if you are caught out.

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