February 17, 2024 at 2:37 am

Bar Owner Wants Graphic Designer To Violate Copyright For Her New Menu So He Does, But When They Get Sued He Gets The Blame

by Matthew Gilligan

Source: Reddit/AITA/@churrosman

Some people need to be hit over the head with obvious facts and figures before they understand what’s going on…

And then there are some folks who STILL don’t get it!

And you’re about to meet one of them…

Take a look at this story from Reddit and see what you think!

You want to use a copyrighted character for your menu? Let me help you.

“Last year, while I (then 25m) was working with digital design for a friend, he asked me to design something for a lady friend of his who owns a bar and was thinking of beginning fresh.

She wanted a simple design for her menu (it was going to be one page only, since there isn’t many appetizers anyway), and didn’t have much money thanks to the pandemic, so I was willing to work pro-bono.

He knows what’s going on…

Let’s call her Nichole (27f). Nichole was messaging me every sort of art she found on pinterest, saying how cute some were, and if I could do it like this one, etc. If you ever worked with designers, you know they strongly dislike when you dictate their work. You are welcome to choose patterns and positioning and whatnot, but bear in mind that it’s best if they don’t copy someone else’s artwork.

And he spent a lot of time on it.

Anyway, I made three versions exactly like she asked.

Took me around 5 days to design because she didn’t like the picture (that she took), or something. It happens, I was ok with it.

Design #1 was too colorful, she didn’t like too many colors (there were three main colors).

#2 I don’t remember what she said about it.

And #3: “Ooh, I love it! (thank God it was over) but could you remove this table at the bottom? Also the character doesn’t represent my bar that much”.

While my degree was something out of a youtube tutorial, I could call myself a designer, since most of my clients loved my work and some professionals were over the moon when I showed any of my projects.

And then Nichole’s sister got involved…

I never studied for real because it wasn’t my career, but I digress. Nichole’s sister (Nathalie, ~20f), on the other hand, read a book and was ready for the workplace (no, really, she read one book about design and color theory). She went to Nichole and demanded to know why wouldn’t she come to her in the first place.

Long story short, I was in a group chat with Nichole and Nathalie, being bombarded with JPGs of many cute characters holding plates. And then, on the third day, it came. The atrocious menu, as I like to call.

It was my 3rd design without the table at the bottom, with a childrens font (think Comic Sans, but illegal) and a brunette cartoon girl holding a plate. I swear I’ve seen that girl somewhere.

Nichole LOVED it.

The only problem (apart from the rest) was that where the table was, was colored red on an attempt to erase it, and the girl was outlined white.

Nathalie told me to fix it.

He made the necessary changes.

One reverse image search from google told me that the same mascot girl was used on a big food blog from our city, ‘XYZ Foodies’ (not real name, ofc). That’s where I knew that mascot.

I messaged both of them asking if they were really sure they wanted to use the mascot.

They were. Very well.

I changed my original design to match the desired one and voilá. I also changed my standard contract to register the design under Nichole’s name with full responsibility (thanks, Reddit, for this knowledge).

Contract signed and copied, art delivered, case closed…

But there was a problem.

Until three months later I received a letter in my mail.

Oh, I was being notified. It was faster than I expected.

The original artist for the blog’s mascot was suing me (it wasn’t a formal sue, I just don’t know the term in english, but his lawyer went and told me I did something wrong).

I contacted my mom’s lawyer and she was a little concerned. Copyright is really really bad, and most lawyers were not equipped for it, because it’s uncommon (to us, non-famous people).

I told her about the **** storm of the previous semester and she was “aight, let me tell them”.

The gist was that while I indeed designed the menu (and eventually the same mascot was used for the logo), I was 0% responsible, per agreement.

He got bombarded with messages.

And another three months went by before I woke up to my cellphone having a seizure from the incoming texts and calls.

Nichole and Nathalie were mad. “Why are we being sued because of YOUR design??” and “Solve this mess right now!”.

Me: “I’m sorry, what happened?”

Nichole: “I’m being sued! I just received the notification at my bar.”

Me: “Is it the design?”

Nichole: “Yes! What did you do? Did you do this to me? Why?”

Me: “I didn’t do a thing, I just did what you and Nathalie asked for.”

Nathalie: “WHAT? Why are WE being sued then??”

Me: “Possibly because you used the character from XYZ Foodies.”

Nathalie: “Using another character on a design doesn’t do this, you told XYZ Foodies, didn’t you??”

Me: “Why would I do that? The girl goes around the city trying every new bar and restaurant. I even asked if you two were sure about using the art…”

There was a meeting with their lawyer (I think he also read one book, might be two), my lawyer, Nathalie, Nichole, me and the friend I was working with (invited by Nichole herself). The dude was saying stuff about design being the artist’s responsibility and stuff like that.

It was all right there.

My lawyer, bless her heart, pulled a copy of my single-page contract stating clearly “I, the client, take full responsibility for the design and everything that comes with it” (the line is longer, I’m just lazy to look up the entire clause). After she read it out loud, everyone was quiet, until Nichole opened her mouth.

Nichole: So, how are you gonna help us?

My lawyer: We aren’t.

Their lawyer: We can close a deal. You pay 50% of any legal fees incurred from the dispute with XYZ artist, and we won’t sue you.

My lawyer: Or we can shake hands and you leave my client alone, because if you sue, and lose, we are going to court again for emotional damage and emotional distress at work for my client. Are we clear?

Their lawyer: Have it your way, then.

Take that!

And with a smirk, the dude left. My lawyer, confused, just sat there organizing her two papers, and the sisters were sitting there, arms crossed and annoyed looks on their face. My friend looked at Nichole and said:

Friend: You know you are in the wrong, right?

Nichole: … *sighs* I’m sorry. Thank you for your time.

We left and I never heard from Nichole or Nathalie again, except for the time I went to her bar and saw that the sign was just “Nichole’s Bar” with a beer company logo (this time it was legal). She was not happy to see me.”

Here’s how Reddit users reacted.

This person said this reminded them of another story.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Another person gave folks warning…

Source: Reddit/AITA

Another individual talked about something unique that The Cure did.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Another Reddit user had some thoughts about copyright laws.

Source: Reddit/AITA

And this individual had a question…

Source: Reddit/AITA

Some folks aren’t too bright, are they?

No doubt about it!

Want to read another story where somebody got satisfying revenge? Check out this post about a woman who tracked down a contractor who tried to vanish without a trace.