Ripped Graphics in Hugi #14: The True Story

Written by Adok

Since I get a lot of spam via e-mail, I am accustomed to deleting every mail looking like spam immediately. It was only pure chance that I did not delete the mail I got from the webmaster of a porn-site on Sunday, March 14th. The subject caught my attention. It was: "Stolen Artwork". Unbelievable! What does a porn-site have to do with artwork? I began to read.

"Some of my artwork was stolen and used in your issue #14. Can you please direct me to the appropriate person that can rectify this problem? I want my artwork REMOVED from your e-mag."

Was that a new kind of spam? Or was it meant seriously? How did an ominous porn-site-webmaster get Hugi? What artwork could be ripped from a porn-site? We have never published any porn-picture in Hugi.

In order to ensure that the mail was serious, I replied with the following:

"Of course [I will remove the stolen 'artwork']. But you have to tell me who you are and what exact 'artwork' you mean. How can you prove that you are its creator? As soon as I have got your answer, I will contact the author immediately."

On the next day I got the reply. It turned out that the webmaster of the ominous porn site was DaVinci of iCE. Everyone who has some knowledge of the art-scene knows what iCE is. It is a huge art-group. DaVinci, one of many members, creates pixel graphics using Photoshop. My interest was arisen. I took an extensive look at his personal homepage and realized that the logo on the navigation page was quite similar to the winning picture in the Hugi Logo Competition by DARKflare/ActiveFuel. The border was identical, and the background of DARKflare's picture was an image in the "Lightening Tutorial" at DaVinci's homepage. For me, there was no doubt that the roots of the contest-winning picture were here.

On his "Rip-Off" page, DaVinci showed a screenshot of DARKflare's picture. The text below said:

"This piece of stolen artwork is the winning entry for a splash screen contest for HUGI DISK MEGA ZINE . HUGI14 . FEB99 Despite my begging and pleading, the thief stole my DaVinci logo from this site, chopped out the inside, used the lightening images from my lightening tutorial (he didn't even make his own), then he ripped off the name bar from my Fravia logo to put the name 'HUGI disk magazine' on. The artist credited for this mess is Darkflare of ActiveFuel. He even signed his name on the lower left corner. [...] If you're wondering why I'm uptight about my artwork, here is the reason why."

The next step for me to do was to contact DARKflare and inform him on the matter. I could not believe anyone would risk sending stolen graphics to Hugi, as our Legal Stuff section clearly states that all contributions "have to be free of third-party-rights".

A few hours later I got DARKflare's answer, which he had also sent to DaVinci. He showed great concern. He admitted not having made the picture all by himself but having used some of DaVinci's images. However, he said that he had been given permission to use the graphics by a "fake DaVinci".

Since it was now obvious that this picture had violated third-party-rights, I disqualified it from the logo competition and removed it from Hugi.

In this way the other places moved up by one. Luminos/MAC was now the true winner of the competition. His picture was used as the closing picture in the new version of Hugi #14. I uploaded Hugi #14 v1.1 on March 17th and announced it in several newsgroups.

At this occasion I want to appeal to everyone once again that every contribution to Hugi has to be free of third-party-rights. This spares us all a lot of trouble and work.

With this, I want to officially apologize to DaVinci.

- adok^hugi