Increasing Protection for Designers

September 23, 2009

We’ve got some great improvements coming to — many of which will further increase protection for designers in the community.bullhorn

1. Designer Declarations

To help protect designer copyrights and speed the resolution of projects, we have created a system where designers must now declare licensed material when they submit their work.

In the design submission process, designers now need to indicate one of the following:

  • This work is my own original artwork
  • This work contains elements that are not my own

If the design is 100% your own original work, fantastic!

However, sometimes designs contain third party elements, such as clip art or a stock image. If you are submitting such a design, you must declare under the second option above. We also invite you to list additional information such as the source of the third party element (a web address, for example) and if the project holder will need to purchase it.

Contest Holders appreciate transparency, so please do the right thing by making honest declarations. By openly discussing how the Contest Holder can obtain the rights to use the content you have submitted, you will make the decision to award your design much easier.

If the work is not your own at all, back to the drawing board! You must submit your own work at 99designs.

2. Violation Reports

We have completely overhauled our violation report system. The new system invites you to provide more information when you submit your reports and allows us to process your reports a lot faster!

This means:

  • You can enter more specific data when you submit your report
  • We then have all the necessary data at hand when we investigate your report
  • We are able to take appropriate actions quickly, and resolve the situation in the best interests of our community

Remember that you can submit a report on everything: from projects that have not been awarded after the review period; to the use of inappropriate materials; or offensive behavior in a discussion.

We greatly appreciate your help in making sure everybody plays by the rules—we couldn’t do it without you! So, if you see something that doesn’t look right, please remember to use the reporting system rather than make accusations in the main project discussion.

As always, we invite your feedback!

The 99designs Team

Photo Credit

29 Responses to “Increasing Protection for Designers”

  1. Scale Says:

    wow, thats amazing work, i like you 99designs, man its awesome system, really did great

  2. Wiktor Says:

    How the requirement to provide links to stock photos protects designers? Just curious :)

  3. Pegatinas Says:

    ugh, not good.
    At least take out those words in the feedback area that say, “This design is wholly my own”. Seeing a thousand of those words is going to drive the CH nuts. It does me already. I understand the premise but that statement has got to go.

    You guys keep working on great changes but when will you work on the blind submission format. That’s the biggest problem now. The copying of designs.

  4. Pegatinas Says:

    So Jason, are you now saying that designers CAN use istock or any clipart imagery as long as the CH knows about it? I’ve run into a lot of CH that don’t care if it’s clipart or hand drawn.

  5. BombardierBob Says:

    Advising is such a weak word when it comes to your position on the use of stock/clip art. This new system has once again shown it has no teeth to be much good. Seeing that it has failed already in the recent Rick Warren Contest and continues to fail. Ether you except the use of stock/clip art or ban designers as I had been threatened in the past over. All the changes sound good on paper but if you do not put teeth to it, it will just be an empty addition to this site! ~Bob

  6. Pegatinas Says:

    How do I give Bob a thumbs up here?

  7. anzol Says:

    more of the same, nothing change, suks!!!

  8. Ollie Says:

    Make contests blind… now that would protect designers.

  9. mercurywaters Says:

    It’s tough to believe you will protect designers, when gaurunteed contests can be closed without a winner. the contest run by paul cousins was extended multiple times with almost 400 entries, gaurunteed and then was able to be closed without a only works when its actually used. there is a very high rate of refunded contests. what will be done to protect the designers from wasting their time and not making money on the site? 99 designs gets paid on every contest and the contest holder either gets a design for bargain prices or they get their money back and can recreate a design outside of the site. in this whole equation, the most vital resource to this site, the designers, get the short end of the stick. you have a great site here, but you’re doing too little to protect your greatest resource.

    • Jason Aiken Says:

      FYI…I just spoke with Paul Cousins…he is going to award a winner. His contest became locked because he was taking too long…it is method we use to be able to remind the project holders to keep things moving. He thought he had until later today…he had logged in and found it locked and then contacted support to unlock it so he can award a winner.


  10. mercurywaters Says:

    I think that brings up another point of communication. it would make sense to put more than just locked on a contest. i assumed the contest was abandoned or refunded. in which case i would withdraw my designs. of course that would be a bad idea in this case. creating seperate tags for the contest would be a better option. ie, refunded, locked for lack of activity, or abandoned.

  11. Vili Says:

    Ollie Says:

    September 24, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Make contests blind… now that would protect designers.

    It is the decision :)

  12. Andy77 Says:

    Hi, This is a good idea.But what about the designer protection? I join few contest where contest holder refund their money after the contest end but when the contest was running they made lot of changes from designers.I wish you guys make some rules for contest holder also,so the designer will get some minimum amount for their hard work.


    • BombardierBob Says:

      I have to agree with the new protections there seems to be far less for the designers once more. Some changes are good but not at the expense of the designer!

    • Paul Annesley Says:

      Hi Andy,

      We hear you. Keep in mind that we earn nothing from a refunded contest, and it costs us money in customer support and so on.

      One of the reasons we went with a 100% refund policy was to put us in the same boat as the designers. If the contest holder refunds, it hurts us as much as you, so we’ll always work as hard as we can to prevent it.

      We’ll keep at it. In fact there might just be something big in the works right now… stay tuned :)

  13. illumina Says:

    How about improving protection for designers who have entered guaranteed contests with no winner declared? A contest ended SIX MONTHS ago and still absolutely nothing is being done by 99designs. Where it matters, 99designs is still sorely lacking in protecting designers.

  14. Javis Says:

    99designs rock………….

  15. mkels Says:

    hello jason, paul
    one small question.

    if i am to used a free license or creative common license icons or vector/images {not stock)..which option should i choose when submit a design.

    1. my own work
    2. stock and clipart work

    since the element used are not my work nor stock and clipart in this case.

    please advice so i won’t break any rules on future design submit…


  16. Prez Says:

    “We also invite you to list additional information such as the source of the third party element (a web address, for example) and if the project holder will need to purchase it.”

    This may be confusing for some designers, so just let’s make it clear, at least for iStockPhoto content. If a designer purchases a licensed image, the Contest Holder DOES NOT have to purchase it again – as long as he uses it only in a form provided by the designer (i.e. finished web site header, banner design etc.).

    Below is a reply from iStockPhoto support after I asked about it:

    “If you download the images, the license will be granted to you. Your clients can use our images only incorporated into the final design that you provide to them. It would not be possible to use the images on anything else as they wouldn’t have the license to do so.”

  17. Banzavag Says:

    Ok…what about all the “Refunded” and “Locked” contests…seems to be happening far too frequently. Any plans to deter this behavior by CHs? (Sorry to go off topic but would love to hear about any efforts on 99D part…thanx)

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