My old client just sent me a link to a website, called Elance, where freelance designers and companies are featured and are available for hire and commission. Why am I telling you this? Because the link he sent to me was the page of Ireland based company, Pixeltistic www.elance.com/s/pixeltistic/
. And smack in the middle of their portfolio was my first ever commission for a book cover I did when I was about 16 or 17. Whilst I strongly dislike my first ever book cover, and don't really like to be affiliated with it too much, it's still my own work, which this company is now claiming THEY made. I got paid around $200 for that piece of work back then, and this company claims that they made it. They charge $33 an hour for their "work", and do jobs up to and over $1000.
It may just be a one-off, but it's got me thinking. I did that design on a competition website where people do designs and the client picks the one they like the most. I don't use it anymore, since it attracts certain types of designer and client I like to steer clear of. But it can't be beyond the realms of possibility to imagine companies using these websites to get desperate, money hungry designers to do them a design for a low rate, and then sell it for an absurdly high one. Not only that, but they claim that they produce: "...a diverse range of high profile services to businesses all over the world at highly competitive prices..." The design I did back then was not good quality. It has a bad image, bad composition, bad text placement. But they're using it as an example of "high quality design".
I've been in touch with my client, and we've e-mailed the hosting website. We're fully prepared to discuss legal action though. After all, we both own a copyright on the cover, and I have all of the drafts it went through to become the final product. I hate it when people try to pass off other people's work as their own, and I just thought that I should try and raise awareness for this issue. Just let everyone you know know about the fact that there are companies passing off designs as their own, and to stay alert, and look after your own work as much as possible.