As a business, if you’re going to copy or ‘replicate’ artwork, you had better have a good strategy in place for the repercussions – and we’re not just talking about lawyers. The Australian Football League (AFL) recently found itself in hot water when it released an image promoting multiculturalism on the back of AFL player Adam Goodes returning to game.

Tyson Beck, a graphic artist from South Australia, posted an image he had created for the American National Basketball Association (NBA) onto the AFL’s Twitter page.  The image was both creative and powerful.  The impact was obviously very effective because two days later the AFL released a strikingly similar image to promote it’s ‘Many cultures, One game’ message. Saying these images looked the same, is really an understatement and the AFL went into damage control after Tyson Beck pulled them up on social media for the copycat design. “First time I post an @AFL artwork piece on social media then a few days later they copy my work for a campaign #cheersguys.” He tweeted.

Tyson didn’t need to consult a legal team for the rights to his design because the AFL was now on trial by social media – which in this day and age, can be just as effective as going to court. The AFL did the sensible thing and acknowledged the issue straight away with an apology and explanation to Tyson and the media. The explanation from an AFL spokesperson involved an outside agency being responsible for the AFL’s design material and an admission that the design “should not have occurred.”

Mr Beck was satisfied with the admission and decided to not pursue the issue any further. “You can use things as inspiration but then they (AFL) have crossed over on replications,” he said.

When creating a logo or a design for your business, it is imperative that the artwork is original not only for legal reasons but also for the effectiveness of your branding and ensuring your business stands alone and creates it’s own look and feel as that is what people will remember.