Taking credit for the work of others whether it be by someone that purposely wears the military uniform of a US military service person, impersonating them, is commonly referred to as stolen valor. Stolenvalor comes in many forms. Wearing the uniform of a service person is just one example. Take credit for the work of others and pawning it off as their own is another. Filing one excuse after another as to why they shouldn’t take responsbility for ripping off someone else’s artwork or design is another form of both cowardice and stolen valor.
The military and copyrights ~
Our men and uniform are not trained in copyright law. They don’t often understand its intracacies and they don’t get that exposure or training and that isn’t their fault. Often times a design is seen doing a simple Google search and they locate a cool military design they would like to see made into a military coin. They forward it on to some coin company and presto chango they get a coin.
Seems simple enough. But not really. The reality of it is that more times than not the design is often owned and copyrighted by its owner and that means permission is needed. In order for that work of art to be made into a military challenge coin you have to have the written permission of the artist. Not to receive this permission causes significant issues with the military and can be detrimental to your career in the military because it is a legal matter and an ethical one. So when in doubt ask. If the artwork was not originall created by you then it needs permission. Do yourself a favor and just ask.
The Copy Clowns ~
It can still get worse believe it or not. Not only does our military not often get the training they need in deciphering complex copyright law or at least navigating the mine infested law of custom military artwork but they get to work in an environment of shark infested waters where coin companies are ready to pounce at any opportunity our military gives them: right or wrong.
Sending artwork you have permission to copy or use to a company to produce coins is the right thing to do.
Sending artwork to a company you don;t have permission to copy or use is wrong.
Very simple. Use a reputable company that considers its own ethical behavior and knows right from wrong and values its own reputation before you consider consider working with them. A brand new design created from scratch is always the best move. This way you never have to worry where it came from, have a hard tracking down the owner of the artwork and you can ensure it is yours to work with. This is the best course of action.
The Cheaters & Non-Competers ~
So who do you stay away from? Better yet you should run away from these so called cheaters and non-competers. Why? Because they don’t ask, don’t care and would take your money any way they can and put you in harms way when it comes to a legal issue of copyright infringement. When you take a design to a cheater you are guilty of a copyright violation that could wind up costing the government a lot of money and throw your career in the military into a tailspin. Furthermore, the company that took your order is also guilty for not making sure you have written correspondence from the owner of the artwork. If you cannot prove you have written permission then you don’t and the company that is making the military coins for you is equally liable for making them. It’s not worth your career and losing your business over.
The following coin was produced by Kidder Corporation. The design was created for the US Navy at a training facility.
Sounds great? Only problem is that Kidder Corp did not have permission from the copyright holder and had been told repeatedly never to copy the arwork of Vision-Strike-Wear.Com ever. The US Navy sent a design from the website located at Vision-Strike-Wear.Com (Which also bore the name of the website it came from Vision-Strike-Wear.Com) to Kidder helping to provide evidence of its original location and copyright holder and instead of asking for permission they submitted the design to Kidder Corporation and the coin was made. The artwork was not authorized to be produced.
Kidder Corp also had the coin pouches used to hold the coins printed with their name on each coin bag they produced further evidene that they had been produced by Kidder Corp. Lastly the US Navy unit was contacted and Vision-Strike-Coins.Com was informed by the Command Master Chief that the manufacturer was in fact Kidder Corp.
(Bag Used to Hold the unauthorized Corpman Coin design in).
- Get the written permission of the copyright holder or original artist.
- Don’t work with a coin company that fails to ask important questions like: Do you have written permission to produce this artwork? Please provide evidence you have permission.
- Make sure the coin company you choose to use has integrity and can create its own artwork and not copy the work of others. Taking the quick route is often not the right choice.
- Create your own artwork or have something created from scratch. If you created it then its yours.
- Remember that an intangle item like a work of art is still property. Just because you can’t drive it doesn’t mean that it doesn;t below to someone and that its not real. It is real and someone worked hard to make it. So if your coin company will take anything you send them without asking questions then don’t walk away. Run!
So the next time you decide to have a coin made keep in mind the company you will be working with and use only companies that don’t profit from the artwork of others and without the artists permission. Ethical behavior will over win over making a bad decision.