French Antipiracy Agency Accused of Plagiarism

By Mash Bonigala

Logo design enthusiasts all over Europe are watching as the French anti-piracy agency Hadopi has been accused of design copycatting. The agency logo, which ironically represents an agency that is supposed to stop similar crimes from occurring, is just the latest copyright issue to affect the French government. Last year the political party of Sarkozy, who has supported some of the most severe anti-piracy regulations in the world, was reported to have played illegally obtained music at parties and on its videos. Further, the party illegally copied DVD’s about the Sarkozy government.

The Hadopi logo design was introduced with much fanfare, making it all the more embarrassing when the agency was accused of using a copyrighted font that belongs to France Telecom-Orange. The wronged party was even more concerned that their font had been slightly changed to work better with Hadopi’s design.

At this point, France Telecom-Orange has not announced an intention to take legal action, but the creator of the font, Jean-Francois Porchez, has said he will have his lawyer arrange for a solution—most likely in the form of a lawsuit. It is not known whether this matter will end up in courts or simply fade away.

Besides the shared font, the two logos have almost nothing in common. The France Telecom-Orange logo is brightly hued with a stylized ampersand. The Hadopi logo features the agency acronym formed into a stylized camera, with the full name (Haute Autorité pour la diffusion des œuvres et la protection des droits sur internet) below. Gray and burgundy colouring creates a simple and understated feeling that befits such a serious government agency.

Hadopi is not the first government agency to have a professionally created logo design, but it is one of the first to be immediately accused of copyright infringement. However, it should be noted that the agency is not truly responsible for the gaffe. Their logo design company clearly acted in an unethical way and unfairly ‘borrowed’ ideas during the design process.

How will this affect the Hadopi brand? Few logo designs begin with such negative press, especially on an international level. The font is a good choice for this particular design, but not the only appropriate choice. While Hadopi could opt to simply modify the font and keep other aspects of the logo design, the image would still carry with it much of the bad reputation caused by the plagiarism. Beginning from scratch may be a better option. The French government may also want to quietly introduce the next logo design, to avoid its being linked with the original in the media and other venues.

While this is certainly an unfortunate incident, it should not be allowed to colour anyone’s perception of logo design agencies. Reputable agencies take care to be completely original in all of their work and to strenuously check for even accidental infringements. We know from experience how hard professionals work to create the perfect, winning logo design, and we completely respect their right to the fruits of their labour.