The most annoying this in the world of design is idea theft. There is nothing that makes me angrier than someone staking a claim for work they haven’t done. I ran into this problem while I was going to school to study graphic design. Luckily, it didn’t happen to me because the situation became a huge issue; but I did watch it all go down. Someone used the network within the classroom and stole a design from someone else. They ended up being kicked out of the class, (so justice was served when the professor finally got to the bottom of the situation). Still, there’s no reason to steal another designer’s ideas.
For this reason, if you’re displaying your designs on a portfolio Website, you can actually prove your designs belong to you, or if you display them on your blog, etc. However, the situation I witnessed got me thinking, if you’re sharing a network with individuals who have access to your files (like within a classroom setting), it’s always a good idea to not keep the Illustrator (or design program file) on the network. Save your work as a png or jpeg with something showing that the work is yours. For example…
This way anyone who’s too lazy to do their own work and might be tempted to dip their fingers into your “cookie jar” won’t be able to take anything out because you’ll have a secure photo file, which wouldn’t be worth their time to alter. Usually design thieves won’t bother going to all the trouble of doing such a thing because thieves in general are lazy. Also if you’re planning on having a design business in the future, displaying your work on your site this way could save you a lot of headaches. I’ve heard of people trying to steal Istock Images and other things like that, which is just ludicrous. So displaying your images this way on a business Website could just be an extra safeguard. Like I said before, if you have your designs on a portfolio Website, then you’re probably fine without putting a copyright onto your design.
Design thievery is like walking around a display of Renaissance Art and shouting to everyone that you were the first to design it. Stop being a little “Next” generation baby and do the work. I’ve run into so many people from my “Next” generation who don’t want to take the time and put in some time to design. If you’re expecting to get somewhere without putting in the time (as in years), then you’ll never reach your potential as a designer.
Note: If you’re thinking about starting your own design business, here are some great things to consider. (Search Engine Journal)