My mum works for one of the major supermarkets in Australia. It’s no secret that there is a supermarket war on at the moment. One introduces one thing and the other copies. First it was cutting prices in milk, and now it’s the fight of the fresh food. One introduced a celebrity chef ambassador, so the other brought in three celebrity chefs to be the face of the company. One gave away free apples to kids, the other gave away something else. It’s a round-a-bout of recycled ideas.

It annoys me. More than it probably annoys anyone else. I’ll often say to my mum in a huff and puff, “Why can’t they be more innovative? Why do they have copy each other?”

The other day I came up with a handful of ideas for one supermarket to win over the other supermarket. Big ideas that they’ve never run with before and I rattled them off to Hubby. Surprisingly, he listened to my crazy rant. “I think I’ll write to them and tell them!” I finally finished.

A moment later I realised how crazy it was and decided to put the pen down. I don’t get big corporates {having never worked for one}, and I know they didn’t need my little letter making it’s way to their office. I’ll just continue watching them chase each other’s tails.

Last week a similar thing happened to me though. After finalising the list and the design for March Photo a Day I decided to search the hashtag and see what was happening. It was no surprise that others have decided to gatecrash the hashtag. They were not so secretly trying to compete with my list in February and trying again in March. It doesn’t bother me. I didn’t invent photo a day, it was a brilliant concept created by someone else way back when. I changed it up and assigned it to a month. I don’t know if other people have done the same thing or done it primarily on Instagram before, I’m sure they have. What did bother me was something I saw, someone had totally ripped off my design from the February list:

I saw it, got a little up in arms and showed it to Hubby {after 10 years of being together I think he’s used to my crazy antics} and we were both were like, “Oh well. What can you do?”

So I put down my arms and got over it.

Yesterday some friends noticed the copying though, and they got up in arms for me. I had phone calls, Skype messages and emails too. One kind friend urged me, “You should write about it.”

I told her it didn’t bother me enough to write about it. But then I thought, the bigger picture does.

I found this quote a while back by Jim Jarmusch, and I loved it:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work {and theft} will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

Ideas can be stolen. We can’t copyright concepts {designs yes, but ideas no}. But don’t steal and create a mediocre version. If you’re going to steal, make a hot-diggity, brand spankin’ new version with your flavour on it. Make it better. Make it bigger. Be proud of what you create.

This morning I went and searched for other hashtags that people could have used to really make their concept shine, and make it their own. And sitting there without even one mention was the hashtag #photoadayMarch. If only people could think for themselves, they could have had a winning idea to be proud of.

106 thoughts on “Copycats”

  1. I have to admit, I copied your photo today on handwriting. I put a smiley face at the end it hopes that it would let you know that I thought your pic was so good that i wanted it too! i'm very excited about the challenge, and can't wait to see the entire year put together when its over.Oh and thanks for introducing me to pic frame app. I was wondering how you did your before and after last week.

  2. you're so classy!! this was a great response. i would have been much angrier. =) i love your blog and your photo a day idea. i've been too lazy to actually do it yet, but i've saved them for someday. =) much admiration…! =)

  3. I know it's a form of flattery… I guess my thinking is were I to have seen that, I would have pitied them. Truly. It's such an obvious copycat of your work that it's a bit pathetic. That sounds nastier than I mean it to. I just think its a shame they have no creativity of their own. No idea is original, but there's a line, ya know? 99.9999% of us know where this came from and appreciate YOU for it, so revel in that, m'lady. x

  4. I downloaded the Feb list and haven't got round to doing one yet 🙁 But I'm on the lookout for March and I'm going to copy that quote as it's beautiful and I'd like to remember it more often!

  5. Brilliant, fabulous response to something that you totally deserve to get a bit ranty and crazy about. It's totally fine for people to draw inspiration from others (when it's you it's actually quite flattering) but to outright copy or copy with tokenistic changes – ugh – not ok.

    You ARE a classy lady. Beyond measure. This just proves it.

    Oh and those ideas you have for the supermarkets? I'd be packaging them up with some sort of six figure proposal for your brilliant intellectual property. You. Just. Never. Know.

  6. well said! I've been loving photo a day! and it definitely makes me think outside the box, and try to push it. it's tough because i am a graphic designer, and if i see something i like, I know I can't copy it, but i can use it as an inspiration, and there's nothing wrong with deriving inspiration from something because that's how lots of things get started. ~zlie17~

  7. Don't they say copying is the highest form of flattery – or something like that my mum used to tell me.

    Just on another note my eyes find reading the new font on the blog really really hard. No I don't wear glasses. Just a thought 🙂

  8. I am so taking that quote and running with it! There is so much uproar in the handmade community about people copying each other, and it gets “my goat”!! Because as that says, nothing is original. Thanks for the post. And Photo a day. Love it x

  9. Some people go through this life chasing others. Some people are the ones running with a jump in their step, not looking behind them. Keep running Chantelle and never look back. They are just lazy.
    Ps: so have you even put out a March photo challenge, as I reckon I shared something I thought was yours? I'll take it down xx

  10. Who are we to judge what is mediocre and what is authentic. Inspiration does come from so many places, and what could be any more wonderful than inspiring someone!

  11. So glad you wrote about it – it's not a 'name and shame' but it does take talent and creativity to create something that is your own and to have it 'stolen' for want of a better is inappropriate and I don't blame you for being even the tiniest bit miffed!

    Not even a credit proves that it is stealing rather than sharing or being inspired by in the case!

  12. Well-done, lady. You are classy and lovely beyond belief. I admire that you took the high ground, and I love the quote you included 🙂

    Btw, thanks much for the photoaday prompts. I've enjoyed February and I'll be playing along in March as well.

  13. *claps enthusiastically* well said Chantelle. Thank you for sharing, especially the quote. It resonated with me too. And I completely agree – be inspired, be passionate, but be real. If something inspires you don't copy it, let it burn inside you and drive you to create something even bigger, better and more brilliant — something that's yours. Thanks for photo a day, I'm really enjoying it too xx

  14. Chantelle, I have been there with having my ideas/design copied, so I totally know what you are going through. You've handled this in a very classy way. Well done. 🙂

    I began following your blog because of the Feb Photo Challenge and will continue next month with the REAL March challenge. 😉

  15. your so right… everything has been done before but the way you do it can be different and more unique! also… you have put so much energy into sharing it and its just disheartening to see people so blatantly copy down to the graphics and the hash tag!!! 'photo a day' challenges are common in the photography community. many people do a 'january photo a day' while children are on holidays and its summer… while i havent done it yet, i love looking at everyones work and im hoping to do it next year! i will just be linking to a few friends who inspired me to do so and calling it the same name or i will try and do something to make it mine but i will still link to friends who inspired me. i set up a photo challenge for audrey and her friends over the holidays twice last year and now a huge, more well known photographer started something like that this year… i dont suspect she ever saw mine so its just a coincidence but a little disappointing none the less! being in a creative industry is so tough sometimes… you rock and we all know its your baby so keep doing what you do!!! rowe x

  16. Have you heard about the Link with Love movement, started by Kal Barteski? It's such a dilemma when someone blatantly takes your idea and calls it their own without giving credit. I've been hesitant about putting any of my ideas “out there” because of plagiarism but I hate living that way. It's no way for a creative person to live. Here's a link to Link with Love info:

    I've been enjoying your photo prompt lists and thankful you make them available. Sorry to see your creativity has been lifted like it has. Keep up YOUR good work!

  17. I know how you feel, it sucks! And I love the challenge so much (I´m on it since January, it´s been really fun) that I just don´t understand why people can´t just join in and have fun without trying to get the credits for themselves.

  18. I just can't stand people ho don't have the capacity to use they're brain to create something new, but they only pic ideas from other and make them sound like them's.
    I know exactly what you are talking about, I look up to be a photographer one day and I study and practise a lot, and I hate when I take a lot of time to invent and make a photo and the day after I see other people doing the same….COM'ON USE YOU'R ONE BRAIN!!!

    I just love what you are doing and I'm following and doing you'r February photo 😀

  19. Well done and you kept it classy. There is no place for copycats. We all have to find our own niche and copying or plagiarism is not the way to go. Be original people! These people have to live with the fact that they are copying. Do not let this get you down you are the original in my eyes and I will be following your 'photaday' not any others. Keep up the great ideas. V xoxo

  20. Liked this blog a lot – can't believe you weren't more upset about someone stealing your design! Suffice to say I won't be referring to their list for March…

  21. I too started following your blog when I started the February Photo a Day Challenge, part of the reason I love the Challenge is that it makes me stop and look, it makes me think outside the square and I find myself noticing and seeing things I had fallen in to the habit of missing! for this reason your photo a day challenges are inspiring and inspiration is something that people like copy (though they should have taken the inspiration and made it their own rather than blatently copy!) I have quite a few friends who've been inspired to do March having watched a few others do Feb 🙂 I always refer them to your blog if they ask about it.. as annoying as it is, choose to take this copy cat’s behaviour as flattery and don't let it get you down, it's YOUR challenges that are spreading like wildfire and it's your inspiration that will motivate! thank you xo

  22. I've always loved the phrase “copying is the ultimate form of flattery”. It sux and happens so much these days. But think of it as you are the inspiration and the other lacks uniqueness. You must be good if you are copied. 🙂

  23. I've always loved the phrase “copying is the ultimate form of flattery”. It sux and happens so much these days. But think of it as you are the inspiration and the other lacks uniqueness. You must be good if you are copied. 🙂

  24. I've always loved the phrase “copying is the ultimate form of flattery”. It sux and happens so much these days. But think of it as you are the inspiration and the other lacks uniqueness. You must be good if you are copied. 🙂

  25. I've always loved the phrase “copying is the ultimate form of flattery”. It sux and happens so much these days. But think of it as you are the inspiration and the other lacks uniqueness. You must be good if you are copied. 🙂

  26. It's why I brought it up on Instagram last week 🙂 I know how popular it's been for you and I hated not being able to check out everyone who is supporting you via that hash tag.. Kept on getting different pics, which is fine, but not the same game we're playing

    But imitation is a form of flattery.. and there is absolutely no use in making yourself upset over it. Plus, you've got a tonne of people to back you up!

  27. I'm sure you have stopped reading my now – but just felt compelled to add my 2c.
    'Stealing' the idea is going to happen, but I feel out & out embarrassed for this person who couldn't even bother to come up with an original graphic – let alone their own spin!
    You have handled it with a wise attitude and a lot of class. Well done. I have loved your blog for a long time and to be honest – could copy everything you do! LOL
    All the best xx ♥

  28. the copiers are gonna copy, even when you bring it to their attention that they're not getting away with it, even when you call them out. the most you can do is feel bad for them that your ideas are all they have.

  29. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for creating your photo-a-day challenges! Thanks to Sarah's Whoorl blog, I found it and it has pushed my creative boundaries!

  30. I think you have to feel sorry for people who can't actually think of their own, original ideas. Your photo a day idea has been brilliant! I work with a design studio Monday to Friday, so copying a design is simply not on for me. I would be furious! I always make a note to reference others' work if displaying it on my blog, so they know the author and would hope other people would do the same for me.

  31. Great post! ( I love the quote “It's not where you take things from, it's where you take them too!”) My Nana always told me that imitation was the highest form of flattery! Send off your letter to the supermarket chains – who knows, someone at a desk, somewhere might just be looking for a great idea or a breath of fresh air! P.S Just wanted to say I participated in Photo a Day for January and loved it- it made me stop and really pay attention to small precious moments.

  32. I saw this yesterday after a few people had commented on it on fb and couldn't believe someone would be that blatant. I really don't get it. Not sure what the point is in copying your design or hashtag, because that person will never be able to enjoy their own success. They won't ever know how many people took part in their challenge because the credit will be given to you instead! I think this response is perfect. Most people out there by now know that you started all this – and that's what counts. Well done on creating such a strong 'movement'. It's great! x

  33. I was thinking of this so much yesterday – genuinely wondering if people were just more creative then other people, in the world.

    I have so much to say about this, that I'm going to write my own fricking blog post about it. Right now, in fact.

  34. Really great post Chantelle. It can be so easy to get up in arms about something when you think someone has copied your idea, but after years of working in the media the quote “there are no original ideas” rings very true for me. People draw inspiration from everywhere and sometimes we even have the same ideas. But it's the way we execute them that really shows greatness.

    People who blatantly copy eventually run out of steam, because they're not being true to their own ideas. Its the ones who take their own ideas and create something wonderful that stand out – just like you are right now x

  35. Wow! I know that feeling. My mum used to say 'they only copy your work because it's good and they can't think of anything else, you should be pleased!'

    'Pleased. Pleased?' I used to think. 'But they're taking all the credit!'

    Only now, as I contemplate my next words, do I understand her more…

    I haven't had the honour of someone copying anything from my blog. So, Chantelle, {though it is really irritating} look at the silver lining.

    The silver lining says you are Ace! The silver lining knows you are a star! You've moved so many people into action, taking part in Photo a day, it's a phenomenon.

    Yours was one of the first blogs I ever read, over a year ago, it quickly became my favourite. I enjoy logging in to see what's new and I hope to take only inspiration from it.

    There is an online moral/journalistc rule to link back and give credit where the writer is aware that it's due. It's not just polite to do so.

  36. The quote is wonderful.
    On my sidebar I offer people my blog content and give them permission to take it suggesting that it would be nice to link back to me but that it is not necessary. I don't have the energy or time to chase down suposed copyright infringement…but the idea of making it grander and adding your own special touch is such wonderful way to encouragement people to grow bigger and better.
    The person who copied your photo list and design directly is an bad imposter.

  37. Yes and amen. I think all of us, as bloggers, have been copied at one time or another. I wish I was the “oh well, it's the biggest form of flattery” type, but it really bugs me. I heard one blogger say that she just doesn't something bigger, better, and more intricate, that's harder to be copied the next time. That's what I (try) to do, too.

  38. Glad it didn't bother you too much, but also glad you wrote about it in the end. You've created such a wonderful, inspiring challenge that you should be able to be proud of without worrying about being ripped off.

  39. I adore that Jean-Luc Goddard quote- thanks for sharing it…as we all have moments where we think *hold on a second- wasn't that my idea…my creation…my thought*…

    You should be super proud of your photo challenge- I'm so glad you brought this to our attention, as I've just discovered your blog on moving back from living in the English countryside to the beaches of Oz…and was bowled over by it…heaven from beginning to end- AND I am all ready for my first month of Photo a Day Challenge for March.

    I will be making sure I do the original FMS Challenge- and you should feel flattered, amongst the moments of *grrr* that some one else obviously thinks you're so brilliant they have *totally* ripped off your ideas….A hard one- but perhaps a compliment none the less….

    Melissa- Miss Sew & So


  40. When I began encouraging people to start creating more original content (instead of lifting images) as part of my social netiquette series on the blog, I was inspired by the layout of your photo a day. I designed the DIY stock photo library so that like your list it was easy to read on an iPhone as most would take photos that way. But I also said it was inspired by you. And linked to you. It never crossed my mind not to. Credit where credit is due.

    There is sharing and there is stealing. I love what Jarmusch said,it's the sort of theft that comes from absorbing all the world around you and making it your OWN. Sorry to see that people don't find that idea as exciting as copying.

  41. I know just how you feel. Last year I opened a brand new homewares store, & my bestie (a graphic artist) designed the best logo for it, something really different that suited our shop perfectly. Then my dad's cousin opened a similar store in a different town – we supplied the stock as we shop overseas, and we helped her out with it all. Then I saw on Facebook they had basically taken our logo, and put their name in where ours was!! I was not impressed! My friend had put such a lot of work into designing it for us, and they just went and ripped it off. So disappointing.
    I feel for you!!
    Rach x

  42. That is so disappointing.

    People like that are just morons. To borrow an idea is one thing but to downright copy a design like it, it is really so low!

  43. Hello! First time on your blog and I love it! 🙂 Such a disappointment. Someone can steal ideas but you can't take an action immediately and all you have to do is blog about it. that's sad.

    Btw, I am your new follower! 🙂

    Jewel Clicks

  44. Very true. I've heard that we need to steal like an artist – which is basically what you were saying there at the end – draw from anything and everything and then make it your own. Not copying word for word or design for design, but allowing everything to soak in and influence your art.

    That really sucks that someone else was brazen enough to steal your entire design!! I mean, sure photo-a-day is nothing new, but she didn't need to copy your actual design. That's pretty low. But you're right, there's not much you can do about it. And she's the one who has to live with herself. I try to keep in mind that anyone can steal from me and try to pass my work off as their own, but that doesn't mean they have talent and can put out a good product. Your design was awesome b/c it was an extension of you – hers is just a copy and won't have the same passion infused in it.

  45. I'd be up in arms as well! No one likes a copycat… And not that this is any consolation but you take it as a compliment of sorts. As they say “imitation is the highest form of flattery”…!

  46. How totally embarrassing for them. I would feel so shamed o have to copy like that.

    Write your letter, Telle. You would be amazed how the corporates operate! x

  47. Sucks that that happened to you! 🙁 When I posted up the Feb. prompts to remind myself as I went along I made sure it sourced back to this blog.

    But to nick the entire thing when we knew you were most likely working on a March one? Ugh.

  48. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. I think your first idea of not letting it bother you was your best idea. Some people just aren't as talented as others. Love your blog. Just found it today.

  49. Ugh copycatters annoy me too – but I try to pity them… it makes me feel better

    As for your supermarket ideas… do write and tell them – find out who their marketing director is and write to him/her personally, (make sure you get signed for delivery on your letter in case they pinch your ideas!!) they do often listen…

    … a few years ago I wrote to the head office of a supermarket complaining about my local store (having complained locally of course first) and boy did it get results! Also it got the manager of my store promoted when he fixed the issues

  50. hey chantelle. thanks for posting this! i'm actually one of the people that were inspired by your january photo a day challenge. i played along the whole month with your challenge and absolutely LOVED it! another blogger friend of mine & i chatted and we decided we'd do our own “US” version… not that this crazy world of blogging doesn't cross continents because it totally does… we just thought it'd be fun to inspire our little corner of the blogging world, as you inspired us. we pondered it, really questioned doing our own & wasn't sure whether we should move forward with our #febphoto366, but we did & planned to do the whole year & called it Photo366. i guess i'm writing to say thank you for inspiring us & i hope we haven't stepped on any toes. i love the quote you listed and we definitely didn't try & steal your design, but we LOVED the idea & inspiration behind it. as a photographer i LOVE seeing how you've inspired instagram to see the beauty in their every day & to capture it with their lens… so thank you for inspiring & keep it up! next month i may even challenge myself to do yours AND ours! the sky's the limit right? -april

  51. Madame Slim – I haven't read any of the other comments so forgive me if I repeat something that has already been said. I would like to thank you for your BRILLIANT idea. I love photography but the thought of 365 photoaday was overwhelming so I never started. But then…I read about your prompts from another blog (who credited you)and I have had the best time this month being prompted everyday to take a photograph of what I see and share it. I also posted a link on my FB page to your blog and I have 5 friends doing the FEB prompts with me and more want to do MARCH! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!

  52. I'll be in (yours) for the March one too. Don't let the copycats bother you, just feel proud that they want to copy something that you created. Jules x

  53. I always remember being told at Uni that there is no such thing as an original thought, no matter how creative or smart you think you are there is someone else who has thought it before you. The key is though to credit them for it not plagiarize their hard work. To simply copy or 'steal' someone else's idea and pass it off as your own is not on. Be classy enough to credit those who inspire you and maybe jazz it up to suit your own style.

  54. I love that I found you in january. I found other lists, similar, but I would rather stick with what I have been going with since day 6. Even being in the US, I still use your list. I love what you are doing and link to you all the time!

  55. Love your honesty, the way you say it how it is.

    You are the better person for it as you can hold your head high and be proud of it! There are lots of people reading your posts each day who benefit from your fresh idea posts each and every day. Thank you x

  56. On a completly different topic…i was just skimming your about me and came to the part that said 'i like to watch sex”! My heart nearly flipped out of my chest! I thought Okay! What ever your fancy….then I read the rest!!
    I love sex and the city re-runs too! 😉

  57. I am so glad you did this post re copy cats. A Photographer friend of mind had the same problem with a styled shoot she did and another local photographer copying the exact same shoot, location, props etc only weeks later and claiming it as her own idea! My friend possibly should have blogged about it also rather than just let it slide. I guess in the end she had the great idea and some can only copy. I am going to share this article with her. All The Best, Judi.

  58. Just followed over to here from Edenland…..can not agree with you both more. I love creating things – and I love other people's creativeness – but you should never ever ever rip off. There is a distinct difference.

    You've done enough to say enough – extremely well said.

  59. I've enjoyed doing your February challenge, and I look forward to March. Not just anybody can come up with a fun, unique list like yours. I looked at the copycat one, and it doesn't interest me in the least. Your ideas often turn on a creative switch. Thank you!!

  60. I've struggled with fear of others copying my ideas for years. It actually debilitated my ability to create. I was more afraid or angered by the copying or theft done than I was about pushing myself to create something new. It's taken years, but I've relaxed a lot about this. Then, I stumbled upon a TED talk that touched on this very subject. So, I posted the video & blogged about my reaction to what she revealed. Love to know what you think of her talk in light of what you experienced.

    To the copier I'd say, “meh, so you can't think of your own ideas, huh?” IMHO, You've nothing to worry about. YOu are creating and will continue to long after that person finds someone else to copy.

  61. I saw a foodie photo a day challenge that looked like fun but I was put off because they too had copied your design. I think you're handling it all pretty well. It is the highest form of flattery, but…it would get me very annoyed if I was copied so blatantly and not credited.

    That said, I'm loving your photo a day challenges – I've missed a couple of days here and there, but kept going and they are a little ray of sunshine in my day!!! Loving the inspiration and fun from everyone I've been following, as well as finding beauty and joy around me in my every day life. Thank you!

  62. All that matters is that YOU are so amazing and brilliant that others are going to try to replicate it and hope they have as much success as you. It should make you feel good 🙂

  63. I have been designing and making children's clothes for the past 10 years in partnership with my sister. One of the things we have always tried to do is keep our graphic designs original and unique. But the high street stores (Cotton on – have copied many of our designs) just copy everything in fashion and sell it for 1/3 of the price. Very frustrating. Just have to keep persisting and hope others see that you are unique.

  64. How bizarre!?! Photo a day challenges are nothing new, but that is a blatant copy cat! I find that so strange? Hmmm….I took part in your Feb Photo a Day….I hope I can do March too….because honestly, I fell short in Feb.

  65. You know, it took me more than a few clicks to find the source (YOU!) of this awesome photo a day list. I really make an effort to try and link to the original source and I so dearly wish others would too! Kudos to you for writing this!

  66. Idea, design, thoughts shared in trust, they are all equal in my mind but if you steal any single one, don't just make it better – credit the source of inspiration.

    Good on you for standing up to someone who didn't! Nx
    PS Love the new blog design

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