A logo design contest for the Subaraw Festival 2019 celebration in November has become embroiled in a plagiarism controversy after some of the winning entries were belatedly discovered to be apparently copied from designs sourced on the internet.
The digital artwork contest carries a P10,000 prize for the winner and P1,000 consolation prize for non-winning entries.
The question on the originality of work of some of the winners was raised by netizens and local digital designers on social media on September 16 after the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival-PPUR Day Celebration 2019 Facebook page supposedly posted them.
They claimed that the winners violated the rules of the Subaraw logo contest when they submitted designs that were later discovered to be plagiarized or counterfeited from others found on Google.
Kieth Pacardo, a local designer who also joined the logo challenge, said their discovery of what appears to be “dishonesty” was a collective effort of city graphic artists.
“Medyo noong una namin makita ‘yong mga runners up at nanalo, nag-doubt na kami at medyo naging questionable ‘yong mga choices nila for the winners. Personally, ako as an artist, may doubt din kasi I see na mas ok ‘yong gawa ko compared sa other runners up kaya nag-try kaming mag-reverse image search to check if original work ‘yong mga na-submit. Usually, gumagamit lang kami ng similar terms to search like peacock vector logo, then ‘yong related images lumalabas na. Doon namin na-discover na may copyright infringement ‘yong mga winners,” Pacardo told Palawan News in an interview Thursday.
He said most of the entries that won were copied digital logo artworks from pngtree.com, freepik.com, shutterstock.com, and istockphoto.com — providers of royalty-free stock photos, vector graphics, and illustrations.
Pacardo said the Subaraw logo contest rules indicated that plagiarism will not be “tolerated” so the organizer must abide by this.
“Kahit sabihin natin na stock photos ang ginamit nila and for free use, malinaw sa rules ng Subaraw contest na dapat original work and wala dapat pong plagiarism,” Pacardo said.
Pacardo said there was no intention on their part to put the contest in a bad light, their interest is to save the Subaraw festival from humiliation because the logo will be its face in social media platforms.
He said what the winners did is different from “using reference which is considered acceptable”. What was done was taking digital artworks and calling them their own when there are graphic artists who should be credited for the original ideas.
“Competition siya, ‘yong logo is magiging face noong festival for the coming years… ayaw naman natin na malaman ng Pilipinas at mundo na nagto-tolerate tayo ng pag-copy ng logos and other artists’ works. Medyo nakakahiya ‘yong ganoon,” Pacardo said.
“Reference is okay, getting inspired by other artists’ idea is ok, pero ‘yong stealing their work is not okay. Take inspiration from them, then start making your own artwork from scratch, ‘yon ay ok,” he added.
Event organizer’s response
Elizabeth Maclang, park superintendent of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) and the Subaraw Biodiversity-PPUR Foundation 2019, explained that since the discovery of the matter, they acted immediately to address and rectify the problem.
“Thankful naman kami. Pakisabi sa kanila, thankful kami sa nangyari kasi hindi naman malalaman lahat ‘yan kasi hindi naman kami lahat expert on mga graphics and everything. So kami sa mga nag-react, sa netizens, ‘yong nakita naman namin na makatarungan na gawin para ma-resolve is i-disqualify ang numerous entries at mag-umpisa ulit,” Maclang told Palawan News also Thursday.
Maclang said since the logo contest started in July to August 12, its deadline, they have received around 50 entries.
She said out of the total number, Top 10 entries were selected and presented for the selection of the winner and four runners up.
“Ipinakita sa page ng Subaraw ‘yong works noong apat at ‘yon na, nagsabi na nga ‘yong mga netizes. We are thankful because ‘yong nakita nila will help us sa integrity ng magiging logo. Pero nag-take action naman kami agad the moment nalaman namin. Para masolusyunan, gagawin ulit siya. Na-disqualify na lahat ng dating entries, gagawin ulit,” she said.
Under the new contest, entries will already be submitted online in the comment box of the “statement” the Subaraw foundation posted on September 16.
Submitted entries will be gathered in an album for posting next week in the Subaraw page and netizens will have a chance to participate in the judging through “like, love, and wow” emojis.
Audience votes will comprise 51 percent of the judging criteria and 49 percent the relevance to the theme and logo design.
But Pacardo and the other graphic artists disagree with the solution the festival organizers came up with.
“To be honest, hindi po ako agree doon sa napili nilang solution regarding the issue. Untl now, di namin alam kung bakit ‘yong ibang entries ng other artists — kasama po ako — ay hindi na-consider na pinagpilian ng committee. At ‘yong pagvo-vote through reactions such as likes, hearts, wow, ay hindi justifiable to see if the logo is great lalo na at 51 percent siya ng criteria, paano kung si artist A ay may magandang logo pero hindi siya well-known pero si artist B ay may logo na hindi ok pero dahil sikat siya ay mas higher ‘yong chances na manalo siya compared kay artist A?” Pacardo said.
Pacardo said what the organizers should do is to hire or invite a panel of judges that are knowledgeable about digital graphic design.
He said the expertise of graphic designers could help the logo contest’s result to be credible and acceptable.
“Naging questionable kasi ang decision nila and hindi sila naging transparent sa results. Mayroon silang rules na pinatupad sa contest and sila ay naging irresponsible at unprofessional sa pag-decision nila dahil hindi nila na-ensure kung copyrighted ba ‘yong mga logong pinila nila,” he said.
Pacardo added the organizers should have taken time enough to make their research online to make sure the submitted logo artworks were not plagiarized.
“Dapat ay nag-take po sila ng time to research that para nasuri ng mabuti at naging patas ang results para sa lahat ng participants. For now, wala na po akong intentions to join their contest pero naging tulong na lang namin ito para i-improve nila ang contest para next time hindi na ito maulit,” he said.