How to Handle a Copycat

Little Bird Group, Kate Spade, Cupcakes and Cashmere, Stationary, Desk, Goals, Inspiration, I'm Anna Roberts, Office
Ughhhhh, I know. Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, but having someone copy or steal your work can not only annoy the hell out of you it’s illegal in some cases. But, there’s always the question of, do they think of my work in admiration or is it just blatant duplication? I’ve had it happen to me, and it’s horrible to deal with and brings forward a vast array of different emotions. I’ve shared six ways to keep your head straight and continue reaching your own goals without being thrown off track by a copycat.

  • The world is big enough for the both of you

It’s completely normal to get defensive when you first realise someone has copied you, but in fact, you’re on the upper foot here so try not to take it personally. Let me explain. They will either be copying you because they love the work you do and this is them trying out different approaches until they find their voice or path forward.  Or, they are stuck in a rut feeling uninspired and possibly jealous of you and your creations.

  • Leave them to it

I get people asking me to grab a coffee and get my advice. I love mentoring people new to Entrepreneurship, but often your generosity is taken for granted because you want to be supportive and share your thoughts. But then you realise that you’re handing over a lot of information that it’s taken you years to figure out, and you come to find out that they are utilising your tactics without giving you proper credit. It’s fine to say no to someone who constantly wants to pick your brain, at the end of the day you can only help someone so much.

  • Do you confront them?

If you feel the need to call them out on it, it can be difficult to try and summon up the courage to speak directly to the person in question. So, take the approach of an observation that you’ve, “noticed you’ve been inspired by my work recently, but I love when we both have variety in the styles and ideas that we bring to the table.” If you don’t know the person, and there’s a serious legal stand point for you to make, contact the offender and ask them to remove the work from where it’s hosted or add credit to you.

  • How can you protect your work, to begin with?

Keep in mind that while ideas can’t be copyrighted, the expression of them can. Maintain a record of emails or take notes during a conference call. Consider asking partners or collaborators to sign NDAs and add watermark symbols to your images and content if necessary.

  • Seek legal advice 

If the issue is a co worker taking all the credit for your work, talk to your superior immediately. Demonstrate how it’s negatively impacting your job or the company. Present solutions, and stick to the facts.

If your work as a freelancer or entrepreneur is being copied or used without your permission, get a lawyer involved if the previous confrontation tips haven’t worked.

  • Keep on swimming

Finally, if you’ve taken all steps to mitigate the situation, sometimes you just have to move on. Remeber that those who rely on others’ work as their sole source of inspiration and content or IP won’t last in the long run, and if you direct your focus on worrying about them, you’ll lose sight of your goals.

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