Greeting card publisher, Megan Claire is experiencing some bittersweet success with its new Christmas lockdown collection, which highlights a wider issue than need to be addressed.
When Megan Purdie, founder of the Northants-based greeting card company set out to create some topical humorous Christmas cards that would provide some light relief during this pandemic, she didn’t expect that it would result in one design in particular, her take on the ’12 days of Christmas’ going viral. However, unfortunately in the vast majority of cases, from Facebook and Buzzfeed posts to TikTok videos, no credit at all is given to Megan Claire as the originator of the idea.
The design in question, which really hit the spot with its topical-take on the age-old verse, proposes that gifts from your ‘true love’ this Christmas will include ’12 sanitisers, 11 plastic visors, 10pm curfew’ counting down to ‘3 tier system, 2 metre distancing… and a useless track and trace app too.’
As Megan told PG Buzz: “While it’s humbling and flattering to know so many people loved our original idea and that it has been shared so widely, it’s also disheartening and frustrating that we have not been acknowledged for it. I do feel that typography cards get a raw deal. People don’t think there is any ownership because we don’t ‘own’ the English language. but it was our original idea and if this was art/illustration I think it would be a different story.”
Megan designed the collection (which comprises 14 designs) October 16 and launched it on Instagram and Etsy on 19 October and then started to receive orders from its retailer customers too.
“One of the shops to order was the lovely Jo Barber from No.14 Ampthill. She took a photo of the 12 Days of Christmas card and shared it on her Facebook page, and it started to get shares across social media. Luckily the card had a card clasp label on with our name ‘Megan Claire’ on it,” explains Megan.
“A few days later a friend messaged me to say the photo of the card had been featured on Buzzfeed (someone had tweeted the photo Jo took). However, no credit was given to us but our name was still showing on this one. Since then, the original idea has gone viral. On a local Facebook page someone had typed out the wording on our card, and everyone was copy and pasting it, and quite openly saying ‘I’ve nicked that, thanks’, ‘I’ve stolen that to put on my page’ etc. Obviously at this point, we have absolutely no credit and everyone is just sharing our original copy. I was able to explain on this local post that it was our card, our idea and our copy, and that it would be really appreciated if we could be credited when it is shared,” added Megan.
Since then it has spiralled, being featured on various TikTok videos. “The most recent has had 1.1m views, 160K shares, almost 3K comments and not a single credit to us. The video shows someone singing out our original copy on the card and putting down pieces of paper with the words as they sing it. I’ve also found other ones similar with 22K followers and those numbers are rising. It’s so disheartening to see our original idea being copied and not a single credit. Every day people are telling me they are seeing it done in various ways and it’s always our use of words that we have not seen anywhere else,” said an understandably frustrated Megan.
Recognising the injustice, independent retailer Tabi Marsh, co-owner of Papilio at Heritage in Thornbury has made sure that her customers at least are aware of the issue. In a recent Facebook Live video, Tabi explained the turn events https://www.papilioatheritage.co.uk/
“It seems so wrong that someone who created the original isn’t getting any credit.” She makes a plea to her viewers that if they see something on social media to “share the original post” in order to give credit to the originator. Tabi also shamed those who come into shops such as hers, take a photo of a card on their phone and then go out and share it on social media without giving credence to either the publisher or the retailer.
As Megan added, “I am so grateful to Tabi as this isn’t really about Megan Claire, it is about raising awareness of this issue with the general public that they maybe think twice and what and how they are sharing images on social media.”
From a legal standpoint…
William Miles, partner of the Briffa law firm that specialises in IP and copyright (and longstanding GCA member) clarified that the issue is covered by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. As he explained: “From a legal perspective, copyright subsists in the text you have created (as a “literary work”). If you’re the author and the work is original, then you’re the copyright owner and, because it isn’t a registered right, you became the owner as soon as you put pen to paper.”
Top: A portion of the much-copied card design from Megan Claire.