Our philosophy and community values
Minted is a design marketplace connecting consumers with the world’s best artists to create something one of a kind. To maintain our unique assortment of products, we require community members to create their own authentic work. When artists submit to a Minted Challenge, they agree to our Terms and Conditions that state, “you promise, represent and warrant that each and every Artwork you submit to Minted is your own original work.”
As a community, we want to help artists understand where the line is between inspiration and imitation, and protect artists’ work. As a company, we strive to only feature work that is created independently, and that does not infringe on the copyrighted work of others.
Because originality is one of our core company and community values, we take infringement and copyright laws very seriously. We are committed to defending our intellectual property and respecting the intellectual property of others. We take immediate action when outside sources infringe on Minted designs and artwork. Designs or artwork that constitute infringement will be removed from Minted immediately, and artists with repeat violations may no longer be able to participate in Minted challenges.
In addition to infringement, we also want to respect the unique work of the Minted artist community. Designs or artwork that are determined to be “not original” in reference to an existing submission or design in the Minted assortment may not be eligible for selection or sale.
What is copyright infringement?
The use of copyrighted work without consent is considered to be copyright infringement. Copyright holders have certain exclusive rights to their work, including rights to reproduce, distribute, and display their work and to make derivative works. The works need only be “substantially similar”—not identical—in order for works to be deemed copyright infringement.
Copyright law does provide for the “fair use” of copyrighted work by others, but this is a very limited exception to the protections of the law and does not generally permit use for commercial purposes.
Merely attributing the use of copyrighted work to the creator does not create an exception to copyright laws. People often mistakenly assume that you can quote a copyrighted phrase or statement and that it will be permitted with attribution, but you must obtain the permission of the copyright holder before such usage. For more information, read the FAQ article titled Can I use song lyrics or famous quotes in my designs?
If you infringe copyrighted work, you may be liable for damages. If you have a question as to whether your work would be considered copyright infringement, please consult an attorney.
How do we determine if a piece is not original?
Deciding if a design or work of art is too similar to another can sometimes be difficult, but we look at these four criteria: color, layout, typeface, and content. If a submission shares many or most of these four aspects with an existing design (whether in Minted’s assortment or otherwise), we will judge the submission to not be original and take appropriate action. Read more about the criteria this FAQ article: How does Minted decide if a design is original?
For privacy and protection reasons, we cannot share actual visual examples of similarity and copying complaints, but we can describe actual situations of copy reports and our resulting decisions.
Situation 1: During the submission period of a Minted birthday party invitation design challenge, an artist identified a design submission that was remarkably similar to her own. The illustrated elements of the submission in question were extremely similar in terms of subject matter, color choices, and layout. The only difference was the font and the wording of the invitation.
Decision: After reviewing both designs, we agreed the design in question was too similar. We contacted the artist to explain that the submitted design is not eligible for a win or pick in its current form. Because the challenge was still active, we asked the artist to edit the design and re-submit.
Situation 2: During the submission period of a Minted photography challenge, a photographer identified a submission that was similar to her own. The subject matter—a close-up photograph of a flower—in each submission was similar and in a similar hue, but the images were not identical.
Decision: After reviewing both submissions, we felt the subject matter and concept (macro photograph of a flower) are common enough that the artwork in question is not too similar.
Situation 3: During the voting period of a Minted Save the Date Challenge, an artist identified a submission that was similar to his own. Both submissions were full-bleed photo designs with the words “Save the Date” in the same script font across the top of the design, with the couple’s name and date below in serif fonts.
Decision: After reviewing both designs, we did not find the design in question to be too similar due to the difference in serif fonts and spacing. Artists cannot lay claim to the use of a font in a generic greeting, and since type treatment and spacing are the core components of minimal, type-driven designs, minor differences can comprise the majority of the design decisions and are evaluated accordingly.
How you can help
Whether it’s from another company or from within the Minted community, if you find a design, artwork, or challenge submission that appears to be too similar to an existing piece on Minted, please let us know immediately by filling out this Designs to Flag for Review form, and we’ll take it from there.
Please do not directly contact companies or individuals you suspect of infringement, similarity, or copying. This includes posting about the situation on social media, in online groups, or anywhere on Minted.com. Doing so may hurt our case if we need to take legal action. It also gives infringers the heads-up that Minted has been made aware of the copy before we are able to take proper action.
Likewise, when you find challenge submissions that you think are too similar to other challenge submissions or products in the Minted assortment, we ask that you not comment on designs or artwork nor reach out to artists directly about your concerns. Instead, please contact us via the Designs to Flag for Review form. We keep information submitted through the Designs to Flag for Review form confidential within Minted; we do not disclose the names of the parties who fill out the form. We'd like your help to keep the Minted community a place where everyone feels comfortable experimenting, growing, learning (and, yes, making a few mistakes), and we don't want anyone to feel they are being targeted or called out.
Minted has a team that reviews all challenge submissions for uniqueness. In addition, our community is a great help to us in identifying infringement or works that are too similar, so please don't hesitate to fill out the form if you see something that you feel is questionable. We sincerely appreciate and share the passion you have for protecting the work on Minted, and we take swift action when necessary.
How we take action
Any flagged design or artwork is closely evaluated before making a final determination.
Third-Party Infringement: If we agree that an outside entity’s piece infringes on Minted work, we contact the outside entity or company immediately. If work on Minted is determined to be infringing on an external party, we will remove the work and notify the artist.
Infringement of a Third Party: If a design or product on Minted is determined to infringe on artwork or other original creative work outside of Minted, we remove the design or product in question immediately and contact the artist. Subsequent submissions will be viewed with heightened scrutiny. In this case, we may retract the prize payment and sales commissions earned from the removed piece. We conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether Minted work infringes on an external party, which often includes speaking to the artist in question.
Minted Community Infringement or Cases in Which Work is Unoriginal: In the case of two Minted designs or challenge submissions, if we deem that the submission in question is not sufficiently original compared to an existing Minted product or submission, we immediately remove the submission in question and contact the artist who created it. An artist who has a violation will be flagged, and subsequent submissions will come under heightened scrutiny. If an artist has three such violations, he or she may no longer participate in Minted Challenges, and we may disable Minted Artist Store upload privileges.
In a case in which we agree that a piece in question is not sufficiently original in comparison to another Minted piece, we contact the artist. If a Challenge submission phase is still open, the artist may edit the piece. However, if the submission phase is closed, the piece is not eligible for voting or sale, and we remove the piece from the artist’s Minted portfolio. If the issue was not identified until after a Challenge closed and launched to minted.com, we retract the design and do not allow the artist to edit the retracted design. Because originality and voting data are key values for Minted, we believe that an edited version of a retracted design no longer represents the initial design voted on by our community during the voting period. Artists with an ongoing pattern of work that is too similar will be contacted and may no longer be able to participate in Minted Challenges, and we may disable Artist Store upload privileges (see protocol below).
In all cases, as soon as we have resolution, we will circle back with the artist who reported the potential violation and inform him or her of the final outcome. We review the Designs to Flag for Review form on a biweekly basis. Please note that the timeline on external infringement varies widely depending on the nature of the issue and the responsiveness of the external party. We work to resolve infringement matters on a case-by-case basis, and although we endeavor to do so, we may not be able to resolve each case to an artist’s satisfaction, particularly with respect to situations that involve foreign jurisdictions.
Our mission is to educate and empower artists—not punish them. We realize that there are many designs in the stationery, art, and home decor markets that are similar to each other, and we understand how easy it may be to get mixed signals about what is and isn’t appropriate in terms of drawing inspiration from other sources. In the vast majority of cases, artists unintentionally derive inspiration from others’ work.
We have a three-strike policy for artists who submit designs that are too similar to other artists’ work. Here’s our protocol for contacting artists about work that is not sufficiently original compared to an existing design:
For artists with no pattern of work that is too similar: “We understand how these things can happen, but we must take action.”
For artists with a pattern of work that is too similar: “We’ve noticed a pattern; please be more careful and let us know if you need help understanding where the line is. Here are some resources to help.”
For artists with a continued pattern of work that is too similar: “We’d like to meet with you by phone to discuss.” Artists with an ongoing pattern of work that is too similar may no longer be able to participate in Minted Challenges, and we may disable Artist Store upload privileges.
If all of these email communications are ineffective, we will make an internal note to stop accepting the artist’s submissions and disable Store upload privileges.
Looking for creative inspiration?
On a lighter note, if you’re seeking creative inspiration, here are some recommendations:
- Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice & Projects from 50 Successful Artists
- “Finding Inspiration in Uncommon Sources: 12 Places to Look”
- Font newsletters: My Fonts; Fonts.com
- FastCompany’s Co.CREATE
- Creative Boom: Inspiration & Ideas for Creatives
- Swiss Miss
- Design Sponge