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Leave the Award Alone
By Richard Fox -- July 11, 2001
Congratulations, you just won an award!  We all enjoy seeing those words and viewing the award image included in the notifying email or by following the link to the award graphic. 

Now it's time to post that sought after award and you bring up your award page and … hmmm . . . you think about making a little change to the award graphic to make it look better or compress it so your page will load a little faster.  Should be no big deal, right?

Not!  Leave the award alone. 

Richard Fox

 

Changing the graphic shows disrespect for what you wanted to win as well as not keeping a promise you made when you applied and probably copyright laws also.  You can lose that award you wanted by changing it.

Why Even Consider Changing the Award Graphic?

When I started my site I fiddled with awards I won (yup, I did it myself).  I felt it was no big deal but I changed my point of view after receiving an email from a giver of an award that I had "tweaked" a bit.  He was not a happy camper and I humbly placed the original graphic back (very quickly indeed).

After starting my award program I could relate to that email when I found a winner of my award had changed my award graphic.  It was like someone had told me my baby was ugly!  I then became the writer of "no-no put it back" emails.

Some of the reasons why award winners may want to modify an award include:

  • Saving download time by compressing the award or changing the physical size of the graphic. 
  • Adding emphasis to the award or "improving" it by adding borders, bevels,  etc. 
  • Modifying the award dimensions to a specific size to keep all awards won a uniform size in the display area. 

Whatever the reason, when an award graphic is modified the winner is not respecting the hard work that went into the award graphic.  Also, the following principles are also violated:

Ethics

Most award sites clearly ask winners not to change the award graphic in their program description.  By applying an applicant, in effect, agrees to this when  sending their application in.

 

By changing the award's appearance, size, resolution, or anything else that agreement is broken.  When the agreement is broken the award giver has all rights to either not place the site on their Winners List or to remove it later while checking winning sites. 

 

They also have the right to send the site a note requiring the original award be displayed.  Respect that request.  Be honest - if the original graphic can't be found on your computer let the award giver know and they will be glad to send a replacement.

 

 Copyright Law

 

A lot of work goes into designing award graphics and reflects the personality of the giving webmaster.  Most award webmasters have either spent many hours designing their award or used a graphic artist (not free trust me). 

 

This hard work is protected by copyright laws. 

 

That means the award graphic is the award givers property and they are allowing you to use it with their permission (with the understanding you don't change the graphic).  Modify the award graphic and you have modified their property and this subjects you to copyright law violations.  Yes - the law protects award givers.  Avoid this by simply not modifying the award graphic in the first place.

 

These words are true and there are teeth in them.  The  United States Copyright Office clearly addresses this here.  There could also be Trademark issues also.

  

Get Permission to Change the Graphic

 

Lets say you feel there is a valid reason to modify the award.  You may have some snazzy display method or some other reason that makes you want to change the graphic and your fingers are itching to run the award through your graphics program.  What to do? 

 

The answer is very simple - get permission - ahead of time. 

 

Notify the award giver that the graphic needs changing to meet whatever reason you feel.  Describe what you want to do and why.  Sometimes the award giving site may make the modifications for you. 

 

Do not just go ahead and make the changes, post the award and then ask permission.  By doing this you have already modified their award graphic and broken the agreement and possibly copyright laws.

 

If the award giver does not give you permission to change the graphic then you simply have only two choices - display the award as designed or don't display it.  That's the only choice you have to make.  

 

Why Lose What You Wanted?

You worked hard to win the award you applied for.  When you modify an award graphic without permission the award giver has all the ethical and legal rights to revoke the award you just won.  Why lose what you wanted in the first place? 

Do Oscar winners take that famous image and have it silver plated because they like silver instead of gold?  You knew what the award graphic looked like when you applied. Respect the award giver's hard work and leave the award alone.

Copyright 2001
All Rights Reserved
Richard Fox

About the Author
Richard Fox lives in Anchorage, Alaska.  He is a former web award program owner and has been an amateur genealogist for over 10 years.

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