Students object to table tennis organisation using their design without credits; firm refuses to apologise

Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

In yet more news of corporate entities trampling on the intellectual property rights of young creatives, a group of students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) just learnt about how most folks don’t understand the importance of intellectual property rights.

We’ll start from the beginning. As a final year project, a group of students from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information set up a communications campaign called Project This Ability (PTA), aiming to encourage an active sporting lifestyle among young adults with disabilities. A pretty noble project that involved the likes of celebrated Paralympian Theresa Goh, and a spiffy one to boot. Take a gander at their redesigned International Symbol of Access signs:

PTA managed to get their campaign to go live at various MRT stations and universities in their efforts to raise awareness of disability sports. Here’s one that was snapped at Toa Payoh MRT station:

PTA logo at Toa Payoh
Photo: Facebook

It was a few days later that a friend alerted them to a case of copyright infringement. As in, an international table tennis organisation (which has offices here) used PTA’s original design and uploaded it on their own Facebook page, cropping out the PTA branding and logo. Naturally, PTA had to voice out over the blatant re-appropriation and request the unnamed organisation to at least credit its creators. That went unnoticed.

“It really felt like having something stolen from you, and when we received their reply, our first reaction was: did we do something wrong?”, said one of PTA’s team members to Coconuts Singapore.

“Eventually after consulting with others, we knew we had to keep our stand and fight for what’s right.”

And that was exactly what they did — PTA shot an email to the organisation on Saturday, formally requesting them to give credit where credit’s due.

When they got a reply, there wasn’t one iota of regret or apology made for the blatant modification and usage of PTA’s design. What they got instead was a nonchalant response that simply shrugged off the oversight. At least they did take down the image from their Facebook page.

“I honestly can’t comprehend the difficulty of inserting a line of credit where obviously, a substantial amount of the work doesn’t even belong to them,” wrote a PTA member in a Facebook post.

“I’m seriously disturbed that an established organisation can just take and own someone else’s content, and when they’re caught, feign ignorance with such an unapologetic response. And not to mention, it seems like they don’t have much integrity either.”

For now, PTA is letting the matter rest and moving on with their campaign. To further their goals, the team will be hosting a Para-Sports Day on March 4 where disabled folks can try out various sports.

As for the offending table tennis organisation, well, let’s hope they learn to respect the rights of young creatives and stop trampling on their hard work.

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