Just how bad is it to use a logo without permission?

We’ve all heard of the dangers of using images that are not classed as ‘free’. But what about logos?

Just how bad is it to use a logo without permission?

Hm! Having had personal experience, I’ll say this: the question you really want to ask yourself is, is it really worth the risk? Because let me tell you something: if it becomes an issue, the hassle you’ll be facing is definitely not worth it.

In my case, the big problem was that I didn’t even know that I wasn’t allowed to use logos until recently!

As you may know, my second novel “The Lady of the Pier” made it to the ABNA Quarter-Finals this year.

Once I got over from the shock and stopped jumping about with glee, I set out to announce it as people do, in order to take full advantage of this accomplishment. Part of my strategy was to amend my book cover accordingly.

Foolishly, I downloaded the ABNA logo and sent it to my cover designer. What’s more, I also asked her to add the wording: ‘An ABNA Quarter-Finalist’. Once I got the cover back, I published it everywhere: KDP, my blog, and across all the social media that I use. A few weeks passed when I was none the wiser, especially as no one among my author friends, even the most savvy among them, knew any better as to warn me I was treading on dangerous ground.

All was fine until late July when I attempted to upload the same cover on Createspace as to release the book in paperback.

To my shock and horror, the strict review procedures of Createspace had rejected my cover with a note to remove both the ABNA badge and the relevant text that referred to it. I was gobsmacked! But why? KDP hadn’t said anything, right? So I emailed them to ask for details and they said that until I got written permission from ABNA, they weren’t going to accept my cover as it was. Apparently, I wasn’t allowed to even print the word ‘ABNA’ on the cover without permission!

What followed was a very embarrassing email that I had to send to ABNA (an Amazon company) and apologize for my indiscretion. Of course, I also asked them if they could grant me permission to use their logo.

As an overall experience, it’s been awfully distressing because everything by that time was up in the air. As I waited for their response, I set out to replace my cover everywhere with the earlier version that featured no ABNA references.

LADY OF PIER EBB 533x800

I even had to grovel to Goodreads as they don’t normally update book covers, but having explained to them my awkward predicament, they were happy to make an exception for me. In the meantime, to avoid further delay with releasing the paperback, I set it up immediately with a new cover without references to ABNA.

Thankfully, and to cut a long story short, ABNA were more than polite and accommodating. They sent me a release form, which I had to sign and send back. After that, I had to wait for quite a few nerve-racking weeks until they got back to me.

In mid September, I was finally granted permission to use their Quarter-Finalist ABNA badge. Bound by certain conditions that I made sure to follow by the letter, I updated my book’s copyright page to include the ABNA logo and added the badge on the cover. By then, my cover designer had also acquired another, high resolution picture of the same pier, which we were delighted to use instead.

lady of the pier, ebb,533x800

For my own reasons, I opted to use the ABNA logo on the ebook cover but not on the paperback, the main one being that on the whole, I found the Createspace review process quite nerve-racking and so feel reluctant to make changes and go through it again.

lady of the pier paperback cover

It goes without saying that having learnt a hard lesson, my constant apprehension about the images I use on my blog, nowadays stretch to logos too. So dear friends, please beware as to save yourselves precious time and misery!

So, what about you? Have you ever been notified to stop using a company logo? Do you have any relevant stories to share? Don’t be shy! Please comment and let us all benefit!

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11 responses to “Just how bad is it to use a logo without permission?

  1. Lol – the lesson I draw from your story is the exact opposite: the worst thing that can happen if you use a logo is to have to sign a release form… 🙂

    Seriously though, it’s one thing to use a logo in good faith (as you’ve done), and quite another to use it to slander a company. It’s this latter case that saw the creation of copyright legislation, and obviously they would have insisted you remove their logo if you had used it to, say, illustrate an offensive photo.

    As you saw, if you exercise common sense, the worst thing that can happen is to have someone send you over some forms to sign…

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  2. Oh Nicholas, I envy you my friend! You have no idea the hassle it involves to have to change your cover over and over – 4 times in total in so many sites. And that’s without taking under consideration the hassle I put my cover designer through both for the ebook and the paperback. Yes, I had no legal trouble but the mess has been unreal – the nerveracking waiting, too. Maybe this is just me, but being highly organized, this story has wreaked absolute havoc with my peace of mind.

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  3. I once had the problem over a photo that was used on my website (I didn’t build the site). Out of the blue I received a demand for $5,000 as back royalties for using the photo. I understand your panic–I panicked too.Of course, I took the pic down, and I didn’t pay. If they ever do go to court, they might win, but I hope they don’t want to risk the court costs. In fact, the firm still writes and demands money every now and then. This is all they do. They have a software robot that trolls the web looking for instances of use without permission, then they make the demand. If they get paid out, they split the $$ with the copyright owners. The business makes my skin crawl, but the model must work, because they’re still out there–trolling. Like you, I’ve become very careful.

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    • Oh Pete, I am sorry to hear that. It sounds really scary. It goes to show that we need to be mega careful with these things. I mean you didn’t even post the image yourself. Really hope, as you said, that they’ll be reluctant to take it further because of the court costs. Thank you for sharing your experience here. Have a great day my friend 🙂

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  4. It was for this reason that I purchased the very basic butterfly clip art that I use as my publisher logo. I paid $10 for the clip art, so I own it. I added the text Metamorph Publishing and the copyright date myself using my Word Paint. I have the record of purchasing it and who I bought it from, in case this should ever be an issue.

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    • You hit it on the nail, dear Angela. Indeed, the thing that frustrated me the most when that happened was the unfairness of the whole thing. Whatever I did to try and get back on, I’d get a brick wall before me, as if it’d been decided and it was final. Disgusting if you ask me, that it took them days on end to review and reinstate my blog. I’d have thought a giant like WP would have people doing this 24/7 for loyal and active bloggers like myself. Thank you so much for your insightful comment and for taking the time 🙂

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