If you do a Google search for ‘cartoon penguin‘, one of the top results will be an old Inkscape design of mine:
He’s pretty popular too, bringing a steady stream of traffic to the site. I licensed him as Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, meaning that it’s fine to use the image for forum avatars and stuff, but not for anything commercial.
Of course, people do. Last year someone pointed out some guy selling t-shirts with a slightly modified version of the penguin.
Today, out of curiosity, I did a reverse image search and found two other clipart criminals…
The single review is not very positive:
This game is a waist of 99cents. This is a crap version of doodle jump! If u r looking for that kind of a game go ahead and pay the extra 88 cents to get doodle jump. This game made me throw my iPhone at the wall. Now I have a crack on it. Thanks alot u stupid penguin
The other offender has chosen my character to be their mascot.
This company has gone as far as to give my penguin a name and a backstory:
Meet Boggle, South Pole Software’s wide eyed and eager new intern. Boggle joined us recently while on a quest for Artic discovery. He set out some time ago from his tiny iceberg to discover the chilly wonders of the south, seeking adventure and knowledge. Expecting to meet polar bears and other penguins and to see ancient and beautiful ice formations, imagine his surprise when he came upon the igloo home of Mac software writers!
Boggle was more than just a little intrigued. No one on his little iceberg had ever told him about igloos or computers! So he stuck around. We noticed his curiosity about us right away because all of our penguin neighbors usually stayed away from our igloo windows. So we decided to have him in for cocoa and oh the stories he told us! What adventures he had had so far with wonderful animals, beautiful landscapes, and all the different foods! He was loving it but he was a little lonely, and until he met us his adventure had been exciting but without surprise. We told him about all the places our South Pole Software customers live and about the programs that we write to help them and his eyes got even wider!
After several days of getting together for chats, not only did we realize what amazing cocoa he made but, we realized he had quite a knack for programming. So, we asked if he would like to stick around and an internship was born!
Boggle has settled into our team very nicely. But we want to make sure that his quest for adventure and knowledge stays fresh. So if you would like to send Boggle an email and tell him about what it is like where you live, or maybe send him your favorite cocoa recipe he would love it.
Here is his email address: email@example.com
So naturally, I have sent my errant penguin an email.
Boggle, I have found you!
You have been a very naughty penguin. I released you under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence, which you very well know means that you are not allowed to be used without proper attribution or for commercial purposes.
I’m going to have to insist that you leave the South Pole Software website immediately. I have already written a blog post telling the people how bad you have been: http://halfblog.net/2011/09/18/adventures-of-boggle-the-creative-commons-penguin/
So at least I have amused myself…
Someone from South Pole Software replied to my email, and this blog post (see below). I have given permission, provided they add attribution to their Boggle page.
I’m not a working designer, so I actually don’t mind a small company using my work if they get in touch to ask first and are willing to provide a backlink. That said, if I found my penguin on a Paperchase card or something, I’d probably want to lawyer up!
Read next: Flighty birds: My free Creative Commons designs that keep getting stolen anyway (15 October), wherein more of my work gets stolen.