This question is very topical. It is often discussed on vector forums and between different vector designers. In this discussion I want to show you some different ways to protect your author's rights and how to find the solution to this problem.
How Can You Protect Your Vector Works from Plagiarism and Stand up for Your Author's Rights?
We usually send a raster preview of our vector works to our clients and only after the payment we give the source vector file. But depending on the project in which we are taking part, it is not always technically possible or it's not acceptable by the client.
Then we save out vector work in PDF format and set up the protection. To set the PDF file protection go to the File > Save as and choose the PDF format and go to the Security tab in the dialog box. You can password protect the contents against edits, printing or even opening it.
There is an opinion that any file in PDF, EPS, AI or CDR format is easy to crack. If the vector is inside, then it can be imported in any way.
You can tell me that every file has a digital signature which contains the date of creation of the document; in case something happens it is the proof of your author's rights. One can easily get over this protection by changing the data, time and the name of the file at the other computer. You can protect your works this way- save the source file in any data medium that you have, seal it up in the envelope and send it to yourself by insured letter with the notion of delivery. You shouldn't open an envelope after the delivery. The post stamp is your evidence of the author's rights in court.
The other way of protecting your rights is to register it with a patent office. Moreover you shouldn't bother to do it yourself, you can simply entrust this task to your lawyer. But this variant requires some money.
Another way to declare your author's rights is to place all of the objects into a defined amount of layers. The name of every layer will be made from the letters of your name or the name of your website. In my case it is VECTORBOOM.COM.
You can also place text with your name or logo in the working area of your vector work or outside the framework. But in this case the vector work should be difficult, with a lot of objects, layers and groups. Only then you have an opportunity to hide your signature. The size of the text should be as small as possible, so you can read it only using maximum zoom in. For example, I place the text on the left top corner of the vector work.
I think it is better to hide the text by making it the part of some other object, for example the shadow of the motorcycle.
To do so, use the Type Tool (T) to write the text and scale it, so it can only be read using the maximum zoom in.
Without removing the selection from the text go to the Type > Create Outlines.
Then go to the Object > Compound Path > Make
Select the signature and the object on which it would be placed and press the Minus Front Button on the Pathfinder panel.
Then delete all the unnecessary objects.
The vector work can be protected by increasing the degree of complexity of its editing. For example, all the objects should be ungrouped and all of the created symbols, styles, brushes and gradient fillings from the proper panels should be deleted at the end of your work.
So, How Do You Protect Your Author's Rights?
I am sure that together we can find many good answers to this question. I suggest we discuss the solutions that are offered, but I also would like to hear from you if you have interesting ways to protect your vector works. Please share your practical methods in the comments section of this post.