Do web designers steal code?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Changepoint, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. Changepoint macrumors member

    Changepoint

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #1
    Hello, I am new to web design so forgive my ignorance. I want to pay for a simple site for my business and wondered if it's a common practice for site designers to steal code, just fiddle with it and sell it on to naive customers. Is it as simple as saving an html page you like the look of and editing it a little in Dreamweaver?
     
  2. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    #2
    Do web designers steal code? No.
    Have web designers stolen code? Yes.

    Some designs can be taken by doing a save-as, but that only gets a static page. More and more sites are becoming dynamically generated, but I suppose the design aspect can be taken though there's still issues with it. Depending on geographical location a person could file a lawsuit against someone for stealing their design if they can prove it's theirs.

    Real web designers only get inspired from other designs. Some designers offer their designs (for free or paid) as a template that people can use, so wouldn't be stealing in those cases. To be honest, it's almost as hard to adequately steal someone's design as it is to come up with one. I remember someone posting at Mac Rumors who had their design stolen by a guy who didn't even take the time to remove the original designers name from the code. It even copied a contact form that didn't work in the least. It was very pitiful.

    (The below paragraph is more general statement for designers, not to the OP as he's no the designer)
    If you're thinking of stealing someone's design, just stop thinking. It's a waste of time, you'll look stupid, and there's so many free sources out on the web you'd be plain stupid for ignoring them and putting yourself at needless risk of a lawsuit. If the person you steal from is also a hacker they may come back at you with a vengeance that'll keep you from sitting down for a week. :D Not that I've ever done that.
     
  3. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816

    ChicoWeb

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  4. ethernet76 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    It isn't possible to steal a design. Using someone's code however is wrong and probably is subject to copyright laws.

    "Stealing" designs is a common practice outside of the internet.

    If he sees a design he likes it's always a good idea to look at the source, plug it into your html editor and work backwards. It's a good way to learn things you previously didn't know.

    Should you copy and paste someone's code, change the words and pass it off? No. Is it legal to copy someone's design if you don't copy their code? Yes.

    You could take someone's design done in tables and convert it into CSS? Yes. However, images are also copyrighted. Even if it's a 1x800 #FFFFFF separator line it's copyrighted.
     
  5. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    #5
    I guess it depends on how you define 'design.' I'd consider the design to be the page appearance, whether done with table layouts or CSS layouts. If the thief switched from a table-based to CSS-based approach wouldn't be a differentiation for me. I'd consider both to be the same design. I'm not sure how the legal system would define it though.

    I do agree though that checking out the code is a good way to learn what's going on, but I consider this to be part of the inspiration aspect.
     
  6. notnek macrumors 6502

    notnek

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    #6
  7. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

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    #7

    This is inaccurate. Visual work is absolutely copywritable. As a matter of fact work is AUTOMATICALLY copywritten to a visual artist when the project is created. The designer does not need to take any legal action to secure or protect his or her work:

    No formalities are required to obtain copyright.... appropriate kinds of work are protected by copyright when they are fixed in a tangible medium, whether or not they can be directly perceived by human senses. It is unnecessary even to provide a copyright notice.

    Copyright violators can be sued for up to $150,000 plus legal fees (this is important because copyright law is complex and firms that specialize in copyright law are very very expensive)...

    Note that if work is done "for hire" than both the work and the copyright are owned by the party who commissioned the work.

    One of the few types of visual work that cannot be copywrited are typeface designs (its a long story). Companies like adobe have then used code to show that fonts were stolen and re-sold...

    So, often its easier to show that code was stolen...

    I agree that "inspiration" is important, but there is a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism. Students found to have plagiarized work at my institution (an art school) are subject for immediate expulsion... and rightly so. "Inspiration" should be part of the process of a project. Not its final result.
     
  8. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

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    #8
  9. Changepoint thread starter macrumors member

    Changepoint

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #9
     
  10. kkat69 macrumors 68020

    kkat69

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    #10
    Design is something you need to find inside yourself. Look at websites you like and get inspired from them.

    As far as the actual coding is concerned, LEARN IT and don't do a lot of copy paste of other peoples code.

    Sure code is reusable and you can only code a mouse over/rollover so many different ways. 7months is plenty of time to learn some intermediate coding, but design takes creativity and thought that you have to find inside yourself.
     
  11. NinerRider macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Genius! :D
     
  12. jdl8422 macrumors 6502

    jdl8422

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    #12
    I have not stolen code and used it as a direct copy. When I see a site that inspires me, I will use there code to see how they achieved it, then implement it into my design.
     
  13. Sayer macrumors 6502a

    Sayer

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    #13
    I think a distinction should be made between stealing a design and stealing "code" from another website.

    If you find a piece of code that does something useful and you take it from another site and reuse it, is that stealing? If I reuse anything I always leave attribution for the original source. Or I completely rework it, but preserve the original idea. I think this is "fair use."

    If your website looks identical to another third-party web site, then that is definitely stealing.
     
  14. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    #14
    It partly depends on your current level of expertise and also the level of complexity of the site you need to do, as well as how long you have to complete it. There's a couple routes you go.

    1. If you want to seek out a freelancer, use the search on this forum to find other threads that have covered this. For only 5 pages, you should be able to get a good deal and have it look professional and it could be done inside a week by someone who knows what they're doing.
    2. If you want to take this on yourself I'd suggest possibly using a program that has templates. From other threads here, I would start by looking at RapidWeaver. I haven't used it myself, but here it has nice themes that may fit what you want. Others here would definitely speak more about them than myself, so if they look like a good possibility, but you want to know more, just post the question here and I'm sure they'll speak up. Though, you may want to start such a question as a new thread though so it doesn't get lost in here.
    3. Lastly, you could start going through some tutorials and getting a good understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (if needed) and if you have the time to dedicate to learning them you should be able to turn out a reasonably professional looking web site in 7 months time.

    So it depends on your available time, how much you want to spend, and how professional the end result needs to be. Simply based off the information provided I would look into option 2 above and see if you think it'll work for you. If it doesn't you'll still have plenty of time to try option 3 or 1. Option can be a last resort since it should be able to be done reasonably quick, though negotiating could potentially take more time depending on the freelancer.
     
  15. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

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    #15

    If I decompile photoshop, (or find adobe source code on a torrent site) and recompile it under a different name, is that fair use as well?

    Why should programming NOT be protected by the same copyright laws that cover other types of original work?

    I think that because some types of web programming (like Javascript) are hard to protect, people think that it is free to take and reuse. Ask a professional Javascript programmer about this sometime...

    If source code is not explicitly released under some type of open-source license and you take it and reuse it, then is that not stealing and profiting from someone else's work?

    Attributions are a requirement for most open source licenses, but are not sufficient for non-open source work.

    Of course, "Fair Use" can be invoked here, but only for such resources as scholarship, review or criticism. In the context of this post one could argue that code you copy for your own learning purposes ceases to be scholarship when you post it to the public web in functional form.
     
  16. saltyzoo macrumors 65816

    saltyzoo

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    #16
    Even better just use apache's mod_rewrite to check if the referrer is from your domain and if not send said porn. I've done it many times. It works well.
     
  17. bomadian macrumors member

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    Mar 4, 2007
    #17


    1. When hiring someone to do your site, do you know the format of the design brief that designers prefer? I was wondering if doing a mockup in photoshop would help them.
     
  18. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    #18
    I'm not sure of any preferred format, but a Photoshop image would likely be perfectly fine. I deal more with the software wide of things where people give some mock-ups done in like Visio or PowerPoint and working from those. Generally anything visual is good and perhaps some descriptions to back them up.
     
  19. 66217 Guest

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    Jan 30, 2006
    #19
    But what per se is design? I mean, I've always been inspired by Apple's designs, so I normally tend to look to their designs and get ideas I like.

    For example, I just learned how they made their navigation menu bar. I made my own, which looks very similar to the one of Apple, but with different colors, shadows, etc.

    Does this means I can't make a navigation bar that looks similar to the one from Apple? After all, the only thing they are using is some gradients and shadows, is that "patented"?
     

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