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  1. #1
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    Is it legal to copy a website's layout?

    hi i made a website with my own personal layout for a team for a game me and some friends play. A very rude and mean guy i happened to meet thought it would be funny to make me mad so he saved my layout on his computer and is now in the process of putting it on his website and claiming that he made that layout himself. Now i know that you can't copyright a layout, but that is just not right that i spend hours and hours of working on this layout and then this guy just copies it and claims that he made it. Is there anything at all that I can do about this?

    Thx!

  2. #2
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    If the site still looks remarkably like yours, you can order him to cease & desist. However, you may need legal backup to enforce anything.

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    so what you are saying is that i could go to any website, right click on every image, save it all, and make my own website with the exact same layout and tell anybody i want that i made that layout... (not that i would cus im not cheap like that)

    from what he has told me it sounds like he will copying everything, word for word, and every picture. in fact, it may be almost identical exept for the fact that he has a friend who is a pro web designer for a livin who is making a flash intro for his site. the way he has been talking, he probably told his friend that he made that layout.

    anyway, how do u order him to cease & desist if i were too, and wut kind of backup would i need to enforce it?

  4. #4
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    the best legal advice that works in almost all situations: get a lawyer.

    p.s.: moved to a more generic forum (as it really had nothing to do with "accessibility and usability)
    redux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
    [latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
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    splintered.co.uk | photographia.co.uk | redux.deviantart.com

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    Firstly it is important that you can prove that you have designed the site. Do you have copies of your 'under-construction' works, drawings, etc.? If you sue someone for breach of copyright, you have to prove his guilt, it is not him who has to prove his innocence. I am referring specifically to copyright infringment.

    Secondly, you might have lawyer friends, maybe some of your parents' friends who are lawyers. If you want to pursue this seriously seek their advice, it is always best to consult a professional in the field (which I am not btw), they will often give you free advice the first time you consult them.

    DH

  6. #6
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    but something i should tell you, ... if the website's not on much of a large scale, or you could be easily be coming up with something better or quick, then i should say, don't even think of using up money for lawyers, .. it would cost a lot ! let the loser be and do what he wants to with the layout,... just send him a card and tell him, "all i expected was a thank you for the layout" ,

    -ruchir
    Peace.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Member Skize's Avatar
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    Best advice to give is to get yourself a lawyer who can assist you with that, if you can prove it was yours in the first place from 'created dates' on the pages you can make the other webmaster cease and desist.

  8. #8
    Fine Tuned silver trophy KC's Avatar
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    Hi Hiigara,

    I think the best solution for you right now would be to educate yourself about copyright enfringement and protecting your rights as a designer. There are several articles on this subject here at Sitepoint but these articles are not intended to instruct you legally, but instead, offer sound advice on how to protect your designs.

    Even if you seek legal action I recommend educating yourself on these laws so you have a better understanding of what the legalities are, and your best options for seeking legal guidance.

    Here are a couple of helpful links:

    US Copyright Office

    SitePoint Article - Design Theft - The Webmaster's Resource

    Good luck to you!



    * this is a suggestion and not intented to be legal advice. Seek professional legal council if necessary.

  9. #9
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    I have a similar question. I am beginning a site for a client. I was browsing through templates for sale on another site, and found one that I considered very easy. I managed to duplicate the basic look in a few hours, using my own graphics and text.

    I don't have a problem paying for templates, but this one seemed very simple. How much of the design do I need to change to protect myself from copyright infringement?

    Thanks,
    Kevin

  10. #10
    get back to rowing khu19's Avatar
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    Have you approached the individual? I have approached a few people who copied my sites and they were scared with the idea of bringing in lawyers that they immedietely ceased. However, make sure you believe it is worth getting lawyers involved since it can and will get very expensive.

  11. #11
    Incoherent drivel since 1975 Zopester's Avatar
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    ktulu,

    From what you've said it doesn't sound like you've "copied" anything. It sounds like you've used the template as inspiration for your own piece of original work. Now, having said that I would be very careful and make sure that my design ended up looking very different from the original - colours, text, graphics etc - but as long as you have made a reasonable effort, the work can be called your own.

    Now, I'm not a lawyer, so don't go taking my word for it. But I'd argue that this design you've seen should be the starting point for your own work, not the finished product.

    We all use other sites for inspiration - to not do so would be design suicide. From those sites we draw inspiration and add to our arsenal of knowledge. But we don't go round copying. That's just rude.
    Recommended Reading:
    Why we won't help you - An article by Mark Pilgrim.

    http://www.zopester.com - Coming Soon!

  12. #12
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    Zopester,

    That's the way I interpreted it too. I don't believe in copying sites and code blatently, I want to have a legitimate business. I will make changes here and there to ensure that there is also a fair amount of originality.

    Thanks,
    Kevin

  13. #13
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    If what you did was copying, ktlutu, anyone who made a website with a logo at top and navigation down the left side would be in deep do do. I think that leaves about 5 living web designers to handle the internet for the forseeable future.

    WWB

  14. #14
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99
    If what you did was copying, ktlutu, anyone who made a website with a logo at top and navigation down the left side would be in deep do do. I think that leaves about 5 living web designers to handle the internet for the forseeable future.

    WWB
    My nav is on the right; I'm safe .

  15. #15
    "Of" != "Have" bronze trophy Jeff Lange's Avatar
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    mine is on the left and right; gonna have to only use the right.
    Who walks the stairs without a care
    It shoots so high in the sky.
    Bounce up and down just like a clown.
    Everyone knows its Slinky.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Crazybanana's Avatar
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    unless you have a lot of money and can prove the site is made by you, i think you can forget it. what you can do is send him a mail asking him to take it away, but in most cases they dont do it. this has happend to me many times especial back in the 90's and some of them also had comments on their pages saying it was copyright by them and could not be used without their permission.. and inside scripts my initials still was written, the lamers thought it was part of the code hehe. now i mostly dont care, course most of them dont respons on mail when i contact them. but it still pisses me off when spending hours and days in work just to see that it is stolen by other.
    Who's to doom when the judge himself is dragged before the bar


  17. #17
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    I say Go to court. You worked hard on that layout and if he claims it as his own work, that's illeagal.

  18. #18
    Maybe mandkr67's Avatar
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    so what you are saying is that i could go to any website, right click on every image, save it all, and make my own website with the exact same layout and tell anybody i want that i made that layout...
    I think you may be confusing layout with "design". A layout, (basically an idea) cannot be copyrighted. However if the code was copied verbatim including fonts, background colors etc. You might have a case and will need to prove YOU actually made the design.

    A layout is essentially just positioning of elements. There are hundreds of sites out with navigation on the right, top banners etc.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Guru wild boar's Avatar
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    Just forget about it, it's not that big of a deal.. It's not like a business that's in competition with you that's trying to steal your ideas.. it's a game or a clan site.. Just ignore it.. And he'll find out he's waisting his time..

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiigara
    hi i made a website with my own personal layout for a team for a game me and some friends play. A very rude and mean guy i happened to meet thought it would be funny to make me mad so he saved my layout on his computer and is now in the process of putting it on his website and claiming that he made that layout himself. Now i know that you can't copyright a layout, but that is just not right that i spend hours and hours of working on this layout and then this guy just copies it and claims that he made it. Is there anything at all that I can do about this?

    Thx!
    Approach his ISP.

    Explain that it is an original work and by hosting it they are infringing your copyright.

    Insist that the site is removed and the author reprimanded. Allow 14 days before formal legal action to recover costs for your intellectual property (and state such in your letter or email).

    Point them to your site.

    Do you have the urls for his site and your own? I could help a little further...
    ~The Artist Latterly Known as Crazy Hamster~
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    Currently delving into Django, GIT & CentOS

  21. #21
    SitePoint Zealot
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    first get a copy of the templates and e-mail it to yourself to show that you made this design on the day you sent e-mail to prove it's your then hire a lawyer

  22. #22
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    "he probably told his friend that he made that layout."

    A professional web designer will not want to risk his or her reputation over something like this.

    Send a cease and dis to both him, the web designer and his ISP.

    Make a screen shot of his site NOW with any dates if you can to prove that it's the same.

    Blow smoke, but it's not worth a lawyer.

    It really sounds to me like this guy is enjoying yanking your chain. I think your best bet is to just ignore him.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Guru wild boar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJJustina
    "he probably told his friend that he made that layout."

    A professional web designer will not want to risk his or her reputation over something like this.

    Send a cease and dis to both him, the web designer and his ISP.

    Make a screen shot of his site NOW with any dates if you can to prove that it's the same.

    Blow smoke, but it's not worth a lawyer.

    It really sounds to me like this guy is enjoying yanking your chain. I think your best bet is to just ignore him.

    Exactly, It's not worth a lawyer unless your a rich boy! Everyone is like hire a lawyer.. I don't think 80 percent of you would hire a lawyer.. it costs money! And for the some reason, It's a personal gaming site.. who cares?

  24. #24
    Sultan of Ping jofa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by URAlly
    ...
    Here are a couple of helpful links:
    US Copyright Office
    ...
    Good point
    The Copyright/Patent Office in your country is always a good place to start.

    Interesting question: Has anyone registered a web design solution as Industrial Design? The same way you can register design of coffee kettles, knitting patterns etc.
    I think Harley Davidson registered the sound of a HD as a trademark (==anything's possible!)


    Haven't we had this discussion before?
    http://www.sitepointforums.com/showp...81&postcount=6

  25. #25
    Fine Tuned silver trophy KC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jofa
    Good point [img]images/smilies/smile.gif[/img]
    The Copyright/Patent Office in your country is always a good place to start.

    Interesting question: Has anyone registered a web design solution as Industrial Design? The same way you can register design of coffee kettles, knitting patterns etc.
    I think Harley Davidson registered the sound of a HD as a trademark (==anything's possible!)
    I can tell you that putting the words "copyright" on a website in the US will not hold up in court without proper registration, or proof of ownership. The only way to prove ownership legally is to burn the website on cd with original dates of authenticity, and send in a self-addressed-stamped envelope to yourself (registered return receipt) and keep in a safe place, unopened, or register with the copyright office. It is much easier to prove theft if there is a copyright notication listed in a governmental office. And you better well have some bucks if you seek a copyright lawyer because the process is long and complicated.


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