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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict Shantra's Avatar
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    Is copy'ing color schemes/page layout legal?

    Is it legal to:

    - Use the same color scheme as another site?
    - Use these colors in the same combinations?
    - Use a page layout/feel that is close to the original one, but with original graphichs?

    I have seen that MANY of the sites on the net (including Sitepoint) has much in common. Just look at the popular "blue shades and orange" scheme. Great looking but not very original!

    Let's take the Sitepoint design as an example (since we are here).
    What if I would copy their color scheme, use something similar to their "Build" design but with my own logos/buttons ect.

    I ask these questions since I'm not quite sure of what the copyright laws say about this.

    If it is legal, should I have any moral problems with it, and maybe contact the site to ask for permission?

    Thank you for any advice!

  2. #2
    I'm a college yuppie now! sbdi's Avatar
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    If you steal the HTML thats probably braking some sort of law, if you steal the graphics then for sure your breaking the law.

    Also if you steal a sites design it just doesnt look good!
    Back Again

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict Shantra's Avatar
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    Originally posted by sbdi
    If you steal the HTML thats probably braking some sort of law, if you steal the graphics then for sure your breaking the law.
    No,no! I has no plans of taking anything from a site.

    Also if you steal a sites design it just doesnt look good!
    It would only look similar!

    Also, my attention is NOT to steal. I will follow copyright laws!

  4. #4
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    I think you would be fine, and I believe it is certainly ethical... You cannot copyright a color scheme, you cannot copyright a "look" as such, but you can copyright text/graphics/code chunks...

    There are only so many color combinations that work well, and if you see one you like, you should not hesitate to try it out yourself, just make sure it is not identical to the site in question...

  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict Shantra's Avatar
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    Wizardx8,

    Glad to hear that there are no copyright on color schemes or a sites "look"!

    I will of cource try to not get to close to the original design, as respect to the "original" site. All code, graphics and content (text) will be originally made by me.

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    My precious!!! astericks's Avatar
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    Re: Is copy'ing color schemes/page layout legal?

    Originally posted by Shantra
    Is it legal to:

    - Use the same color scheme as another site?
    Matching & nice color schemes do not make an endless list. Sooner or later, there will be 2 sites that use 'approximately' the same color scheme. But if you are intentionally copying from another site, it is just not right, whether legal or not.

  7. #7
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    Ok, this is how I look at it....

    Supposing I wanted to write a book and I used my favourite book as a guide to help me write my own. The book in question is 'Wuthering Heights' so I call mine 'A House On The Moors'. I then proceed to type up my book, changing the character's names and slightly altering the way things happen but basically re-writing the original story. Now, whether the law could touch me on that one, I don't know for sure, though I hope deep down that it is illegal, but the minute I published 'my' story I would feel that I was stealing.

    While I accept that there are a finite number of colour combinations and that there are going to be sites on the net that share the same ones, and while I also accept that you will find sites with similar layouts, to deliberately copy another person's layout is wrong - even if you make the effort to try to make it look different. Whether the law says it's illegal or not, it will always be ethically wrong.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

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  8. #8
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    this is worth taking a look at: http://www.pirated-sites.com/

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict Shantra's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Is copy'ing color schemes/page layout legal?

    Originally posted by astericks

    But if you are intentionally copying from another site, it is just not right, whether legal or not.
    So, maybe I should ask for permission?

    Originally posted by Saz249

    Now, whether the law could touch me on that one, I don't know for sure, though I hope deep down that it is illegal, but the minute I published 'my' story I would feel that I was stealing.
    Sorry, but I dont get that comparison! For me it looks like that you are describing the content (text), not the layout (design) or colors.

    In my case I would have original content (not even close to the original), original logos/graphics ++

    Originally posted by spollin

    this is worth taking a look at: http://www.pirated-sites.com/
    Interesting site! Had no plans to go so far (at all) as those posted there.

    Does anyone know what kind of policy big sites have on this topic. Ever heard of someone giving permission in these cases?

  10. #10
    SitePoint Addict psychedelic's Avatar
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    Re: Is copy'ing color schemes/page layout legal?

    Originally posted by Shantra
    Is it legal to:

    - Use the same color scheme as another site?

    The reason many sites have the same color scheme is that those colors blend well. There only so many distinctive colors to the human eye. As you mentioned, blue and orange is a popular choice because they are complementary colors. Most complementary colors have already been explored as a theme, therefore it will be difficult to be "original" in your terms. However, it's what you do with the colors that matter, not which colors you choose.

    Originally posted by Shantra
    Is it legal to:
    - Use these colors in the same combinations?
    Well depends. I can have a blue and white site like http://www.msn.net , but if I have a similar design and I se the same colors in the same places, then I become suspicious! Again, it's how you use the colors.

    Originally posted by Shantra
    Is it legal to:
    - Use a page layout/feel that is close to the original one, but with original graphichs?
    Using a similar layout is not illegal. Look at this forum, the basic layout is: header design with navigation at the top, content in the middle, and footer with copyright statement at the bottom. That is basic. It is used elsewhere and not considered a copyright violation. There are many popular layouts out there, just because they work.

    If you start using the same layout AND the same graphics, then you're asking for trouble!
    The Internet is prettier on a Mac.

  11. #11
    Fully Qualified Fool :) luke-innovative's Avatar
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    i agree with saz, blatently copying another site design, layout or colours is not illegal but that doesnt make it right. plus, if you create a great-looking, completely orignial site, it feels so much better knowin that it is all your own work.

    just my opinion tho
    Luke
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  12. #12
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: Is copy'ing color schemes/page layout legal?

    Originally posted by Shantra
    Sorry, but I dont get that comparison! For me it looks like that you are describing the content (text), not the layout (design) or colors.

    In my case I would have original content (not even close to the original), original logos/graphics ++
    My ficticious book's content = your site's layout.

    The point I was trying to make was that although I had written the book myself physically, my idea for it, the complete story line, was based on somebody else's book and not at all original.

    If you create your site basing the look and colour scheme on another person's design, you would be doing the same sort of thing - taking credit for somebody else's ideas.

    As I said before, it may well not be illegal because you're talking about building the site yourself using your own graphics, but how ethical is it to take credit for something you've copied.

    You mentioned asking for permission, but if the site you are wanting to copy is a professional one, I can't see them granting it. If they came back with a blantant 'no', what would you do?
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict Shantra's Avatar
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    Originally posted by psychedelic
    Well depends. I can have a blue and white site like http://www.msn.net , but if I have a similar design and I se the same colors in the same places, then I become suspicious! Again, it's how you use the colors.
    Hmm, my original idea was to use the colors in the same places. Eks: Same color as background, main header, behind menubar and statusbar. And use a "similar" layout. ...because it looks sooo good! I guess you could be suspicious if you took an A B test of the two sites. But it would not look like a copy!

    Originally posted by luke-innovative
    i agree with saz, blatently copying another site design, layout or colours is not illegal but that doesnt make it right. plus, if you create a great-looking, completely orignial site, it feels so much better knowin that it is all your own work.
    Here lays my problem! I dont have the skills to create an great looking original layout. I have tried many times and the result is not worth a horses backside.

    Originally posted by Saz249
    My ficticious book's content = your site's layout.
    Get it

    Originally posted by Saz249
    As I said before, it may well not be illegal because you're talking about building the site yourself using your own graphics, but how ethical is it to take credit for something you've copied.
    Not very ethical if I just coyied it! I was planning to base it on the layout, and use the colors in almost the same places. But, I get what you say, and that is my problem! If I had no ethical dilemmas, I wouldn't have written this topic. Rather, I will take your good advices and try figure out what I should do.

    Originally posted by Saz249
    You mentioned asking for permission, but if the site you are wanting to copy is a professional one, I can't see them granting it. If they came back with a blantant 'no', what would you do?
    Maybe I just should do that! If the site (it is professional) has problems with the design, then my moral dilemma is over. But, if they say "OK" then my world would be a happy place Win or loose!!!

    Thanks all

  14. #14
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    If the main root of your problem is that you can't design yourself, there is an alternative which will also ensure that you have a unique design as well as a great one - our very own Trading Post.

    There are many great designers here who would be willing to create a template for you in return for something like an Amazon book token or a small cash payment. There are also members here who have been willing to work in return for credit notes and the chance to use the designs in their portfolios. It's always worth a try.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict psychedelic's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Shantra
    Here lays my problem! I dont have the skills to create an great looking original layout. I have tried many times and the result is not worth a horses backside.
    You never know until you really keep at it for a while. For quite a long time, lots of my layouts looked like other sites or they all looked similar. Then I kept at it and now most of my stuff is original.

    The best way to learn layout is to get inspired in my opinion. I've seen lots of sites that I love. Look at their layouts. Yeah, it looks great, but what makes it look great? I've learned to analyze layouts and figure out what works and what doesn't. Some of this came from doing print design too, heh. It's just all experience. You may get the hang of it
    The Internet is prettier on a Mac.

  16. #16
    Weird Little Girl Desdelena's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Shantra
    Hmm, my original idea was to use the colors in the same places. Eks: Same color as background, main header, behind menubar and statusbar. And use a "similar" layout. ...because it looks sooo good! I guess you could be suspicious if you took an A B test of the two sites. But it would not look like a copy!
    If you are using the same colors, for the same purpose, in the same places how is it not copying? Since we are talking about the look and not the content, you cannot use the excuse that because the content would be completely different its not copying. The content is irrelevant. However I would say that if you thought of it on your own, without seeing it somewhere else (even if it actually is somewhere else) then its not copying. There are lots of people in the world, so if two people have the same original idea its not surprising.

    Id personally have to agree with whatever Saz has said up to this point too. If you are planning on using so much of what someone else probably put a lot of work and/or thought into, you should at least have the decency to ask permission out of common courtesy. If they are OK with it no harm done right? If they arent.. and they find out later... you could end up in a not so nice situation. Also remember that these people didnt make these cool designs over night, they take time, effort and lots of practice!
    Memento Mori

  17. #17
    SitePoint Addict Shantra's Avatar
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    Saz249,
    I have spent $100 on a great logo so my budget is a bit thin. First I will ask for permission as I said. If I get "no" then I'll have to think of something or maybe try your suggestion

    psychedelic,
    Have tried many years. All thumbs!! I have more luck with making music We cant master everything, eh?

    Desdelena,
    By copying, in that sentence, I ment literally copying. Since my design was based on the original, I would call it "similar". If I had just copyied it, I wouldn't bother writing this topic!
    Also, If you had read my posts here, you would have seen that I'm going to contact the original site, asking for permission. I am not the one to steal anything from anyone, and has always followed copyright laws.

    I am in the music industry, and as you may know, we borrow a LOT from each other. Legally! I wrote this topic to understand/learn how this works in the web design industry, and so far people here has helped me.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Guru
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    Originally posted by Desdelena


    However I would say that if you thought of it on your own, without seeing it somewhere else (even if it actually is somewhere else) then its not copying.
    So what you are saying is that if I see a design I like, I can simply take and copy everything I need or want?

    And then when the legal lawyers approach me... I'll just say that I have never seen that web site before, therefore it is not copying?

    Everyday people steal from sites that aren't the most popular, thinking no one will notice and they'll just say that they have never seen that site before if legal issues were to arise. If that excuse actually worked in the court of law... there would be hell!

  19. #19
    . Ruchir's Avatar
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    copyrights is a serious issue and has been discussed time and again !!

    to start of with - to copy anything is what should make u guilty on urslef that uve copied eomthing and u shouldnt do that..

    colorschemes ?? copying color schemes or having the same one as others do isn't a big deal or mostly there's bo violation of copyrights.. most of the sites have the same color schemes in a million and so u canot change them. even so , there's thousands of sites with the sameold black and white scheme... so color scheme copying is no probs..

    but when it comes to layouts/page objects .. strickly not to be copies.. this are some stuff which has to be unique and the maker puts in a lot of effort to make it.. copying them is not supported by any goverment and none of the people who make it.. cause a lot of effort goes into that and u can make any unique identity.. so copying layouts/page content(object)S is a big big affair and a serious violation ro be stayed away of..

    ruchir
    Peace.

  20. #20
    Weird Little Girl Desdelena's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Darin


    So what you are saying is that if I see a design I like, I can simply take and copy everything I need or want?

    And then when the legal lawyers approach me... I'll just say that I have never seen that web site before, therefore it is not copying?

    Everyday people steal from sites that aren't the most popular, thinking no one will notice and they'll just say that they have never seen that site before if legal issues were to arise. If that excuse actually worked in the court of law... there would be hell!
    No thats not what Im saying at all. I dont think you understood that statement. I meant that if you come up with an idea (good or bad) and find out later that someone else, that you didnt know and had never known or seen or anything like that, had the same idea then its not copying. Take all of those "masked" bands like Slipknot or Mudvayne for example. How likely is it that they are copying one another in that aspect? These bands have likely been covering up their faces when performing since they first started out ages ago in different parts of the world. They werent copying one another. They didnt even know one another!

    I dont like seeing people copy anything, but I also dont like seeing people getting torn apart because [insert famous persons name here] (that they have never known anything about) had the same idea as them. Just because two people have the same idea does not mean they are copying one another! Its all about how things come about and how they are done. Just because something looks like something else doesnt mean its copied, but that also doesnt mean you should rule out the possibility. Look at both sides... not just one. Thats what Im doing.
    Memento Mori

  21. #21
    The short answer is yes... Herbster's Avatar
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    I must be missing something here.
    Just how original is this site layout you want to "copy"?
    The layout of most sites I've seen is not all that unique.

    Studying other sites is a good way to learn. It's also a good way to trigger your creativeness.

    When I was designing a site that I wanted to be very simple and not challenge visitors, I had a vague Idea I wanted a header at the top, a left sidebar with content to the right and a tabbed menu that was very obviously meant for navigation. Not too original, yet it satisfied requirements.

    I surfed until I found a menu I liked and, yes, I saved the page to my hard disk so that I could study it. I liked the way the menu looked - very generic - but I didn't like the way it was coded, so I re-wrote it and created my own "corner" graphics for the tabs.

    On another site I found a color scheme that looked like it would work. I used it in the early stages, but ended up changing the shades to match pre-existing graphics.

    The only element I "stole" was to have a thin bar at the bottom of the sidebar in the same color as the inactive tabs in the menu. It gives a nice balance/continuity in my humble opinion.

    So, just my thought, if you use other sites for a start point - and don't take their code - that's ok.

    A slavish reproduction of another sites design detail for detail - even with original graphics - would, however, be lame if not illegal.

    If you are truely design challenged, check out the free templates available. At least, using one of them, copying wouldn't be a sin. At this point, for all we know, the site you want to "copy" may be using a template, too.

  22. #22
    Fully Qualified Fool :) luke-innovative's Avatar
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    of course though there is a difference between being inspired by several sites (which i think every designer is) and blatently copying sites.

    i think that every designer is inspired by other sites, because when someone sees a good site, reguardless of wether they think "yeh, i'll copy that" or just "thats a great lookin site" the site will sub-conciously stick in their head. So when they do come round to designing their own page, all of the different parts of the inspiring webpages that looked good will come together to form what the designer would reguard to be a really good page.

    personally i dont think that is stealing, but when the design is blatently coped off one page, that is just obvious.
    Luke
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  23. #23
    busy Steelsun's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Saz249
    Supposing I wanted to write a book and I used my favourite book as a guide to help me write my own. The book in question is 'Wuthering Heights' so I call mine 'A House On The Moors'. I then proceed to type up my book, changing the character's names and slightly altering the way things happen but basically re-writing the original story. Now, whether the law could touch me on that one, I don't know for sure, though I hope deep down that it is illegal, but the minute I published 'my' story I would feel that I was stealing.
    This would be considered a "derivative work" and it would be copyright infringment (unless it was done as a satire/parody, then it's iffy).

    Websites are different due to the fact that layout cannot be copyrighted. It might be trademarkable, but that is nebulous.
    Brian Poirier
    SunStockPhoto: Stock Photos, Fine Art Photos, Event Photography

  24. #24
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    If re-working somebody else's book is deemed to be a 'derivative work' then the same must be said of a website layout, particularly if the person involved mimics the exact colours as well as the position of certain items as Shantra had said he wanted to do.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  25. #25
    busy Steelsun's Avatar
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    There's been some case law about websites not being copyrightable and thus not covered by the derivative aspect. The text IS copyrightable, but layout (which would include colors) is not. If you do take the graphics though, that's a differant story.
    Brian Poirier
    SunStockPhoto: Stock Photos, Fine Art Photos, Event Photography


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