Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 1:17:04 PM by Zoe Gillenwater
There's no black and white distinction between what constitutes plagiarism and what doesn't. Sometimes its obvious, but often it's not clear if a new piece has crossed over the murky line. This includes design plagiarism.
An outside organization asked my employer for permission to use one of our web site designs for their own site that they wanted to create. I'm the designer of the site in question. We've explained to the organization that they may use the HTML and CSS from our site if they put a credit to me as the original author of the CSS inside the code — after all, markup is not really something you can copyright, especially the simple, no frills stuff I used on this small site.
But we've having trouble getting them to understand that though they can be influenced by the design, as any designer can, they can't blatantly copy it. They can have a similar layout and look, but they can't use the same images or content. This organization definitely wants to work with whatever guidelines we give them — they don't want to violate our copyright or step on our toes at all — but they don't appear to understand the distinction yet. I can't blame them.
How do you distinguish between sites that just have a similar style or layout and sites that are copies? I remember my art teacher in high school always telling us that we had to make our art at least 30 percent different from whatever source file we were using as inspiration (usually a National Geographic photo, since we had a whole floor to ceiling cabinet of old issues). I have no idea where she got this 30 percent figure from, and I still don't really know how I would evaluate if something was 10 percent different versus 40 percent different.
I gave the person who requested our design this guideline to tell if his design was plagiarizing or not: Once your design is different enough that someone could conceivably believe you created it without ever having seen our design, you should be safe. If someone came across your design and accused you of copying our design, could you reasonably defend your work by saying you'd never seen our site before, that it's just a coincidence?
By this, I don't mean to imply that if someone saw both designs they would have to be able to see no similarities, but rather that there could be some possibility the two designs were created independently. They could think it's possible that one used the other as a starting point, as long as they could also accept the possibility of the opposite.
Do you think this guideline holds water? Is it too loose? Too restrictive? Do you have a more precise way you determine what is just inspiration and what is copying, in terms of web design? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments.
Posted Monday, June 11, 2007 2:46:46 PM by Big John
A web buddy has just hipped me to This.
See that item down in the left corner? Safari now has a shiny new version number, and it works on the PC too. So old Stevie has entered the PC Browser Wars, eh? That should stir the pot a bit.
Posted Friday, June 08, 2007 9:43:44 PM by Jim Babbage
It's coming. In two short days, TODCon will be here once again. And I can't wait.
Bright lights, big city, geeks . . . what more could someone ask for?
And the line up looks great. Some very cool topics will be covered. No doubt much fun will be had in the city that never sleeps.
If you're attending for the first time, you're in for a treat. If you're a veteran (like me and many others) it will be great to hook up with all of you again. If ya can't make it this year, save them nickels and book your spot for next year. It's a great networking and learning experience for everyone. Not to mention the most fun a geek ever had.
I'm holding two sessions this year, one about Fireworks integration with Bridge and Photoshop and the other on working with the new pages and sub layers features in FW.
It's been fantastic to see what Adobe has done as they bring all the products into the Adobe family. New life (and I believe new respect) has been breathed into Fireworks. As the sole true web graphics program in the Adobe line, I'm seeing lots of new users coing on board. Many are skeptical, but once they see how fast they can work in Fireworks without having to switch applications, I think they'll be sold.
Old friends, I'm looking forward to seeing you. I hope to make some new friends too. I can't wait to see everyone.