The Integrity of The Users on This Forum....

5 replies
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Hi All,

I'm a relatively new member of this forum. I joined only recently and tend to contribute at the end of each week where I can.

However, a few days ago I was left a little aghast to find that a user on this forum contacted me to 'create' a website for them which was essentially a copy of a unique website that already exists.

To make matters worse the website in question was a website I had built for a client!

Here is an excerpt of the email I received:

I am looking for a website with exactly the same features / pages and design as...
I pride myself on the work I've created over the years for being highly creative, original and very commercial - helping me and clients achieve a degree of success in our chosen fields. It's a fine balance having to create things that not only look great but help sell products and services, it's a skill that gets honed over time and those of us that are true creatives only ever get better and better at it.

Ideas are easy to come by - good and original ideas aren't. There's a plethora of creatives out there who are incredibly good at creating 3rd rate work, and even that they do poorly. Good ideas are where the money is. Good ideas are where good work lives. Good ideas are where creative integrity lives. If your struggling with any of those - then get out of the business, you'll only ever be 3rd rate, saturating an already over saturated industry - maybe this industry just isn't for you.

To be inspired by another persons work is fine, to feel compelled to contact someone to create something for you because you have seen the quality of their work for others is fine. But to ask for a direct copy is wrong - it's lazy and illegal.

I have unfortunately had to aggressively chase people who have sought to copy my work. I seem to have found myself locked in various forms of international litigation to protect the intellectual integrity of my work and it's a truly sad state of affairs - because the people who are copying the work are themselves touting themselves as 'creatives' or 'web designers'.

Pablo Picasso said 'good artists copy, great artists steal' If you're going to steal design then make sure you make it better - that you push things forward, there is no shame in that - stand on the shoulders of giants etc etc. But if all you're going to do is copy then you really shouldn't.

I've been able to look into the contact details the person sent over along side my website access logs which point to a couple of users on this forum (I can directly track their visit to 1 thread - looking at those profiles they match with details I've received).

Maybe alongside the rules of this board it should be stated that copyright / IP rights should be be flouted etc etc in a more obvious way.

To anyone reading this there really is only one way of closing - don't copy.

Thanks for reading. PJ
#forum #integrity #users
  • Profile picture of the author senderbot

    Perhaps that persons imagination is limited and perhaps they even knew it was you that created the original website and thus though you would be able to create another one similar.

    Maybe you could take on the job, but point the guy in a slightly different direction, create a new design or show the person what else you can do.

    Otherwise the person may end up just going elsewhere and getting a copy done. At this stage you have the opportunity to stop someone from copying your site and making money on the deal too.

    Just a thought.


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    • Profile picture of the author CreativeEye
      Hi Senderbot

      I did actually start to draft an email response regarding taking the work but actually doing something unique instead. But I know from experience that anyone who asks you to directly copy another website will never have the budget for a proper creative process.

      Having to compromise my own professional integrity to lower my standards in cost and output simply to stop someone copying my work isn't the right path to take (although I still don't appreciate having to pay a lawyer to write a letter!). That's tantamount to blackmail - because like I said, they will never have the correct budget or expectations...

      Also, and again from experience - I know that there are a lot of people out there who will copy others websites for little or no budget. It's virtually impossible to stay on top of that sort of thing, but when someone asks me outright to copy a website that is heavily featured on my own site then they truly aren't the client I would want (nor I imagine any designer worth their salt). Like you say though - there will always be someone out there to to do sort of unscrupulous work. You pay peanuts you get monkeys, the only solace I can take is that they and their website probably wouldn't be around for very long and will always be a poor knock-off.

      I guess clients contact us because they are lacking in the imagination stakes as you've said - but it's for us to then apply our imagination and business savvy to create something for the client - thats what we get paid for! I think the argument of 'I can't think of my own ideas so I will copy someone else' just isn't valid.

      I'm always approached by clients who have a list of websites etc that they 'like' - and part of a designers job is to decipher what they like, what is applicable to them and why, and how then to surpass what they like to create something that helps them do business. Thats part of creative process.

      Thanks for the response though - I appreciate it. The act of plagiarism and copying is a conversation and discussion that I think will never end!
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        The person may not realize the site is custom built but may see it as a "design" that you offer. It is common for site designers to show samples of the "types" of sites they build. If you featured that site on your own site, why wouldn't they think of it as an "example of what you build"?

        Not everyone has the ability to visualize the kind of site they want - and thus they might well point to one or more websites to give you an idea of what they want to have. Your client visualizes his business - and the site is only part of that.

        It would have been a simple matter to politely tell them you can't recreate that site because it is customized for the client - but you can create a custom site just for them.

        Then you could list your pricing and payment terms and perhaps gain a new client or at least provide a reality of custom site building for the person who contacted you.

        I don't see the point of ridiculing someone and assuming their motives when you didn't bother to answer their question/request. I also don't understand how you would draw a conclusion about the integrity of users on this forum with such limited contact.

        Saving one dog will not change the world -
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        • Profile picture of the author CreativeEye
          Sorry I should have stated that it's the 3rd time I've been contacted in as many weeks (and I've only been a member of the forum for maybe 4-5 weeks) - this example was just the most explicit email to asking me to copy something outright.

          The other 2 did get a response about unique work working harder to help them standout etc. On this occasion I felt that as the person contacting me is a 'web designer' it warranted less of a response. What conversation about the integrity of design can be started with someone who simply asks for copies?

          As I said in my response above - almost all clients I work with have examples of things they like, in fact it's a question I ask 'what out there do you like?' - whether its working on a new website for them, a new brand, piece of advertising, print etc etc. I do this to ascertain taste and a sense of creative direction. It's our job to visualise and decipher what will work for the client in their market and within their message - I personally see 'let me see what's good and copy it' as the wrong approach. Any good design is designed for the sole purpose of the client in mind, simply repurposing it through copying will never have the same effect.

          Of course any online portfolio of work is 'an example of what you do' - because prospective clients will always look to see how good you are, what have you done for others and what are the success stories. A cursory visit to my site makes it pretty obvious all the work is bespoke and the service is 'premium' (again, looking at my access logs, the visitor looked at almost every single page before emailing me - there would have been no misunderstanding of services offered or the realities of the industry).

          Maybe this is about education - that the market needs better segmentation between template design, and bespoke design so that businesses looking for particular services have a better understanding of quality. It should also be noted that the email I received was from someone touting themselves as a web designer.

          It's not at all a slight on everyone - in fact there are some portfolio websites on here that are great, and you can see the effort and thought that has gone into the work. Some of the advice on offer is also incredibly detailed and well articulated - part of the reason I joined was because this forum seems like on of very few forums that were actually clear in content and helpfulness! In around 12 - 13 years of being in the industry working with clients locally and globally - I've found there will always be someone who simply wants a copy sometime or another. But this is the first time that I have had so many requests from a single source in such a short amount of time - hence the post.
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  • Profile picture of the author gyar29

    I'm with Kay in regard to this subject.

    People, especially newbies, do not know that site designs are frequently proprietary.

    How could they? When they first get into IM they are exposed to a number of sites that look exactly alike with the exception of the graphics. And if they've been to a number of sites where the product was sold as a PLR product, the sites probably have the same graphics too.

    We, Internet Marketers, tend to gravitate to the same small pool of WP themes, sales pages look exactly alike, every sales site has the same up-sell page. Currently we all have the same exact pop-up asking the user to stay on the page. Our forms look the same, we all put our testimonials in Johnson boxes. Hell most of us find a site we like and look at the source code to see what template the owner is using so we can get it ourselves.

    So assuming that someone knows they are doing something nefarious when they ask for an exact copy of a website is an assumption that should not be made. After all, those of us that are working so hard to get that person to our sites give them no reason to think that our site is anything but an exact copy of the site they have just seen.

    So perhaps a gentle lesson explaining that the site they want is a bespoke site designed specifically for that owner would go a long way towards educating that person. A person that we, more than likely, have given the wrong impression.

    Much like your incorrect assumption that the integrity of the membership here should be doubted because you've received one or two or even three requests from members of this forum to copy a website.

    BTW, looked at your portfolio, great work!

    Take Care,
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