BYU Student Group Returns Web Awards For Copying

from the another-debate-that-never-dies dept

Last year we wrote about a topic that has shown up over and over again since the web first began: is it okay to copy the design of another website? Since the source code is always available, it’s easy enough to do. However, over the years, there has been repeated controversy over the practice, with some accusing others of theft or copyright violations. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal – since, in most cases, it’s just one site taking what works from another site and building their own design on top of that. However, what happens when the “copycat” design wins an award? Students at Brigham Young University decided to give back a design award they had won, after it was pointed out that the site that won had taken the design from Looking at the two sites, it is clear that one came from the other, but that doesn’t make the design any worse, in my mind. The nice thing about the web is that it’s open enough to let anyone check out the HTML source code, and to innovate on top of it. The students at BYU shouldn’t win awards for originality, but that shouldn’t impact whether or not the design, itself, is still good. The designers of the BYU site still had to determine what sort of site would best fit their needs, and then figure out how to implement it. Just because they took some prebuilt code and modified it, doesn’t change the quality of the design.

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Comments on “BYU Student Group Returns Web Awards For Copying”

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David says:

Games and Porn

I once worked for a small internet start-up game company. We had a pretty good web designer/artist on staff and he came up with a cool, very usable site. Around a year later, someone emailed us a URL… a porn site was using our site design as a template… the copying was so blatant that the HTML comments still mentioned our games by name! We thought it was hilarious, if a bit creepy. No legal action was taken, but we felt like showers should be.

Michael Ward (profile) says:

site design; stylistic models

To my eye the BYU folks picked up the layout concepts from the Builder site and re-thought them through; their result is less cluttered and more unified.

The use of “multiple rectangular blocks” is not copyrightable.

The key points are:
a. is the source code the same
b. is the layout (on the page) of the internal links the same

Michael Ward

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