: my web design has been stolen - what can i do?


depmode101
Sep 29th, 2005, 06:47 PM
hello all,

so, i designed a website for a travel company - i put a template together, put in the company information etc and it was online for over a year.

ive since updated and changed the layout of the site, but today i found one of my clients competitors has stolen my template and is using it for their company.

i checked the HTML source code on his page, and i still find my clients company name in their which further proves they stole this design from our page.
other than their company text and pictures, it is identical.

so - is it worth taking legal action? do i even own the rights to my template design?

should i contact the company that has taken this and see if they will resolve this without legal action?

or should i suck it up and realize that theres nothing i can do?

i dont want to name names or web addresses in case action is taken, but i would love to hear someones advice on this.

thank you

Cameo
Sep 29th, 2005, 06:54 PM
I was creating a website for a company that I used to work for and when they let me go they did not say anything about wanting or paying for the website. So I took it down. Two days later, out of curiousity, I tried to pull it up and there it was - they had downloaded everything before letting me go. When I called them on it they said it was theirs, that we had an agreement. Nothing written down, I did not work on it on company time. We sent them some legal style letters stating that they either pulled the website or we would take legal action. They didn't pull it but did start altering it. I never took any action against them after that as I couldn't afford to lose.

They even called the police on me for taking down the website - they told the server I was on their site illegally as I was no longer an employee. They forgot that they had given me a letter stating that my employment ended a week later - technically I was still an employee. If they had told me they still wanted the website (they had actually asked me the price earlier that day) then I would have completed the site and sold it to them still.

So, I wish you luck with whatever you do as it is nothing short of theft.

teeterboy3
Sep 29th, 2005, 06:59 PM
The company who paid for the original design owns the work they paid you for and you delivered to them. As such, it is up to them whether they want to pursue it. But by all means, let them know, and that you will help them in any way in order to challenge the offending company on it.

I don't know if it's worth going after legally, and I would guess a letter essentially 'busting' them for it, might be enough to get them to close it down.

What will be funny is if that company paid someone to do it, and that person just copied your work! Of course that never happens on the int0rw3b does it?


Did you happen to put a © anywhere on the site?

darkscot
Sep 29th, 2005, 07:01 PM
take action. it's theft and they wouldn't hesitate to take action against you.etain the rights to the website or does your client?

whether it's monetarily worth it? i dunno.

depmode101
Sep 29th, 2005, 07:31 PM
the arrangement that i have with my client is that i own the design, and templates - and they own their personal information on the site.

ArtistSeries
Sep 29th, 2005, 07:43 PM
or should i suck it up and realize that theres nothing i can do?

i dont want to name names or web addresses in case action is taken, but i would love to hear someones advice on this.

There was a user here that stole a website and changed very little information - I posted it here and was surprised that people did not see it as stealing. He did take down the stolen site but put it back a few days later. He is still using the website to this day http://www.graphiccare.ca/.

Sadly, there is not much you can do that will not cost you money.
When I have had a sites stolen, the first is to politely inform the owners that the site bears a striking resemblance to something you have created.
Depending on their reaction, they will either take it down, blame the designer or you will have to get lawyers involved.

teeterboy3
Sep 29th, 2005, 08:00 PM
When I have had a sites stolen, the first is to politely inform the owners that the site bears a striking resemblance to something you have created. Depending on their reaction, they will either take it down, blame the designer or you will have to get lawyers involved.
^ motion seconded.
Since you own the design, send a letter direct to the company.

And further to what ArtistSeries has said, for some reason people think if you can find it on the internet, it's free to have…

darkscot
Sep 29th, 2005, 08:06 PM
There was a user here that stole a website and changed very little information - I posted it here and was surprised that people did not see it as stealing. He did take down the stolen site but put it back a few days later. He is still using the website to this day http://www.graphiccare.ca/.

I remember that one. I didn't get that impression, AS. I thought a number of people were with you on that one. I'm shocked that the site is still up. Unless it's a "for purchase template" that he and the other company (Canada Post) have both bought rights to use, it should be removed.

simon
Sep 29th, 2005, 08:16 PM
I have been a commercial graphic artist for too long and in that time I have had a number of proofs "stolen" and ideas lifted. To solve the theft of my work took time and "experience in the school of hard knocks".

To solve the theft of proofs by potential "clients" who want thumbnails and ideas presented before they make their choice of firm I came up with a simple fool proof idea. No proofs or presentations are made without the client signing a form that basically states if my art or portions of it are ever used then the company is responsible for the whole project fee on demand. I also watermark and notify them that as a Canadian artist I own ALL RIGHTS to my creations and abuse of such can result in copyright violation and fines.

For web design, I got sick and tired of lasy assed dicks who surf by and download my ideas that I design all my sites in Flash with "protection from import" selected - problem solved

depmode101
Sep 29th, 2005, 09:01 PM
flash is something that i am learning, and will be going that route from now on.

thanks for the responses.

SoyMac
Sep 29th, 2005, 11:20 PM
...To solve the theft of proofs by potential "clients" who want thumbnails and ideas presented before they make their choice of firm I came up with a simple fool proof idea. No proofs or presentations are made without the client signing a form that basically states if my art or portions of it are ever used then the company is responsible for the whole project fee on demand. I also watermark and notify them that as a Canadian artist I own ALL RIGHTS to my creations and abuse of such can result in copyright violation and fines.
... I design all my sites in Flash with "protection from import" selected - problem solved
Simon, those are great ideas! I too learned the hard way that having the client sign first, is the best option. And there is no risk to the client - no reason for them not to sign if they're playing straight. They don't have to pay anything if they don't want to buy after seeing your proofs/designs/rough-cut/story-board.
When we're first starting out, we're so afraid of upsetting anyone that we often get walked over.


Depmode101, I have in the past taken legal action against non-payers. Was it worth the effort? Maybe not financially in the long run, but I maintained my dignity, built self-confidence as I fought the battle, and will never sell myself short again. So to revisit the question, "Was it worth the battle?" Oh yeah!
:)

CanadaRAM
Sep 30th, 2005, 01:42 AM
Get screenshots and download the code before they remove the remaining references to your other client from it. Get those printouts (of both code and visual appearance) notarized for accuracy and date.

Ditto with your original design.

You'll need as evidence because they can alter theirs in a moment.

Hopefully each of your pages has a copyright statement, or at least an overall copyright notice on the front page.

Had a friend who had graphics poached. He had embedded his info into the graphic files. He met the other party and their lawyer, brought their website up onscreen, opened the graphics and showed the lawyer his copyright inside. They made a cash settlement on the spot.

sketch
Sep 30th, 2005, 10:00 AM
For web design, I got sick and tired of lasy assed dicks who surf by and download my ideas that I design all my sites in Flash with "protection from import" selected - problem solved

I don't know if things changed with Flash 8, but there are programs out there that can extract the contents out of a protected swf.

MannyP Design
Sep 30th, 2005, 10:56 AM
I don't know if things changed with Flash 8, but there are programs out there that can extract the contents out of a protected swf.

You could however use coding that load external flash files into the main one on the fly, so if one were to manage to open the SWF, you still wouldn't get the actual content -- just the "stage" so to speak.