New Standards Compliant Website | March 13, 2004

As you all know, I’m a big fan of Standards complaint sites, so was very interested to see Octane Internets latest work.

The Work Included “Redesign of existing website to current web-standards, graphic design, search engine optimization”.

“Octane was contracted to redesign the hweb site for Clocking Edge Software’s award winning Hormonal Forecaster program. Already recognized as a Five Star program by Ziff Davis, HFC needed a web site that would be search engine compliant, user friendly, and striking in design. We developed a naturalistic theme that is easy to navigate and very quick loading, while still maintaining standards compliance and google-friendliness.”

And there was me thinking that I created the naturalistic theme and graphic design. I have to say that I’m not massively bothered about people using a version of sub:lime on their personal sites. But I really draw the line as having my work ripped by another web design agency and then passed off as their own!

Posted at March 13, 2004 12:49 PM

Comments

Seth said on March 13, 2004 1:03 PM

That makes me furious, and it wasn’t even my design that got hijacked.

Josh said on March 13, 2004 1:06 PM

Just had a look and their style sheet still has your Zen Garden comments in it, including the Creative Commons info.

Call a lawyer, you can’t lose.

Kronn said on March 13, 2004 1:10 PM

I understand your point. Have you contacted the design agency already? I think it would be fair to give you a share of the profit they made with your design or to have a look at their case study, which may prove that this is just a coincedence (very unlikely, yet possible).

I think that “their” design is much closer to sub:lime than the personal site you mentioned once before.

Kronn said on March 13, 2004 1:16 PM

Sorry, didn’t get the other comments. If they even sold your comments (read: stole your design without even altering it a bit), then contacting them AND a lawyer seems the thing to do.

Funny: the so called designer says in his blog how fast the design process was. If this weren’t such an ugly situation for you, I’d laugh.

Jonathan Stanley said on March 13, 2004 1:25 PM

“Give an inch, take a mile”…

What is it with people? I’m involved a GPL project and various things have been ripped and passed off as someone else’s “own” more than once.

Permissive licences such as GPL or Creative Commons are great… but at least people who use other people’s work should have some decency and respect when they do.

sub:lime was also one of my favourite Zengarden designs as well…

David Barrett said on March 13, 2004 1:26 PM

I love what they’ve done with your leading.

Josh said on March 13, 2004 1:29 PM

Seriously Andy, they owe you for this.

The license is detailed and a link to the Creative Commons license is included in the stylesheet so there is no excuse for ignorance on their part.

In the UK at least, they are ‘passing off’ your design as their own, without any prior contact or consent.

In the UK a court will award you the full cost as charged for the design of the site plus proper damages. You will then have the option of forcing the design to be removed forthwith (causing huge embarrassment) or agree an additional fee to license the use of your work on this site.

It’s a pain but you will get all your costs back at the end.
These people are scum and need stopping.

Andy, as far as I can see you have come into the world of web design through being inspired by others being open with their knowledge.

You have continued this tradition by documenting your knowledge and discoveries freely for others to learn from. You have generously chosen to actively encourage people to learn from your work, to be inspired by it.

All of which is above and beyond the call of duty and truly generous. In return you have the right to have your work respected.

So take a deep breath and wade in.

Ben Scofield said on March 13, 2004 1:39 PM

Ridiculous - you can see the remnants of the zen garden structure in the code (ids of ‘intro’ and ‘quickSummary’). But the most damning evidence is here:

http://www.hormonalforecaster.com/style.css

Take a peek - look familiar?

Silus Grok said on March 13, 2004 2:06 PM

Before contacting them, be sure to document their site fully — perhaps even use a notary public to verify that all the materials.

Just an idea.

Please don’t just fume, though: take some action, or they’ll do this again.

Kronn said on March 13, 2004 2:30 PM

The more I think about this, the more I wonder: Did he even know what he was doing? I don’t mean the stealing aspect, I suspect that he just found an easy way of setting up an layout w/o thinking too much about it.

This is nothing more than a thought, maybe he understood the code you wrote but for some reason I doubt it. There a only minor changes and those don’t make it even better…

Mike Stenhouse said on March 13, 2004 3:16 PM

Using other people’s designs on a personal site is one thing - there’s no money in it, but using someone else’s work as part of a paying project is something else entirely. It’s shop lifting, plain and simple. I don’t know what I’d do in your place but the advice above seems good…

Chris Vincent said on March 13, 2004 3:19 PM

How embarrassing…

Do people actually think nobody will see these things? Yes, the web is huge with an impossible number of users and websites, but I tend to believe that the users grew in number faster than the different websites, so it’s more and more likely that a given user will have seen a given pair of (seemingly) unrelated pages, especially when they both fall under the same subject matter (design with standards, in this case).

In the happier end of things, it’s always nice to see a dirtbag unmasked.

Ben de Groot said on March 13, 2004 3:19 PM

This is ridiculous! So they use your stylesheet (which I understand is legal), but pass it off as their own (which is definitely NOT legal) but without removing your name from the stylesheet. It’s so… amateur. And looking at the other designs they made, they have nowhere near the quality of yours. Sue them!

Ryan Brill said on March 13, 2004 3:33 PM

“There a only minor changes and those don’t make it even better…”

This is the nature of the beast. I’ve yet to see a ripped layout that looks better than the original. They must think that by making simple changes, it is somehow “ok”, but the changes are always negative. Of couse, when starting with a design the calibre as sub:lime, the designs still look good, just not as good as the original.

Mike P. said on March 13, 2004 3:56 PM

How do you go and explain something like this to your clients?

Good luck with this one Andy; that sublime is a great design. This is it’s second ‘lifting’, no?

Mark Fusco said on March 13, 2004 4:57 PM

While I fully agree that what they did was cheesy, I think you were somewhat unclear in the terms specified in your CSS files.

For instance, you write “This design is not a template. You may not reproduce it elsewhere without the designer’s written permission.” Which is fine. You were probably best at stopping at that.

But then you continue, “The CSS itself may freely be used for anything you wish…What you may use - .css files.”

And that, I’m afraid is what they did. They used your css file for their gain.

Jeff Minard said on March 13, 2004 6:22 PM

Can some on clarify this - doesn’t the CC allow people to use the code like they did? I mean, wasn’t that the point.

” What you may use - .css files. What you may not use - .jpg, .gif, and .png files. “

It looks like all the graphics changed to me. Where am i reading this wrong. (Don’t get the wrong idea here, I’d hate to have my design ripped just as much, but was it really ripping it? Im just not sure.)

d.block said on March 13, 2004 6:57 PM

hey andy,
as a student of interaction design in ravensbourn college, our class was set the zen garden project( see it on our blog here http://80.177.26.60/blojsom/blog/interaction_one/CSSZengarden-project/ ) and we learned css by looking at other designs and manipulating them and also using various books, for most of us it was our 1st time with css and for a professional to rip your page off like that, well its just sad! hope you get some sweet revenge!

Scrivs said on March 13, 2004 7:13 PM

Did they take the site down? I must have missed it. Damn, always late to the party.

Tony said on March 13, 2004 7:39 PM

Lifting a site design like that is not only unprofessional but contrary to the spirit of CSS Garden.

However, I’m sure that this guy will argue that he is acting within the terms of the ShareAlike 1.0 deed. The deed explicitly allows commercial use of a copy or derivative of the original work and by leaving the original license text intact he is probably complying with the licencing terms of the deed.

Given the nature of the works displayed on CSS Garden perhaps the Attribution - NoDerivs - NonCommercial 1.0 deed would be more applicable?

Jon HIcks said on March 13, 2004 9:00 PM

I see they’ve taken the design down and put up a classic ‘bad web template’. Was there an exchange of emails?

jim said on March 14, 2004 9:09 AM

Whoa, what’s up with your comments, they keep repeating.

Whoa, what’s up with your comments, they keep repeating.

The template they have up now is SO bad. When will these cheeseheads learn to write their own code instead of pilfering others. At least they look rather stupid now.

Jim.

Chris said on March 14, 2004 9:17 AM

Err, are your comments haywire or what?

Bernard said on March 14, 2004 1:04 PM

What goes around, comes around, eh, Andy?

Perhaps you are starting to understand how the Wired Sussex designer felt when you took the piss with his work!

B->

jay pettitt said on March 14, 2004 5:37 PM

sorry to go against the grain - but the creative commons license attached to the css of sub:lime specifically permits anyone to (and I quote)…
* to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
* to make derivative works
* to make commercial use of the work
To say “hey look at me and my cool creative commons share-a-like license, err but I don’t want to share my work with you” is a little confusing. Perhaps it is time to consider changing the license or simply accepting that sub:lime is, by and large, in the public domain.

Personnally I hope that you honor the cc license; I’ve always held the contributers to zen garden in the upmost respect for making such top class examples of css available to all. One day I’ll have a design or two of my own up there :-)

Andy Budd said on March 14, 2004 7:02 PM

Woah, have absolutely no idea what’s up with the repeating comments. Not changed anything on the site so it’s all a little odd.

You are right to point out that the CSS is released under a creative commons “Share and Share alike” license. The purpose behind this is to allow people to learn from, and experiment with, the CSS. However in the CSS source code it states that

/* IMPORTANT */
/* This design is not a template. You may not reproduce it elsewhere without the designer’s written permission. */
/* The CSS itself may freely be used for anything you wish, but the associated graphics belong to the designer. */
/* What you may use - .css files. What you may not use - .jpg, .gif, and .png files. */

I guess some people would read it that the “design” simply refers to the image files. However that is not the case. While the CSS is released under a creative commons license, neither the design nor the xhtml is. The copyright of the “Design” is still retained by the designer, which in this case is myself. You can go and do whatever you wish with the CSS as long as it doesn’t look like my design.

The second, and more important issue, is that the designer was calming the work is his. He clearly said on his portfolio that he did the graphic design and and theme for the site which is untrue.

I’m fine with people playing around with the CSS and using it to better their knowledge. I’m also fine with people creating works based on the design/layout but including their own touches to make it different. What I’m less happy about is people copying the design whole sale, selling it on for a profit and then claiming in their portfolio that the design is theirs.

Here are a couple of posts from Dave about the issues of people using the Zen Garden designs.

Zen Garden FAQ
http://www.mezzoblue.com/zengarden/faq/

Copywrong
http://www.mezzoblue.com/cgi-bin/mt/mezzo/archives/000260.asp

Copywrong Revisited
http://www.mezzoblue.com/cgi-bin/mt/mezzo/archives/000261.asp

Copy-let’s-get-this-right
http://www.mezzoblue.com/cgi-bin/mt/mezzo/archives/000264.asp

Just as a follow up, the web designer and their client have been in touch and both were very apologetic. The site is currently down while a new design is created, and am sure things will get resolved amicably.

Oh, and Bernie, I fail to see how this situation is in any way similar to my redesign of the Wired Sussex site. This was about a designer using somebody else’s design for commercial purposes and passing it off as their own. What I did with Wired Sussex was spend a weekend coming up with a completely original theme as a personal creative exercise.

Bernard said on March 15, 2004 1:04 AM

I understand that he didn’t do exactly what you did, but there are parallels that can be drawn for the sake of stirring up a bit of discussion!

It’s a topic close to my heart. If you put something ‘out there’ then it’s very hard, if not impossible, to have control over how anybody might use, abuse or exploit it. Whatever “it” is.

I’ll study your links and maybe pursue this topic further - hopefully in calmer tones than I’m known for here in blogland!

B->

Mark Fusco said on March 15, 2004 2:54 AM

Andy -

While I agree with the spirit of your stand, the logic behind it doesn’t hold.

As you state above, It states clearly in that CSS file that “The CSS itself may freely be used for anything you wish.” There is no disclaimer protecting you saying as long as you change the size, color, placement of the divs, use a different font, place the niav elements elsewhere…What it does say, in rather pregnant terms is that you can use it FREELY FOR ANYTHING.

Furthermore, in the terms as you’ve written them, “graphics” does infer images because your followup statement defines what graphics are - “.jpg, .gif, and .png files.

You cannot tell someone feel free to use my CSS files however you wish, and then try to hinder them from using your design elements - when the very design elements you’re telling them they CAN’T use are the very makeup of the css file you say they CAN use.

Dave said on March 15, 2004 8:15 AM

Having followed all of Dave Shea’s threads about the Zen Garden CSS theft, I tend to agree with Mark F. that you have no recourse for using your CSS file. However, there does appear to be one small sticking point. That is, they actually left your name attached to the CSS file, to sell their products. Creative Commons license or not, this would indicate to me that you deserve some sort of compensation. Of course, nothing is legally stopping them from removing your name and continuing to use the design. I would hope though, that they would consider a more ethical resolution.

Isofarro said on March 15, 2004 11:30 AM

Haven’t been keeping up with Dave Shea’s investigation into Creative Commons. As I understand it, its fair game to reuse the design on projects, but surely they can’t claim ownership over the design? At the very least they would need to acknowledge that the original design is Andy’s (or via CSS Zen Garden).

Any license that allows one person to assert ownership on another’s design without compensation / contractual agreement is surely iffy.

Kronn said on March 15, 2004 1:27 PM

Now, this is going to get interesting. As far as I understand this, the difficulties are

- Andys name is still in the CSS
- the “reseller” has claimed it as his own

And, for my part,

- although still looking good, its worse than the original sub:lime

I think it’s good, that both, the client and the reseller, have apologised. This is a point to begin. I’m definitely interested, what comes up next, the design was online for about six month, after all.

I would be happy to see that Andy gets a fair share of the income. Then, I think, everything would be good:
- The original designer got some reward for his design
- the reseller learnt his lesson
- the client got a good and will now get a free design

Okay, I know, I’m optimistic and yes: I like happy ends, sometimes.

Niket said on March 15, 2004 4:40 PM

As I understand it, anyone is well within his rights to use the CSS file, WITHOUT express content of the author, WITH/OUT any modifications to the original file, WITH/OUT attribution. If someone derives commercial benefits from this CSS file, he MAY NOT compensate Andy.

However, only the CSS is released under CC/SA. The work can not be “sublicenced” and “all notices that refer to this License and to the disclaimer of warranties” must be kept intact. To me, the person in question seems to have done that.

What is NOT released under the CC/SA is the design. This is probably where the line gets blurred. Isn’t the way all elements of the webpage are layed out constitute its design? Of course the gif, jpg and png can not be used. But other than that, there seems to be no restriction on the use of the design.

And once the work is released under CC, it DOES NOT matter whether the author intended it to be released in a different way. The work is relesed to the public domain, and it can not be “un-released”.

Jeff Minard said on March 16, 2004 6:59 AM

Let me start with - I feel they were wrong for ripping without the decency to at least contact you and say “hey, were going to use this - it’s got yer name on it.” and then posting a little note about it in the css (at a minimum).

Now moving onto something you said,

“You can go and do whatever you wish with the CSS as long as it doesn’t look like my design.”

That makes no sense what-so-ever to me. From what I know, a CSS file is nothing but design. Especially the way it is used in this case - you use the CSS for layout.

So how is someone to take the CSS and not use your design? They are, in my eyes, one in the same. Are they not? After all, you define the design via the CSS.

Andy Budd said on March 16, 2004 10:10 AM

I think this is exactly where the problem lies. Being able to differentiate the code from the design. I can understand why many people don’t see the difference, and this is possibly an indication that I’ve misunderstood the licensing terms.

From reading the Zen Garden FAQ and Dave’s subsequent posts, I was under the impression that the CSS was under a creative commons license to allow people to use and build on the code, mostly from an educational background. However I was equally under the impression that the design was still copyrighted and that the designs were not templates to be used at will.

In my own head, I can clearly see the difference between a visual design and the code that describe the design. The design is something I created in Photoshop. It’s a visual idea and is separate from the medium. The CSS is simply one way or representing the design. Another would be the original psd file, a third would be a printed representation.

I was under the impression that it was the CSS code used to represent the design that was under a CC licence, but the underlying design still belonged to me. To me, this makes perfect sense, but I can easily see why it may not make sense to others.

As this is such a grey area, and I really don’t want to see people making substandard copies of my submission and then selling them off as their own work, I’ve decided to ask Dave to remove suub:lime form the Zen Garden.

Bobby van der Sluis said on March 16, 2004 11:19 PM

Removing sub:lime from Zen Garden is like taking a painting from a museum and putting it in your private vault. The result is that a big audience cannot get inspired or learn from your work anymore. The original purpose why it was created in the first place.

I totally agree with you, this is all about ethics within our line of profession. If a professional designer copies your CSS and just changes some colors and images and sells it as his design, to me it is a rip-off, no matter what abracadabra licence it is released under.

Unfortunately I have seen a lot of design theft around me. I guess for some people it is hard to be original. However I believe this is only a small group of people. Exposing the less imaginative will have a better net result than removing your work. For a professional in the end it is all about reputation.

If you give me a vote, I vote stay ;-)

Mark Fusco said on March 17, 2004 12:53 AM

I agree totally w/Bobby. If you take it off - they win.

Instead, just place a comment in the code stating your displeasure in having it hijacked for profit. There are enough people out there you will look at the source anyway, and if the ripper is dumb enough to steal your stuff (and in this case)leave the comments intact, they’ll be found out soon enough.

Hasan said on March 17, 2004 1:27 AM

I’m confused. You design a graphic, that’s yours. But you put together a bunch of DIVs, is that yours too? What if you change the colors around? Is it OK if I hand-coded a layout and came up with the same DIV arrangement? If I change a float to a relative position, is that enough? Who’s perspective are we using? No offense to anyone is intended, I’m just learning and trying to get my bearings.

Jeff Minard said on March 17, 2004 3:10 AM

Ok,

So let’s assume that the design and css are two different entities. At what point does the design change enough to be able to say “That’s ok”.

For example. If I took that style sheet, removed all teh background graphics,etc, and change the color scheme to shades of red, would that be enough?

What is you breaking point for when the design is different enough, but still using the same css, to be acceptable? What has to change?

On the topic of you removing sub:lime from CSSZenGarden, I would beg you not to. It is one thing to be ripped off (one way or the other) without credit/reparations, but we are trying to push web standards. If we start taking away the examples because people aren’t being honest, we only shoot ourselves in the foot by taking away what we want to show the world.

DJ said on March 17, 2004 4:04 AM

Have you at least contacted the company that hired them? The owner of the site? To make them aware that they probably paid good money for somthing that was not original, and not created by the company that they contracted with. That should get them to (if they have a conscience,) ask the designer to come up with a unique design, instead of something created by you, and whether ripped off or a bad interpretation of the CC license, from their brain, not yours.

Alex Farran said on March 17, 2004 2:48 PM

Umair Haque of Bubblegeneration has an opinion on this -
http://www.bubblegeneration.com/2004_02_22_archives.cfm#107780327935131138

As I read it, property rights only emerge when the value of the property exceeds the cost (to both parties) of negotiating those rights. Stylesheets aren’t worth that much.

You can’t reasonably expect to get anything more than attribution, and you might not even want that if their derived work is inferior to your original.

Looking at the site now, it appears they’ve dropped your stylesheets, but kept your design. The precise opposite of your wishes.

Niket said on March 17, 2004 4:24 PM

Andy, I think LOT more people have been inspired and gainfully learnt from your work compared to “jerks” that blatantly copied your design. Yours is an amazing design, and it’d be a shame if its unavailable for others to get inspired any more.

My personal web (home page) is kind of rip off of Radu Dravas’ design… and a pathetic one at that :-), if you compare it with the original. But besides the inspiration, there isn’t much in common among the two. I think my ability to see beauty in design increased thousand fold due to amazing work at the Zen Garden.

So you have - 100 people who are design blind, CSS blind, but saw the light due to designs like sub:line
vs. odd “jerk” who lifted your design and used it commercially.

I would vote for the 100 inspired than the one jerk.

But of course, its not my design thats copied… so I can’t possibly know how you feel.

Niket said on March 17, 2004 4:31 PM

BTW, I see NOTHING wrong in the current version of the Hormonal website (March 17).

Nothing wrong even if they used your CSS with minumum modification. The current design is just not your design.

(note: my caps = “emphasis” and not “screaming”)

Ben said on March 17, 2004 7:33 PM

Firstly, as can be seen from the site currently up and “inspired” from sub:lime, you can see the designer has very little idea about what he is doing. In comparision to sub:lime it is very shoddy. This is generally the case, which is why copies and pirates of sites like 2advanced, (remember how many of those there were?) never bothered the designers, because they were never near the standard of work produced by the original author, and so hardly registered.

Secondly, this is probably going to have a knock on for the Zen garden. I certainly don’t want to release my work under any license other than one that allows me full control over my design, code and other mark-up. I imagine a lot of people reading this thread are thinking the same, which is a shame as the work there has inspired many, including me, (although I prefer si6 as garden of choice ;)

jay pettitt said on March 17, 2004 9:14 PM

you could just change the cc license to one that better suits your feelings toward protecting your work. - cc will happily provide variations on a non commercial attribution style license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/1.0/) if you want to stick with the creative commons thing. From what I have read on his site, I’m sure that Dave Shea would be open to authors using a slightly different license if that is what they would prefer.

Jonathan Stanley said on March 18, 2004 2:15 PM

Well, looks like said designer has got the client’s site back to a new design. Still quite a lot like the old iteration, but it certainly lacks the “polish” of sub:lime.

Scott Blanchard said on March 18, 2004 5:27 PM

Andy, I definitely think you have a case. This is blatent stealing!

I just wanted to let everyone know that octaneinternet should not be confused with my company, Octigon, which sells Octane8, a content management application. Fortunately, we have nothing whatsoever to do with this company other than similar product names.

Wayne said on March 19, 2004 11:05 PM

Andy, I can understand your anger, but, like others, I’m having trouble with the following statement:

“I was under the impression that it was the CSS code used to represent the design that was under a CC licence, but the underlying design still belonged to me.”

How can I be free to use the CSS, the code that renders the design, without having that code render the design? That’s what the CSS does; it renders the design. It may not be the design, as you’ve argued, but I just can’t see how I can be free to use code that creates something without the side-effect of it creating that very something.

One thing Dave Shea said in response to your decision to remove your design from the Garden drives me crazy:

“A more restrictive license won’t stop any of this from happening, since those who set out to rip off others’ work will do it regardless of copyright.”

You may not be able to stop people from using your work, but you don’t have to sanction it, which is exactly what many CC licenses do!

I’ve talked about this before: http://www.dionidium.com/2003/09/00116

Wilhelm said on March 20, 2004 12:43 AM

As far as I can tell, this is a story with two delicious morals. Moral the first being: don’t put something under a license you don’t understand. Moral the second being: don’t start believing your own hype about special magic pixie dust. There is no separation between ‘design’ and the HTML/CSS files that comprise a page.

radu said on March 20, 2004 1:41 AM

does anyone remember the wthremix contest?
( http://w3mix.web-graphics.com/ )

well, then have a look at this 1:1 copy:
http://www.academicdb.com/

it looks like it’s not their fault - the designer cannot be find anymore…

they promised to change the design as soon as possible (which is quite a while ago ;-), and at least they gave me a credit in a footer note.

I’m not really happy with it, but this will not make me remove my wthremix entry.

Wayne said on March 20, 2004 2:48 AM

Something interesting about the designer in question: he claims to build his websites with W3C compliant XHTML and CSS, but not a single site that is listed in his portfolio validates. And some aren’t even built with XHTML.

Bad, bad, bad….

Lars Ullrich said on March 20, 2004 3:06 AM

Soooo, stealing music off of Napster a few years back was OK, but god forbid someone lift a stupid .css file. Why isn’t Andy Budd painted as a money-hungry jerk like I was when I spoke out about music downloading.

When it happens to some computer geek developer there is an uproar. When it happens to a band, they are money-hungry. You hypocrites.

Rob L Glazebrook said on March 20, 2004 7:08 PM

I was saddened to read that your ZenGarden design has been taken down at your request. sub:lime was, until its elimination, my favorite ZenGarden submission. Luckily, I stashed a screenshot of it in a folder containing designs by designers I hope to live up to someday. :)

Jeremy said on March 20, 2004 10:43 PM

Absolutely sickening. It’s a downfall to everything we strive to achieve.

Jeff said on March 22, 2004 2:15 PM

Lars,

You doofus. There is a big difference between letting someone listen to your music for free vs. someone dowloading your track, then taking credit for it and trying to sell it to another label to make a profit.

The point of making music (ideally) is that people will listen to it and enjoy it. The fact that you and the rest of your mascara wearing wanna be punk rockers took the steps you did only points out that you are in it only for money. This makes you a money hungry fool.

Michael R. Havard said on March 22, 2004 7:53 PM

There seems to be a disconnect between the letter of the law and common courtesy. Of course liars and theives will always choose the letter of the law as their defense for poor behavior. In this case because the ‘designer’ took a CC licensed work and merged it with some html which he had in some minor way modified he justified it as HIS work in it’s entirety.

Of course in design it’s hard to create a work without taking something from some other artist or work. Typically those are very minor things like maybe a theme (i.e. the virgin Mary) or a technique. Most often those take-aways are subtle things that require someone to compare and interpret to find the similarities.

In cases like Andy’s I completely understand where he’s coming from. For example let’s say you have a work of art along the lines of the Mona Lisa but created today. One artist creates the painting with effort, consideration, and a special technique which he documents and gives to the world. Another person takes those instructions and loads them into a computer which then spits out exact replicas of the original painting. He then signs his name to the painting and sells them en mass.

The painting [design] is the end output and physical representation of the documentation [css/html]. The painting is owned by the artist while the instructions for how to recreate the painting are available to the community. Using the instructions to begin recreating the end work wholesale would end up producing identical or nearly identical output violating the copyright of the painting.

It would be like picking up a book on how to draw Mickey Mouse and then using it to start selling Mickey Mouse art you photocopied out of the book. The instructions are there free for you to use to learn from but the end designs are still owned by someone else.

Yes I know there’s the argument over how much change would signify a ‘new’ creation. That’s why we have brains (and if necessary judges). Most people can look at two images and see the similarities and differences with ease. Our brains are designed to find patterns and matches in things. There’s a point in our calculations that we say “this is similar to that” and another point where “these two are the same” comes into play.

The argument being passed around is that the licensing and terms were confusing, and that might be so. But… we also have evidence that shows the the ‘ripper’ in this case not only laid claim to someone else’s design but has also lied about a significant portion of the rest of their portfolio and does not truly have the skills they lay claim to. This would lead me to the conclusion that the license terms would not have mattered either way. This is simply a case where a someone took credit for someone elses design and lucked into an akward license issue that may or may not protect him.

Either way I think this quote fits:
“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”

Joel said on March 23, 2004 5:29 AM

Awful. Just awful, Andy.

As many before have commented, as an amateur script-kiddie with CSS (I dare not call myself a designer yet) I value greatly studying and appreciating the CSS Zen Garden and the ability to take a peek at the code when I want to understand.
I have learned so many things from yours — and everyone’s — Zen Garden Designs.

I’m sorry to see yours go, but I hope you resolve to not let your flower in the CSS Zen Garden die without resolve — you have a case, and you should go for it.

Derek said on March 23, 2004 6:36 AM

(Aside: if it had actually been Lars Ulrich, he probably would have spelled his last name right.)

I dislike that Andy’s design was ripped off. However, removing it from the Zen Garden helps little. Now the only example of the design generally available on the Web is the stolen one.

Joe said on March 26, 2004 2:51 AM

Come on, man, this is the Internet when are talking about. There are no morals, only plenty of fun and …