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Is imitation *really* the sincerest form of flattery?

October 12, 2011

UPDATE TO POST : 2nd NOVEMBER

Well, in terms of the initial issue below, a check today has confirmed that the other company’s website is still “Under Construction”, so hopefully our client’s problem with them has indeed been resolved. And, hopefully, the other company have shown that perhaps an “error” was made as they do seem, so far, to have reacted honourably.

However, “copying”, “plagiarism”, “ripping off” – whatever you want to call it – is still rife. Another client of ours came to a meeting today to discuss the imminent launch of her gorgeous new website. However, the shine was a little bit take off as she revealed that she too had discovered that someone, in exactly the same kind of niche industry, had literally just helped themselves to designs from her current website. What was most galling, was that the designs were hand sketched by our client, and so incredibly personal. And very unique. Ironically, the very word used on the other person’s website

Hopefully, this matter will too be settled quickly and the other company will act with integrity. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that people out there, maybe because it’s on the WWW and therefore less tangible, still feel it’s OK to just help themselves. But, bet if I went into a shop and just helped myself, there’s be some pretty speedy repercussions…

UPDATE TO POST : 18th October

Well, since we posted the blog below, there have been some developments. Since posting on Twitter that one of our sites had been copied, we were really touched by the responses, some from people we knew, some from people we only know via their avatar. As a result of these responses, we’ve been able to take some really quick & decisive action ;

@wearelifeuk  have you tried the site Copyscape for checking plaigarism?

@wearelifeuk Disgusting, but it’s so common. Good luck with trying to get it resolved.sounds bad form. Website code & design is copyright isn’t it? So can u get takedown notice issued?

@wearelifeuk Want to have a chat about IP issues?

@wearelifeuk Have a look at @ownit based in London good advice & opportunity to ask specfic Q’s. Good luck

@wearelifeuk Ugh, sounds messy. Look up moral rights too, for the right not to have somebody else trash your hard-produced work.

@wearelifeuk at least there is a law against it and plenty of help ‘Own It’ with the help of pro bono workers.

@wearelifeuk Just seen your blog post – never ceases to amaze me how unscrupulous some people can be.

@wearelifeuk Disgusting, but it’s so common. Good luck with trying to get it resolved.

So, thanks to a network of very savvy, and very kind Tweeters, we’ve hopefully been able to resolve this issue with out having had to recourse to expensive legal action. We sent an email requesting that substantial changes be made to the copy and attaching screen grabs of the identical copy. We also advised that we’d “taken advice”. Today we received an email from the company, advising us that the site had been taken down:

We don’t think so. And this is why.

We spend a lot time, pre-design, talking to our clients and getting to know them. We try to really find out what makes them tick. We get to know them. We often become friends. And this all helps us to create designs that are very personal to our clients.

Some designs are big and bold. Some are a bit out there. Some are elegant. Some are simplistic. But ALL are created through collaboration with our clients.

And that’s why, if we find out that another design company has ripped off our ideas/designs/words, we don’t like it. But we’re not daft. We know the power of the internet. How easy it is to cut & paste a word or two. Take an image or an idea and tweak. That happens & in the industry we work in, simply because it’s difficult to not be influenced by what’s available around you.

However, when it’s not just a word or two, or a tweaked image, but effectively a WHOLE SITE, then that’s not flattery.

It’s stealing. It’s plagiarism. It’s unethical. And it’s possibly even worse, when the company is confronted with the evidence & their repsonse is that they’ll “look into it” and then “take a view on it“. And then, best of all, advising us that they’re no competition for our clients, because – wait for it. They’re based in Essex – and our clients are based in Manchester. Err – www. & all that…

So, here’s a snapshot of the site we created for a client. A client who’s trying to grow his business and for whom a website and the internet and all that that meant, was fairly scary –

The Curtain Fitters, Manchester

The Curtain Fitters, Manchester

A client who now faces the prospect of fighting to get another company to do the honourable thing. Now that’s not fair is it? And we don’t think he’s finding it very flattering at the moment…

(A really positive outcome of this situation however, has been the invaluable advice we’ve received via Twitter. Thankyou. You all know who you are).

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