Design Protection.

When you publish something you’ve worked so hard on, you want it to be something that stays unique. Something that is distinctly you and can stand the test of time. But when evil eyes lurk to reap what you’ve sewn, how much power do you have to protect it?

I’m sure a lot of us wish that the answer to that would be “complete” or “absolute”. But unfortunately, especially in a world full of themes, it’s getting harder and harder to protect yourself. I say this as a designer who respects the unique nature of sites with designs that take hours upon hours to create and maintain.

But then there are arguments like, “well, this isn’t really unique, you didn’t create this concept in the first place”. So, that makes the task of protecting elements of your design even harder - unless it’s pretty damn obvious. Now since that specific topic was beaten to a pulp, let me throw together another example. It happens to revolve around themes.

Story Time!

We’ll start with this quote, which seems to be a confession that this person tried to make Hemingway look like my site. The “infact” makes it seem like he was extra happy with it. So he obviously provides a link, and since it’s a publicly-available theme I have no qualms with posting the link to it: http://www.confusedweb.com/demo/. This is Hemingway Pearl, obviously a modification of Kyle Neath’s Hemingway.

Yeah i made hemmingway comment sluk like the once Brian has in www.avalonstar.com infact i had made hemmingway luk exactlly like his webiste …

Now, we already know he said that he made the comments look like mine, but something else got me when I took a look at this theme. Take a look at “Recent Posts”:

Similarity?

Similar right? But I really shouldn’t lose sleep after it. I actually forgot about the whole thing until a friend of mine approached the guy about the striking similiarities, this is what he had to say:

And about the recent posts now the way my recent posts are implemented are totally different again from what brian has implemented the Recent posts … and more over I haven’t used the Category image feature which isn’t that tough to implement … in any ways … so i guess it’s just the idea ripped and then recoded and binded together … Because the recent post luk like his but then again … it’s a total different luk in coding them … nothing like ripping the source code … it’s just that ripping what I saw and then totally ripping it into something like that with my original source code …

So, using this guys logic, I can completely rip on say, Jon Hicks or Veerle and because I use WordPress and they use Textpattern and Expression Engine respectively, it’s alright. Because… it’s different source code. Now, this did the equivalent of throwing me out the window - because I have never seen an explanation like this before. Obviously, there’s really nothing I can do about it now. He didn’t rip all of my design, but he has admitted to ripping parts of it. Now, it’s a publicly-available theme that probably a good number of people are already using. So in that sense, I can’t wait to redesign so I can get that feeling of nakedness off my back.

I guess, I just wanted to hear what the resounding opinions were on this, because obviously, some people can’t read.

What can we protect? What’s worth protecting?