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I’m Tired Of Companies Ripping off our site, So I’m Calling Them Out (andresmax.com)
441 points by xs_kid on Feb 4, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 270 comments

I think you might just be taking the wrong approach. Shaming them is a bad idea, at least as a first move.

Seek-out and contact the owners of these businesses. Point out what you have discovered. There's an outside possibility that they have no clue that their web designers have done this. They might actually feel rather embarrassed to learn so. If I couldn't code my own sites and had to rely on designers who took this approach I certainly would feel pretty bad upon learning about it.

What to do then? Tell them that you'll gladly allow them to use the design for a small fee. Or, perhaps better yet, if they actually hired an outside firm to build their site, propose that you take over their site design and that you'll fix what they got wrong.

If the deed was done in-house or you are up against a coder-designer-founder that just go lazy, figure out a win-win. Out of respect they ought to at least pay you something. You could even lobby for a link in the footer with "Site design based on ...". I wouldn't opt for "Site designed by" because if they screw it up it could look bad for you.

Aikido vs. Karate. It can work wonders.

Oh, yes, I also concur with those who proposed that you might want to consider productizing your design. As a minimum-viable-product you now know that there are people willing to steal it. With the right approach you might be able to find people willing to buy it.

You could even consider expanding upon this and creating a few more designs. Post them openly on your site with an invitation to use them and the condition that you are to receive payment after a thirty day trial period. Just a thought.

Wow. I don't agree with this response at all. "Allow them to use the design for a small fee"?

The original site design was the product of careful branding, long hours of coding, and probably countless revisions: the point of all this work is to create something that uniquely represents the company.

Responding to piracy by "homogenizing" an original design isn't the answer.

The rest of the business world is definitely not that generous (trust me: if you steal an image from Getty Images, they don't let you get away with paying a "small fee"). Neither should OP.

The OP is a design house. Is this particular design the last drop of creative juice they have? I would think they can certainly evolve their site into another equally interesting design.

It's almost like what happens to Mercedes Benz. Companies like Mitsubishi shamelessly copy MBZ designs. They've been doing it for years. MBZ's answer is to continuously innovate.

Obsolete you own product.

Really? They can "evolve" their site? At what cost? Specifically, do you think it's a cost that's equal to or lower than the cost of simply waiting for others to do the hard work, then copying their advances? If you do, I can understand why you'd see your approach as a viable one. But if it turns out that origination is vastly more time and resource intensive than duplication (which, duh, it is), you'll find that the effort to stay a step ahead of the pirates becomes uneconomical very swiftly.

That's the whole point of patent and copyright law. They're defenses against locusts. The fact that these laws have been abused and need reform should not obscure their underlying value and purpose, which is actually becoming clearer than ever.

I suppose design is like fashion. Whatever you do will be emulated and plain ripped off pretty quickly so if you want to be seen as the hip trendsetter who gets to charge the highest prices you need to be constantly reinventing yourself to stay ahead of the curve.

The similarities are superficial at best. Fashion, almost by definition, is ephemeral. Design, on the other hand, strives for permanence.

"Constantly reinvention" is just total bullshit when you start talking about salt and pepper shakers. And so is the idea of "staying ahead of the curve" when doing so means a non-stop torrent of additions to landfills everywhere. Good designers get this. They're actually very resourceful people who are trying to make the world work better in ways both small and large. Squandering resources with a stream of pointless variations doesn't square with this ethos at all.

The difference between design and trash is that good design is what you hold onto for years, even generations. What the best designers strive for is the elegant solution, a perfect convergence of form and function that resists further change for as long as humanly possible.

Again, the opposite of fashion.

There are remarkably few web designs that have much permanence. Sites that were designed 5 years ago can look very dated today.

Since the web is a place where things are very easily copied, it stands to reason that good ideas will be emulated and this is to be expected.

It would seem quite contrary to the idea of the web to give a single entity a monopoly on laying out a page in a particular way.

It's true that websites and sofas have different refresh rates, but I'm guessing you didn't read the OP, check out the site in question, or click through to any of the examples he provided.

If you do, you'll see that we're not talking about general conventions here (e.g. the similar layouts of YouTube and Kickstarter pages). Nor is this "emulation" in many cases. It's just unvarnished theft (i.e. using the same copyright protected photos as backgrounds).

Best thing to do is to send the owner a Cease & Desist letter, and if they're based in the US, a threat to have the site pulled by the webhost under the DMCA in the event that the owner refuses to comply. It's diplomatic to give the owner a way to save face be acknowledging that that may also be getting victimized by an unscrupulous third party who is passing off the work of others as their own. But also note that this doesn't change the facts of the matter, and state that, one way or another, the site must come down immediately.

You shouldn't say or offer anything else until they call you back and offer you a chance to gauge their demeanor. Chances are good, they're going to be angry. Question is, at who? If it's with you (for ruining their day) then fuck 'em. They're not the kind of people you want anything to do with. Just tell them they have 24 hours to comply or you'll have the site pulled for violating copyrights, and that you won't release the claim unless they pay you several thousand dollars. However, if they're reasonable, they'll be angry with their vendor, apologetic with you, and then you can turn the exchange into a sales call.

so now you're saying they should change/evolve their design because other companies have blatantly ripped them off? it's not just "some design", it's their brand. if Mitsubishi put a MBZ logo on their car MBZ wouldn't "continuously innovate" on their logo.


Also, there's a legal concept called trade dress, which protects the signature elements of a product. Mitusibusi copies Mercedes, but only to point. And that point is defined by law. This law explains why the imitations are so pale, and why the markets for Mitsubishis and Mercedes have so little overlap.

That doesn't mean that Mercedes can stagnate. It's a design icon, after all, and has to fit within a larger sphere that is always changing. But protection for its brand does mean can move at a more considered and deliberate pace (good conditions for thoughtful, lasting design), then it could if competitors could make perfect copies with no appreciable latency.

Slow moving design is a feature, not a bug. You'll note that cars that hit on a relatively unchanging design that doesn't date itself quickly have higher resale values than those that don't (like, ahem, Mitsubishi).

Off-topic, but if Mitsubishi has been making any effort to copy Mercedes-Benz, then they have been doing a shockingly poor job of it. Certainly I cannot find any trace of an E-class in the unloved Galant, no SLK in the Eclipse... in fact it would not be that surprising to see Mitsubishi start pulling out of some foreign markets.

While they can, it doesn't mean they should.

Mitsubish are selling product, while this is a portfolio design and thus should require less attention while you work on clients.

The solution is not to blame the victims of the theft. Agreed that shaming isn't always the best idea either though.

I love how all the websites copying your design actually have a copyright mention at the bottom. The nerve is unbelievable! Beyond that I agree with the "obsolete your own design approach", and, however fun adding stuff to other's websites might be, that would certainly open you up to a suit, as you couldn't pretend you didn't know. That being said, if some customers paid top dollars for what is essentially your design, only not to you, that is a huge loss for you. I'd definitely try and settle with the end customers amiably in this case, or sue if they behave like assholes, and they can then sue the dev or web agency they picked themselves.

trust me: if you steal an image from Getty Images, they don't let you get away with paying a "small fee"

That's because the product of Getty Images is the image. You're not infringing on their branding, you're taking their actual product. Apples and oranges.

Not apples and oranges if the OP's business is design

Get a life and get used to it. Overall its just a design, you think its great, and at least a few agreed on it and copied it.

There is no copyright on web pages. Web pages are there to be seen and thus their source to be copied. By even watching your page its in my cache now. I could copy it and use it.

If you where a little bit smarter some .js code might have protected for easy copying, but you didnt do that, who to blame ? you perhaps?

"Just a design"

"Just a work of art"

"Just a musical composition"

"Just a book"

"Just a piece of software"

"Just a photograph"

I don't think folks should be able to steal these things (or anything) just because they're "easy to copy". I also don't think that adding more DRM to the world (ie. "some .js code") is the answer.

Just because it's possible to steal something, you/society should allow it to happen? Did I misinterpret what you said, or is this what you're saying?

If the GP is advocating that ideas and their expressions shouldn't be 'private' if expressed publicly, then comparing it to stealing is incorrect.

> Just because it's possible to steal something, you/society should allow it to happen?

A closer comparison would be: you heard me tell a story. You don't think society should allow you to tell it to someone else because I 'own' it, and to tell someone else is to 'steal' from me.

Err, no. He used the word copyright. Somehow you translated that into stealing. You did, definitely, misinterpret what was said.

You can spend your life arguing over who copied whom and by how much - or you can accept the flattery, get on and do the next thing.

What if I don't want to be "flattered"? I don't really see anything flattering about someone copying one of my ideas when I don't want them to copy it.

You seem to be using a different definition to the word "flattery" than any I know. Being copied is inherently flattering whether you want them to copy you or not.

Flattery is a two-way act to me, why else did you use the word? You basically said "accept that someone copied you against your wishes and just ignore it".

I can see your point generally, but in this case, I can't see how being copied is anything other than flattering. It means the idea was good.

Regards your second sentence, that is what I'm saying. A large company that's put lots of resources into something fighting of another company who "stolen" their idea, while tedious, makes some sense. For an individual, I can't see how it's worth the time, stress or money to worry about copyright.

"Get a life and get used to it" Bit tough no? OP is only calling them out!

> "There's an outside possibility that they have no clue that their web designers have done this."

I thought that too but of all the sites listed, only one is not some kind of digital/creative/design/etc agency. I'm more forgiving of the one company that may have contracted out their website but not really for the others who should know better.

Edit: I doubt shaming would really achieve anything (other than catharsis for the OP).

I'm not against your general point. But take this website:


This is a case of a design company that basically ripped off the design of another design company. They used almost exactly the same sub-title on the first page. As for the bottom page, it is the same, word for word. I mean, they didn't even bother changing it. What do you think the OP should do? Call it's competitors and tell them that they should pay a small fee for ripping them off?

Again, I agree with your general statement, but I think that all of the companies involved in design, marketing (or any other creative business) that copied this design deserve being called on.

It is terrible that they even call themselves a design company. If they are willing to blatantly rip off another design for their own branding - imagine their poor clients.

"Shaming them is a bad idea, at least as a first move. Seek-out and contact the owners of these businesses. Point out what you have discovered. There's an outside possibility that they have no clue that their web designers have done this. They might actually feel rather embarrassed to learn so."

You're just suggesting a different form of shaming :)

Being passively shamed as the OP suggests might be taken better than direct shaming, I imagine. Granted, either attempt might be less satisfying than one expects, but passive attempts at least let one go on with their day with less expectations for interaction and follow-up.

His approach appears to have worked, 4/5 of the websites are down.

It is interesting to see how the community reacts when someone steals their work. There are some good suggestions (e.g. the parent here) like contacting the owners of the offending sites politely.

Quite a few of the other comments seem pretty malicious in nature. Like serving up javascript which behaves mischievously. It doesn't seem to matter to these people if the site owners were victims of bad and lazy designers. (Never mind the fact that the original design is not that original.)

I can't believe that almost the same people then go on to rage and demand, more or less in spirit, everything else be free and open. (academic papers, iOS, music etc) Free, open and being kind are rules which are good to apply to others. Isn't it?

Folks, the above comment is the best way to go about it.

(Pasting an earlier top-level comment of mine as it seems to have been deluged under the anger.)

>" everything else be free and open."

Not, open source is not the same thing as piracy, or plagiarism... in fact is the opposite thing

Copyright and proper atributtion to the creator of the original work is covered in (all?) open source licenses and it is expected to be guaranteed and clearly stated in all derived works. This is not the case here.

I was not talking about open source in particular...

I think the difference is that they're making a direct profit from copying, rather than just sharing knowledge.

I understand that there is a difference. What I have difficulty understanding is the semi-vitriolic hate.

From a designer's perspective: design has an element of personal "style". It takes a lot of hard work to develop your own aesthetic, which makes it highly frustrating when someone lazily swipes it and passes it off as their own.

This is true. But some people ignore the e-mails and calls, or lie, or both—at which point shame is an excellent strategy. My family runs a grant writing consulting firm, and we've had people rip us off too—now, when they rip us off, we call them out too: http://blog.seliger.com/2009/07/03/fake-grant-writers-spamme...

I agree. Even for design agencies and web shops, it can be a difficult task to work on your own site sometimes with client work being the top priority. I've seen first hand web agencies basically cookie-cutting other sites that offer similar services. Which is silly, especially if they want to stand out.

Now in this case, I think you have every right to feel upset that they pretty much jacked your whole website... in some cases even the raw HTML and CSS. Some of those examples didn't even change anything and almost all used your icons.

I do agree with @robomartin though, might wanna take the nice-guy approach first and give them the opportunity to admit their wrongdoings. Good luck, your site looks kick-ass by the way.

i've caught one of my design employees copying stock stuff and claiming it was his own work (and fired him for it), so yes it's very much possible for the owners/managers to not know that the site is a copy.

i'm not sure your other suggestions are that great, and probably public critisism isn't that big of a deal actually (as expresed by PT barnum, all news is good news, or in this case, good SEO)

Interesting, given the copying of the js directly, you could use that to your advantage. Have it behave one way if the page is served up from an IP address you own, and slightly differently served from a foreign address.

Could be sublime, like adds a menu item/link to their pages that has "Web Design Services" that points back to you, to the silly "Get free copyrighted material here" and a link to some dubious content site. Or it could just break periodically and cause them great frustration until they give up and use something else.

I completely agree to this method. Break their site with your js.

Hey, if we have execute of JS on all those clients, why not REDIRECT them to your site? Free traffic. All relevant.

Wait, they've not merely copied his js, they're having him host it too? Oh exploitable. Figure out to make it benefit you. I'd have a hard time resisting the urge to play some mischief though.

No, at least the one I looked at didn't. But if they're just copy-pasting, he could add a domain check (or IP address check) and make it behave differently.

Edit: apparently some of them are! https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5165238

I'm generally against all forms of intentional defamation, but I must admit that this option is very tempting...

Are there any lawyers here that could weigh in on the legality of this?

And I would be especially interested in this site: http://www.creativegerms.com/about

I don't see any similarity at all (except for maybe some basic stuff that can be found on many websites) and including them into that "ripping off" article could be perceived as defamation. Did they just quickly switched to different design?

That one was a bit odd in my mind, too. Maybe it re-uses some code or something?

I can't find a cached version of it anywhere that shows what it looked like an hour or so ago

When people press store / buy, have a 25% probability of redirecting to your store. In all other cases, do nothing.

This could stay hidden a lot longer.

This is a wonderful idea!

Adding this to your JS could be fun...

if(document.location.hostname !== 'ideaware.co') {alert('Do not trust these thieves. They stole this design from ideaware.co');}

Or a little more subtle. A watermark: "Proof Copy - Design By ideaware.co Contact us to design your next website."

Better yet:

1. Phone home to a server they won't easily cmd+f find, with several backups

2. Allow the script to execute arbitrary javascript from said server

3. Store a list of requests and referrers

4. Alert, shame and redirect at your leisure

Obviously this will only work for future copiers that copy from your site.

Assuming that the people who are copying this code are able to code themselves, wouldn't it be easy to find the problem and fix it?

Unless there was some incredible code obfuscation.

Subtle shenanigans could go for some time without being noticed.

And wouldn't people who can code themselves host their own javascript, rather than hotlinking someone else's?

This is what I was thinking, going all stuxnet on them and just subtly moving the advantage your way. The outlier is the propeller guys, they look like a site that hired a 3rd party team to build them a website, and that team ripped of this one and made it theirs. Screwing with it isn't going to send the right signal.

"Assuming that the people who are copying this code are able to code themselves"

Probably a generous assumption.

If you broke it in such a way that it made their site massively unprofessional or completely unusable, then they'd be forced to either redesign their site or take it offline. Either of which results in those sites no longer feeding off copied code.

If someone really wants to copy your site they will do it anyways. I think the best option if its getting this much attention is to release a pay plugin/template or just opensource it. Or as you have already done publicly shame them (not much to gain by doing this though).

Does this mean copyrights aren't worth anything these days?

Do people need to be told this? If copyright still made sense, why would anyone bother with DRM?

No, it just means they're difficult to enforce, and most law enforcement agencies won't act unless the dollar loss is above a fixed minimum (which differs from place to place).

I think there might be a commonality here – a number of them seem to be located in Australia (with one in India and one in the UK) – a whois check shows a few AU contacts and an AU-based whois privacy guard, so I can't be sure, but the do seem to be oddly clustered, IMHO.

My bet would be that some third-party web firm/designer has sold all of these companies a "unique design" and more than likely most of them are unaware of the origin of the design, much less the other sites with the very same design.

My impression, by how widespread it was, was that someone adopted it for a Wordpress theme, and it's now on Themeforest.

Perhaps – but then why the geographic coincidence/clustering I noticed in the sites cited by the author? It certainly could be just dumb luck, but it seemed unlikely.

Makes much more sense than a metal propeller manufacturer organically discovering a web studio and intentionally aping its aesthetic.

I think this analysis is spot-on.

Make a premium WordPress theme based on this design, slap a price on it, and distribute through WordPress theme sites thereby creating an additional income stream for your company. I'm in Miami and I'd be happy to help.

+1 on this. I came here to say that this seems like an awesome opportunity to sell what seems to be quite the hit.

That people are taking the risk of illegally copying it and being publicly shamed speaks volumes for the desirability of your design.

I might actually do this, we were just discussing this at the office!

I probably won't be interested in a Wordpress theme, but if you make a Bootstrap theme quite like this layout I'd definitely buy it.

In the mean time, either of these might be a good starting point for you:



(disclosure: my site)

I would buy this -- its quite nice -- and repurpose it to something other then web design / development

I would buy this as well, it's really a beautiful layout. Hence the copying.

I'd buy too!


A few existing themes follow the parallax scrolling trend: http://themeforest.net/search?term=parallax

Agree, if you make a twitter bootstrap theme you'll find someone who's willing to pay for it too.

+1 on this. Also you will receive a lot inbound links. Be fast on this because someone else could be doing this right now...

Me too. Even better, give the stuff for free and offer paid help. Because, obviously these guys could use some.

Totally agree here. Give them a legal way to 'copy' it and you'll make some money on it. Maybe even make the copyable version easier to install and look slightly different.

You could easily use this to your advantage: 1. Your portfolio is now larger (my designs + people who ripped off my designs) 2. You could create a "Submit sites that ripped off our design" for your customers and create a conversation around it 3. Ask the sites to reference yours in their footer 4. Modify the ripped off source files to display modified header/footer on external sites

You should be thanking them for creating so many opportunities for you. Why not expect everything will be stolen and go from there? It's all public files in the end.

"Our designs are so awesome we have a bunch of imitators (<link> <link> <link>) but we think you'll agree that our original designs are better! Often imitated, never duplicated."

While I agree that these other sites have "ripped you off," I don't think you should spend any more time worrying about it or "fighting" them.

From a quick glance, these sites appear to be tiny "companies" that probably saw a nice site and decided to copy it rather than think up something great for themselves. They are probably not taking away any measurable business from you via their copies sites, so any time you spend "calling them out" or even drawing more attention to them is just a waste of your time.

Go think up the next great design for them to copy and focus on making your own company better instead of putting down the others who decide to take a shortcut.

I think in this day and age, people who take the high road often get squashed. The "nice guys finish last" adage has never been more applicable.

I like to think nice guys finish in a race of sufficient length. This is idealistic thinking on my part, but it helps me keep my thinking positive.

A fair few of these sites are advertising web design services.

Out of concern for their possible future clients, I think it's best that they're publicly shamed.

Excellent advice!

Haha, the smacontech guys even include a javascript file with your site's name on it:

line 173: <script src="./smacontech_files/ideaware.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

Even copied their google analytics js file.

This is how I first noticed them, our GA was showing some weird links.

Hahahahaha! That is seriously incompetent.

Even better: the `_files` part in directory name indicates that they simply used "Save website to file" option in IE, which puts the dependent assets in directory named using this pattern. I imagine they just edited the HTML markup afterwards, without even bothering to check what's inside that directory.

This post is pretty childish. Competition and copycats have existed for centuries and will continue to exist long after you're gone. You think calling them out is going to cause them to have a sudden change of heart after they presumably ripped off your design? Probably not. And I'm almost certain it won't affect any of their future business. You've not only placed yourself in an antagonistic position, but are now open to rebuttals and return attacks. Didn't you read OXO's response to Quirky "calling them out"?

The best thing to do is either ignore something like this or find a way to use the situation to better your business, perhaps with a post about how you value design innovation at your company or, like others have suggested, selling a Wordpress theme.

Don't concern yourself with trivial crap like this; just smile, make the best of it and focus on doing your thing.

I'm inclined to agree with you, but already a few of the sites on his list have been taken down for "upcoming new design!"

It seems shaming does have a palpable effect.

> This post is pretty childish.

How is it childish to call out bad behaviour?

Calling out bad behaviour like this is a pretty good deterrent.

No reason to just be passive and do nothing.

OP is going overboard with the accusations. http://www.capta360.com http://www.creativegerms.com/about http://pearlwebstudio.com

^None of these people are "copying" him, at least visually. OP did not invent links with vertical scroll or the vertical parallax effect.

OP: Clearly some of the sites outright ripped off your design, but stop trash talking sites with designs you merely think are "similar" to yours.

I thought the same thing, they are pretty different. http://www.capta360.com/ is not even close. Maybe he's saying they use his js

Could you not observe that capta are for a start using the exact same opening image as he is? Without you even noticing that glaring ripoff I doubt your commentary carries any weight. Drink your first cup of empathy and put on a solutions cap if you want any shot at growing. :-)

Don't be a cunt.

OP was mad people were stealing his websites design, not his photography, for all we know they both sourced it from the same image warehouse.

You're right. OP should make this clear in the post which complains about people stealing the design. I didn't read the copy.

Agreed, the design isn't copied at all imho, parallax and these sort of websites have been around for a 2+ years now.

capta360.com has (very blatantly) copied the background image.

I've seen a few posts on HN complaining about people copying their sites, but I'm not sure I sympathize.

Websites are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, all of which is open text and easily copied. You shouldn't have any illusions that your design and code is copied and reused somewhere else.

In this case, the websites that are using the design aren't competitors and aren't taking away business from the original developer. What are they expecting to get out of it? An additional revenue stream of HTML templates?

I agree it's a problem if they are hot-linking to assets on someone else's server, but that's a problem in that it's consuming someone's bandwidth and server resources.

I say, call it flattery and be proud that you made a design that other people want to copy. If you're really paranoid (I don't see why), ask for attribution like "Site design by ..." at the bottom of the page.

It's because it's a lie. Many times the copied sites have copy asserting that so-and-so is a great firm, make great products, when they haven't made anything. If isn't such a big deal, why don't the copied sites say 'We copied this entire website, minus copy changes, from X.'?

This is more akin to copying someone's math test and not having enough understanding of the English language to avoid copying the "Name: Keith Gabryelski" in the upper right hand corner

Stealing a design/style or color scheme would yield a "boo hoo" from me. Get over it -- pretty things are pretty and people will build on them.

Whole-hog copying code so that you copy the Google Analytics javascript deserves ridicule and if they removed the authorship comments I say "hang em high".

Ouch: "Your website is slower than 95% of all tested websites" with a 28.85s load time.

- http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/#!/eDa8U8X2P/http://ideaware.co...

Funnily enough, their website loaded slower than the ones who were ripping it, so I was initially confused about what the argument was as the large background image took ~20s to load/push down the rest of the layout. The JS on the navigation never started working either.

The direct copying by other sites is definitely lame, but I don't see anything here I'd want to copy. The crazy load time makes the site almost unusable (as I write this, the page is frozen, and still loading... maybe use fewer http requests and compression?), and the design is nothing to write home about (it's decent though).

I think that's the total load time. The page actually shows up and is usable nearly instantly for me. Also, possibly the Slashdot effect.

Why do that site take so long to load?

Everybody that reads hackernews is loading it at the same time?

seriously the original website takes forever to load

I love how so many of them are just saturated with buzzwords and typical empty suit jargon. I guess stupidity and lack of ethics go hand in hand.

You can search for "Corporate ipsum" on Google chrome to get an extension which create fill text with corporate buzzwords. My colleagues (non native anglophones) fell for it a few times watching at my mockups.

One actually gives birth to the other...

I'd say they both feed into each other bidirectionally.

You might want to add rel="nofollow" attributes to those outgoing links. This indicates to search engines that you do not want your links to influence the other sites' rankings. Not sure if this is possible with tumblr though.

Done, thanks!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Pehaps you could reference these guys on your site as evidence of love for your design chops :)

Incidently - did you check whether these are individul copies or multiple clones by one person/organisation?

Anyway, if assets are being hotlinked you could have some fun...

Exactly. It's a really nice layout, but honestly -- should the essence here (full page photo, small menu at top right, logo at top left, Title/quote in middle with "more info" button) really be "protectable" IP? I just don't see it, sorry.

That doesn't make those designers (or probably just one) honorable or talented or honest. But they have the right to clone layouts too.

It's definitely IP theft, down to the minute details like the red underline on links. The way the images uncover the footer on the bottom is really unique too.

Took me a second cup of coffee to detect the sarcasm. I like you.

Sorry, I wasn't being sarcastic. The links on the top right aren't standard. The footer also has a funky styling. Check out the page to see. Just from reading my comment and not examining the styling I see how it could sound sarcastic.

I thought you were being sarcastic too; these are all very common trends. The problem here isn't the fact that the layout is original (it's not), it's that the code is being ripped straight from the site.

There is nothing anyone is designing that is original.

The direct rip is still bad form.

He mentions that he found the sites due to getting odd values from google analytics, which makes me suspect that they copied the (copyrightable) page markup. That said, I agree with the comment that just selling a WordPress layout is probably going to provide him with the best outcome.

This, they copied markup. Some files even have names from our team members who coded them.

I don't think you looked hard enough, there was plenty of code taken vertabim if you look at the source.

Indeed, I didn't. Note that the linked blog post didn't reference code theft specifically, and it's important to distinguish the two. Copyright violations are cut and dry, and should be condemned. Merely cloning a site design is not, and we shouldn't be lumping them together.

Go deeper into both the original site and the competitors; they didn't just steal the front page.

Obviousness isn't always enough of an excuse to ignore copycats. And let's not forget, this was made obvious after the initial design was created.


+1 for having some fun.

This reminds me of one of Douglas Crockford's talk. The story goes some thing like this.

* Some Russian Porn site uses jsonp using Crockford's host and he get a huge bill

* He polity asks them to host their own version and they don't reply

* He redirects the site to 'http://fbi.gov

* He receives a call from the FBI, because they have been getting suspicious traffic from some Russian site

* He then goes on to add a alert box with a annoying warning saying the site stole his bandwidth. Who cares for warnings any ways?

* He finally puts a loop in the JS file so that the other site wont load. He finally wins

Finally! A .co site that isn't abusing the Colombian TLD for some stupid naming gimmick.

A design company that rips off the design of another design company! That's a new one.

/sarcasm off

Ok, it really is shameless. Especially the one that even hosts the javascript on your server (that opens up some interesting possibilities). But it really is flattery, the good bit is that you can now show them in your portfolio.

On another note, this design, while nice isn't all that original. I've seen it in other places too and maybe they ripped you off as well but for sure it's been around for a while.

Fun anecdote: I once sued company that had ripped off our script for doing plug-in-free video streaming. In court their defence to the claim they ripped us off was they had not ripped it from us but from one of our licensees.

It was a very short session.

It is interesting to see how the community reacts when someone steals their work. There are some good suggestions like contacting the owners of the offending sites politely.

Quite a few of the comments seem pretty malicious in nature. Like serving up javascript which behaves mischievously. It doesn't seem to matter to these people if the site owners were victims of bad and lazy designers.

(Never mind the fact that the original design is not that original.)

I can't believe that almost the same people then go on to rage and demand, more or less in spirit, everything else be free and open. (academic papers, iOS, music etc)

Free, open and being kind are rules which are good to apply to others. Isn't it?

This might be a web design company reusing your design. The sites listed may have no knowledge of this being a copy, and most likely paid a high dollar amount for this cool design.

Get in touch with the site, hear their side. Worst case, sue them.

You provided the links to those websites, and added that you're not sure how to proceed.

From your post, I get the impression that you have not yet spoken to those companies about it.

That would be a good start.

That's what I was thinking.

1) What if someone took their design, created a template of it, and sold it on a number of website template sites - and these companies were none-the-wiser.

2) Was the design created in-house, or did they hire a designer? Some designers claim the design was all of their own doing, but it was quite obvious they "borrowed" from a template site first.

Isn't your design inspired from http://www.spotify.com/se/ ?

I thought the same...


It's a really nice scrolling concept, and I've seen quite a few sites using it. I think OP is referring to very specific elements of their design.

Yes, the visual assets are different. But, the novelty is in the scrolling effect idea, which is quite the same in both. And I think spotify did it first, although I'm not too sure.

This "scrolling" effect is hardly new. I know this design is from 2009: http://designcommission.com/

I'd like to get some response from the author of this thread on this.

I mean yeah, some are just blatant copies, but your design is not THAT original.

That's alarming- it can be the other way around. Spotify copying Ideaware? Or Ideaware copying Spotify.

This is what happens when a company contracts someone for $9/hr and says "Make me something like [url] for my site".

This may very well be the case!

wow, some of those copies were just blantant. Is there a way to embed a specific string in the website (either through html or css) so later you can somehow google search anyone is copying you?

Given that they might not have very good CSS skill, you might embed a CSS comment or CSS properties which look like they do something but don't -- a would-be stealer probably wouldn't delete something which they didn't understand.

I think that at the end of the day, when it comes to people copying your design, you really need to take the emotion out of it. I've had my design work copied before, so I know that there is an emotional response that comes along with having your work copied. But there also needs to be a practical assessment of what impact the copying will have on your business. If the site(s) copying you aren't big names and aren't competing with you, it's likely a waste of your time and energies to be pursuing them. That's time being taken away from your core business to focus on other people that ultimately have an inconsequential impact on your ability to be competitive and make money.

Also, interestingly enough, by publicly shaming them, you're providing traffic to their site. Does the saying "any press is good press" still hold?

Hi all, I'm a designer and I have been under a similar situation - I have been, many, many times as a designer, asked to design something exactly like what my client has showed me, which most of the times was, another site. I haven't accepted a single offer from such clients, but I know how exactly they all work.

Here's how it works:

1) The client keeps stalking a particular site he likes, which is usually a competitor in his own field.

2) There are some clients who like just want:

a) certain elements of the site, for example, the way something is done, instead of that something in its entirety itself,

b) and there are the rest, who just want the same exact design to be replaced by their own logo.

If you notice, in the original article, all of the examples the author provides, either fall into category a or b. You can be convinced that people who work in the category b are designers with a fair level of reasoning, and they are much much better people (comparatively) who don't want to rip off the site entirely, but would like to make it as much similar as possible to the original site, so they can somehow convince their clients.

The designers who belong to the category a are the most arrogant, desperate people you would ever find. Not to say that they are bad people, but they are desperate and they don't care about ethics. The only thing they care about is money.

I hate to bring in this topic of 'regionalism', but MOST (not ALL) of these designers are from India, Pakistan, etc. There are many popular 'call-to-offer' services in these countries wherein you just call these service centers and tell them you want a design to be completed, the next minute there will be 'design studios', 'agencies', 'professionals' offering you to design a website (of any kind) for something as cheap as $20. Yep, you read that right. $20 for a WHOLE website. These are the designers who resort to such tactics.

So, what do you do if you don't want your designs to get ripped off?

I will tell you my strategy - It's not fool proof, but it works REALL REALLY well.

BEFORE deploying your website to production, make sure, you follow these steps:

1) Create a duplicate copy of your homepage (which is the easiest target of being ripped off), and

a) Re-Name IMPORTANT class names, for example, rename #logo to #fewji903. Something unreadable. I usually write a handy script to automate this for the rest of the class names and ID's.

b) Add redundant containers - If you want to add styles for your logo, don't just write it as

    background:url('some-image.jpg') no-repeat;
But re-write it as:

   #aw469srfa #fewji903{
    background:url('some-image.jpg') no-repeat;
BUT, in your actual HTML file, what you do is DON'T include the logo container with ID 'fewji903'. Instead, write a tiny Jquery script to load this container dynamically. Something like:

    $(document).ready(function() {
    //do a check to see if current url is YOUR website
    if( url_is_mywebsite()){
    $('#aw469srfa').html('<div id="fewji903"></div>');
    // don't load the container

    function url_is_mywebsite(){
    //do something to check if the current url processed is your own, something like
    if (current_url=='google.com')
    return true
    return false    
Now step 2):

Minify your CSS and make it unreadable. MOST rogue designers have no idea as to how to 'beautify' it.

As for your little JS snippet - Either just minify it, if your code is already complex, or obfuscate it. I always obfuscate my code. There is a downside to this - Your page load time might slow down a tiny,tiny un-noticeable bit, but like I said, it's un-noticeable for the most part, and it's a very good compromise for not having your entire website ripped-off:

This is how the above code, when obfuscated will look like:

    eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!''.replace(/^/,String)){while(c--){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return'\\w+'};c=1};while(c--){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp('\\b'+e(c)+'\\b','g'),k[c])}}return p}('$(a).b(3(){2(0()){$(\'#9\').8(\'<1 6="7"></1>\')}4{j(\'c-i\')}3 0(){2(d==\'e.h\')5 f 4 5 g}});',20,20,'url_is_mywebsite|div|if|function|else|return|id|fewji903|html|aw469srfa|document|ready|fuck|current_url|google|true|false|com|off|alert'.split('|'),0,{}))
I always use http://www.jsobfuscate.com for this purpose.

While I have shown a demo only for the Logo container, I urge everyone to follow this for as many important containers as possible. Now, when someone rips-off your website, even copies all the files and uploads it to their server, it's not going to work. They're just going to see a broken, half-assed website.

At that point, they could:

1) Reverse engineer the code to see how it works.

2) Try to re-design it from scratch

3) Cancel the project, or take too much time to complete it.

Do you know what I've seen most of these rogue designers do? They chose 3! Because, since you made the code a little complex for them, they don't want to spend time reverse engineering THE MOST COMPLEX code. What we wrote there wasn't THE MOST COMPLEX code, but it's the perception of complexity that matters. When a rogue designer is going to see code like that, he's going to think, "Oh shoot, these guys must be clever, look at all those complex class names. I ain't touching anything hot like that." He's simply going to assume it's way too complex to handle it.

How do I know this works? Most of these people who rip-off websites are not complete designers. They are either newbs, or in-experienced coders or someone else, trying to earn a buck or two from design. And that is why this works, especially now that we're clear about our target audience.

NOTE: I actually encourage you to do this with the final version of a back-up copy of your homepage design. Homepages rarely change, in my experience. So, it's a good compromise. Any developer is going to work-up on the un-adulterated code, not on the obfuscated version.

And for completeness, here's advice #3:

3) DON'T write a blog post linking back to the ones who ripped you off. You're just giving them free publicity (pageviews). Atleast if you do write, just mention the website and don't link it. Perhaps post screenshots of their homepages. They don't deserve your extra pageviews.


What? You are going to

    - break your CSS by making it dependent on javascript
    - use inefficient compression, easily reversible, to "obfuscate" javascript
    - both of these slowing your page loading time
That's like the worst of DRM badly emulated in a browser. You do realize that the script which checks the URL can also be modified by the copycat? Minifying CSS+HTML+JS as usual already gets you the most benefits, while being good practice. This is shooting your own foot.

What? You are going to add a lock to your door that is going to

  - break your door by making it dependent on a key

  - use a easily reversible locking mechanism

  - slow the time it takes to enter your home
You do realize that any locksmith can open your lock in less than a minute? Closing your door already gives you most of the benefits.

Only half kidding, but I get tired of people dismissing clever tricks because it's not fool proof. Stealing is usually a function of reward/effort.

> Stealing is usually a function of reward/effort.

Except that for digital media it's a Smart Cow Problem[1], the effort is only there for the first person who wants to circumvent it, then it becomes trivial for everyone.

However, I'd suggest that the reason some on HN react strongly to these suggestions is that they rely upon security through obscurity, which can be dangerous by providing a false sense of security when none exists. While this probably isn't as big a deal when it comes to your HTML and CSS, security is a case of err'ing on the side of caution.


Yes, I agree. However, I don't think website designs have as much of a smart cow problem as say pop music, so your "DRM" is more likely to succeed its goal.

If minification and obfuscation were the only things being done, then your analogy would be sound, but tricks like this also have the effect of degrading the experience for legitimate users with javascript disabled.

Adding a dependency on javascript for static content doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

A better analogy would be wrapping plastic tape with "no trespassing" written on it around your front door, or greasing your door handle.

It's the opposite of being fool-proof: having near zero utility while degrading the experience for everyone.

I'd love to hear your solution to this problem.

...and then you go to the Elements inspector and "Copy as HTML", and then go to the Sources tab and "Pretty print" the CSS and JS, I try to hold myself on doing negative comments because we never really know all the reasons behind a decision as stupid like this, but really? Do you also disable right clicking with an alert("This content is property of my site bitches!!!")?

This also makes it very difficult to maintain for your client and a pain in the arse for any other designer or coder who has to deal with your work.

IMHO, unless your client is completely aware and onboard with this and has access to the original, un-adulterated version, you're doing a disservice to them.

(I say this as a designer and coder with degrees and 10+ years of experience to back up my opinion)

I actually encourage you to do this with the final version of a back-up copy of your homepage design. Homepages rarely change, in my experience. So, it's a good compromise. Any developer is going to work-up on the un-adulterated code, not on the obfuscated version. I am sorry for not being clear about this.

Making this as a deployment step should be pretty straightforward.

On the plus side, this might also discourage the random client from just uploading updates via FTP..

As an automated deployment step, I have a little less of an issue with it, but it's still highly dependent on the client. If they are unaware that you are doing this and do not have the ability to access the clean source files then you are depriving them of the ability to update their site. Sure, sure, nobody wants a client messing up their nicely crafted work, but in the case that you two part ways or you (or your shop, if you're not a freelancer) can't do something for one reason or another, then the product you've sold them is verging on defective unless the crippled source deployment was explicitly agreed upon.

When you do work for someone else, in most cases, the client expects (and usually contractually ensures) that they own the work you do – and it's a reasonable expectation that it'll be revisable.

In general, this just comes off as spending way too much time to prevent something that probably won't happen because rarely is your work as good as you think it is (most of us suffer from this =) and if it is good enough to want to copy, given the nature of HTML/CSS/JS, etc., if you go out of your way to obscure things too much (and if it's a trend), the motivated will find a way to undo your obfuscation in a programatic/easy fashion.

But that's just my take – to each their own...

The propeller site I'd consider flattering imitation, at least they are in a totally different lob :)

For the other guys, talk to a lawyer or just someone who knows "legalese" well enough to formulate a serious sounding email complaining about copyright infringement and threatening with a lawsuit. And have someone with a title of "copyright lawyer" or "IP legal consultant"or anything along the lines co-sign that email. They will shit their pants and change their design (they probably hired a freelancer that copied your work...). Unless they're based in a place forsaken by the IP gods, like China or Russia, then it might get too complicated to be worth the effort on your side...

The propeller site actually uses the ideaware site's background image, slightly blurred, as it's cloudscape background.

This is an amazing observation. I can't believe they used the actual image from your front page on theirs.

smacontech and smipropellers seem to be from India where you can't win a legal case without bribing the authorities heaviliy, unless your father himself is the head of cops or something.

And anyway, law enforcement depts there wouldn't understand what "copying the layout of a website" means.

I'd guess that smacontech created the site for smiproperllers.

If it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't copy that design ever.

We've been ripped off way worse than this. I'm talking about wholesale ripoff of a full application, not just a tiny brochure site. What must have literally been a multi-month development effort to rip off tens of thousands of lines of javascript, css and html, and building a new backend from scratch to plug it in to. Because they were an eastern bloc country there was no point in trying to prevent it or even getting upset. The way I see it it's tremendously flattering.

serverside code cannot be ripped off unless there is a security flaw. If you are concerned about something people might rip off, do it serverside. All the front-end code will never be protected...

We had a similar situation several years ago with our site:


And this Chinese knock-off:


Not only did they rip off our design but they also use a bunch of our product photos. We himmed and hawed about doing something about it but ultimately realized there really was nothing we could do to enact any real change. At the end of the day any site's CSS is open source by virtue of the technology (and our product images were already CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 licensed anyway).

So we said screw it. We decided that the best way to assert this design was our own was to run a better website, and more so, just run a better business. In the end it hasn't dented our traffic. GE Tech looks sort of like SparkFun but it sure is a lot more rough around the edges. We've continued to refine our design with less of a Geocities palette while never really caring what those Chinese ripoff artists are up to. It's irrelevant. We'll continue to define our web presence without using them for context, and if they continue to grab skin-deep features from us then terrific - we're a source of inspiration and should be proud.

Most of these seem pretty egregious, but am I the only one who thinks that Gear Tree studios did enough work to differentiate their design?

I mean, it's one thing to complain about some of those direct copies. You should. But it's another entirely to not expect people to lift your code out. That is the way the web has been for a long time, and it's not going to change just because of some practically unenforcible laws unevenly defined internationally.

We had a similar problem with a talentless rogue designer at my old agency.

It only became clear he had blatantly copied other sites after he left, unfortunately (he was also sacked from future jobs for the same thing, I suspect).

He even had the audacity to claim an award for one of his rip-offs, including attending the vegas ceremony (IIRC). I really don't know how he slept at night.

I'm not going to name names as this was a long time ago and I'm hoping he's changed his ways.

We really can't prevent anyone from copying a design. It might not be the ethical thing to do, but there no real way of stopping someone if that's their goal. However I still wouldn't shame them. I would call them out in a more gracious manner. Something like a list of those companies and title it "Copying is the sincerest form of flattery" or along the same line.

Why not use them to your advantage, use them as marketing tool and if they refuse then force them to remove the design. Maybe only then, at that point it is ok to call them out and shame them.

Shaming someone just created an adversarial effect and it brings some negative publicity too. If you can show that you are gracious and is able to manage and find a middle ground in such a situation, it'll show a better you. I rather work with a company that I can always negotiate with than one who always take the hard line.

One of the worst things is that a lot of times the ripped off design, while being really nice eye candy, doesn't suit the content at all. See the submarine propeller company linked to in the post for a great example. The information is organized and laid out in a visually pleasing way but at the cost of completely ignoring what the user is looking for and what kind of person the typical submarine propeller shopper is.

I'll admit I've heavily lifted design ideas from other sites but I've never once actually copied and pasted a single line of code from another site without permission. I would always always always recreate the elements I liked from scratch and the majority of times this gives a site a different enough appearance to not be a total ripoff. Just because you can view source doesn't mean the whole web is open source.

There are lots of sites that lifted their copy from ideaware.co too. What kind of design/development/branding shop can't come up with their own "About Us" or "Process" page? Frankly I think this is even lazier than lifting the markup/script to make the design work.

At least copying the HTML and JS saves a lot of work.

Your post is confusing an unclear. Based on how I read it initially, I am interpreting that post as you being are angry at site that look like yours, to which I have to say 'tough luck'. The internet is all about copy-evolve-retry. I'm sure 2/3 of your design ideas are based off someone else's innovation from months or years ago. Unless you invented the the whole CSS/HTML/JS stack yourself....

You believe that no one should build a similar design? You believe that they are using exactly your css? You believe that they are using exactly your images? You believe that they are using exactly your javascript?

It's unclear what you are raging at. If it's just a look-alike design, that I think you are playing the fool, and pretty anti-innovation. If they are just loading your css/images/js that that is a bit of a different story.

The propellers site is so similar I halfway wonder if it's a parody of your site. "We handcraft propellers."

It must be because I can't imagine anyone would prefer handmade propellers to industrial manufactured ones.

Just noticed - based on the IP lookups 3 of these websites are located in Houston. Coincidence?

The whois info paints a similar picture, but clustered in Australia – many of the companies seem to be in AU, with one in India and one in London.

If a number of them are being hosted in Houston, I'd say that there's clearly a connection here... one crappy "designer" selling "unique websites" to multiple unaware clients, possibly?

Probably not. This town is full of hacks and thieves. (just like all the other towns I guess).

Either those companies are with a bigger/popular hosting company (IIRC The Planet was located in Houston and I guess their datacenter wasn't closed down after their acquisition) or it's a link bait.

Either way - too few information to make an educated guess.

Or a Houston-based "web designer" ripping off a single design for local clientele?

they might be just hosted in huston. Three of the sites are owned by companies located in India

Initially i was of the "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" mindset. But after going through a few of the sites i couldn't stomach the blatant rip offs.

Especially by companies like http://smacontech.com/ which claim to be design firms. Worse still, they seem to regurgitate the design into some of their client's sites as well (http://www.smipropellers.com/)

Not sure how you can proceed here. But if you are intent on naming and shaming them publicly, try posting a message on their facebook fan page's wall. That should make them situp and take notice of your complaints.

The best is RevoBlue: Their about_us page still has a map of Barranquilla, Colombia, where ideaware is from! (Just scroll down on the "about us" page)


Is ebay one of those companies? http://www.ebay.com/new

Or are they maybe close but not close enough to call out considering the size of their legal department?

To be honest, not being much of a designer, I've seen this scrolling with background switching 'style' become popular on a few sites recently.

I have no reason to doubt that OP developed it from scratch and clearly some of the linked sites blatantly ripped off the entire design, but the question of where inspiration ends and what constitutes 'independently developed' gets murky really quickly.

This is a joke right ? or is it just a clever marketing trick ?

if not, I Seriously think this whole copyright thing should die. apparently this design is very typical, its not like you have invented some unique jquery scrollTo plugin, or the fonts/icons.

so a few people copied your website as is, some others might change it a bit more, what's the big deal ? I see your website as a copy of some other hundred websites I've seen before here and there (check theme forest for example).

Let people copy and do what they like .. if you want to protect, probably dont put it on a client side.

welcome to the internet ..

Trouble is - web site design is very fashion oriented. You can tell a 2011 site from a 2012 site. I find a lot of sites are very similar and put it down to a common fashion more often than copying. Font selection, icon colours and general layout is bound to "cluster" around a limited range of values at the leading edge. Look at the "please review our start-up" requests here on HN - most of those web sites pretty near interchangeable.

Having said all of that - copying is a no-no - taking inspiration from others - well that would be normal.

I always feel like its a flash website at first :P

But yeah, I didn't realize either so many just flat out copy website designs. I guess this is a pretty common thing now :(

There used to be a site that would run side-by-side comparisons of a site and a copy of that site. Some of the copies were pretty blatant.


They were pretty active around 2005. (http://web.archive.org/web/20050211143916/http://www.pirated...)

It's _always_ been a common thing. Stuff like Google analytics just makes it way easier to tell that they're actually copying _you_.

Alright alright.

Oh calm down. You had a good idea and started a trend. Don't whine about copiers - you're the source of great ideas, so come up with another one. That, or be the best at implementing this idea.

There's a difference between taking influence from a site and downright stealing and even hot-linking assets.

Of course people are going to come on here and say this crap without ever looking at the source code for the websites. They didn't just steal the idea, which is fair game, they stole the code.

I think they actually copy-pasted code straight out of ideaware's source... Hence > line 173: <script src="./smacontech_files/ideaware.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

Looks to me like you've now got a fantastic portfolio page.

"Our creative & design is so good, its copied by a number of digital agencies and businesses including Dapatical Global, ..."

Perhaps even parody testimonials are in order.

"Our in house designer was out of ideas and the drafts from 99sites were sub par. That's why we 'borrowed' the work of AM - it was far superior to anything we could have done ourselves' - Max, CEO RevoBlue.

Yeah it sucks that a heap of sites Cltr-C'd your work. But there are better ways of addressing this.

You should call them out on twitter, they are more likely to make amends if your shouting is visible to clients (future/current).

* https://twitter.com/SmaconTech * https://twitter.com/dapatical * https://twitter.com/saraswathimetal

Or maybe it won't make any difference, looking at the stats on these accounts

http://www.capta360.com/ doesn't really look like a copy of your site. Neither does http://www.creativegerms.com/ or http://pearlwebstudio.com/.

Granted, a lot of those do copy your design but if you're trying to claim the above three do, you're a little overzealous.

http://www.creativegerms.com/about and http://pearlwebstudio.com are copying the text messages

http://www.capta360.com/ copied the background photo

There's a great 37 signals article somewhere about this same topic. The gist is, that if you steal someone else's design, it's never going to meet your needs properly because it's not born from your business. Especially true for service based companies.

This is the same reason I started obfuscating javascript, css and html. It at least make it difficult enough to copy/edit that people may consider creating something themselves.

I've seen my site copied verbatim several times. Clearly some bot just scraped the entire site and posted it somewhere else. At first it upset me but after a few minutes of righteous indignation I assumed it wasn't worth the time to worry about it. The copies aren't getting much traffic AFAICT and I'm assuming one way or another they'll eventually lead people back the original so I just stopped looking.

Looks to be true, but if this is a day-to-day concern for your business things must be running themselves. Consider it a badge of honor, like your application being valuable and important enough to become warez. I'm guessing your value-add proposition goes way beyond looking good on your first page. I would however take concern with those so sloppy they are using your bandwidth.

I'm getting a lot of email requests from people who want to license the design/theme.

Not sure, don't want to whore out the company by selling our site!

Bummer, this is an uphill battle with almost no positive resolution for you. The only upside I can see is that doing it this way will get your site some traffic.

One of my companies is a screen printer and over the years we've found 5 - 10 other sites using our copy, word for word. Usually people are pretty embarrassed when you call them out privately and just handle it.

"Imitation Is The Best Form Of Flattery"

"Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal"

"We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."

You have recognised that people want to utilise your designs, but you've establish how to leverage that.

Imagine if instead you "called them out", you released it design as open source.

This would be great publicity and it would give you the opportunity to come up with something even better.

Your design also has some similarities with the Mercurial Wordpress theme does it not? I'm not sure which one came before, so I can't comment on who imitated who.

Also there are a couple sites on the list that shouldn't be there. They look just as similar to your site as your site looks to the Mercurial theme.

SMI Propellers: "Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort..."

Man, isn't that the truth?

On a purely technical basis, how can we tell that andres is not ripping off one of these other sites? My gut tells me he isn't, but in the age of perfect digital copies, assuming that justice was cheap and easy to obtain here (and it clearly isn't) how would you establish primacy?

When they are even referencing/loading resources from your server, you could serve some "Thx for copying my design, the invoice is on its way."-images to their pages: http://altlab.com/htaccess_tutorial.html ;)

Is it just me, or are there tons of redundant repaints of the same background image in the "Recent Work" Section, with the black and white cellphone?

Beautiful site, but my framerate really took a dive when I got to this section! Hurts the experience.

3 out of the 5 sites are Indian, http://smacontech.com/ is a company run by 3 kids. If you give a look on the start up web design firms like this, you will find a lot of copy cats.

I've had this happen to a number of clients; for the most part we were able to get the sites changed/taken down through DMCA submissions (copyrighted materials, art).

I don't know if this avenue is available to you but you might want to look into it.

Weak. Just because the parallax scrolling effect is pretty new and popular these days doesn't mean that this guy 'invented' it.

Sure, one of those sites is a blatant rip-off of his, but I've seen it done a lot of times in many similar ways.

This is just ridiculous, what makes people think they can just rip off your work for free?

The fact that they absolutely can and do? I'm not sure there's much that can be done here, but the call-out is a great way to handle it.

Well.. didn't Apple got some money from Samsung recently over design rip off?

The same can be applied over web design.

If you don't believe me go ahead, make an exactly copy of Apple.com, put your logo on it, and advertise as your website.

Why does crap like this make front page these days? Honestly, any half decent site that gets featured on a CSS gallery gets ripped these days.

Your website itself looks like dozens of similar templates on ThemeForest.com

I wouldn't link directly to their sites. Only makes them rank higher in SEO

Have you thought of using a javascript minify-er? At least then it would be more obvious they copied you directly. It would also make it easier to inject javascript that would mess with the copy-ers.

There are some blatant ripoffs amongst the list of links in the post, but I think you should remove the last two. Pearl web studio and the germ one are far from ripoffs of your site.

I'm getting CocachingSessionExceeded errors visiting your blog and trying to get to your site is blocked by our proxy server as having been detected to be a threat!

When I open the submission on an iPhone, the link to the site moves when I try to tap it - it isn't possible to use the link. Does anyone else get this behaviour?

I'm pretty sure i've already seen those tiles somewhere aswell, is http://www.studiodvi.com a candidate too?

I would have preferred that you just gave the URL (plaintext) with screenshot and some code snippet. I wouldn't want those sites getting clicks.

I'm most amazed by the last link you posted that copied it, they did not even modify the background image. Only the logo and text were changed.

The slogan on dapaticalglobal.com is grammatically incorrect. If I were looking for a firm, that would stop be from going any further . . .

Thanks for the support guys, I'm not too mad but definitely wanted to bring some attention to this.

I will reply to some of your comments in a bit.

I'd be more worried about the horrible loading times. That's what will hurt your conversion rates, not those copycat sites.

I'd like to see an A/B test. Clearly- if the features don't contribute to higher revenue, why stick to it?

Well one good thing about the rip off sites is I'm able to see what you designed originally while HN hammers your server!

Save the names of the people involved in a blacklist. Make a list of agencies to avoid with these people in them.

Did anyone notice that most of them couldn't get the font correct. Coz the morons must have never heard of custom fonts. Only one site did managed a Google Web font, I guess. Ha ha...and that propeller thingy has some reputed clients under its belt. I'm from India and I know the clients. You want me to call them up and have some harmless fun from your side. I can act as if I'm your legal agent. Kidding!

I think 37 Signals is quite a bit more pissed off about their pricing page being emulated by 10k+ startups.

Copying has been going on for centuries. If someone copied you, you're clearly a leader. Take it in stride!

Isn't this inspired from http://www.ebay.com/new ?

It's even worse that some of these comps not only stole the design but also stole the copy. Shameless.

I can't see much resemblance in capta360.com. What features do you consider similar there?

I would be flattered by them copying you, validating that you're at the top of your game!

That last one is particularly bad. They didn't even try to make it look a bit different.

All those other sites are complete shit compared to ideaware.co.

The only blatant ripoff is revoblue.com

Looks like you could start selling this design and at least profit from these people.

RE: "Not sure how to proceed here."

Take the compliment - mimicry is the highest form of flattery.

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