Plagiarism has existed in academia and literature since the time man learned to write. However, even though plagiarism has always been prevalent in textual content, many developers take plagiarism to a whole new level and copy entire websites.
Whether this is through copying code or simply mimicking the UI and graphics, it is highly illegal and truly unethical to do so. Developers spend hours building original websites, and merely copying their efforts and hard work is disrespectful.
It is understandable if someone decides to take inspiration from someone’s graphics or interface; however, one should always create original web pages and not just blindly copy whatever they like. Even if the entire website is not plagiarized, single web pages which have been copied from other websites are illegal as well.
Are you guilty of web design plagiarism? Let’s find out!
Plagiarism in Web Design
Plagiarism has been prevalent on the internet since the time developers started publishing websites. The parallel world of copycat websites or clones has been evolving alongside the originals. From websites that are fully copied to websites which claim to be “inspired” but lie more towards the illegal side of copyright laws, clones are everywhere.
This is truly shocking for both the developers and the company behind the original website. No one wants to wake up and see that their website has been ripped off completely. That is basically hours of coding and original content or design copied by someone to build their website effortlessly.
Copycats avoid the need to come up with a development model, design, structure, administrative functions, and original graphics. From a company’s perspective that has paid a third-party developer or firm to build a website for them, this can be the worst thing ever.
Put simply; Web Design plagiarism is the act of copying another website’s design, structure, or concepts. It’s even worse if copycat websites claim that it is their original design.
Actions under Web Design Plagiarism
We all know what plagiarism is, but what exactly are the acts that can be considered as Web Design plagiarism? Before indulging yourself in the development process, first research and confirm if designs or concepts such as the one you have in your mind already exist. If they do, it is time to adopt different strategies.
Now, let us check the most common activities that can be considered as plagiarized design or content.
However, there are three things that one must remember.
Web Design Plagiarism Consequences
The consequences of plagiarizing website designs depend on the country of residence (both victim and plagiarist) and the extent of the plagiarism. Plagiarism can lead to the copycat website being taken down or even major legal trouble as well. From heavy fines, which can go upwards of $100,000, plagiarists can even be punished with imprisonment.
Below are some of the actions that the court or authorities can take against plagiarists.
For instance, this website has definitely been inspired by Youtube; however, it is not a copycat website. This is not illegal.
Though, one thing to remember is that all countries have different laws for plagiarism. Besides, the country of origin of the original website matters as well, especially if they are registered as a separate entity locally or in the countries of operation. These websites are more capable of taking drastic legal action across international waters. However, it is very easy for local and small website owners; many copyright laws protect their efforts and ideas.
Tips to avoid dealing with Plagiarism
When building a website, the first thing to keep in mind is to always provide “Copyright ©” alongside the company’s name or person and place “All rights reserved” in the footer. This ensures that the message gets across that your website cannot be copied, and there will be legal trouble if someone does copy the content or design of the website.
Mentioning this is imperative as plagiarists were warned that copyright laws protect the website, and in their defense, they cannot argue otherwise. Therefore, you must follow the principles of good design.
Here are some other things developers can do to find if their content or design got plagiarized.
Steps to take against Plagiarism
If you find that your website design or content has been plagiarized, you can do a number of things to deal with it; here are some of them.
Other than simply taking copycat websites down, original owners should definitely ask for compensation for any losses incurred, including the trauma caused to both the owner and the users. Plagiarism does not just have legal repercussions for the plagiarists but also negatively affects the credibility and originality of the victims.
Clients and consumers are also affected in the middle of this, leading to massive losses for both sides. This is definitely not worth it, especially for innocent victims of plagiarism who have to fight for something that was always theirs to begin with. Other than the legality of it all, it is simply unethical to copy someone’s original work. Design and concepts are like artwork to developers; they should be respected and appreciated.
The best way to avoid these after-effects is by not plagiarizing anything and always depending on original content. Putting in some effort and time into websites can save plagiarists a whole lot of effort, time, and legal interaction in the future. With multiple tools, services, and advancements in front-end web development, developers do not need to copy ideas, designs, or logos to build dynamic and immersive high-quality websites.
Remember, even if you are just taking inspiration, one must always be cautious to keep it that way. It should be “inspired” and not “copied.” Even a small difference can lead to huge legal trouble.
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