Design Robbery

After my Perishable Press inter­view, and hav­ing Version 10 fea­tured in a Crestock arti­cle titled “13 Minimalist Designs You Really Should See”, this site has seen a surge in design-relat­ed traf­fic. But increased expo­sure is a dou­ble-edged sword. Higher pro­file sites make you a big­ger tar­get for secu­ri­ty issues, spam, and design rob­bery.

Such as the case with

Does this look famil­iar?

Eric Akmal Dot Com top

Eric Akmal Dot Com bottom

Sure, the titles are dif­fer­ent, but that’s prob­a­bly because he does­n’t have Avenir in his font library. The entry back­ground is dif­fer­ent, but it’s still a grid.

Note: He seems to be chang­ing cer­tain design ele­ments now, per­haps in an effort to dis­tance him­self from me.

Part of the rea­son I don’t release my designs as pub­lic themes is because I want this space to be unique, unlike the oth­er mil­lion blogs out there. So it’s rather annoy­ing, when I spend time com­ing up with an orig­i­nal design, con­vert the lay­out to CSS, and tweak it to sat­is­fac­tion, only to have some­one take all that work and pass it off as their own. Not only that, but he’s hotlink­ing my images, which means he’s steal­ing my band­width too.

What I find par­tic­u­lar­ly iron­ic is that the title and tagline of his blog is “It’s nice to be dif­fer­ent”.

There have been instances in the past where peo­ple have ripped off entire entries of mine, word for word, and post­ed them on their blogs, but nev­er one of my designs, pix­el-by-pix­el.

At least Samuel Kordik, who’s cur­rent lay­out is obvi­ous­ly based on Version 8.0, had the decen­cy to men­tion in his Colophon “In design­ing this web­site, I drew inspi­ra­tion and code snip­pets from sev­er­al remark­able design­ers, includ­ing Khoi Vihn, Jeff Ngan, and Matthew Mullenweg.“1, even though I don’t con­done cred­it as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for any kind of copy­ing.

There’s a fine line between inspi­ra­tion and steal­ing, some­thing that design­ers argue about all the time, but this is cer­tain­ly a case of the lat­ter.

  1. To be men­tioned in the same sen­tence as the trail­blaz­er of grid sys­tems and the cre­ator of WordPress respec­tive­ly is cer­tain­ly kudos I don’t deserve. []


  1. I hate to tell you this, but if it were a design infringe­ment case, you still could­n’t make it fly, since he has tweaked the ele­ments enough to ren­der a dif­fer­ence.

    You could, how­ev­er, nail him on the band­width issue, which would be great addi­tion­al evi­dence against his over­all design mechan­ics theft.

    I real­ly don’t see that you have any­thing to wor­ry about since his design makes lit­tle to no sense, where­as yours is a log­i­cal out­growth of func­tion. And I not­ed when you changed it hat it fits so nice­ly in my win­dow on my iPhone. Wheee!.

  2. I com­ment­ed on his blog!
    He’s just a damn steal­er!

    Good luck!

  3. @Xibee — I’m not look­ing at mak­ing a case out of this, or receive any kind of com­pen­sa­tion; I was sim­ply express­ing my dis­con­tent that some­one would so read­i­ly take my design when I put so much effort into it, and it’s obvi­ous­ly copy­right­ed.

    @Pepijn — Thanks!

  4. Good ideas spread unless leg­is­lat­ed out of exis­tence. In that case bad-ubiq­ui­tous spreads as the eas­i­est path of least resis­tance. Take the eye-cru­el­ty of many free WP tem­plates for exam­ple. ..

  5. To those who say “imi­ta­tion is the best flat­tery,” i say, “Bullshit, it fuck­ing reeks.”

    Not only has he insult­ed you by steal­ing your hard work, he made it look BAD!

    This is just nasty. I’m sor­ry. It looks famil­iar, but total­ly con­tort­ed.

  6. Oh I knew you weren’t!! I’ve just been n the legal biz too long, can’t help but pose hypo­thet­i­cals in a jok­ing way.… to me, lit­i­ga­tion is just.… rarely even worth con­sid­er­ing .… kind of spi­ralling down­ward effect, you know?. I’ve seen the effects far too often.…

  7. @Pearl — Yeah, a lot of free WP themes are hor­ri­ble, but there are a few that stand out that go against the rule.

    @Maeko — The larg­er grid back­ground does­n’t real­ly work. Stealing does suck, but the butch­ery is worse.

    @Xibee — My lawyer friend always warns me against any kind of lit­i­ga­tion, even if I’m in the right, because the costs aren’t worth the return. As he says, it’s the lawyers who win in the end.

  8. Thank you for your atten­tion and review of . it’s first time in my life have atten­tion from my idol (I’m your fans), even i should done the wrong thing first and called design steal­er :) .

    That’s mean “I’s nice to be dif­fer­ent” for me.

    Once again thank you, I’ll change my lay­out because i’ve already receive my aim to have atten­tion and review from you. Good luck for your future.
    If you don’t mind,please vis­it my site again for the last time. Thx

    _your fans_

  9. Comment #9… uh… what? People are so weird some­times. With Carlo steal­ing your entry, how did you find out about that?

  10. When I find out that peo­ple are steal­ing from me, it’s usu­al­ly because they’re hotlink­ing my images, so I see the refer­rals in my serv­er logs. And usu­al­ly they don’t steal just one thing.

  11. I dis­agree with you all. What’s the prob­lem with copy­ing the good things? Jeff, your effort is incred­i­ble and noble, your are a good design­er, and many peo­ple like min­i­mal or zen like styles. Some peo­ple do not know how to do the work, so they copy whay tehy see, I’ll do it all the time. I don’t want ti re-invent the wheel if aleady some­one invent­ed it. All this stuff is about pri­vate prop­er­ty (and his broth­er: copy­right). About con­tent, I quote them when I used some­body elses words. In form/contet/design I quote when I use lay­outs that take from oth­ers. If they are copy­right­ed, I don’t use them, but what the hell is the prob­lem with copy in gen­er­al. Man, don’t pan­ic if you see your nice work every­where… well, pan­ic if you want, it’s real­ly up to you as it is up to me to say what I say… Sorry for my eng­lish, I’m a native span­ish speak­er… but talk­ing about steal­ing, rob­bery, too much… You are unique any­way. Nobody else can be you. I’ll your work, I don’t like the atti­tude toward this theme. Best

    • The prob­lem is that my work is copy­right­ed — this includes both words and design. Every sin­gle page on this web­site has the copy­right notice in the foot­er. I work very hard in mak­ing my design unique. I specif­i­cal­ly don’t want oth­er peo­ple to have a page that looks like mine. As the own­er of the copy­right, this is my right, and some­thing that is upheld by law.

      You say that you don’t use some­thing if it’s copy­right­ed, but you’ve obvi­ous­ly used my design. You say that you quote/refer back when you take a lay­out from oth­ers, but your cur­rent design has no link back to my site. Not only are you a steal­er, you are a liar. And with the Creative Commons license in your foot­er, you are allow­ing oth­er peo­ple to share my work, as long as they attribute it back to you, when you don’t even attribute it back to me.

      Believe me, I am more angry about your atti­tude than you are about mine.

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