copyright issues

  javaBalls 20:50 18 Feb 2006

Often I look at other websites for ideas for my own websites.

You can view the source of any website and even view their CSS sheet.

Let's say for example that I liked the style of the PC Advisor website so much that I copied the style sheet and used it for my website. My website would have totally different content but it will look very similar. i.e the same formating for text and links.

I presume this would break the copyright agreement of the site. But how far can people go? All web designers look at the code of other sites and take snippets of code. So at what point can someone turn around and sue you?

  Forum Editor 22:19 18 Feb 2006

so nobody's going to sue you for snitching a few design points. Text, graphics, and images are a different thing however, and somebody (if not the site owner) is going to have copyright on those.

What you might be guilty of, if you slavishly duplicate the look of, say, the BBC website is what's known as 'passing off', which is what happens when someone deliberately makes product B (which has no reputation in the market) look exactly like Product A (which is a market leader). Passing off is different to forgery - if I wanted to pass off an inferior web forum as this one I might duplicate the look, but call it 'PC Advertisor' - using the same typeface. A forgery however, would duplicate the name exactly.

That's a very much simplified explanation of some complex legal issues, but suffice it to say you will be OK if you copy the odd code snippet and design idea. Avoid copying entire websites though.

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