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Nick Finck just pointed me at his latest Flickr contribution—a screenshot of a site that ripped off the design of Digital Web.  I immediately tagged it “piratedsites” in honor of the late, great, figuring that doing so had to be a widespread practice.  In fact, no: only one other Flickr image had that tag, and it was a Zeldman original, and it was not a screenshot.

So I hereby propose that anyone who posts a site design ripoff shot on Flickr or a blog tag it “piratedsites”.  The original site may be gone, but the idea can absolutely be reborn using the social tools we already have.  Technorati, for example, would start pulling together screenshots and blog posts using that tag—and there you go.  Or someone could use the Flickr and Technorati APIs to create their own site dedicated to just this sort of thing.  Heck, it might even be a way to get the actual back on the air in its original form!

Out the scurvy dogs!  Arrrr!

23 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Thu 17 May 2007
    • 1601
    SherriF wrote in to say...

    I’m a bit confused. is still up. They moved it to a new directory since the older stuff seems to be broken.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Thu 17 May 2007
    • 1609
    Eric Meyer wrote in to say...

    I know, SherriF, but instead of being a curated gallery site like it was, now it’s a set of web-based forums. The URL remains, but the site I remember no longer exists. I think of the same way, actually.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Thu 17 May 2007
    • 2250
    Luke Dorny (luxuryluke) wrote in to say...

    It’s sad, really.
    I reeeeeeeallly like the term ‘piratesites’, but alas, i’ve already started it up under “Ripped!”
    Contribute if you like!

    HA—re: Netscape

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Fri 18 May 2007
    • 0310
    will wrote in to say...

    This is a fantastic idea.

    It’s already up to 11 screenshots.

    Also, your comment preview is great.

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Fri 18 May 2007
    • 0502
    Jon Tan wrote in to say...

    Aye Cap’n! +1 for a good idea to further expose the toe–rags. Three times in the last year with the last one only resolved yesterday. Our client had to threaten legal action against the pirates and the CMS vendor. Hang ’em from the yardarm!

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Fri 18 May 2007
    • 0520
    Sandi wrote in to say...

    That’s a social step forward from simply reported it. A few years ago there was a romanian site doing something similar for romanian sites:


    • #7
    • Comment
    • Fri 18 May 2007
    • 1435
    Tim wrote in to say...

    Can anyone suggest which of Eric’s book would be the best to read first? I am competent but not an expert in css. I am also planning on attending An Event Apart, so I didn’t know if one book would better to prepare me for that than another. Thanks in advance!

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Fri 18 May 2007
    • 1627
    thacker wrote in to say...

    The solution is not as complex as it may seem when infringement is uncovered.

    Starting point is a WHOIS search for the IP address. Since the hosting company for the site in question is headquartered in the United States, a Take Down Notice in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act will generally suffice.

    Failing that, a formal notice from a competent intellectual property law firm who cites the hosting company’s TOU will, more likely than not, get the infringing content removed.

    If content is hosted in a foreign country and has a copyright trade agreement or treaty with the US, the process is pretty much as direct.

    It does help considerably to have in hand the registration from a Form TX filing with the US Library of Congress, Copyright Office that verifies your copyright.

    Any designer/developer who is not in the direct employ of the Web site’s owner should file a Form TX with the Copyright Office. The process is simple and inexpensive. When necessary, the filing can be expedited for an additional cost. The United States Copyright Office.

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Sat 19 May 2007
    • 1538
    Matt Robin wrote in to say...

    Great idea Eric…simple yet effective – we’ll have them on the ropes yet!!! :o

    (Yeah, pity the original doesn’t exist the way it used to.)

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Sat 19 May 2007
    • 1952
    Matt Robin wrote in to say...

    Eric, I’ve now added this to my flickr:


    Does that help?

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Mon 21 May 2007
    • 1200
    Angelo wrote in to say...

    argh, matey. thar be a fine idea. i smell a fancy applet in nearby waters.

    • #12
    • Comment
    • Tue 22 May 2007
    • 1721
    wraptinweb wrote in to say...

    The design outcome would have been better if they had pirated the design more accurately. The page header bar design has the contrast line broken and the SEO icon cluster is appalling. The RHS elements with their balancing colours have been dropped, and most intriguing, the header font hue is quite different.

    The top and LHS elements are an exact match down to the hue – so where is the line (piracy vs inspired by) drawn? Is it too heretical to wish they had done a better pirating job? I’m only half kidding, because if they don’t even understand the design concepts they are copying, or respect the design process that went into the original, how can they come up with good design themselves.

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Thu 24 May 2007
    • 1443
    john wrote in to say...

    Hey, Eric, every single site on the web is pirated. If I dig hard enough I’m sure I can find the site you stole your layout from…

    Come on now, kid…

    • #14
    • Comment
    • Sun 27 May 2007
    • 1453
    thacker wrote in to say...


    You bring up an interesting point in regards to design. The design of the first solar cell, for example, was patented around 1785.

    The concept of “” does smack somewhat of kids fighting over who thought of something first.

    I guess the key in a few serious situations is whether a dupe is engaging in unfair business practices as defined by statute.

    • #15
    • Pingback
    • Mon 28 May 2007
    • 0712
    Received from Elliot Jay Stocks » Pirated

    […] Meyer has publicly urged Flickr users to tag such images as ‘piratedsites’, and says that although “the […]

    • #16
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 May 2007
    • 0823
    Elliot Jay Stocks wrote in to say...

    I just got pirated myself (details here) and have duly tagged this image with ‘piratedsites’. Nice one, Eric!

    • #17
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 May 2007
    • 1551
    thacker wrote in to say...


    There are some issues that I believe designers/developers need to be aware prior to making to claims of “pirated” designs.

    First, I am not an intellectual property attorney .. just thirty plus years of experience in a wide variety of intellectual property issues. So take what I say in that vein.

    I emphasize the need for anyone who is making a claim of a “pirated” design to consult with an intellectual property law firm before making those claims and to gather a firm understanding of what constitutes copyright and possible violations of copyright.

    I am afraid that well intentioned designers/developers, in the emotional heat, may be leaving themselves vulnerable to liability.

    Again, seek counsel from competant intellectual property counsel [not general counsel] before making any such claims or postings to Flickr or any other published source.

    The Web site of the US Patent and Trademark Office publishes a list of those attorneys and law firms who are registered to practice before the Patent and Trademark Office. Searchable Database of Attornerys and Agents Registered to Practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

    Thank you very much.

    • #18
    • Comment
    • Tue 29 May 2007
    • 0816
    Pirate Puckles wrote in to say...

    Don”t think of it as plagiarism. Think of it as homage.

    • #19
    • Comment
    • Tue 29 May 2007
    • 1614
    Bradyn wrote in to say...

    Hah, when you linked to Zeldman, you actually linked back to yourself. Sneaky.

    [ Actually, just a typo. Fixed now; thanks! –E. ]

    • #20
    • Comment
    • Wed 30 May 2007
    • 1327
    Bradyn wrote in to say...

    Hah. While I’m being a smart ass, your RSS 2.0 link (under Feeds, right sidebar) leads to a 404. *hides

    • #21
    • Pingback
    • Sat 2 Jun 2007
    • 0545
    Received from Underground Collective Wisdom » Blog Archive

    […] or whatever social photo sharing web site you use, or post it to your blog, or whever you like, but tag it with "piratedsites" .this way it’s decentralized and can be picked up by Technorati and more. Tag design ripoffs […]

    • #22
    • Pingback
    • Sun 3 Jun 2007
    • 2100
    Received from CodeHooligans

    […] to catch-up on my RSS feeds. One item that caught my eye was posted by Eric Meyer on his blog His post was on the topic of Piracy of web site designs. One site specifically that is a blatant […]

    • #23
    • Comment
    • Wed 13 Jun 2007
    • 1758
    Tim Murtaugh wrote in to say...

    OK, so I just added the “piratedsites” tag to all the screenshots we have in Flickr. Happy?


    BTW, I’m looking to re-start a proper Pirated Sites, and I’m looking for bloggers if anyone is interested.

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