How Not To Steal A Website


As I’m writing this my website is being stolen. The source code is being copied and the content is being rewritten. Very soon my entire website will have been copied and launched as a complete different website, here’s how I know…

Analytics anonymous

I have to admit, I’m a little bit over zealous when it comes to checking the data on my Google analytics account. I often dip into my account to see how people are accessing my site. I find it really useful to know which page is proving most popular. I had a little surprise today when I was seeing multiple visits to a page on my website that doesn’t exist and never has.

The mistake

The culprit had copied over all the source code for my site – the css, the js, the html, everything. Unfortunately for them, they’d forgotten to remove the Google Analytics code from the html files and as a result, every time they visit one of the offending pages it logs on my Google Analytics.

Although I don’t particularly want to give the culprit any publicity, I do feel like I should show the offending site…

Stolen Website

Please don’t ask me why it’s filled with the same picture of a chicken’s head. No chickens were harmed in the making of my own website – I cannot vouch for the duplicate version.

Look but don’t steal

I’m not against learning from existing websites. I’ve looked at the source code of sites that I really like myself many times before. What I haven’t done is copy the code for an entire site and make the minimal changes possible in order to claim it as my own. This to me, is blatant theft and goes beyond the learning process.

Unfortunately this happens all too often. I wish it were an isolated case but it’s happened to me multiple times before. It’s happened to my friends many times too. In the infinite world that is the internet, what are the chances of catching a thief? Fortunately this time, pretty high.

The plot thickens…

I contacted Sergej Frost of Frost Media to ask him to remove the site as it was a clear copy of mine. He was incredibly apologetic and stated that it had been produced by a freelancer without his knowledge and that he would not use the freelancer again. The website was taken down. Job done. Or so I thought. 24 hours later and yet again my analytics is tracking another page that doesn’t exist on my site. It would appear that Mr Frost, or the mystery freelancer has simply moved the page to a different URL but has once again left the analytics code in place.

I await his response to my second email…

Comments


Andrew:

17 Jun 2014 20:01:00

It would annoy me beyond belief if someone stole some of my code. I’m more than happy for people to take inspiration from something but this is just wrong. If someone asked me if they could use a bit of my JS or a bit of my CSS for a specific element I’d probably happily let them take it.

Dave:

17 Jun 2014 20:06:02

I guess the first thing is that it’s quite flattering. Someone has liked it enough to attempt to steal it. But as soon as you get past that, all those nights I spent learning new things, battling with certain elements – someone has just taken all that hard work without even asking me. It’s just plain wrong.

thecodezombie:

18 Jun 2014 09:02:57

I’d be interested to hear what you take would be on content plagiarism. The Mixd website – in terms of style / design / code – got copied a whole lot recently, and thankfully most companies pulled it once I e-mailed.

But I found them by searching the strapline we use on the homepage, and it reveals a whole lot more companies who have their own websites / branding / identity, but they’re using the strapline in it’s entirety like it’s their own. It’s not a registered trademark, nor is it a blog post we had copied in its entirety, but it was copywriting that we paid for and it’s part of a website that’s under copyright.

I’ve got mixed feelings about whether it would be a pretentious move to reach out to these companies (privately) and ask them to remove it.

Dave:

18 Jun 2014 09:11:57

It’s a difficult one – the plagiarisms are inevitably very poor copies and for that reason they don’t tend to overly bother me, you can always tell which came first.

If it came down to a strapline, I’d probably let it slide but that’s very much a personal thing – you could probably spend a significant part of your day chasing down stolen elements but it never really gets you anywhere. I once had an instance of another freelancer in Leeds using my copy but only changing the name – I thought that was pushing it, working in the same city, doing the same job and stealing copy.

Joe:

24 Jun 2014 20:51:18

@thecodezombine Come on, you could have had “mixd” feelings…

Good luck on dealing with this guy Dave! Seems like he thinks your a mug, he’s just going to put it up again numerous times…

John Evans:

24 Jun 2014 23:50:07

Absolutely disgusting!

I myself have admired someone’s work so much that I wanted to include it in a blog post (it was a really good and original poem).

All I had was a name and managed to track the author down to her Facebook account ad sent her a direct message asking if I could use it (with all credit given of course) but alas, no reply.

This particular poem would have tied my post on the effects of war together nicely but unfortunately no reply meant that I couldn’t just use it: it was not my work!

If only everybody had such morals then the world (and the creative community) would be a better place :-)

Dave:

25 Jun 2014 22:28:45

Joe, if you’re gonna be dropping puns like that you’re not welcome on this website ;)

John, at least in your case it was for a positive reason!

Don't be shy! Leave a comment…