By: Erin Boyce
I know that a lot of the older web site owners on the net are finding themselves dealing with copycats. I read about it at a majority of the sites I visit, including the Amazoness Quartet's review site. Even though I tend to agree with most people who say that stealing other's work is bad, bad, and more bad, I can't help but feel that there are too many sites dedicated to bashing people.
I find a lot of things wrong with this. I have never copied anyone's layout or html. I have used the "View Source" command to see how a certain thing was done with html tags, and I have used some sites for information, such as Hotoshi Doi's page and the Sailor Senshi Page. Be that as it may, I know that when I started my site I was not the cleanest, most honest caretaker.
Maybe that's what bother's me so much. People who start to make a website, and have no knowledge about how to do it, usually do not have oodles of original images and things to post. I posted some pictures from sources that I can't even recall. I didn't do the right research, and that was wrong. On the other hand, why would I have? I was just starting out, fooling around with tags, and I had a site that got little to no hits. I wasn't thinking about some moral code of the online community, I was thinking about paying homage to Sailorgalaxia, my favorite Sailormoon villain. Did that make me such a bad girl?
Now that I have been online for over two years and now that I have many little branches of my website, I find some things annoying. People who steal whole layouts, or pieces of layouts, and call them their own, with little to no alterations, are one thing that is uncalled for. Layouts are not hard to make, and there are plenty of web graphic sites that offer them for use for the price of a link back and good word of mouth. There is no way to defend a complete, copied layout.
On the other hand, a layout that is similar, but that has no overriding proof of foul play, should not immediately be accused of stealing. Just because two or three people us a specific Chibi-usa manga pic, doesn't mean that one person saw it and took it. Some things genuinely happen because of strange circumstances that I like to call coincidences. Maybe I'm naive, but everyone on the Interent is not a crook.
Images are a different animal altogether. At first, when I saw my image galleries and realized that not all of my pictures were from free image galleries, I felt really guilty. Everyone on the online community seemed to look down on this as a crooked practice. Later, as my site got more hits and was more popular, I decided to ask permission from all of the sites that I had taken images from, even those that didn't have any policies and were free sharing sites. I got no responses from some, others that didn't care, and a few nasty replies. I promptly decided that the guilt that I was made to feel was premature, and actually a little silly.
Another thing I noticed was that when someone copies a site, a lot of people get involved. People get all of their friends to visit the site in question, and I have heard some really awful things that they have done, like writing them nasty letters and such. Is all of this really necessary? Do we really have to get a lynch mob together to tell someone that they pilfered someone's title and layout. My answer is a big NO. That is akin to getting all of your friends to crowd around a kid on the playground because they said a bad name to you. It's online bullying, and it's even worse than what those copycats are doing.
I guess I just want everyone to get along. I really hate seeing so many nasty messages left in Guestbooks, sites documenting their exploits with copycats, and the seeming hatred for each party for the other. We don't need knock-down-drag-out fights over this issue. We need to calm down, think it over like adults, and then, if that person really DID pilfer your site material, you need to talk to them like the better person that you are. If they write you something nasty, ignore them and realize that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Besides, it's not personal. People who do these things don't think, "Geez, how can I screw over so-and-so today?"
And hey, can't we all just get along? ^_~
Comments on this article can be sent to: Erin Boyce.