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Thread: Stealing Work! Time to sue!

  1. #1
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    Ok, made this website over a year ago.

    Got paid for it, no problem there. A few months after its completion, the company came back to me asking me for the source code, I told them it would cost a reasonable $2000 for it.

    They didn't get back to me, and only to find out recently that they went with some other mob, they must have CRACKED the .swf or something, changed it, and slapped their "Designed by" everywhere.

    I'm outraged. I will soon be contacting a lawyer.

    Have a look for yourselves, and tell me if I have a leg to stand on.

    My version:
    http://www.aussie-website.com/mda/mda2001-final.swf

    The "changed" version
    http://www.marketingdirect.com.au

    I'm no flash guru, nor am I any Picaso... but this was one of my best works, taking credit for the whole work has left me dumbfounded. I cannot tell any of my potential clients to check it on the net because its got their name on there.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Ndev

  2. #2
    Ryan Thomson EvolveDesigns's Avatar
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    ***Nightmare Alert***

    Holy.. their unquestionably ripping you off. I'm not totally sure, but from what i've read the designer has full ownership of the site unless your contract states otherwise. You should definitly contact a lawyer because that just ain't right! Make sure to post here as you learn more. That sort of thing effects us all.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Blood elf, or PHP guru... hmmm Paradoxz's Avatar
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    good luck with the lawsuit.. I'm currently majoring in criminal justice, though your odds of winning are small if there were no Copyrights on the original sorce, you can always go with the verbal contract approach. This works in many cases. Good luck to you pal! Also, getting a patent on a product is not hard to do, and extremely inexpensive. You may want to do this on future products.

    -www.allthingsroot.com
    -Paradoxz

  4. #4
    Moderator enpstudios's Avatar
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    Definatley a rip !!


  5. #5
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    It shall be done

    I will definatley pursue this.

    I will keep you guys posted. These lucky bastards are lucky I'm at a financial low point in my life, if a lawyer doesnt take the case under the "win, or no fee" condition, I will not be able to afford representation.

    Thanks for the support fellas.

    Ndev

  6. #6
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    Man thats a bloody shame...

    Thos F$#kers from pixelskin even call themselves Flash evangelists.... Unbelievable.

    They also got the site in their portfolio. I would definitly take action. This is REALLY low!!!!


    Good luck with it!

    Pokko

  7. #7
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    Let me start off by saying I appologize for the long read ahead. I just wanted to make things a bit more clearer.

    To Pokko: Flash evangelists... what a laugh, flash thieves is more like it. I had a good look around their site, and noticed it was in their portfolio, made me sick with every button I clicked on their f'n pages.

    To Sualdam: Thanks for your input, interest and your support, I appreciate it.

    Ok, I am pretty certain its a rip (cracked SWF) The code invovled in making the little pyramid go around the buttons was not something easy. If it truly is my code, I will know by looking at it, and I've got the hard evidence to prove it is my code (for many reasons).

    As for the overall design. Sualdam, tell me this... If I bought an X-Box from microsoft, it is then my property.. right? What would they say if I removed that X, and put a V instead. The outside shell would be the same, the guts of the thing would be the same.. Could I then put.. designed by "NDEV", and resell it under V-Box? I think Microsoft's lawyers would have a thing or two to say about that.

    This is my point, they've taken (whether RIPPED, or an overall design copy..that being at least 90%) and claimed creation of my design. Stating the "Designed by..." on their pages is a clear fraudulant claim.

    "But there is no clear proof that it was ripped. Trying to prove that - even if its true - could be risky"

    Sualdam, I've got nothing to lose mate. I've pretty much lost my business because of it... and that can be proven as well. Lost a $7,500 client because of it. The turning point of my business, the only client that would have kept my business alive. My business partner decided to move on and pursue something else because there was no other clients on the horizon.

    To say its risky, its not. I have a valid reason for my speculations.
    1.The design is obviously copied, which leads me to belive that they wouldnt stop there... Copy and use anything and everything available.
    2.The code was not something that was easy to make, thus if I had to prove it in court, I will.

    One last quote:
    "However, if they paid you to do the original site, then surely they purchased the 'image' as well - it is after all their company, and the image is their image."

    True, and if this holds in court on their favor, the designing world has something fierce to fear. How do you think Eric from 2Advanced would justify and feel if he created a $20,000 masterpiece, has it in his portfolio, only to find out its been changed so minutely, another mob takes the credit for it.

    Lets take it a step further. Have all the designs that a company makes, lose their "designed by" right, because another company have "updated and changed 5%" of it, and put their designed by. I think you see where I'm going with this.

    In any case, wish my luck finding a lawyer. I know deep in my heart, I'm in the right, and I'm not just after compensation of wrong doing. But rather, justice. Because frankly, this is bull**** and I think you can all agree with that.

    Ndev



  8. #8
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    Just a few Ideas!

    The Problem that you have is that you sold them the sight if you entered into the contract that you had solo updating rights which is what i do, then you would be cool to take the other company to court. If you didn't have that in the original contract then you are F*@ked as they paid you
    out-right for the site and that includes i am afraid the source files I give all my clients a copy of the source files if they don't pay me the yearly update fee that i charge. Where you do have a leg to stand on is with the other web company as they have stolen you design and that is copyright of you even if they had redesigned the site and it looked similar to yours then they would still be in the Sh*t as that is creative copyright theft. so you may need to look into that also the creation date of the files cannot be faked and if you do go to court they would have to really break the law by falsifying evidence and they would have to falsify the payment to them for the site as you could prove with bank statements that you recieved payment for your version and they recieved payment after for their version


    Just a few Ideas!

  9. #9
    Living on fortified coffee. Mike-Edwards's Avatar
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    Ndev,

    I'm no legal expert, but as a published writer/composer I've learned that in the past few years the law regarding intellectual property ownership and protection as been strengthened in favor of the creator.

    A composer/writer/etc. doesn't have to go through as much trouble to prove ownership as before for one thing.

    So, hopefully that will help your case.

    I'd definitely consult an attorney who's good at that kind of stuff and let 'em have it!

    Good luck!



  10. #10
    imagination through stupidity
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    normally in a contract they will OWN the SOURCE CODE AND FILES>. .. unless.. it says that they have liscense to use it, but not to modify it.

  11. #11
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    any news, ill post it for sure

    Just would like to say thank you for all your support and understanding.

    Ok, Dansmad.. When creating a chair out of wood for a client, do you hand over the tools and the left over wood and nails? No, you bought the materials, and you hand over the product for which they've been charged for.

    My creation (fla) is my own property, unless the contract states that I will supply the FLA. If you hand over your FLA, that is your choice, but as far as I'm concerned, that is not an obligation. If they want updates, they pay, if they want the source code, they pay.

    Take for example when you have a programmer create you a database. Database is done, functional and paid for. The source code however stays with the programmer unless agreed otherwise in the contract of work.

    I have no problem with showing any proof to any judge, regarding the design ideas, the files of which I've had many betas and test files, the dates of which ive been contracted to do the work, or whatever else is relavant. I've got nothing to hide is what im trying to say.

    And Mike, thank you very much for your support and your encouraging feedback. I hope it falls into place when I get in contact with solicitors on monday.

    This sort of thing should not be tolerated, not just in my case, but to all of us designers. I'm sure I speak for all that when we use our creative minds to put something together.. to us its magical, its a part of us... Any violation of one's creativity, especially for profit, should NEVER be compromised.

    Now I know what Eric from 2Advanced must have felt with all the 2Advanced clones that poped-up... there is such a thing as flattery and inspiration of another's work, but theres a fine line drawn when it comes to business.

    Thanks to all who see it my way, and for the support. As it progresses, I will post the outcomes. I just hope a lawyer will take me on.

    Ndev
    [Edited by Ndev on 03-23-2002 at 08:10 AM]

  12. #12
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    First of all: it's a nice site! Congrats!

    I think that you have a strong case, and sueing these people will do a favor to the entire community. People out there will be more afraid of stealing. By the way, you could sue both the design company and the one that comissioned the job as well.

    I hope you are successful. As far as I can see it, unless specifically stated, you should own the rights to your own work.

    Can I ask something personal? How much did you charge for such a website and how long did it take you? (I know this is a touchy and private issue, so feel free to send me to hell and say no!)

  13. #13
    We Hate Ars*nal
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    The very least you can do is take your contract to a lawyer(solicitor) I'm not sure about where you are, but in UK solicitors, sometimes do a free (or sometimes a small fee)initial consultation to decide what and if any actions can be taken. It's worth a shot - can't do any harm just to get some advice. Do you have a Citizens Advice Bureau where you can get totally free legal advice?

  14. #14
    http://www.flipshark.com flipshark's Avatar
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    First things first you haven't clearly stated who you are planning on sueing. From where I stand there are two possibilities. You'll have to find out exactly who you should be sueing before taking legal action.

    MDF did not want to buy the source code from you, and they then hired Pixelskin to redesign the site. MDF obviously wanted the same look and feel and probably asked pixelskin to stick to a similar design when redesigning. If pixelskin then ripped the code to alter the site, they would be at fault for infringing on any copyrights thus sueing pixelskin would be the proper course of action.

    However if Pixelskin was under the impression that MDF owned the source code, (IE: MDF gave the source to pixelskin after ripping it themselves, or if MDF told pixelskin they could rip the code claiming it was theirs)
    then MDF would be at fault and you should sue them.

    Before taking legal action you should contact both sites to find out what actually happened, chances are only one of them is in the wrong.

    I believe you have been stolen from however if you sue the wrong person you could waste a lot of time & money.
    But that's just how I see it.

  15. #15
    Ryan Thomson EvolveDesigns's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Sualdam
    I whole bunch of people expressing shock and outrage and offering moral support to this guy isn't going to affect how the law works.
    You must see the benifits of getting a bunch of designers enraged (and getting their moral support) I've been thinking about this alot and it's inspired me to take a close look at the law in relation to design. Im sure im not the only one. I can only assume that as this thread progresses, that the input will get more and more useful.


    Anger is the best catylist

    ps. my spelling sucks.. give me a break!

  16. #16
    Ryan Thomson EvolveDesigns's Avatar
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    He made positive use of his anger by posting it here where people have a vested interest. Hopefully someone with some serious law experience will offer some concrete input on the specifics.

  17. #17
    Ryan Thomson EvolveDesigns's Avatar
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    Sualdam I think you've offered some really wise insights on the topic. No need for offence (eg. your experts comment in you tag) I think it's pretty clear what I meant by experts.. you know? experts. My comment to you was soley responding to what you said about our shared empathy having know useful significance. None of us want to get ripped off and we are all going to help out in our own ways. Some with insight, some with anger. I'm not going to take this debate any further as it clearly becoming unconstructive, but I just wanted to say that I value what you offered to the thread, along with everyone else. Let's stop bickering and start working together. This is a pretty important, and vague area regarding online design. Personally, I think it deserves it's own catagory in the forum.. Admins? hehe

    Cheers


  18. #18
    imagination through stupidity
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    Re: any news, ill post it for sure

    Originally posted by Ndev
    Just would like to say thank you for all your support and understanding.

    Ok, Dansmad.. When creating a chair out of wood for a client, do you hand over the tools and the left over wood and nails? No, you bought the materials, and you hand over the product for which they've been charged for.

    My creation (fla) is my own property, unless the contract states that I will supply the FLA. If you hand over your FLA, that is your choice, but as far as I'm concerned, that is not an obligation. If they want updates, they pay, if they want the source code, they pay.

    Take for example when you have a programmer create you a database. Database is done, functional and paid for. The source code however stays with the programmer unless agreed otherwise in the contract of work.

    I have no problem with showing any proof to any judge, regarding the design ideas, the files of which I've had many betas and test files, the dates of which ive been contracted to do the work, or whatever else is relavant. I've got nothing to hide is what im trying to say.

    And Mike, thank you very much for your support and your encouraging feedback. I hope it falls into place when I get in contact with solicitors on monday.

    This sort of thing should not be tolerated, not just in my case, but to all of us designers. I'm sure I speak for all that when we use our creative minds to put something together.. to us its magical, its a part of us... Any violation of one's creativity, especially for profit, should NEVER be compromised.

    Now I know what Eric from 2Advanced must have felt with all the 2Advanced clones that poped-up... there is such a thing as flattery and inspiration of another's work, but theres a fine line drawn when it comes to business.

    Thanks to all who see it my way, and for the support. As it progresses, I will post the outcomes. I just hope a lawyer will take me on.

    Ndev
    [Edited by Ndev on 03-23-2002 at 08:10 AM]
    your files or fla's are your fla's only in the contract that it says its your fla's... if it doesn't mention it in the contract.. then probably the source will be awarded to the client by a judge. and full rights to modify it.

  19. #19
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    Im open minded...

    Without sounding like a broken record, I'll just say thanks to all once more for all the feedback.

    I've learnt more from this thread than I could have imagined. It has definatley opened my eyes, and given me more food for thought than a feast at thanksgiving. It will better me, and make myself organized for the meeting with a solicitor. I will put forth all the angles and comments I have learned from all of you guys, and let people who know the law do their thing.

    I know now what I have to do, and what I'm up against. I'm not in any was closed minded, and I do not take anything to heart, even if people point the finger my way.

    Who will I be targetin with a law suit? Well, let's just say its more than likely the designers. From my perspective, the designers knew the design wasnt their "creation" from the start, theyve taken something which was complete, and changed over time. Taking full credit as they have was surely a move on their part, not MDA.

    But all things will be taken in account, and contacted to sort out the mess they have created. All I seek is justice, if that means compensation... Then rightly so, I have gained a financial burden, and a loss of a company and partner. To justify my anger, any of you would do the same. If channeling my anger towards the right people is the question, that will most certainly be done thoughtfully, and logically... and not with my stomping feet or waving fists.

    As for having a forum to discuss just these issues, I think it is a rather important topic, one that must be addressed. Guiding people towards the correct copyright procedures will save a lot of time, hasstle, and even your business. Take it from me, this is emotional rollercoaster I get from time to time regarding this matter is no picnic.

    Regards,
    Ndev

    [Edited by Ndev on 03-23-2002 at 05:33 PM]

  20. #20
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    it would be better to sue the client not the design firm that did it.. because we don't know what the client told the firm>

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