[thelist] Re: Logo design...

Mattias Thorslund mattias at inreach.com
Thu Jan 27 19:04:00 CST 2005

Mike wrote:

> At 08:42 27.01.2005 -0800, you wrote:
>> Maybe it's still art, but with a very utilitarian purpose.  The 
>> customer will decide what works for them and if they determine that 
>> changing it will make it work better, they will definitely demand the 
>> rights to do so. Makes perfect sense to me, athough I can understand 
>> the artist's feelings.
>> The same ought to be the case for web site designs also BTW.
> That really depends if you're on the client's or the webdesigner's side.
> Of course, if you're the client, then you might try to get as much as you
> can. But why that, if you're webdesigner?
> Why give away all the rights, if the customer can then reuse the design
> (and f* it up) for other websites and brochureware, including photos
> and artwork, and hand over the server-side code to her brother who does
> freelance webdesign for other companies?
> You have to be in a *very* competitive market, if you give away exclusive
> rights that forbid you to reuse and evolve design and code of your 
> current
> web projects. Or you enjoy f*ing up the market for your competitors.

I agree that you can't always give exclusive rights to everything.  The 
solution is to share them where you will want to re-use. So, the cool 
design concept that someone paid you to custom design ought to be theirs 
- it wouldn't be custom if your next customer gets a site that looks 
just the same. That's what I meant above. 

But even if you did give away "all rights", it still wouldn't prevent 
you from ever doing a 3-column layout again. Many of the techniques that 
we use are so basic that you coulnd't claim the right to them either. 
It's like the words in a book (again): the text is copyrighted but none 
of the words or even sentences by themselves.

Your CSS techniques, Javascript snippets and such that you created are 
hardly worth attempting to keep for yourself.  They are too hard to 
control anyway. Everyone on the web who knows how to view the source can 
plagiarize it all they want and you wouldn't be able to stop them or 
know about it. They're probably too short or non-unique for anyone to 
bother about copyright. If you have written something more substantial, 
such as a menu script, a calendar or the like, you could consider an 
open-source license. Since you can't really protect it, why not allow 
tweakers to tweak, and hopefully send you bug fixes and improvements too?

I learned most of the CSS tricks I know from the web, on sites like 
evolt and alistapart. I'm careful to credit originators for their hacks 
and such, whenever they ask for it, or respect the license they choose 
to put on it.

For server-side code, I have found that if the entire application is 
custom, it isn't very attractive to other developers, unless they need a 
site that does exactly the same thing - and that's not usually the 
case.  I for one would rather write my custom stuff from scratch rather 
than tweak some other custom code, and have to put up with someone 
else's inconsistent naming and hidden bugs (I prefer my own :-). For 
most generic types of web apps there are excellent open-source 
alternatives to get legally, so why would anyone steal from you? 

I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Just make sure to get a shared 
copyright for the stuff you intend to re-use.

...and if your customer messes up your design as they try to change it, 
it's mostly their fault. They should have called you.

Best, Mattias

More views at http://www.thorslund.us

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