Public shaming is in order.
February 28, 2002 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Public shaming is in order. It's bad enough to rip off a design. But this person ripped off BABY PICTURES from Hoopla without credit, along with layouts, bits of text, and who-knows-what-else. Also compare: Leslie's status, Enurv's status. The "personal" part of personal publishing means you do it yourself. Argh.
posted by lucius (41 comments total)
Not that Enurv doesn't strike a sour chord, but did you try emailing Leslie or Enurv before posting here? This kinda thing has happened to me a few (dozen) times, and usually it can be cleared up with a little private mediation. Seems to me that calling for a "public shaming" will only entrench everyone and might want to be left for when private communication fails.
posted by fraying at 3:31 PM on February 28, 2002

For those looking : Hoopla's baby pic is here. Also, Lucius inverted Leslie and Enurv's status links.
posted by XiBe at 3:34 PM on February 28, 2002

When I was young, I lived through the great Cheap Hosting scandale: those were the days!
posted by ParisParamus at 3:38 PM on February 28, 2002

Noticed this link while "sharing" (i.e. copying without a twinge of conscience) Don't Take Your Guns to Town.mp3.

It occurred to me to wonder why it's so widely seen as OK to clone the Man In Black's musical work (and other folks' also, of course) while simultaneously seen as unspeakably heinous to clone some blogger's webpage design.

Is it a case of what the fellow said about academic backbiting, that the fights are so acrimonious because there's so little at stake?
posted by jfuller at 4:09 PM on February 28, 2002

I've never had a problem with design stealing, it's happened to me a few times and I couldn't be moved to care. Seriously, so a few people will see the design and think some jerkoff made it instead of me, so what? If said jerkoff is popular enough that it could cause an issue, that can only end up being to my benefit.

However content is something else entirely, and though I don't have a big problem with people using my content (only happened once), I can definitely understand the desire to protect it. There is a big difference between unauthorized sharing of properly credited work, such as the mp3s in Jfuller's question, and claiming someone else's baby pictures are your own.
posted by Nothing at 4:57 PM on February 28, 2002

This sort of things happen when kids grow up believing that sampling is songwriting.
posted by kindall at 5:01 PM on February 28, 2002

> There is a big difference between unauthorized sharing
> of properly credited work, such as the mp3s in Jfuller's
> question, and claiming someone else's baby pictures are
> your own.

(...hoping someone will explain the difference...)

As for "properly attributed," the .mp3 I mentioned has Johnny Cash written all over it to anybody with ears but Cash's name isn't actually mentioned anywhere in the file. It's just freestanding content divorced from attribution, unless you politely put that in the filename. And even then you can't credit the guitarist, drummer, producer, recording engineer, or anyone else who contributed and still burn the song onto a CD because of the 64-character IS0 9660 filename limit.
posted by jfuller at 5:29 PM on February 28, 2002

Minor point, but for the record, Leslie would be QUITE unhappy being referred to as a blogger, jfuller. Anyway, there is neither fighting nor acrimony... yet.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:33 PM on February 28, 2002

> Leslie would be QUITE unhappy being referred to as a
> blogger, jfuller.

Then let's hope I never do it, eh? I was actually thinking of this blogger's webpage design, and community fire-and-brimstone response to cloning of same.
posted by jfuller at 5:59 PM on February 28, 2002

Just to let you know what happened -- I wrote a letter to and asked that my family photos be removed (yesterday on the front page this photo appeared which is me as a toddler, there are other photos in the image directory of my family members as well as photos I took myself (the baby). I offered them access to my homepage kits, which I offer freely for use elsewhere, and asked that my writing be taken down. I am well aware that stealing html and layouts is - less than uncommon and I don't see it as particularly evil, but the direct lift, part and parcel of so much is unsettling.

I also understand that sometimes people nick other's work and use it as a jumping off point, tweaking it until they find their sea legs and create something original by way of evolution. However, after several days and several polite emails, the person continues to add additional whole pages and texts from my site. I'm not sure what my next step will be, as they seem immune to my requests, but I remain hopeful.
posted by leslie at 7:23 PM on February 28, 2002

P.S. Jfuller, I imagine the reason it doesn't offend the sensibilities of this community is largely because I am not a particularly active or vocal member of MeFi.
posted by leslie at 7:26 PM on February 28, 2002

Leslie, did you get any response at all?
posted by rodii at 7:43 PM on February 28, 2002

Far be it from me to suggest mob rule, but stealing content in addition to design is just... wrong.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 8:16 PM on February 28, 2002

Aha! So it *is* time. Let loose the dogs of war!
posted by fraying at 8:18 PM on February 28, 2002

I agree. Baby pictures yet! Angry mob justice time.
posted by rodii at 8:20 PM on February 28, 2002

Hey! You kids get out of that Briar Patch!
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 8:26 PM on February 28, 2002

No response at all, rodii.
posted by leslie at 8:28 PM on February 28, 2002

Hmm, somebody should send this to pirated sites, and save us the repetitive thread.
posted by dhartung at 8:35 PM on February 28, 2002

Simply put, I would hate it if someone did this to me.

We could all call this guy- his number can be found in any /whois directory. 13,000 Mefi users just calling to say hello. That would be cool.

Better yet- anyone live in Waco, Texas? Wanna stop by and say hello in person with 20 of your largest friends?

posted by ben-o at 9:21 PM on February 28, 2002

(...hoping someone will explain the difference...)

I made the mistake of claiming that music files were properly attributed, which is, as you said, entirely dependant on a filename which is too short to be complete and only mentions the artist if the maker of the file decides to put it in there. Music files are not traded with the assumption that the person who makes them available is the artist or creator of the work though, and that is the difference. In none of these cases, taking designs, taking content, and taking music files, is there an actual deprivation of property, but rather the creator of a work is deprived of some measure of control over it. The appropriation of content without attribution and presented as my own not only deprives the creator/owner of control, but implies that I have control of the content myself and possibly that I am deserving of recompense for that content. No one would assume money sent to the creator of an mp3 would be going to the artist. That is the difference.

Is it a big difference? Not really, but it's enough to warrant a different reaction, and add to that the business of the RIAA screwing over of musicians, and there is ample reason for the disparity you mentioned.

Frankly I am not the person to argue the point because I don't think mp3 trading is wrong and as I said above I don't think design stealing is wrong (though I do think it's embarrassing for the thief). Even content theft ranks only as horribly impolite by my way of thinking (and even more embarrassing to the perpetrator). So, to me it's kind of a moot point.
posted by Nothing at 9:30 PM on February 28, 2002

nice. i had thought this page also looked familiar, and in the shower it hit me. He ripped the story from an old issue of smug, it was written by Todd Levin. He just changed the name of the girl.
posted by leslie at 10:08 PM on February 28, 2002

I wonder if I should care about this: me; them; them again?
posted by ericost at 10:14 PM on February 28, 2002

ericost: Unless you designed and coded their site, you should care. (I mean, a link to your .js AND your .css? C'mon!) At least write them to let them know you know what they've done...I'd love to hear what they have to say.
posted by mosspink at 10:26 PM on February 28, 2002

Whatever you do, don't change the links on your own site, then redo the .css and .js files to be frightening and garish! Certainly don't screw with the .js code so that it jacks the site!
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 10:38 PM on February 28, 2002

mp3 files allow for the possibility of ID3 tagging which allows much more information about a song to be stored including: album name, composer, original artist, genre, and even a blank field for miscellaneous comments. while it is exceedingly uncommon for these fields to be actually used, it is unfair to say that proper attribution is impossible.
posted by juv3nal at 11:06 PM on February 28, 2002


> I imagine the reason it doesn't offend the sensibilities of
> this community is largely because I am not a particularly
> active or vocal member of MeFi.

Talking to cross-purposes here, I think. I actually think ripping off large bleeding hunks of the Hoopla site is pretty smarmy, as was cloning matthew's design when that happened. I can only imagine that people who do this are so ignorant they imagine nobody will notice the theft.

As for the comparison to cloning music files (and, increasingly, even larger stuff like movies, by people with enough bandwidth) I'm still struck by the contrast between how folks seem to feel about cloning that hits close to home (i.e.swiping stuff like page design and written/graphic content that very many of us have produced) vs. cloning that affects a community of creators, namely musicians, of which fewer of us are members. I frankly think, despite all the music-companies-are-evil thrashing, that the real difference comes down to no more than whose ox is being gored.
posted by jfuller at 6:17 AM on March 1, 2002

Leslie: At this point, you should probably remind Brian C. Moore that plagiarism is a violation of his school's Student Code of Conduct. He's a junior pre-med student majoring in chemistry and minoring in forensic science, so I would imagine his academic record is as important to him as your personal site is to you. He's in the student directory if you have trouble reaching him.
posted by rcade at 6:42 AM on March 1, 2002

Plagarism? Heck, what about copyright infringement? Posting your pictures without your consent is illegal; you could always mention that to Liquid Web (his web host).
posted by gd779 at 6:50 AM on March 1, 2002

As soon as I get home, I'm going to send this (since I don't have access to my personal e-mail here at work):

To: !!
Subject: stealing design AND content?


I hope this note serves to explain something to you. I am copying your web site host just to make sure they understand that you are breaking copyrights by stealing Leslie Harpold's images and content, even after she has asked you to remove them, as well as reprinting published stories, changing some names and claiming them as your own without permission(your 'boyhood.html' actually being a story by Todd Levin from SMUG).

I don't know what the plagiarism policies are at Baylor, but I'm sure the ethics code wouldn't endorse

Please reconsider what you are doing with your site. If you were to keep it up, I would recommend big notices on each page saying exactly where you got the content and design from and that none of the work is your own.

Best Regards,


Because it just isn't right. And if the kid's in college, then he's old enough to be responsible and understand the problems with stealing content and ideas without proper credit. And maybe his school SHOULD know about his little pet project - who says he's not pulling all his term papers off the net, as well?
posted by rich at 6:56 AM on March 1, 2002


and also viewable here.
posted by rich at 7:59 AM on March 1, 2002

"...whose ox is being gored."

I am a musician working on my bands 4th self-produced album. I've never done any blogging.

If someone were to share tapes (or mp3s) of my albums rather than buy a copy from us, I'd be slightly annoyed. If someone were to make copies of the album and change the credits so it looked like their work I would be FURIOUS. And yes, I would feel no compunctions about reporting them to their school administration or whatver other steps were necessary.
posted by tdismukes at 8:01 AM on March 1, 2002


"I am copying your web site host..."

Do you mean notifying, or do I not know something about web hosting that I should?
posted by furiousthought at 9:21 AM on March 1, 2002

No, Rich knows something about e-mail that you should. :)

CC stands for "carbon copy." When you put someone's address on that line, you have "copied" them the message. So, yes, they have been notified by copying them.
posted by kindall at 9:31 AM on March 1, 2002

The grammar's still confusing. : P Oh, well, I don't mean to derail a good strong showing of righteous anger. Pray continue.
posted by furiousthought at 11:15 AM on March 1, 2002

Confusing? hmm.. Maybe if I said 'copying your web host on this e-mail message'?

Still, let's not quibble. I've also fired off a note to ericost's phantom players, bccing him on the deal, and sending it off to metababy.

Too bad metababy doesn't archive its e-mail. Although with all the subscriptions it's been signed up for, I suppose that's for the best.

See.. if people look at other designs and code, then try to replicate it, and give credit, fine.. but blatent stealing is, well, stealing. Especially when you're doing it for profit.
posted by rich at 11:27 AM on March 1, 2002

For anyone who is interested, I got a note back from Brian who said he told leslie he'd stop and told me the same thing (as well as many other irate people, it seems).

But also, you'll notice that the page has been suspended by his hosting service.

Now to see what happens with ericost...
posted by rich at 6:25 PM on March 1, 2002

posted by furiousthought at 8:37 PM on March 1, 2002

I got a note from Brian, Todd Levin got a note from Brian, both apologies. Turns out enurv and I had the same host, so it was a rather quick decision for them to suspend the account. I'd also like to express my appreciation for the support shown by the MeFi-ers. Thank you so much.
posted by leslie at 10:19 PM on March 1, 2002

No problem, leslie.. hope I made up a little for my stupidity earlier this year. Man, I still feel like an idiot for how that all sounded.
posted by rich at 11:00 PM on March 1, 2002

ericost: FYI. E-mailing web hosts gets quick responses.

Re: Copyright infringment [T200203020099]
Mon, 04 Mar 2002 13:10:14 GMT


Thank you for contacting us regarding a violation of network resources. Your email has been
forwarded to our Network Violations Team at

To expedite your future correspondence, please send all future issues regarding violations to directly.

Best Regards,
XO Communications
posted by rich at 1:25 PM on March 4, 2002

Update: is under construction.
posted by rich at 7:41 AM on March 6, 2002

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