Majordojo's design changes again

Not too long ago I was inspired to redesign majordojo after seeing a beautiful design on a blog I frequently read. 901am's design is exceptional and so I ported the design to work against Movable Type's default templates. I was able to replicate the design very closely and was quite pleased with myself. However, I did this without seeking permission and was later contacted by 901am's owner that the design was copyrighted and I needed to remove it.

David permitted me at first to take inspiration from 901am's design and through the course of several emails I sent him revisions to the design hoping to find the right amount of change that would sufficiently differentiate majordojo from 901am. My initial changes were not sufficient in David's eyes, which in hindsight, I totally respect as my changes were very superficial. So I made yet another set of more significant changes to the design. I sincerely thought that these changes would have have created sufficient differentiation between majordojo and 901am, but the owner of the original design still felt that the designs had too much in common and derived too much from the original CSS. This time David asked that I remove the design all together.

901am.png
901am's Design
design1.png
Majordojo's Design

Not wanting to impose on them any further, that is exactly what I have done. It was never my intent to sow ill will with anyone, especially a designer and site owner who worked very hard and spent lots of money to create a design that was so incredibly well executed. For any trouble I have caused with them, I sincerely apologize.

Ironically, the design I chose for majordojo is designed by the same designer as 901am - a testament to Chris Pearson's design skills if ever there was one. Cutline is an open source design that I think is clean and provides a nice reader experience.

I will continue to draw inspiration from good designer's work, especially Chris. I am sorry to him and David for any inconvenience I have caused, and I hope there are no hard feelings between us.

On a different note, this experience has made me think a great deal about how different something needs to be in order to be considered unique, especially considering how constrained people are by the standards of HTML and CSS, the limited set of fonts to chose from on the web, whether kerning, spacing, column alignment and width, font sizes are truly copyrightable, etc.

So I pose this question to my readers: given that for many the creative process often begins by drawing upon the designs we see every day where do you draw the line between theft and original work in the web design world?

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2 Comments

Dojo,

I appreciate the nod in this post, but I must caution you — Cutline is released under a Creative Commons 2.5 License which stipulates that attribution links (which you appear to have removed altogether) must be:

At least as prominent as the original

In my eyes, a link to Cutline in the footer is sufficient.

Thanks!

I will make that change post haste. Thank you Chris!

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