I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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MetaDesign gets ripped offBrian Clark of Copyblogger recently got his blog’s design copied, causing quite a stir. Now, it looks like it’s my turn to get ripped off. My recent design for MetaDesign’s website has just been stolen by another design agency called Spotts & Company.

Not only did they lift the layout and type styles, they also copied the copy that MetaDesign wrote.

MetaDesign’s intro copy:

We combine the art and logic of design to help organizations compete. Welcome to MetaDesign.

Spotts & Company copy:

We combine the art and logic of design to help organizations tell their tale and compete in the marketplace. Welcome to Spotts & Company

With a few typographic oddities, the rest of their site is pretty much exact to MetaDesign’s site. Spotts wasn’t able to copy the AJAX page transitions which Meta’s site dev team worked arduously on.

I’m trying not to be outraged, but it’s difficult being the designer of the original site. Many people besides myself worked incredibly hard to create MetaDesign’s site.

It’s one thing to be inspired by another site’s design and then evolve it to something unique. But to see it virtually duplicated is disheartening. It just hits too close to home. :-(

Update (Dec. 21): I sent an email to Spotts & Company to get their side of the story, but it bounced back. They’ve taken down the site, so we may never know if there was a reasonable explanation for copying.

24 Comments

  • FERGUS O’ROURKE

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:23 am

    I hope that you contacted the alleged offender before publishing this. It is not impossible – or so it seem to me – that there is an innocent explanation. Anyway, what’s to lose by asking him/her ?

  • Mirko

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:28 am

    I’m speechless. Did they really think they could get away with it? MetaDesign should sue.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:30 am

    Fergus, I just sent off an email to Spotts & Company, and will let readers know if there is a response.

  • Jarrod

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:32 am

    Wow, that takes crust! Especially in the design community where reputation is everything, I can’t fathom a company stealing the design of another company. Yes, we designers get inspired by our competition, but we’re taught to never outright steal someone else’s work. I would definitely be leery of using the other company for any design services because who knows if the work they’d create for me would be original or not. Definitely not worth the risk.

  • geoff

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:42 am

    Currently at Spotts: “Driving traffic the old fashion way.”

    More like driving traffic away… /drum snare

  • Jeff

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:43 am

    Their website seems to be down now, I guess you won…

  • Mobius

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:44 am

    Heh, the site now says “Driving traffic the old fashion way.” and that’s it.

    So, they noticed the DIGG effect, and took it down, because they’re so embarrassed they got caught. LMFAO.

  • Joe Pemberton

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:45 am

    The way they justified Georgia like that is almost as offensive as ripping off a site like Meta’s.

  • Brian Clark

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:46 am

    We keep seeing more and more of this happening, but this may be the most blatant rip off yet. These people have no shame.

    But the really amazing thing is… for some reason they don’t think we’ll notice, AND don’t realize that we can tell quite a few people about it.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    11:51 am

    The email I just sent to Spotts & Company bounced back. Spotts & Company have taken down the site, so we may never know if there was an innocent explanation.

  • The TriniGourmet

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    12:01 pm

    wow. the only reasonable explanation is ‘we are lazy as #$@# and have no talent of our own’ … glad they took it down… probably to rip off someone else… how did you even catch it?

  • Mirko

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    12:02 pm

    Chanpory, quite the contrary, now you know that there is no innocent explanation :)

  • Derek

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    1:01 pm

    Their page now has s simple ‘S’ to replace the design. Maybe representative of the word “stupid”?

  • Avi

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    1:26 pm

    Just curious, but how did you find that?

  • mark

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    1:28 pm

    On top of it all, it was a bad copy. The type was a disaster the rules and alignment had no consistency, the transitions from page to page were nothing like the Meta page and what were they thinking on that contact page?

    They didn’t even know why or what they were copying.

    Obviously the basic layout of the new Meta site is not a new idea, but the execution of it is nicely done and the positioning of the aesthetic is very smart. The people at Spotts are just perpetrators.

  • Layne

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    1:32 pm

    Nice catch. “Code lifting” is so widespread, it’s frustrating. I learned a similar lesson with a client who decided not to pay for a logo design. I later found that they had taken and slightly modified one of my original design comps. You could get angry, or you could take it as the sincerest flattery. It’s basically someone else saying “I bow to your skills, I can not do this better.”

    Of course, I have since learned to lock down any PDFs I send out to prevent unauthorized usage ;)

  • Sam

    gravatarDec 21, 2006
    7:21 pm

    Welcome to the interwebs.

    “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” -Picasso

    People always use other sites for inspiration. I doubt you would get very far trying to sue – the two sites are different enough, and it’s not a very good design anyway IMO.

    Move along, nothing to see here. Happens every day – part of the business.

  • xian

    gravatarDec 23, 2006
    8:28 am

    got another bold rip-off for you:

    original: http://www.crobar.com rip-off: http://www.empire-club.at

  • Anuj

    gravatarDec 26, 2006
    10:59 am

    Their website is down it simply says a big S… I guess they realised it is not easy to get away from simply copying others creativity…Do these people not have any morals??? Unbelievable stuff ….

  • endo

    gravatarDec 27, 2006
    2:26 am

    yeah, and what about lifeclever? ain’t lifeclever a lifehacker rip-off? no, not a rip-off of desing, but–what’s even worse–a rip-off of content.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarDec 27, 2006
    3:11 am

    Endo,

    LifeClever differs from Lifehacker in that the content here is more focused on design and productivity, whereas Lifehacker is much more general and broad. In this sense, I believe LifeClever complements, not competes, with Lifehacker. In fact, some of the content on here has been featured on Lifehacker as well as other sites such as 43folders and Lifehack.org.

    Outright plagiarism such as Spotts & Company’s, where credit is not given and content is copied verbatim, is entirely different than providing another perspective in a subject area.

    I stand by the content on this site and have always credited sources appropriately. I certainly believe there is room for improvement and I will continue to evolve this blog. I’m proud you and others put LifeClever in the company of Lifehacker.

  • Sheri

    gravatarDec 29, 2006
    6:08 pm

    OK, rather than scalping the code from this blog, I’d like to ask how one can create an active link in HTML or other coding, without having the text underlined. I love the clean look of links I’m beginning to see on various sites, but don’t know how to code my pages so the links are simply colored text, not underlined text. Any suggestions, tips, references???

  • Geoff Cain

    gravatarJan 18, 2007
    9:09 am

    That is incredible. If I were a project manager for that company and I had a designer who copied a website, I would immediately fire them. It is dishonest, unethical, and a copyright violation. A designer who does that becomes a future legal liability. I would have to pay for the job twice; once for the ripped off site and again for the new site after I get the cease and desist letter.

  • Erness Wild

    gravatarDec 8, 2008
    1:17 pm

    Making no excuses for them, but there’s only so many designs to go around. I have clients who use other sites as inspiration, I view them then try to create something better or slightly different. I’ve seen some of my own work in other sites that obviously used my site as an inspiration. There are millions of websites, how many different layouts can there be. Perhaps as designers we have to live with similar layouts and similar logos etc, but not a direct rip off. Do the work. Content makes the difference and a search around for that particular business or service should tell a designer if their design is too similar to someone else’s in the same business category. This is not new, as in the old advertising business for creating newspaper ads, the only way to meet deadlines was to have a swipe file of thousands of old ads to use for layout. Not much was new after a while.