Uh, ‘Scuse Me???? (Ripping Marco) 12.10.08

Ok. So designer, CSS/web compliance advocate, Philippine Web Designers Organization (PWDO) core member and mini-conference resource person Marco Palinar found out today that his portfolio page was copied en toto by India-based websapient [dot] com under its own portfolio page, without a trace of reference back to Marco.

Marcos, top; the copy, bottom

Marco's portfolio page (top) and the exact copy (bottom)

Marco is now a victim of what may be the ‘real’ online theft which has plagued the internet since its commercial use became unstoppable: plagiarism.

There may be instances when imitation is flattery but in Marco’s case, it transcends all forms of imitation into outright theft, and speaks of how low other entities will go to advance themselves to profit from other people’s hard work. Marco, incidentally, was recently featured in cssmania.com’s featured sites page.

Local Issues

On the local front just last year, two forms of plagiarism on the internet took high-profile beating from among Filipino bloggers, even landing on the pages of, and given airtime on mainstream media:

  • [A] The case of, of all organizations, the 10th Philippine Web Awards which declared an entry for Arts and Portfolio Category, and which was found to have been copied off a German template site. After this anomaly was pointed out to the organizers, the winner acknowledged his mistake, returned the trophy to the organizers (which was subsequently awarded to the runner-up), brought the site-in-question down for some time, and apologized through a post for the ‘mistake’. (Apparently, a similar oversight was again committed by the Webby organizers this year. We await results to this one.)
  • [B] The pictures of Anton Sheker, a professional photographer and fellow philmug.ph member who sued the Manila Bulletin, a major daily, which published his pictures from his blog without credit or acknowledgment. Anton sent the editor and publisher several letters of clarification in October 2007 yet but was never fully acknowledged, credited or compensated. He filed the copyright case in June 2008.
    Anton’s is a landmark case regarding copyright infringement in the Philippines, especially because it involves online content seeing its way to print. The newspaper filed a counter charge and the case is currently pending in court.

Local Talk

Ripped sites and plagiarized portfolios are often hot topics over at Philweavers.net (a forum of Filipino web designers and web practitioners), going as far back as 2003,in photography forums, in social network sites and blogs, and offline among the Philippine web industry creatives, cafe habitues and bloggers. Local copyright issues seem to have a way of resolving themselves, not just as a result of good (web)sense and savvy, but of vigilance and sense of propriety, except, sadly, in the case of Anton and the Manila Bulletin.

Transcending Barriers

While copycats and rippers abound, i.e. grabbing all forms of media with abandon for various uses and intentions — photos for presentations, text for blogs and other articles, web design templates for personal and commercial gain — Marco’s case is different in that the site owner did not copy a code or design but in fact claimed ownership and presented of a body of works that were never his/theirs.

The Questionable Iterations

Websapient [dot] com, a site based in India, appears to be a relaunch or a domain that may have been bought recently.

Archives.org, in its earliest archive of the domain dated Oct. 14, 2004 up to Feb 2005, reveals that it was a

“system integrator specialized (sic) in Enterprise Supply Chain Management(SCM) / Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications. Websapient’s wireless/mobile solutions enables corporates access information more easily”

A more recent Google cache search yields an entry in getfreelancer.com of websapient.com’s entry on 10-30-2008 20:10 EDT thus:

“Hi, i am ready to work with you, i just launched my website, you can check that and then give me this task after seeing my work only…thanks..URL of my site is: http://www.websapient.com”

Post to a bid at getfreelancer.com

A recent websapient (dot) com post to a bid at getfreelancer.com

His/Their profile says the owner/s is/are based in India. This corresponds to a whois result (IP: 74.54.176.34) pointing to its registrant dated 17 October 2008 as someone from Punjab, India.

The site owner’s profile at the popular cross-discipline creative site coroflot.com says it is a “Web Designer, Flash Programmer, and SEO Analyst”.

Websapient (dot) coms coroflot.com profile

Websapient (dot) com's coroflot.com profile

However, none of his/their supposed portfolio, i.e. the one identical to Marco’s, can be seen in its/their coroflot.com Overview and Portfolio collection where his/their specialties are listed as:

Interaction Design
Print
Motion Graphics

Talk about work scope iteration.

Websapient (dot) coms portfolio site

Websapient (dot) com's portfolio site

On the current site in question, by the way, are testimonials that seem to be coming from the same names as what looks like on a dummy site. (See next two images below)
 

Websapient (dot) coms current site About Us page and animated testimonials

Websapient (dot) com's current site About Us page and animated testimonials

Apparent dummy text testimonials from techpumpkin (dot) com

Apparent dummy text testimonials from techpumpkin (dot) com

And so, just for kicks, I was curious about the rest of websapient [dot] com’s text content; I randomly selected a phrase (refer to encircled area in image above)  to check against other similar phrases that may have been used elsewhere. Voila.

My Take

Filipino creatives are among the best suppliers and design colleagues anywhere. They are hard workers who use their heads to offer design solutions that best benefit their clients.

Hard working and discerning creatives like Marco certainly do not deserve contemptible behavior from lowdowns as websapient [dot] com. It’s an insult to its domain name and to the industry at large.

And while it’s been said that one of the true values of the internet is to make the playing field even for all, we in the creative business — regardless of geolocation — utilize it for so much more than just personal gain: we make a living out of it. Unfortunately, some seem bent on making a killing out of it.

As for companies and shoppers on the lookout for web design and online presence, are they looking hard enough beyond cheap labor and their own profit?

|| UPDATE ||

11 Dec ’08, 8:12pm (PHI) Websapient [dot] com has taken down its portfolio page 

Websapient [dot] com takes down its portfolio page, adds 200+ hits to counter in 24 hours

Dec 11 2008: Websapient (dot) com takes down its portfolio page, adds 200+ hits to counter in 24 hours


Some useful and related links

Blogs

·  WebSapient rips off ENTIRE portfolio off freelance designer 
· noisy noisy man‘s not so retard take
· An expat’s view on the issue
· A marketing man provides proof that one of the claimed branding is NOT websapient [dot] com’s
· Philippine technology blog covers Marco’s Ripper/s
· Not so random thoughts about the issue
· Another designer not too pleased about the rip-off
· Blog network b5media has taken notice courtesy of Jayvee Fernandez


 

References
·  A Philippine copyright shorthand courtesy of Anton Sheker
·  Brad Templeton’s recently updated 10 Big Myths about Copyright Explained
·  Proper Use of DMCA from Pliagiarismtoday.com
·  Philweavers.net membera Des Mendoza’s blog on lending portfolios and Gail Villanueva‘s “Pahiram” daw ng portfolio?!! thread on the same topic (in Tagalog and English)
·  A Writer’s View of Freelance Bidding Sites from Freelanceswitch.com
·  Google search on Anton Sheker’s copyright case and GMANews article.
·  Technogra.ph’s entry on the 10th Philippine Webby Awards
·  Blogger Lorelle’s What do you do when someone steals your content


 

2 More grabs of Websapient [dot] com’s portfolio pages on coroflot.com 

     


 

Added 12 Dec 08

Branding claim, against the original, as pointed out by Pau Araos

Tag it .com

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12 Comments

Filed under community, Copyright, design, form function & class, internet, internet activity, Plagiarism, portfolio, Web design

12 responses to “Uh, ‘Scuse Me???? (Ripping Marco) 12.10.08

  1. Know It All

    While we should not condone plagiarism, we should accept that most all designs are manifestations from ‘borrowed’ work owned by others.

    I’m quite sure Marco’s design was ‘barrowed’ designs at some point in his career as well. Perhaps more tactfully or discretely. Shall we dig deeper into Marco’s past and give equal weight to the findings?

    I take issue with the following statement, having work painfully with Filipino developers and designers for a number of years – “Filipino creatives are among the best suppliers and design colleagues anywhere. They are hard workers who use their heads to offer design solutions that best benefit their clients.” I have found quite the opposite in my experiences.

  2. Pingback: WebSapient rips off ENTIRE portfolio of Pinoy web designer » Noisy, Noisy Man | Your daily dose of retard | funny website

  3. In response to “Know It All” Post

    Hello there.

    Thanks for your comment. I believe, though, that you may have missed the whole point of the post.

    I am, foremost, a visual artist, and next, a designer, and I do understand it when you say that “most all designs are manifestations from ‘borrowed’ work of others”. A meme as it were: a common thread that runs through our oral, visual, and aural history, and which gave rise to some acknowledged Western classics, for instance. A variation, an inheritance. Or, in webspeak, an iteration.

    The internet has made acts of “borrowing” easier and simpler. Borrowing, making variations of, or even taking from a work to make it one’s own after tweaking or infusing something distinct over another’s work is different from passing off someone else’s creation as one’s own. It’s deceptive and dishonest. That, I believe, is what websapient [dot] com has done to Marco Palinar. Please refer to the first image again.

    I cannot speak for Marco’s past works or from where he gets his inspirations, deep and guarded or otherwise. As designers, we surely get our doses of inspiration from all over; one cannot merely put a finger on a singular event, sound or experience and label it “inspiration”. It’s a confluence of things for sure.

    As for your unfortunate experience with Filipino developers and designers, you may have opted to seek elsewhere early on and thus have saved you the years of pained work.

    I speak for and about the majority of Filipino creatives when I say they are “among the best suppliers and design colleagues anywhere”. As in life’s basketful of goodies, however, you do get some rotten ones. Like websapient [dot] com, which hopefully, truly is not Filipino.

  4. @Know It All

    There is a difference between being inspired by another work, referencing it in one’s own work, and actually claiming someone else’s work as your own. The first two are acceptable, in some strict cases as long as credit is properly made; the third is not acceptable in any context, shape, or form whatsoever.

    I think if you had taken the time to carefully examine the screenshots relevant to this issue you would find (assuming, of course, that you are capable of forming an opinion based on actual fact, as opposed to composing a message that is essentially one strawman attack after another) that this issue does not even touch on the first two kinds of “borrowing”, but is instead all about the third kind. So why even attempt to muddy the issue or dilute the points others have already made?

  5. @Know-it-All: maybe your outsourced Filipino creatives had mediocre output because YOU were a pain in the ass to work with.

  6. Pingback: WebSapient Rips Off Designer’s Portfolio » JaypeeOnline // Blogging News & Reviews

  7. Does anybody know if Philippine or U.S. law offers protection to websites from plagiarism (in this case, copying the visual design)

    If so, up to what extent and at what point do you say that a website is technically plagiarized? what if they changed the colors? What if they just re-organized some elements?

  8. Pingback: Web Design Company Rips Freelance Designer's Portfolio - Blog Forum - Bloggeries

  9. Hi Rick,

    We do have IPR laws (RA 8293) and the e-Commerce Act (RA 8754) which I believe has been amended to include digital content and ‘visual design’, as you put it.

    There’s a reference about Piracy under the e-Commerce Act (Sec. 49 pf RA 8754) from my Chan+Robles bookmark: http://www.chanrobles.com/ecommerceimplementingrules.htm

    On the other hand, re plagiarism, of which I believe Marco was a victim, could it be covered by RA 8293 Chapter 10, Sec. 19 from the IPO site, where it says:

    The author of a work shall, independently of the economic rights in Section 177 or the grant of an assignment or license with respect to such right, have the right:

    193.1. To require that the authorship of the works be attributed to him, in particular, the right that his name, as far as practicable, be indicated in a prominent way on the copies, and in connection with the public use of his work…

    Which, in turn, is be covered by RA 8293 Chapter 2, Section 172: Original Works
    (j) Drawings or plastic works of a scientific or technical character;

    As for US laws, I believe digital content falls under the provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. See additional links at the end of the post above.

    I’m quite sure our local IPR lawyers can give us the real story on implementing these laws to our benefit. I’m not sure, though, how our laws will work, say, with the IPR laws of India, for example.

    Thanks!

  10. Pingback: WebSapient? More like HOMOSapient! (So-called design company rips off entire portfolio from Pinoy designer) at Faded Boxers

  11. sylv3r

    @Know it All
    Ripping off and being inspired off are two different things. What planet did you ooze out of.

    @post:
    http://websapient.com/faq.html –> Their FAQ don’t look FAQ-ish at all

  12. Pingback: AnimoHosting’s Featured Blogger and WebSapient’s Dick Move | Baddieverse

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