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Brown University’s Website – Coda

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From the Brown University Daily Herald:

Over the past two years, a number of designers have asked permission to use the University’s code, and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Ohio State University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville have created Web sites that look and function just like Brown’s.

Though the code for Brown’s site is copyrighted, the University views the similar designs as a compliment, said Director of Web Communications Scott Turner.

Turner learned about OSU’s similar Web site design last October, when the OSU webmaster sent him an e-mail asking if the site infringed upon Brown’s copyright.

“I don’t know if the code they used was stolen. They wanted to imitate us, and that’s their business,” Turner said. “We’re flattered.”

In responses to inquiries about its home page design, the University has notified Web site developers of the copyright on Brown’s code. But the University has also directed them to two open source libraries Brown drew on heavily in developing its code, encouraging site developers to employ the same public resources in efforts to “duplicate” the site, Turner said.

Liz Alcalde, coordinator of public relations for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at OSU, said she loved the “really clean application” of Brown’s Web site and looked at the site for inspiration when developing OSU’s.

Alcalde said she knew of no licensing or copyright issues with the designs of the site, and she added that there are some “pretty significant differences in design.”

Despite those differences, the similarities among the three sites have raised questions in the blogosphere. Eric Stoller, who blogs about higher education and technology, posted last month about the OSU site.

University officials said they do not have evidence the code was stolen and did not express any intention to pursue the issue further.

The end.

  • http://www.hypeelite.com/ Erika

    You know, maybe I’m missing something but it sounds like no one cares, and no one’s changing any parts of their website. Right?

    I’m furthermore amazed by the glossing over of the comments in the CSS file. Sometimes, you have to wonder.

  • http://blogs.central.edu/marketingWeb Jacob

    @Erika I agree, it appears that no one cares.

    I think this goes back to Stuart’s question: Does higher ed have enough design diversity? Taking design cues from another site is one thing, but lifting the whole design is questionable. But again, nobody seems to care. What kind of message does this send to students?

  • http://www.edustyle.net Cody

    I find this whole story incredible. Most universities would never tolerate this in a design course, yet they somehow find it ok in the real world. Where’s the integrity in that?

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