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.
It would seem that Brown University’s homepage design has more than its fair share of fans. Brown’s website design has already been ripped off by UAH. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at The Ohio State University has decided to fully implement Brown University’s code and call it their own.
Found within the CSS of the OSU site:
“Why did Pentagram design this at such a small width?”
Pentagram Inc., in collaboration with Brown University’s Public Affairs and University Relation’s staff, created the BU homepage design. Why is a comment about Pentagram Inc. in the CSS file for the OSU website? Because the OSU site “borrowed” the BU code. Verbatim!
Tip via eduStyle.
This came first: Brown University
Then this showed up: The University of Alabama in Huntsville
“The copyright for this material rests with Pentagram Inc and Brown University. You may not alter this information, repost or sell it without prior permission.”
Umm. I don’t think that the University of Alabama in Huntsville got the message. Jump to UWebD and eduStyle for additional commentary. This is definitely more than just a case of borrowed design ideas, colors, grid, etc. Brown’s stylesheet is named “master.css”. UAH’s is named “master2.css.” The HTML looks like a badly synthesized genetic clone.
I’m a huge fan of Brown University’s home page design. It’s too bad that UAH took their fandom a bit too far.
PS: Brown’s site is so hip that it is even prepped and ready for iPhones! I found this little gem in their source code:
sets width for iphones.
The OSU College of Engineering website design was “borrowed” from the Virginia Tech homepage. I received confirmation from a reliable source that the OSU COE site was designed by a student designer who used the VT site for design inspiration. Apparently, VT was made aware of the COE site design and was “not happy” about it.
I emailed the COE’s webmaster email and asked if they were aware of the site design similarities. I did not receive a response. However, a quick check of my web statistics showed a 54 second visit (referred from a Google Search for my name) from “kleinerpbook.engr.oregonstate.edu.” It turns out that that is the host name for Gregg Kleiner’s computer at OSU. Gregg is the Director of Marketing & Communications for the OSU College of Engineering.
I was surfing the web today in search of good examples of university/college web designs for an upcoming proposal. I had a two-pronged plan. Step one, visit sites for schools that I was already familiar with as well as viewing sites from the colleges of OSU. Step two, visit edustyle for a sampling of the latest in higher education web designs.
I fired up Firefox and surfed to the websites of Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. I’ve visited their sites before and appreciated their overall look and feel.
My next step was to open up tabs for each of the College sites for OSU. The College of Health and Human Sciences, Education, Ag Sciences, Science, Forestry, etc.
Then I opened up the OSU College of Engineering website. My jaw hit my desk and my eyes were agape. The Virginia Tech homepage and the College of Engineering homepage were like twins that had never met each other. The color schemes, backgrounds and grids were extremely similar. I wasn’t sure if it was pilfering, borrowing or at best, design inspiration?
The screenshots really tell the tale…
Continue reading Borrowing design ideas?