Perhaps I should wait until I cool down some… but by the time you’re done reading this, chances are you’ll be angry too.
Logic aside, if you offer work for others to learn from you run the risk of those same people you wish to help claiming the work as their own. I’ve had good luck so far with the Zen Garden, but that changed this week.
Since nearly the beginning, there have been people grabbing entire templates, graphics and all, and using them as the basis of their site; these I have politely requested the site owners to take down, and compliance has been prompt and agreeable.
The tricky part is when people want to use an individual .css file as a basis for their design, changing only images, perhaps with a new colour or font scheme. Obviously releasing the .css file under the Attribution-ShareAlike license from Creative Commons means that it’s open to interpretation; I’ve tried to address this in the FAQ by adding a further layer of permissions on top of the CC license.
The idea is that you can feel free to steal bits and pieces, learn from, and generally plunder the CSS as long as you don’t approach it as a template. The line is fuzzy and vague, and it’s where most confusion springs from. I’ve been lenient. Most have been considerate, and e-mailed me or the designer before beginning; generally these people are granted permission, and the designer is flattered.
But this week I have been dealing with someone in particular who started off on the wrong foot by using the designs wholesale (graphics and all), and continues to grow more belligerent with each new e-mail. Allow me to quote him, sic:
I am not your ennemy… There is no copyright issues in seeing Mona Lisa In the Louvres museum, draw it at home, and make this drawing available on the internet, (once again, there will be no commercial issues with theses templates)…Can we talk to find an acceptable solution? Waiting for a proposal of yours Dave. Forget the threats, or I will definitively skip you off the process. You have no choice Dave, either I do it under your supuervision, or I do it alone.
If you don’t want this like that to happen again, then I am affraid that you should make your web site private access, and make the people pay per view… do you like the idea? Ever heard about the price oF success? Congratulation Dave, that’s what is happening to Css Zen Garden
Where does this sense of entitlement come from? How can someone see something online, assume they have permission to use it, and argue against the person who created it that they have the right to continue doing so? This particular individual was planning on using some of the Zen Garden designs as templates for re-distribution with an open source content management system. Perhaps that says something.
Regardless, I think it’s time to re-visit the Zen Garden’s licensing. I have a responsibility to protect the work of 34 graphic artists (and that number grows weekly.) I need better tools at my disposal.