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Community Responsibility

Tiff Fehr

March 27, 2007 at 11:00 PM

Recently, the web-professional community has been sobered by stark reminders of the unsavory side of the web, such as website piracy, logo piracy, and even hateful public comments about professionals in our industry. The outpouring of support has been as strong on all accounts, but has been entirely in the format best-suited to the web: *words*. Not action. Now, I'm proud to be part of an industry with such a strong sense of community support, but what do we do with that, concretely?

We can vociferously condemn and lament shaky copyright laws, questionable legal recourse, anonymous commenting, and designers undercutting the community, but where does the condemnation go after it's said? In the case of LogoMaid's suspicious appopriation of Dan Cederholm's SimpleBits logo, we posted our degrees of disgust, and more than a few offered to supplement legal fees had it become a matter for the courts. But supportive comments and some strategic linking doesn't set a precedent that will discourage practices from the underbelly of the Internet. Likewise, we can post how-tos to educate errant designers and unknowing clients via our preferred medium—the web—but that's passively reaching out, not actively. Our intended audience has to seek out our thoughtful posts on their behalf.

As a community, what actions discourage malicious behavior such as piracy and abusive comments? In the varied responses to Kathy Sierra's post, bloggers referenced similar outrages from older online communities, with community reactions ranging from supportive badges to near-shunning. In response to design theft, polite requests and/or legal threats have often resolved the conflict, but other victims gave up rather than call in lawyers. Among folks discussing organized group responses, opinions are so diverse as to be hard to synthesize. Similar organized groups, like craft guilds, unions, and other collective-leverage organizations historically formed to combat industry-threatening issues. Are we at an industry-threatening place? No. But there has to be something in between, where our penchant for words begets action. We're smart, internet-friendly people—what can we learn from this?

Comments

Brian Artka

March 29, 2007 at 1:09 PM

what can we learn from this? It happens in EVERY industry. Find the right hole in the wall on any corner street in any city and you can buy fake brand name purses, sun glasses, watches, pirated movies, video games, perfumes, etc. etc... It is disgusting, but there seems to be a demand for these kinds of things otherwise it wouldn't be done. There is no way to stop it. It will never end. It is not worth the time or effort to try and stop every low life from copying designs, blatantly stealing ideas or selling "Foakley" sunglasses on the streets of your major city. The only thing we can do is educate people why you should NOT bother working with those people. Buying a copied or cookie cut logo for $25 is not going to make your business attractive in ANY way. It is going to make you look cheap just like wearing the fake brand name sunglasses will make you look cheap (and probably ruin your eyes). If it sounds to good to be true, it most likely is. I am pretty sure we are already educating our clients and others that originality and quality is the right decision to move towards, but maybe we aren't doing that enough? I don't know. Maybe the others don't care. I guess the big question is, how do we make them care? B PS(on the topic of pirated movies; who the hell would want to buy and watch a camcorder recorded version of a theatre movie screen...that makes me sick! I dont think home videos of box office movies look or sound good... I dont get it)

Tiff Fehr

March 29, 2007 at 2:56 PM

I have an update: SXSW just posted a news alert heeding Andy Carvin's declaration that March 30, 2007 is "Stop Cyberbullying Day": http://2007.sxsw.com/blogs/ia.php/2007/03/29/take_a_stand_for_civility_march_30_is_st In addition, the SXSW crew also encourage people to read the comments by Andy Carvin, and take a moment to post some solidarity against cyberbullying as a whole.

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