Remember when LogoMaid ripped of Dan Cederholm’s logo? Everybody pretty much agreed that that was illegal. And so imagine my surprise knowing that there are WordPress themes that are direct copies of Twitter, of Facebook, of Basecamp, and what have you. Heck, we even have a theme describing itself as “The exact Facebook clone theme for WordPress” in the official Theme Directory. This I believe is a case worse than the LogoMaid issue.
Please stop this. The freedom in GPL does not mean the freedom to steal copyrighted design. Stop making clones of popular websites and turning them into WordPress themes. It doesn’t matter if you release it only for personal use, or under GPL, if you code the CSS yourself, if you painstakingly recreate the graphic elements in Photoshop. It’s still, as Ryan Hellyer puts it, “illegal, immoral, and unethical.”
Instead of doing that, go and read this article by Cameron Moll, “Good Designers Copy, Great Designers Steal“, and learn how to “steal” a design in a much better (and ethical) way. Learn what makes them work, and improve it:
This article wouldn’t be complete without a warning to be careful when copying well-known sources. If I were to summarize this warning in one sentence, this would be my golden verbiage: copy the inspiration, not the outcome.
Or teach us. Write an article on how you do that AJAX load more posts wizardry. Or how to make that rounded corner work on every browser. Show us how to recreate your favorite website’s cool feature in WordPress.
Now that will be awesome.
Update: Another discussion is up at Theme Lab, WordPress Clone Themes – Your Take?