I Am A Source Code Thief
Posted on 31 Aug 2001
by Alan Herrell (headlemur)
Rated 4.02 (Ratings: 19)
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My name is the head lemur and I am a recovering Source Code Thief!
I started in 1994 with my first internet connection. Netscape andInternet Explorer gave me the ability to peek behind the scenes. Ithought that View Source would take me to the First Page of theInternet. It didn't.
Instead it revealed your code. All those weird characters that weren'ton the page suddenly appeared on my computer screen. I thought that Ihad made a mistake, and when I went to close the Window it asked me if Iwould like to Save It. I am weak. I said Yes.
I couldn't help myself. I binged. I spent hours, days, even weeks,stealing code. I began to study this HTML stuff. I stole more. My codestealing habit got so bad that I had to spend 400 dollars on a 40MBharddrive to have a place to keep it. I plundered, pillaged and looted.I stole entire sites and saved them on floppies. You could then.
Your code was mine. Then I discovered that I could take your images too.With the images the code began to make sense. I saw nothing wrong. Itwas there, I was here and all I needed to do was to save it. I saw thesame images appearing on all sorts of different sites. I felt no guilt.
Now I could push the code around and see what happened. It began to makesense. The things that worked, the things that didn't. I discoveredentire websites that people built to give away free images, codesecrets, and links to sites that were giving away even more stuff.
I discovered a shareware HTML code editor. I stole that too.I began to build webpages. It was orgasmic. I had the power to createmy own worlds. I could make big letters, I could make letters flowaround pictures. I became enraptured with the power of a few simpletags. I stole, I coded, I stole.
I joined the HTML Writers Guild. I lurked, I saved, I stole. I stole thetips you gave me and hid them in my work. I built more pages. Idiscovered that I could put my pages on the web. I did. I stole my firstFTP program. My theft knew no bounds. I began to learn about where theHTML code came from and how it was supposed to work. I printed pages ofthe HTML 3.2 spec. I downloaded image editors, I downloaded browsers, Ibought Netscape.
Copyright? Hah! Copyright just let me know that I was getting thefreshest stuff. Intellectual Property? Hah! Thanks for doing my work forme. You have saved me a lot of time so I could steal more code. God Iloved cut and paste!! I stole a program to track the images I hadstolen.
I began to develop my own code, images, and styles. I became a webdesigner in 1997. One of my very first sites was stolen. Code, Images,Content and directory. It was one of my largest sites, having 80 pagesand 20 handcrafted images. I had already stopped using other folks' stuffand began designing my own. I was outraged. I was angry. I screamed, Iyelled, I wrote long raving rants about these thieves to every list Icould find.
It was the worst day of my web life.
When I contacted these miscreants, I discovered that My Client had givenpermission to post the fruits of my labors on another site. They hadn'tdone anything different than I had done, except post it on the web.
I had to examine what I had been doing daily for the past three years.This marked the beginning of my recovery.
My stealing had been tapering off as so many people were sharing andgiving away their information, code and images. They were sharing withme, a source code thief.
They knew what I had been doing, and they forgave me. I would email themto ask permission to use something I had seen and they wrote back. Theysaid sure, it's okay. That is how we all learn on the web.
I came to realize that I was not a code god. I was not using anythingyou could not use. My work can be seen by everyone with a browser and aninternet connection. I can be stolen from, judged on my code, have mysites and images stolen. That is how the web works. We all have the samebuilding blocks. Most of you are far better at arranging them than I.This is how I learned. You will too. You may never look at sourcecode. But I doubt it. You cannot hide HTML source code. It doesn't workthat way. This is the nature of the Internet. You may not binge like Idid.
The web is an Open System. The protocols, the tags, the hardware, areall available for examination and use. We have agreed implicitly and ina lot of cases overtly that it is okay to look under the hood.
If you cannot accept the fact that
The Emperor Truly Has No Clothes on
Yes, I still peek.