On Tuesday, May 23rd Dan Cody posted a curiousity to our illustrious list. The website Planet Tolkien had a webpage identical to ours.

Not only identical in design, but actual graphics and stylesheet files were either directly copied or even linked to evolt.org.

Immediately the list activated, as we all barraged each other with incredulous notes on how the website claimed a copyright after blatantly copying our 'Precious' site. Riots ensued, as we all (including yours truly) made dire threats that ranged from changing his background graphic to a nebulous comment about his home address being a few miles away from one of our members.

Being the responsible outraged web-folk we are, we promptly pounced on the site with email after email, insisting that the 'damn fool' take down his site.

While we designers were outraged at the stolen design, the Adminions were worried mostly that the code created for evolt wasn't being used with a GPL license. A GPL license is one that allows virtually unlimited use, as long as proper credit is given. I was unable to find a direct mention of this license on the evolt website beyond the explanation of why evolt was created, but that is a separate issue.

(from the admin list)

...I'm not mad this guy ripped our design(or icons would be a

diff story). I'm(was) mad that a.) he was pulling the images right

off the evolt server, wasting *our* bandwidth and b.) he was claiming

copyright on something that was GPL'd.

Before the firebrigade could be called in, one of the many emails reached the website owner, Taz, who discovered the error. Within minutes all of the offending pages were removed, and an apology letter appeared as the only remaining page on Planet Tolkien. Within 10 minutes (and within 6 hours of the original post) Taz had joined our list and posted a contrite and humble apology. This is when we discovered that while he was on vacation, his step-brother took control of his website and, after accidentally destroying the original, copied our site without Taz's knowledge.

My outrage at the original problem turned to embarrassment. At least 20 messages were sent to our own list on the matter, and Taz was deluged with harrassing mail.

I proved my quick responses, as well as how much time I must have on my hands, by venting my outrage while it was still hot. Had I (or anyone else with egg on their face) waited a half day to check our facts, or relied on those we entrust with the Admin role to sort things out, I wouldn't be typing this with my foot in my mouth.

The double-edged sword of justice has struck again. Welcome to the list, Taz.

Message from the webmaster of planet tolkien.

Dan Cody's "official" Reply