Ethics of copying code

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zaneclark
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Ethics of copying code

Postby zaneclark » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:18 am

I like to browse through the home pages of other wards to get ideas for my own ward site and I recently found a very nice way of listing other meeting times such as ward council, PEC, etc. I opened "view source," copied the source code, pasted it into my page after altering it to match my ward's meeting times. Now I am wondering if this is ethical. I did make an attempt to contact the other ward but was unable to do so... Am I worrying too much about this?

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AileneRHerrick
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Postby AileneRHerrick » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:25 am

zaneclark wrote:I like to browse through the home pages of other wards to get ideas for my own ward site and I recently found a very nice way of listing other meeting times such as ward council, PEC, etc. I opened "view source," copied the source code, pasted it into my page after altering it to match my ward's meeting times. Now I am wondering if this is ethical. I did make an attempt to contact the other ward but was unable to do so... Am I worrying too much about this?


I personally wouldn't mind if someone copied my code from my ward website. In general, I think the reason why people don't want others copying code, is if you want to impersonate their site. For example... if you were to launch your own religious site, and make it look like LDS.org, that would be a problem, because people would get the two confused.

As far as if it is "ethical" or not... I'm not really sure. All I can say, is that if my code were copied (from the ward website), I'd consider it a compliment. I'm guessing it's probably kosher though.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:45 am

zaneclark wrote:I like to browse through the home pages of other wards to get ideas for my own ward site and I recently found a very nice way of listing other meeting times such as ward council, PEC, etc. I opened "view source," copied the source code, pasted it into my page after altering it to match my ward's meeting times. Now I am wondering if this is ethical. I did make an attempt to contact the other ward but was unable to do so... Am I worrying too much about this?

I personally wouldn't feel bad about it either. You're copying a layout or formatting from another LUWS unit home page, which is not copyrighted in any way by that one individual. It is an official page of the Church and so is your unit's homepage. Again, these are my personal thoughts, but I see no issue with this kind of borrowing.
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nutterb
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Postby nutterb » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:54 am

I do a fair amount of programming in an open source language and it isn't uncommon at all to borrow code from someone else. The community of programmers that use this code are quite open about sharing code and solutions. The metric we tend to use is that if it's a fairly routine and common application of the code, then we don't worry about citing it. However, if the code appears to be a novel solution or approach we will usually make a comment in the code to give credit to the original author. The comment usually also includes a statement that any replication of the code should give credit to the original author. If you do the comment correctly, it shouldn't show up in the finished web page.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:07 am

nutterb wrote:I do a fair amount of programming in an open source language and it isn't uncommon at all to borrow code from someone else. The community of programmers that use this code are quite open about sharing code and solutions. The metric we tend to use is that if it's a fairly routine and common application of the code, then we don't worry about citing it. However, if the code appears to be a novel solution or approach we will usually make a comment in the code to give credit to the original author. The comment usually also includes a statement that any replication of the code should give credit to the original author. If you do the comment correctly, it shouldn't show up in the finished web page.

This is good, general advice for verbatim reuse of code, text, style, or layout from another source on the web authorizing the reuse without restrictions through copyright.

However, this isn't even "source code" really, like a developer would think of it. It's just some fairly insignificant HTML markup snippet determining layout and style of one small part on a LUWS unit homepage. I doubt there's really that much CSS or JavaScript in it, it's probably 90% HTML. Plus, the source of the markup is yet another LUWS unit homepage. It's the left hand "borrowing" from the right hand.

My personal opinion is that when you put something on the LUWS webpage (which is an official Church website), your content is not your own for copyright purposes. It's property of the Church. I see no reason for citation in this case because it's all under the Church's realm.
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