Rip-Off Or Not? - 02.28.00

(note: if you want to skip the background info, click here.)
It was just about 8 months ago now that I re-launched my site under a domain name. At the time, I only had three sections; Lesion Legion, Music Reviews, and Whatever. The latter two were holdouts from when I'd had my site on geocities, and I planned on continuing both of them (which I have), but Lesion Legion was something completely new. About 2 weeks before I launched the project, I even wrote a piece for this section asking for submissions. It turned out that I only got one from that e-mail, but over the past couple of months, submissions have gradually trickled in to the point things are at now (only 11 total stories). Before I go any further, if you haven't been to the section in question, things will make more sense from here out if you check it out.

Anyway, this new section was one that I was very happy with in terms of concept alone (I go back and forth still on whether I like the design of it, and will probably end up changing it soon enough). Not only that, but I had sort of a connection with it at a base level although I told myself that I wouldn't contribute a story to it myself. I wanted it to be a section for others, and besides, if someone really wanted to, they could find stories about my own scars within this section anyway.

At first, I had very big plans about what would happen with it. I figured that I'd probable end up getting a couple submissions a week, and it would grow into this huge repository of interesting stories that people had to tell about themselves. I even hoped that at some point in the future (something I still haven't completely given up hope on), I'd have enough stories and writers to put out an interesting sort of coffee-table book on the subject, with the different stories that had been submitted, the pictures, and a few words on what it all meant to me. 8 months later with a total of 11 stories, my goals have somewhat changed, but I still have hopes that it will catch on at some point.

Now, the main reason that I'm writing this piece is not only to inform you about the section on my site again, but to express a sort of dilemma that has presented itself to me.

Last week, I got an e-mail from a friend telling me about a site that he'd run across that seemingly had the very same idea as I did with Lesion Legion. Although it was presented a little differently (and the site still wasn't up and working), I checked it out and it made me feel a little uncomfortable.

Of course, my first notion after seeing the site was that they had totally ripped off my idea. I got upset and scrounged around their site for an e-mail address to send them a few words about it. I wondered what the rules were in terms of intellectual property on the web, and whether it was even worth it to pursue something like that.

Soon afterwards, though, I calmed down a bit and realized that it is possible that the person or persons creating their site could have never seen my site and simply had the very same idea independently. Of course, I'll probably never know the truth and I've come to the conclusion that the best way for me to handle things is by getting in touch with them (once I actually can) and send them a nice e-mail informing them of my site and its timeline, then see what happens from there. While I would still feel some resentment toward them, I do think that it's possible for both the sites to co-exist and even link each other and work hand-in-hand.

Just so you have an idea of what I'm talking about, check out both the sites and let me know if you have any comments on it one way or another. Lesion Legion is here. My-Scar is here.

Update: Since putting up this story, I was contacted by the owner of the My-Scar domain name. Not only was he very cool in explaining his idea about the site, but he'd also registered the site last April (right around the time I initially came up with the idea for Lesion Legion). So, it happened that two people completely randomly came up with the same idea independently of one another, as I mentioned could be the case above. Ah, the wacky web.