Unethical or Just business.

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Pro-Scapes, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    I know it’s been some time since I posted but I felt I needed a break from the redundancy so I could take a fresh look at how we do things as well as getting caught up on some things I have been putting off.

    As 2010 begins we are emerging with a new set of business principals and we will be mainstreaming our business to better serve our clients.

    As I work to revamp our company website (it crashed and was not able to be recovered) I have been taking a look at many of the outdoor lighting sites many from participants here and I really liked a lot of them. Kudos to you guys

    One thing I noticed is that a lot of sites contain the same basic info which is good. I also noticed something that disturbed me. One website I visited had exact text content duplication of another site. In this case there was no consent as I e-mailed the original site and asked it’s owner. While I think it is a beneficial tool that some manufactures or even colleagues help the newer guys out with canned or stock photos (I used stock photos at first to get started) to get them going I think it’s really bad if you are going to copy someone’s text verbatim. I know at one time someone had copied my FAQ page without even so much as changing a letter but I am curious as to what some other business and website owners feel about this practice.

    Is this unethical business practice or do you consider whatever is on the Internet public domain and open for "borrowing" without permission or some form of compensation to the original owner. It’s easy and costs nothing to copy and paste anything but do you respect ones intellectual property and the time, thought, experience and money they put behind what they have written on their website?

    I hope all is well with everyone and 2010 is profitable and healthy year for all.
     
  2. emby

    emby LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 380

    Hey Billy,

    Nice to see you back here as I have not seen or heard from you in a couple of months. Thought maybe there was another site that you had found.
    I am also in the development stages of creating my website. Sorry to hear about your crash.
    It has been fun looking at all the professional websites as some are very well done.
    I have just contacted a web designer here and we will be meeting this month to discuss. I too would like something remarkable and different from the "norm" and so I have started to prepare by making a list of things that I would like to express on the site. Such things as custom and professional design, only the best products, and a maintenance package that ensures them of worry free operation year after year.
    I waited until this year to begin since I knew I needed to use my pictures of my jobs so that future customers could see my design techniques in painting with light.
    I hope that other professionals here will comment on this thread and express their experiences (good and bad) when they developed their website.
    It would be very helpful to us apprentices like myself.:)

    Regards,

    Ken
     
  3. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 848

    Welcome back Billy!
    Good post! I know it took me awhile to get a website going. Like you, Ken, I waited until I had some quality pictures of my own before enlisting a website designer to help me.
    When I first discovered these lighting threads in 06' I made the time to read them all, which I would still recommend to anyone new here. This along with searching for any tidbits of information or articles I could find on the web. I compiled years of sentences here and partial paragraphs there. I saved them and added my own words to compile what I wanted to come across on my site. I looked at the stand-alone guys websites, some of whom have not been on for awhile, and was very impressed with their content. I purposely stayed away from frequent phrases I came across numerous times such as "Paint with light" , "Canvas" , "Be rest assured" , etc.. Sorry I like alot of these but they get over used.
    There are things on my site that still need to be corrected and others I would like to change or add but I suppose that holds true for many. Some had done websites maybe prematurely, before establishing their business, and are not here or in this line of work anymore. That is unfortunate.
     
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Thanks Kieth and Ken.

    I think you guys are taking the high road by trying to provide all original photos and content on your websites. I think you missed the main part of my post. I am trying to see how people feel about someone doing a copy and paste of someone elses text.

    Kieth there is nothing wrong with taking a good point and putting it in your own words if you employ that point or practice into your business. But going so far as to use the text word for word ?? Where do you draw the line ?
     
  5. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 875

    hey Billy, nice to see you here again.

    I think it is disrespectful for anyone to use your pictures, verbage, or worse, your name without written permission. In cases, it is copyright infringement.

    I purposely do not talk about techniques, details, or fixtures because none of that matters. They hire you for your expertise and if they like you. If you present yourself properly, they know you know what you are doing and see it in YOUR pictures. everyone uses stock photos at first and upgrades to their own eventually. I think you are correct to label it as bad or poor business to copy someone's material. if you can't be original, you should not be in an artistic business to begin with.
     
  6. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 848

    Good Stuff Billy and Tommy!
    Tommy I also enjoyed the video on the CalExpo! Thanks for sharing it!
     
  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Thanks Tommy.

    I totally agree. People need to pay more respect for someone. If you want to take a key point and reword it that should be ok but the example I saw was clearly a copy n paste type of scenario.

    My website is going on a Diet big time. Lots of photos. Half the text we used to have on our homepage. It will serve as more of a show em what we do and prequalify gateway for clientel before they even fill out the form to contact me.
     
  8. RLDesign

    RLDesign LawnSite Member
    Posts: 145

    Hello All,

    I have shared many a photo to industry friends for various marketing purposes. Most have chosen images that have sold well for me. Sometimes, I have asked for credit and other times it has not been needed. It is a terrible infringement to steal images and text, but the internet is plagued with many people who portray the works of others as their own. It sucks. Report the theft and banish them. Prosecution or compensation for infringment, other than cease letter is limited.

    For website design, we try to update our photos every 2 years. We try to have as many images and diverse categories on our website. Some feel this is putting too much out there for the competition and we feel it educates our client. If they are coming to us, it is just an upsell for other items. I have always tried to place as many images on our website to place an idea and demonstrate the technique to the client. My photos also demonstrate the professional install and design skills a potential client will get with our company. I agree with Tommy that our lighting work should represent itself. We put specific photos on our webpages instead of emailing various clients specific photos. I tell them to look at my website and see some downlighting images, docklighting photos, or day shots. I also try to include as many press links to provide backing for our work. I have found some great websites that I live by. James Solecki, Keith Rosser, Jan Moyer, Naomi Miller, John Pletcher, and Mike Gambino... just a few quick names of great sites... and there are so many more. Some have rights protected with water marking or locked file info. I have always felt that an image is worth a million words, but that value needs to be protected to each designers wishes.

    Just my input. Oh, my website is reynoldsgardenshop.com. Please look around and see that lighting is a piece of our puzzle. We do a good amount of lighting and it is my favorite piece of our puzzle. Please understand that my photos need quite a bit of work and I am always growing and adjusting my images to fit myself as a designer. I try to have the attitude that keeps me from judging my previous work in a regretful way - always knowing that I can and will do better with the next design, budget, or photograph. Listen to your sales - some images that may be terrible in composition - may sell very well and that is more important than anything!!!

    When selecting an image viewing platform for your clients, research your target audience and display options. Flash, photo size, roll over viewing, etc. are all options in photo display that make it easier for clients to see images easily. Make it easier for them to navigate the webpages.

    Best, Tanek

    img_1090 downlighting.jpg

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    img_1078 Taylors Residence Cedar Run.jpg

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  9. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,933

  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,182

    Good thread - as many of you know, we, at CAST, provide stock images to contractors (who use CAST) to help them create an impressive website. Everyone using our images signs an agreement promising that they won't represent these images as their own projects - rather, as examples of great landscape lighting. I am also careful to not share project images with a contractor's competitors. I also give permission to copy and paste our website text.

    Still, I find many contractors try to take our images without permission. Surpisingly, most assume that images on the web are free for the taking, or they assume that they will never be caught, or, if caught, that they won't get into trouble. These misguided folks are wrong on all three counts - I do search the web for our images and text, and if I find someone using them without permission, I contact them and start the legal process for copyright infringement.

    This process starts with a cease-and-desist request, then, if necessary moves to complaints to web hosts and domain registrars. Most don't realize that if a web host or registrar finds out that one of their clients is engaging in copyright infringement then that person can lose their website and domain name. I've never had to move beyond that stage but more serious consequences could unfold.

    The main reason I do this is because when I take photos of a contractor's projects, I sign an agreement to protect his images. I take this agreement seriously and consider it my responsibility to pursue people who steal them.
     

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