Stealing someone elses javascript legal?

Posted on 2004-10-27
Last Modified: 2009-12-16
There are a million websites out there doing cool things with their javascript.  Are there any laws against using their javascript on my own website or does it become public domain because everyone has access to it?
Question by:mrloumrlou
    LVL 18

    Expert Comment

    Yes there are laws against it.

    Anyone can go to the library and take out a book.  Doesn't make it legal to copy it for your own use.  A work is placed in the public domain only when it's creator chooses to (or it ages past a certain point).
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    The thing is, 99% of people will not waste time trying to sue you, because it is very hard to prove that they came up with the code first.

    Now that I think about it, I'm not sure such a law exists...
    LVL 5

    Assisted Solution


    To my knowledge, there is nothing black and white. Not to be considered as legal advice.

    - Anything published ( books / papers / internet ) is not considered as trade-secret or privileged information.
    - These are however, protected by their own copy-right laws, as stated in the code header.
    - Reverse Engineering is what you are doing in this case, by using a tool ( View-Source ). This could be
      completely illegal based on any web-site usage agreement you might have accepted.

    However, if your code is not a copy or derivative of the original code, you should be ok. For example, you saw
    a visual effect and then you wrote some code to produce the same effect is completely okay. On the other hand
    while writing the code if it can be established that you had access to the original code, things may turn against

    Safest is to read code headers or any agreements you accepted electonically as part of using a software
    or web-site.

    LVL 33

    Assisted Solution

    The normal practice that we employ is if we use the persons javascript function then in the page we
    acknowledge his/her contribution,something like
    function abc()
    /* This script has been taken/modified from and has been written by
    Mr.X Y .Z  

    Also unless stated explicitly that he/she requires a donation/fee for the use of his/her scripts
    it rarely is a problem ( touch wood ).What i feel is that we should respect their creativity by
    admitting their touch in our scripts.
    LVL 2

    Accepted Solution

    I would ask them, if they say yes or tell you where they got the script from you have no problem.

    If they say no, then you can't use it.

    Copyright is simple, anything you create and is orginal you automatically own the copyright, regardless if you state it or not.

    If they say, no, ask Experts Exchange for help doing the javascript you want, or where to find the script you are allowed to use. There are a lot os site that provide scripts for free that you are allowed to use, also where most people would look first before they write there own.

    If they had to write it, and they are the only ones who have done it, then it would be nice to ask. You will find most people like to know other like there work.

    LVL 53

    Expert Comment


    regarding Internet copyright issues.


    Expert Comment

    If you see something cool on a website done in javascript. Chances are the owner of the site didnt create it themselves either..
    There is a vast repository of readialy available scripts on the net.

    If you see something you like, search for it on a site that gives away free javascript and then you dont have to worry about any legal ramifications..

    Craig Wiseman
    <email address removed by COBOLdinosaur>

    Expert Comment

    I just joined up yesterday and had not read throught the entire site yet...
    Not to worry, it wont happen again

    LVL 53

    Expert Comment

    No prob.  Editors are not the police.  Better me than a mod. ;^)

    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    I'll split the points as I see fit guys.  Thanks for the input.  So far it seems to me that under the LAW anything that is created by the author has an implicet copywrite. But what about the freebees?  What if someone posted something as a freebee but they got it from somewhere else?  This whole copyright thing seems very open to interpetation to me. Are there any CONCRETE laws on javascript?  Because c'mon now.  Javascript code must be recycled more than any other thing out there.  And also, is there ANY cases of someone who has WON a lawsuit over use of javascript?  It seems like stealing someone elses javascript comes down to morals for me and I would never steal some javascript from some little independent developer who explicitaly said he wants money for it but if there is NO mention of any compensation? Is that illegal... wrong... what!?
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    Anything you do not do yourself, then the copyright belongs to someone else.

    If you have their permission to use it then go for it.

    A lot of scripts will have a credit in them saying who made it and that others are allowed to use it.

    I would myself only use sites that you trust.

    For example everyone know you can download Blockbuster films, music, and there are sites that offer it, so you could get them if you wanted. But you know that even if the site said, it's free, help yourself, no copyright that you should not do it.

    Just because you can does not make it legal or right.

    All I would say is when you find a script you like, look for one just like it that you are allowed to use. There are a lot of places that let you have code for free.

    Anything else would be a gamble. Do you want to be the one that ends up being the example?
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    Has anyone mentioned that there are huge repositories of shared scripts where the right for non-commercial use is freely given, try ... or or ....


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