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BYU NewsNet Returns Awards for Plagiarized Web Designs

BYU NewsNet Returns Awards for Plagiarized Web Designs

Posted - May 31, 2003 at 6:12 p.m.



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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Brigham Young University's student news organization has given up two national awards for Web page design because the two students who crafted the page copied material from another Web site.

Earlier this spring, the BYU site NewsNet won first place among colleges for Web page design in a contest sponsored by the University of Missouri chapter of the Society of Newspaper Design. The site also won a second place for best college newspaper online sponsored by the national news media trade publication Editor & Publisher.

Two undergraduate communications students, whose names haven't been released, approached NewsNet staff in early March and received permission to redesign the NewsNet Web site.

Without authorization, the students replicated elements of Builder.com, a Web site that provides instruction on how to build Internet sites.

"What the students did is wrong, and we apologize to the two contest sponsors and the owners of Builder.com," Jim Kelly, NewsNet's general manager, said Friday.

The students used Builder.com's graphics, table definitions and a similar color palette, Kelly said.

The redesign was completed and the design entered in the two contests in mid-April.

An April 28 e-mail from BYU student Doug Farnes to NewsNet officials said Farnes had read a recent article on NewsNet that BYU was "tackling copyright issues" related to the Napster, Kazaa and other Internet-based file sharing networks.

"In hopes of helping to further the effort to abide by copyright laws, I would suggest that NewsNet take a look at their own Web site. The recent redesign is almost identical to Builder.com," Farnes wrote.

NewsNet contacted the two students and verified the allegation. One student graduated in April; the other is a returning student.

"When we had concluded that we had won first place in this national competition for a design category, we made the decision to return both awards," Kelly said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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