Imitating a design is one thing, but taking credit for work you did not have a hand in producing is blatantly unethical.
Last night, I was poking around Mint trying to get sense for where the traffic was coming from to a site I launched mid-2009 called The Vile Plutocrat. I don't mind bragging that The Vile Plutocrat has garnered a slew of design awards and, as such, I am rightfully proud of my work. It has also been featured on a half-dozen other sites for CSS and design inspiration, so I was naturally curious about an unfamiliar referrer link.
Imagine my surprise ...
It's one thing to imitate the design of another designer. An easy argument can be made that we have all been inspired by another designer's work at some point in our careers ... It's something else entirely to claim to have produced work you had absolutely no hand in creating.
Hotshot design studios like Erskine and uber-talented independents like Shaun Inman have complained bitterly in the past about having their logos, design concepts, and code "ripped off" by talentless hacks. Elliot Jay Stocks's recent article in .Net Magazine asks how we can Thwart the Design Thieves. I have never seen anything like this before.
My own opinion on the matter is that it's fine to be inspired, just don't copy something verbatim and call it original ... Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but you had better damned well not be using my work to sell your design services.
I'm willing to bet that every other sample in Curvect's portfolio is stolen, so please pass this along if you recognize any of the other work and help me shut them down.
Rest assured that I will be sending Curvect a highly charged response shortly, but I wanted to get this information out there quickly enough to spread the word before they had a chance to remove anything from their web site. Interestingly enough, they have already removed their location (Hyderabad, India) and Twitter feed (@curvect) from their contact page.