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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Copyright Saga - Persistent Infringer
This guy is holding me in total contempt

 1:14 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Last December I discovered that a web design company in England was stealing my content. It was so blatant that they had actually left a live link back to my within the stolen text. I contacted them about this pointing out the content that had been stolen.

The website owner got back to me claiming that he would "bite his webmaster's head off" and asked me to point out the offending text. (The live link was immediately removed).

I checked out his site and noticed that he had removed the live link so I got back to him and pointed out that I had already told him where it was. I also told him that the removal of the link proved that he already knew this. (His site only has a few pages).

He responded with a bit of a bad attitude saying that I would have to "work with him on this" to get the content "which I said was copied" removed and he rambled on about the folly of my taking some "some teenagers" to court. I assumed that this was some young people who worked for him that he was blaming for the infringement. (I had not threatened any legal action up to this point).

The content was then removed and he contacted me to inform of this and contemptuously asked me to stop contacting him.

My reply was as follows, "Thank you for doing what was right and you can be sure that I shall not be contacting you again. What I do not understand is your attitude? You infringed our copyright and got caught. You are the offender. Consider yourself lucky that I have not yet reported you to your hosting company and got you banned from Google and the other major search engines, which is my normal course of action at this stage".

At this point he appeared to lose the plot. He threatened me with a counter claim of harassment and said that reporting him would do no good because he owned his own hosting company. The guy was clearly upset at being caught red handed and went on the attack for some reason. I decided to leave it at that since the content had been removed.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I discovered that he was once again using the same content and more. He clearly thinks he is above the law and wants to really piss me off.

An investigation showed that he was not a "real" hosting company. It looks like he is using dedicated servers rented from a US company. They have a copyright infringement contact listed in their contact details so I have complained to them. I also sent them the previous communications I had with the guy so hopefully there should be no problems proving this. I will keep you posted with what happens.



 2:03 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I hope you did more than "complain" and you filed a DMCA takedown notice.


 3:59 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't think the DMCA works here in the UK?


 4:09 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

The DMCA works everywhere if the infringing content is associated with a US company, e.g. hosting is performed by a company in the U.S., monetization is obtained through a company in the U.S., the site can be found through a search engine located in the U.S. - you get the idea.


 4:56 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)


Please do keep us informed... I love a good story.

As far as I know you can submit a DMCA filing... If it doesn't apply in the UK it shouldn't matter..... if the physical server location is in the USA then that is what law is applied to it.

It matters not that they are in the UK or China... if the USA is where the site is hosted then they have "holdings" in the USA and they will be held accountable for said holdings even if they never step foot in the USA.


 11:54 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Like zett said, it has to do with where they are hosted. In the US, a hosting company is very unlikely to respond to a "complaint" by taking down a site, because they could be liable for any damages to the business. On the other hand, if you follow the law of the land and file a DMCA, they are protected by taking down the site and liable if they leave it up.

The same thing goes for the US based search engines and advertising networks. The fact that the copied works are available on any US based server makes it subject to US law. You are unlikely to collect from a UK infringer in the US courts, but you use the US law to shut down the servers.


 5:15 am on Aug 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

In the US, a hosting company is very unlikely to respond to a "complaint" by taking down a site, because they could be liable for any damages to the business.

For info, I get lots of copyright problems. Last week I had a similar situation where someone in China had been copying my stuff and had refused to remove it. His website was hosted in the USA. I had kept all the evidence and forwarded this to the hosting company who acted very swiftly to close him down. This gave me a lot of satisfaction ;)

I have not had any reply yet on this case but I will keep you informed.


 5:21 am on Aug 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

It sounds awful. I assume the domain lacks contact details in the whois?


 6:12 am on Aug 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

No, his full name and address are listed. I just have no desire to have further contact with the guy after my previous experience. When I contacted his hosting company in the US I provided them with all this information. (No reply yet BTW)


 10:48 am on Aug 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

BDW (sorry feeling lazy this morning)

We have a very similar issue to you right now... persistant and blatant copyright infringement.

I suggest you contact an IP laywer and get them to do a standard letter (About 500) that they send to the individual, plus the hoster and any other useful parties e.g. [ispa.org.uk...]

However get your timing right:

Submit DMCA to google / google adsense, Yahoo, MSN etc by fax (see [webmasterworld.com ] for links to relevant DMCA pages) but it will take a few weeks and the problem is the content has to be live on Google etc for them to act (they don't seem to be able to use th cache?!)

Then once you have heard back from them (i have now received 3 emails after about 3-4 weeks) then you can file the copyright infringement from the lawyer.

Also take the time to read through this great collection of articles [webmasterworld.com ]

Blast this bas**** for all it's worth - scum like this take up time and resources and until they are stopped will get worse cos they think they are above the law in the UK.

If you need a IP lawyer Sticky me.

Fortune Hunter

 3:08 am on Aug 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ok, this may seem like an amateur question, and may be, but how do you actually prove the content is yours? I have read a lot on copyrights in the U.S. and worked with an attorney on some of these items. According to him and my reading the only way to truly enforce your copyrights is to file for a copyright on the content with the U.S. Patent and Copyright Office, at least in the U.S. Outside of that he told me you really don't have any teeth to prove the material is actually yours. So when all of you mention using these DCMA and taking action with the hosting company the obvious question I have is how are you proving the content someone stole was your originally if you didn't have it officially copyrighted?



 3:48 am on Aug 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

A DMCA claim filing says that you claim the material is yours. You don't have to prove it. If your claim seems reasonable based on easily-available evidence, then the copying site is removed from the search engines and/or taken off-line by the Web host *while* the other party is given a chance to refute your allegation that it contains material stolen from you.

Now, if you file a false claim, then you are in big trouble -- The other party can sue your pants off for interfering with their business, etc.

What evidence might be relevant to a DMCA claim review? Site quality and age -- comparing your site against the alleged copier's site. If his site contains bits of material apparently scraped from hundreds of widget sites, but seems to provide only snippets of information surrounded by tons of pay-per-click ads, and your site contains what appears to be a lot of unique material about the widgets that you sell, it might be fairly obvious which site is legitimate and which is not. A quick look at the Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine" to see which site published the page first can be telling as well. These are just examples; For more information on this point, do a search on DMCA to dig up all the details.

If you register a copyright, then a copyright infringer is liable for punitive damages in addition to actual damages. But even if you do not register your copyright, it still exists (as a result of your act of creating the work, it is copyrighted). However, if your copyright is not registered, an infringer is liable only for actual --that is, provable-- damages.

The DMCA claim is only a first step to addressing a copyright infringement. After the DMCA claim, you can get an attorney involved, and file suit to recover actual damages, or actual plus punitive damages if you registered your copyright. But in creating the DMCA, the U.S. Congress realized that it might in fact be the *only* step you can afford to take, so it has some teeth of its own, even without an attorney being involved.

Before filing a DMCA claim, however, be sure to actually read everything in it and about it. If you file a false claim it means big trouble, whether the claim is intentionally false or accidentally (technically) false. So, it's not to be done lightly. But it's certainly a big stick --even in the absence of a follow-on suit-- and should make content thieves think twice about copying stuff from Webmasters in countries that are signatories of the WIPO treaty (The DMCA is the U.S. implementation of this global treaty, and you need not be a U.S. citizen to file a DMCA claim).

Be aware also that a DMCA claim, once filed, becomes part of the public record, and is posted on a well-known Web site for all to see.



 11:43 am on Aug 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have now filed a DMCA claim. Archive.org shows the content on my website from about 2004. It appears on his in 2006.

I don't think proof will be a problem in this case. I also sent them copies of his emails in which he effectively admits that the material was copied and blames a "couple of teenagers", which implied that he had let them edit his site for him. He also tells me that he removed the copy, which he did do for a period of time but then replaced it.

Fortune Hunter

 2:38 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

A DMCA claim filing says that you claim the material is yours. You don't have to prove it. If your claim seems reasonable based on easily-available evidence, then the copying site is removed from the search engines and/or taken off-line by the Web host *while* the other party is given a chance to refute your allegation that it contains material stolen from you.

I am not an attorney, but it would seem this type of thing is just one big lawsuit waiting to happen. I know some cases it would probably be easy to prove content was yours, but I can imagine a whole host of scenarios where you couldn't and lawsuits would be exploding everywhere. It would seem if I claim something is mine, no matter if I am right or not, that the other person could simply file a lawsuit and now I have the unpleasant choice of paying an attorney big bucks to defend myself and prove the content is mine or simply giving up and dropping my DMCA claim. This scenario is known as a legal shakedown, not totally unlike what Tony Soprano does to someone that he feels owes him some money.

I am thinking if I have good content that it would be easier to simply file a copyright on it for $30 and eliminate any and all doubt that I was the creator of said content and makes filing these DMCA claims a lot less hazardous.



 3:32 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Perhaps, but as I say he has already admitted it and I have the emails he sent me about this.


 9:38 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

it's really a bad conduct.

Fortune Hunter

 5:59 pm on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Perhaps, but as I say he has already admitted it and I have the emails he sent me about this.

Yes, in your case I think you are standing on very solid ground with your past emails and such. My comment was just more general in nature about the DMCA concept and how that might work on a continued basis.

By the way I appreciate your listing the archive.org site. I checked this out for my own site and it was very helpful resource. I had never heard of this site before, but I have bookmarked it now.



 6:10 pm on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Archive.org is indeed a useful (and sometimes just interesting) site.

BDW - what's the scoop? Any word from the hosting company yet?


 8:49 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

BeeDeeDubbleU, It has been more than a week since you filed the case, any progress?


 2:58 pm on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Actually I only filed the DMCA on Sunday. I have not had a reply yet.


 7:10 am on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I got another reply and it is beginning to look as though these guys are being a bit obstructive.

It said that I had not clearly identified the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed and the material that is claimed to be infringing. There was not enough information to permit them to locate the material.

This is nonsense. I clearly indicated the content on the infringers sites and the equivalent content on mine. I also pointed them to my material on archive.org before the other site existed. Either they cannot read or perhaps it's me?

I got back to them pointing the material out again so I'll have to wait and see.

Fortune Hunter

 3:32 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)


I wonder if hosting companies are simply trying to find a way out of having to do something about these infringements so they play dumb for a while and create roadblocks to your claim in a hope you give up before they have to take real action.


 10:45 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

OR, he really DOES own the hosting company and has decided to fight you over every technicality. Hope not!


 3:21 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just got an email from his hosting company notifying me that "that access to the materials referenced in your complaint has been disabled."

I was not sure what they meant so I checked the site and it is still there. The material has been removed so I think this could seen as some sort of a result. Clearly his hosting company don't want to lose him as a client otherwise they should have closed his account.


 2:22 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't expect him to validate your emotions or apologize or be nice. If he removes the content, you win and you move on. If he keeps it on his site, you don't win. It's strictly business - keep working to protect your intellectual property, don't get too upset, don't give up. It may take a while, you may have to write several letters to different people, buy usually you can get it removed.

Every business has to deal with jerks: there are obnoxious customers, clients, suppliers, and complete parasites. One place I used to work would get phone calls from people who would try to reach the average office workers and use false pretenses to coax out information on what type of printer or copier they worked with. If they found out, they would send bogus invoices for supplies they never delivered, hoping that someone in accounting would pay. They educated the employees so they would not give this information out, scrutinized all office supply invoices, and the problem was contained. Sad, but that's the way the world is.

Strictly speaking, the DMCA only applies to the US. Copyright is international under several treaties. The trend in western countries is to comply with DMCA style take-down notices, although the exact song-and-dance of the US law does not have to be observed, the general principle of upholding copyright does.


 10:43 am on Aug 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

>I checked the site and it is still there.

Make sure it's not in the cache on your pc, or that it's not in the cache with your own service provider.

Best way to check is to look using a proxy, or from an Internet cafe, or a friend's machine.


 6:08 pm on Aug 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

No, actually the website is still there but the content that he stole has been removed. His hosting company have obviously contacted him about this and asked him to remove it.

(Not punitive enough IMHO.)


 3:30 pm on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

How did you find out that your content was stolen in the first place?


 9:46 am on Aug 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Copyscape - an excellent tool!

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