|How to Deal with Content Theft|
Content is owned by the originating site: 101
Understanding where your rights on all matters of content being copied is paramount to the success or more so the continued success of your site. Whether you are a professional, semi-pro or a budding amateur, you owe it to yourself to get wise on content theft, as its becoming more common every year.
Recently one of WebmasterWorld members started a thread about massive content theft from his site, by the 'instructional solutions' site e-How. I've pulled together a small collection of threads from years gone containing valuable and instructional means of dealing with content theft.
Rogerd, one of our fearless moderators started and wrote a seminal thread; Scraped or Stolen Content: What To Do First [webmasterworld.com] which gets to grips with content theft. In 2005 digitalghost updates upon Rogerd's original material; What To Do If Your Copyright Is Infringed [webmasterworld.com]. Further, uhwebs debates with other members, the Best Ways to Prevent Plagiarism [webmasterworld.com]
This is a qoute from e-How on how to deal with content theft, which made me laugh as its commonly assumed that a lot of their information is not original content, but scraped or copied from many sites throughout the web.
|#Step 1 - Prepare for the possibility of theft by making digital and printed copies of your content and design. Mail yourself the hard copies and leave the envelope unopened. This gives you a clear proof of the conception date of your work. |
#Step 2 - Document content theft by printing out the offending website and making a digital copy. Clearly define the areas of theft and place everything in a folder.
#Step 3 - Contact the offending site's webmaster by searching the website for an email address. Look for contact information in the "About Us" or "Contact Us" areas of the website. Domain registration information is also available using a Whois tool.
#Step 4 - Send the owner a request to remove the stolen content from the website and state a clear deadline for compliance. Monitor the site to verify the content is removed and continue to check to ensure the content doesn't return.
#Step 5 - Hire an attorney if you do not get a reply or content isn't removed. Give the attorney the supporting documentation and copyright information. Include copies of emails or letters sent along with dates.
#Step 6 - Take them to court if they are unwilling to remove the content. Copyright laws protect your content, images and design and are easily enforceable when well documented. Few cases reach court, as compliance is usually swift once the threat of legal action enters the dispute.
I've been a victim in the past of content theft, with my hand forced after phoning the site owner. Filed a DMCA which resolved all theft issues. However recently I've found another of my sites has been copied by Indian, French and Italian firms. I find being copied, a real vote for the authority of the site, but we all know it will damage the uniqueness and SERPs the site enjoys. The saga continues....
Lastly courtesy of another of digitalghosts great contributions is a collection of 10 threads dealing with many Copyright Issues [webmasterworld.com].
[edited by: caine at 4:42 pm (utc) on Feb. 3, 2010]
|This gives you a clear proof of the conception date of your work. |
That is an all-too-common bit of outdated, misdirected thought. The minute you open the envelope to "prove" your case you've destroyed the "evidence".
I see the [four letter word] website turning up in a range of searches, and in topic areas where I have some expertise I recognize a lot of misinformation.
Regarding the article referenced above ... it purports to be about "How to Handle Theft of Website Content" but it doesn't know the topic well enough to mention something as basic as DMCA. Or even Archive.org for that matter.
I'm resisting the urge to speculate on the motives for [four letter word]'s own site giving outdated and incomplete advice on the topic of dealing with content theft.
|The minute you open the envelope to "prove" your case you've destroyed the "evidence". |
OK. Send yourself a few copies and use as required. ;)
I wish that we could once and for all lay to rest the notion that sending an envelope to yourself that contains one's works is in any way a legal means of proving copyright ownership! Bury it, and bury it good!
|COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT |
eHow respects the intellectual property rights of others and requests that the people who use the Site do the same. If you believe that your work has been reproduced and is accessible on the Site in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, you may notify us by providing our copyright agent with the following information in writing:
the electronic or physical signature of the owner of the copyright or the person authorized to act on the owner's behalf;
identification of the copyrighted work that you claim has been infringed;
identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing and information reasonably sufficient to permit eHow to locate the material (for example, by providing a URL to the material);
your name, address, telephone number, and email address;
a statement by you that you have a good faith belief that the disputed use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and
a statement that the information in your notification is accurate and a statement, made under penalty of perjury, that you are the copyright owner or are authorized to act on the copyright owner's behalf.
Our designated agent to receive notification of claimed infringement can be reached at:
15801 NE 24th Street
Bellevue, WA 98008
(425) 974-4780 (fax)
It is our policy to terminate in appropriate circumstances any Account for repeated infringement of intellectual property rights, including copyrights, and we also reserve the right to terminate an Account for even one instance of infringement.
On the face of it that seems pretty clear cut. Anyone actually sought to have content removed from the site?
I remember as a kid hearing the whole story about mailing it to yourself. That's just plain silly. Funny and silly.
|I see the [four letter word] website turning up in a range of searches, and in topic areas where I have some expertise I recognize a lot of misinformation. |
I see the same in my area of expertise. Actually some of their writers copied how tos from my website and modified them or ommited parts to avoid copyright problems. The result is a how to that is completely wrong and in some cases it can cause irreparable damage. I warned them about one of the faulty how tos. It's still online ... Anyone using it will be a happy visitor. Now I know I should never use this website as a reference for information.
|I remember as a kid hearing the whole story about mailing it to yourself. |
As I understand it this can be accepted as evidence copyright in the UK. Is this not the case?
From the US Copyright Office: [copyright.gov...]
|I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it? |
The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.
From the UK Intellectual Property Office: [ipo.gov.uk...]
|...a creator could send himself or herself a copy by special delivery post (which gives a clear date stamp on the envelope), leaving the envelope unopened on its return (ensuring you also know what is inside each envelope in case you do this more than once). Alternatively you could lodge your work with a bank or solicitor. It is important to note, that this does not prove that a work is original or created by you. But it may be useful to be able to show the court that the work was in your possession at a particular date. |
In the USA the 'poor man's copyright' method just does not hold sway. It does not work. In the UK, there is no official copyright register. There are, however, many organisations acting as supposed 'copyright protection agencies', but they do not function in any official capacity.
The emphasis added in the quote makes the situation very clear that in the UK the envelope trick may prove useful, but there is no certainty whatsoever. The courts will not accept this as proof that you were the creator and thus the copyright holder. Copyright laws are far to complex for something so simple to be truly effective. Far better to have sufficient supporting documentation showing the creation and development of the work.
Why is it not sufficient to simply have a copy of the work notarized?
As is pointed out in the quote, that only proves the work exists, not who created it.
|In the USA the 'poor man's copyright' method just does not hold sway. It does not work. |
Not quite true. It will still prove the date, as in the UK, but you do not get the other advantage of registration such as greater damages.
|I sent them the list with the url's of my images on their server. They refuse to remove them... |
You must follow DMCA instructions. Sending them a complaint with a list of URLs falls short of the legal requirements. Follow the DMCA instructions exactly as posted on their site.
|The emphasis added in the quote makes the situation very clear that in the UK the envelope trick may prove useful, but there is no certainty whatsoever. |
My 2p - The fact that the UKIP office makes this comment adds real credibility to this process. I have never tested it but I would be willing to bet that most UK courts would accept this as fairly compelling historical evidence. If this were outdated or misdirected or worthy of being buried for good then the UKIP would advise us accordingly. ;)
As stated, such a thing only goes to prove possession of the work at that given point. It does not prove who created it. Such evidence may be sufficient for a court in some instances, but not in others. Bottom line; there is no harm in it.
Like a lucky charm worn around the neck, maybe it will do you some good, maybe it won't. Just don't rely on it.
This is not condoning content theft, but there's also a flip-side - if I've understand correctly how duplicate content is handled.
When G filters out duplicate content it allocates the link juice to the original version doesn't it? If true, it's just more linking power to your content, assuming G singles out the right copy as original....
>>>When G filters out duplicate content it allocates the link juice to the original version doesn't it?
No, it does not. Google attempts to identify the original version, That's it. There is no allocation of "link juice."
>>>assuming G singles out the right copy as original....
It's arguable that Google can do that. If I were handing out grades for Google's ability to identify the original source I would give Google a C-, almost a D.
I would say make the copyright visible on the work.Copyscape might check for any duplicates online.
|I did a Google image search on their domain name and found several of my images (with my watermark on it!). I sent them the list with the url's of my images on their server. |
|`(A)(i) does not have actual knowledge that the material or activity is infringing, |
`(ii) in the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent, or
`(iii) if upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, the service provider acts expeditiously to remove or disable access to, the material;
`(B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, where the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and
`(C) in the instance of a notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity.
Not sure how a DMCA complaint has to be to the letter when it is noted images are hosted on the server bearing a watermark designating other ownership, which IMO should be 'apparently infringing' to the host and means according to the above [A(ii) & A(iii)] they are required to remove them upon knowledge they are there to retain DMCA protection.
IMO The host was made aware of circumstances where infringing activity is apparent, and even if they do not know for a fact it is actual infringement they must err on the side of caution and remove the material to retain DMCA protection. IMO They were made aware infringing activity was (is) apparent and did not react as A(iii) states they must. Personally, I'd send them an e-mail with the URLs and cc an attorney...
We have had content theft as well (of database information). One sure way I can guarantee it is stolen is by seeding the database with a couple made up (false) items. It doesn't hurt the integrity of the site, and it allows me to do a quick Google search to see who's stealing our content.
Our steps are: contact site owner, if they deny it or say screw you, then we contact their ISP. ISPs scare easily and they may shut down the site. If not, then we have our attorneys send a cease and desist letter. Most of this works, and we have never had to take anyone to court.