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Website cache besides Google and archive.org?
Digital witness needed
flowermark

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 10:10 am on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

For legal reasons I need to prove that certain text and content existed on a website.

The website in question is not currently indexed by archive.org. It is indexed by Google, but I believe it will be erased from Google's index soon.

Are there other services that provide a permanent record of website caches?

If such a service doesn't exist, then how do people prove DMCA, defamation, and fraud on the Internet?

Thanks y'all. :)

 

flowermark

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 10:15 am on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I also wanted to know how often webhosting companies keep cached copies of the webpages they host. Do they keep an entire history (I doubt it) or do they only keep the latest copy?

Sanenet

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 11:55 am on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Have you tried [waybackmachine.org...] Seems to get its sources from not just archive.org but other files as well.

If such a service doesn't exist, then how do people prove DMCA, defamation, and fraud on the Internet?

When putting your content online, burn it to a CD and drop it off at a public notary or your lawyer, getting them to archive it for you.

And no, most hosting companies would only keep one backup of a site, which is constantly being overwritten.

flowermark

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 12:49 pm on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thank you. That's a very interesting suggestion. How much do notaries/lawyers usually charge for this type of archiving? What does the process involve? Is it handing them the CD and take an affidavit swearing that we are the rightful and lawful owners of all the contents contained in it?

Has anyone here registered their content at the copyright office? We update our content almost daily (probably 2-3 pages a day), so I'm not sure how this would work out.

Have you tried [waybackmachine.org...] Seems to get its sources from not just archive.org but other files as well.

Yes. Unfortunately, the site is relatively new (2 months old) and doesn't seem to be archived.

P.S. To clarify, the website I'm trying to cache does not belong to me. It belongs to a business competitor.

kaled

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 1:05 pm on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm no expert in the field of copyright but, so far as I am aware, no registration is required - you simply need to prove you are the original author. One typical way this is done (in the UK) is to seal an original document in an envelope and send it to yourself by recorded delivery (placing the sticker across the envelope seal). If necessary, the envelope can then be opened by a court official and the case is pretty much proven.

Certainly you can use lawyers, etc. to do this sort of thing, but lawyers make mistakes and lose things far more often than they would have you believe.

In your case, burning a CD weekly and sending a copy to yourself should be sufficient, but confirmation from a lawyer might be good for your peace of mind if nothing else. (Of course, you may need a fireproof safe too.)

Kaled.

flowermark

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 3:28 am on Nov 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thank you kaled. I took your advice and I'm now burning the CDs as we speak.

But are there other online services that provide a permanent record of website caches besides Google, archive.org, and the Wayback Machine?

jackmurphy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 3:07 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

flowermark,

I agree with Sanenet that your best bet is to burn a CD. But I would add to that it should be a WORM (Write Once Read Many) CD and I believe you can mail it to yourself (the postmark is considered proof). Just keep the envelope sealed and only open it in court.

But if you want something online and a bit easier, you can use <snip> to email yourself the web page.

<snip> is really a web page email service, but because it makes a copy of the page, it can be used as a way to create an on-demand permanent record.

You can also email the web page to a web-based email service like Yahoo and use the date/time stamp as proof when it was emailed. However, I do not know how well this will hold up in court.

As to an online service to prove DMCA, defamation, and fraud on the Internet, I found <snip>, but they have a misspelled word on their home page so I don't know how trustworthy they are! But I'm sure there are other services out there.

I am a representative of <snip> so I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Jack Murphy

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, so please check with your attorney first before doing anything.

[edited by: trillianjedi at 3:29 pm (utc) on Nov. 8, 2005]
[edit reason] No self promo here please... [/edit]

stapel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 4:10 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

flowermark said:
For legal reasons I need to prove that certain text and content existed on a website.

You might want to consider registering your copyright. Having a copyright registration certificate that pre-dates any copies can be handy. I've had server hosts require this as part of their take-down procedure.

Regarding archive.org, you might want to submit your site for indexing in the Wayback Machine, so you'll have a record (starting with a spidering in the next few weeks, with your listing appearing probably within a year after that) of your site as it exists now.

But the Wayback Machine would not, to my knowledge, be acceptable evidence in a court case (regarding, for instance, a plagiarism claim). At best, it can be helpful in convincing some that you published the content online first. But opponents can still claim that they published the content in, say, book form long before you put the content on the web, or claim that they published on the web before you ever did, but were never indexed by archive.org.

In other words, such an online record, while sometimes helpful, is not to be relied upon when you "need" to "prove" something.

flowermark said:
Is it handing [a lawyer] the CD and take an affidavit swearing that we are the rightful and lawful owners of all the contents contained in it?

An affidavit is, to my understanding, just your sworn statement. It can be impeached in court, just as can any other statement. It doesn't "prove" anything, other than that you made that statement at that time and place.

And giving a lawyer a CD only "proves" that you burned the content onto a CD on such-and-such a date (assuming nobody points out that you can change the clock on your computer). It doesn't prove that you own said content.

kaled said:
...no registration is required - you simply need to prove you are the original author.

Registration is not "required" to prove ownership, but registration (with the appropriate legal authority) is accepted in court as proof of this ownership, and may greatly ease the legal burden of the content creator/owner, while possibly increasing the judgement awards handsomely.

Registration is not to be sniffed at.

kaled said:
One typical way this is done (in the UK) is to seal an original document in an envelope and send it to yourself by recorded delivery (placing the sticker across the envelope seal). If necessary, the envelope can then be opened by a court official and the case is pretty much proven.

This is called "the poor man's copyright", and is an urban myth. A sealed envelope is not regarded as legal "proof" of anything.

(Sample argument of opponent: "Plaintiff could have mailed himself an empty unsealed envelope two years ago. Now he needs 'proof' of ownership, so he back-dated a copy of his web site by tinkering with his computer's clock, burned the CD, and sealed it in that already-post-marked envelope. Your Honor, this envelope proves nothing! Move for dismissal and costs.")

If you want "proof" that will be accepted in court (or that will at least create a much-greater burden on the other claimant), file the paperwork, burn the CD, cut the check, and register your copyright.

Eliz.

I'm not a lawyer, but I've been down this road before. For specifics, consult with a copyright attorney in your country, and/or review the documentation for your country's copyright office.

kaled

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 6:18 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

stapel said
If you want "proof" that will be accepted in court (or that will at least create a much-greater burden on the other claimant), file the paperwork, burn the CD, cut the check, and register your copyright.

The UK Patent Office says
What is Copyright?

Before you go any further you need to know that there is no official register for copyright. It is an unregistered right (unlike patents, registered designs or trade marks). So, there is no official action to take, (no application to make, forms to fill in or fees to pay). Copyright comes into effect immediately, as soon as something that can be protected is created and "fixed" in some way, eg on paper, on film, via sound recording, as an electronic record on the internet, etc.

I think you're insulting everyone's intelligence here by pointing out that computer clocks can be tampered with.

You are very much mistaken if you believe forensic experts are unable to tell whether an envelope has been opened and resealed. In WW2, German experts were unable to open a letter that had been at sea for days without British Intelligence being able to identify the letter as having been opened.

Oh yes. In civil court, the burden of proof is much lower than criminal courts. For instance, you do not need to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that copyright has been infringed. In other words, it would be up to others to employ forensic experts to prove the sealed letter was a fake, it would not be necessary to prove forensically that it was genuine.

Kaled.

stapel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10209 posted 7:11 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

kaled said:
You are very much mistaken if you believe forensic experts are unable to tell whether an envelope has been opened and resealed.

Since I had referred to the possibility of mailing an unsealed envelope, and since I did not reference forensics in any manner, I'm not sure what you are talking about. Perhaps you have confused my post with somebody else's...?

kaled said:
I think you're insulting everyone's intelligence here by pointing out that computer clocks can be tampered with.

Um... okay...?

The UK Patent Office says said:
...there is no official register for copyright....there is no official action to take....

Assuming that one knows, here and now, that all of one's future cases will be tried in the British court system, then conforming only with British custom may be adequate. However:

The UK Patent Office says said:
How can [one] prove originality [of one's] work? Ultimately this is a matter for the courts to decide....it may help copyright owners to...send a copy of their work to themselves....this could establish that the work existed at this time.

Which was exactly my point: This "poor man's copyright" method might be accepted as establishing that the work existed at a given time. It also might not be accepted -- and is indeed known to be unacceptable in many jurisdictions. On top of which, it does nothing to establish who created the content or when, nor who owns it now.

And even if such a "proof" were accepted once, you'd better hope you never have another dispute, because now your envelope has been opened.

kaled said:
In civil court, the burden of proof is much lower than criminal courts.

However, the need for proof still exists. And the "but mine is in a gosh-darned envelope, for cripes sake!" argument is not always acceptable evidence of one's claim. Sorry.

Since, according to the UK Patent Office, some copyright claims are deemed to be criminal, perhaps a higher standard of documentation might be wise.

And again, I would request that the original poster note that I am not a lawyer nor legally trained, that the above reflects only my opinion and experience, and that he would do well to consult with a legal expert in his country.

Eliz.

Wikipedia: Poor Man's Copyright [en.wikipedia.org]
U.S. Copyright Office: Poor Man's Copyright - What Is It? [copyright.gov]
IPWatchdog: Protecting Ideas [ipwatchdog.com]
Warning for Writers: Copyright Myths [sfwa.org]
Intellectual Law Group: Dispelling The "Poor Man's Copyright" Myth [intellectlawgroup.com]
UK Patent Office PDF regarding criminal policies and penalties, etc. [patent.gov.uk]

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