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What am i to do about a copied website?

 11:31 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Let me first give some background to my problem. I worked for a company for several years and maintained a website for them selling widgets. Well they decided to cut my pay and continued to do so. So i decided i can quit this job, create my own web-site and sell widgets myself. So i did this. The company found out that i created a web-site and decide they would copy it. They copied everything and claimed it as their own. I have since changed most of my pages so as to not make them identical.

Now to my current problem. I show up pretty well on Google and for the past while this other company did not show up at all. In the past i had alot of hidden text on my site and have since cleaned it up. However when this other company copied my site they now have hidden text everywhere. Google has since updated their site as of today and this other company is out ranking me. They have yet to even update me. I still have old pages. What can i do to help resolve this problem. Legally i don't know if i want to stir up anything. While i did not create my site on company time or steal any of their current customers it would be to big of a hassle.

Any suggestions? Please Help. What would you do in my position?



 3:14 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>However when this other company copied my site they now have hidden text everywhere. Google has since updated their site as of today and this other company is out ranking me.

Just so I'm understanding right: you had a site up with hidden text that the other company copied. Then you took your site with the hidden text down and replaced it with a new site without hidden text. They still have the site they copied up, still with hidden text, and they're outranking your current site?

It sounds like you have a few choices. You can try to make them take it down and put it back up yourself (with the hidden text), you can report them, or you can try to get them to take it down and not use it.

At this point it doesn't sound like it would be easy to get them to take it down, and it wouldn't be too wise to go back to using hidden text yourself.

You can let it all go and just try to beat them with your current site. Are you absolutely sure they're beating you now as a result of having that hidden text?


 3:18 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

They are using hidden text and you're not..

fill out a spam report ;)


 3:23 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

1. Explain the situation to their hosting provider. If you want to flex some legal muscle, send them a cease & desist.

2. Do the spam report and explain the situation to Google. They may even have dated caches of the sites in question that can support your story.


 3:33 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you do want to do as Dolemite says and flex some legal muscle on the copyright infringement aspect of it, here are some links to other discussions for your options.


But because of your previous relationship to the infringer, I would tread lightly though. And they have the hidden text pages, and you do not. Now, if they go and copy your revised pages, then that should be when you would consider flexing that legal muscle ;)


 3:52 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have filled out several spam reports. But so far nothing has been done. Is Google the only one you can fill out a spam report for?

Google has just recently inclued this company back in to their searches. Google has not updated me in about a month at least not that i have been able to tell. In the cache of Google my front page is what i was using in Feb.


 3:54 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

They have also copied some of my new site for new products that have just been released. Basicly the owner is a lazy bum. How much recourse do i have. I personally don't want to be sued.


 3:58 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Get a lawyer and sue 'em!


 4:18 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

To be honest, I'd forget about the old site since you already took it down. What I'm seeing is that if your new pages are being copied by them and Google is updating their site and not yours, there could eventually be a duplicate content issue. That's what concerns me, especially if they're doing this on a continuing basis.

Start carefully documenting your work, with dates created, upload times, screenshots, etc. Accumulate substantial, dated evidence, just to be on the safe side. If they're getting crawled and having Fresh updates and you're not, work on getting Fresh listings for yours.

You could try nicely letting those people know that it's copyright infringement (with a link to the proper government docs and good resources) and request that they start creating their own content.

Oh, and if you're in the U.S., I could be mistaken but I believe it costs about $35 to copyright the entire contents of a site. Do that according to whatever country you're in just for an extra measure of protection and to establish that you're serious.

Again, it's most likely not the hidden text causing them to outrank you, so do what you can to beat them in the meantime.

[edited by: Marcia at 4:23 am (utc) on June 13, 2003]


 4:19 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would include spam reports among your options. :)


 4:33 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thank you all so much for your help. I have been documenting my site and have printe out search result where my name is still written within their meta tags.

As for the spam report i have filled them out. I filled them out last month and also filled them out again this afternoon.

My biggest fear is that i will not be ranked because of duplicate content. when i found out that they stole my new pages i quickly re-did them and added information and changed my title and description around so that at least it would be alittle bit different. Will i be penalized if someone else has duplicated my content?


 8:14 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with Marcia

Build a Dossier of screen shots with dates and document the information.
Keep this for any further legal proceedings you may wish to take.
Then file a Spam Report



 9:13 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Copy their site and use it just as they did to you. Then you can send a letter to yourself complaining you were the originator. Affect a lawsuit and save court fees by serving yourself. You'll only need one lawyer as he can represent both you and the defendant. When you go to court you won't have to suffer being cross-examined as you'll be the only witness. When the judge awards a settlement you can work out a payment plan with yourself. If the bum doesn't pay you'll always be close enough to kick his ass.

Please report your progress back to this forum as there are other winers anxiously waiting to follow the same advice.


 9:20 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

a big thumbs up for google filters..hidden text and a copied site outranks the original site....how very reassuring!


 9:25 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hidden text websiteS are usually not that hard to beat in the serps, usually the right link structure (pyramid is my personal favorite at the moment) Good copy and kiss seo YOU SHOULD OUT RANK THEM EASILY.

keeping on the clean side :

send a letter to their ISP and Them stating that plagiarizing a copyright website is against The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and you will take legal action against both parties.

There are loads of darkside techniques you could use. ;)



 9:37 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

They have also copied some of my new site for new products that have just been released. Basicly the owner is a lazy bum.

.. my name is still written within their meta tags.

Looks like they are not checking what they are copying. You can use that to your adventage. Make your links absolute so:
1. visitors clicking on those links on his site will end up in your site
2. you get some PageRank from his site.

If you now have a link to page 'product12.html' like this:

<a href="product12.html">widgets</a>

change it into

<a href="http://www.mydomain.com/product12.html">widgets</a>

The only problem can be, that if that site gets penalized, your site could be penalized too. So don't link back. (My guess is you didn't have any intention to do so).


 3:58 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google Rocks!

Google has removed their site. I have one other question though. Is there a way to keep people from copying anthing off my site? I think i have seen something but i'm not sure what it was or how to do it.


 5:03 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

There are some javascript programs floating out there, but imo they are ripoffs. In a nutshell, it isn't possible to protect your html code from someone who really wants it.


 6:04 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

If your code is idiotic enough, nobody will want to rip it off.

cheers, berli


 6:13 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

well, a rare thumbs up for the spam report!....there's hope yet!....right..i'm gonna get my reports ready!


 6:50 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google results aside, it would really frustrate me to have someone copying my site. Is your site truly just HTML? No dynamic content at all? I would guess that the absolute URL's are a good bet, but if he's doing a wget and then massaging the URL's it may not be helpful. Can you figure out his address by examining your logs? You may be able to block him (at least temporarily) if you can figure out where he's coming from. Perhaps you could put in a hidden link that points to a page that a person would not see (since they couldn't see the link) but that wget or a spider would follow, then you could filter out the legitimate spider addresses and find his ip.

I'm just brainstorming here... browsing the wget docs (assuming that's how he's copying your site), it says:

Wget can follow links in HTML pages and create local versions of remote web sites, fully recreating the directory structure of the original site. This is sometimes referred to as ``recursive downloading.'' While doing that, Wget respects the Robot Exclusion Standard (/robots.txt). Wget can be instructed to convert the links in down-loaded HTML files to the local files for offline viewing.

That's the good news. The bad news is that wget can masquerade as any user agent it wants to, and can even be configured to ignore robots.txt, so it's pretty hard to avoid if the thief is determined.

I think that the coolest thing would be to make your site dynamic and, when you figure out where the guy is coming from, publish inflated prices or bogus product images or descriptions instead of the real information to requests from his source IP. Even if he finds a way around it, there will be an embarrassing period before he figures it out.


 7:09 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Alltough you had luck and they have been removed now, i'd strongly encourage you to backup your site on a cd, a floppy or whatever and then send a sealed envelope containing the backup either to yourself or to your lawyer if you want to be prepared if they steal your content again. Repeat this everytime you made important changes to your site. That's the safest way to later proof the ownership / creator. If they can't proof the same, they're lost! Dealing with google cache copy can be a mistake thanks to freshbot. ;)


 7:17 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

yes id suggest that you do as Yiddaki says, post a copy to your lawyer.

I used to write commmercial software and this worked a treat.

just for a laugh you could allways list their email with those silly FFA links pages......


 8:39 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes, do write to the ISP citing the Digital Millennium Copyright act. Do soome research online first ("cease and desist"). That'll work.

If they're stealing your bandwidth by taking images straight from your site, then you have the wonderful option of renaming all of your graphic files and replacing all kinds of interesting things under the old file names. Banners saying "this site sucks" would be good, but I'm sure you could come up with something juicier if you put your mind to it. With a bit of luck it'll take them a while to notice.


 8:56 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'd hesitate to do anything even close to mischievous, which could hurt in the long run and come back to bite. But if they're hotlinking to graphics, replacement with just one that indicates "copyright by" and grabbing a screenshot and showing the code.

There's also a way to imbed ownership information in GIFs, so if they were to be outright taking and using graphics there are services that track and report those.


 9:06 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

They are not stealing my badwidth. They are saving the images in their image file.

What kind of recourse could this company have. Since i worked their. I never did anything to sabotage their site before i left. In fact i did not quit until i had it perfect. But i did create the site while i was working there but not while i was at work. However i did make several sales for my company through the use of my cell phone while i worked there


 10:38 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I had a similar problem once when a company copied our site. But not literally. They just made it look like ours in terms of layout, similar domain name etc. It didn't come up on the search engines and it was a small company, but I printed out screen shots and kept a file on what's going on and was prepared to write a cease & desist letter if needed. The company folded before they became a threat.

Keep a record of their doing, in case you need to proof things in the future and I would keep contacting Google about this.

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